Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lights! Camera! Action??

In 2012, Preservation Virginia included the Ashland Theater on its list of Endangered Sites in the Commonwealth.  The Ashland Theater has been a landmark of the main drag through town since being built in 1940.  With its playful art deco detailing and dominant marquee, no one visiting Ashland could miss it! 

As with many small town movie houses, it closed its doors in the mid 1990’s; a victim of a changing technological environment and a changing economic landscape for how most people view the movies.  This purpose built theatre building has searched for its proper role in this bustling college town ever since. 

Fearing for its long term survival, the Ashland Main Street Association asked that this theater be added to our 2012 List.  Within weeks of the listing, some cosmetic and safety repairs were made to the exterior, raising all our hopes. 

In the months since, little has happened.  The owner, who was sympathetic to the building being listed as endangered, continues to seek a viable end use that would justify the much needed rehabilitation.  The Town of Ashland is working alongside othr community groups seeking new life for the building

Some more prominent theaters have found new life; most notably the National Theatre in Richmond and the Commodore in Portsmouth (I expect there are others that I am not aware of).  Some are still underway such as the Academy of Music in Lynchburg, which received a very significant pledge of support earlier this month and the Taylor Hotel in Winchester (which had a significant theater component and was included on our 2010 Endangered List!).

Let’s hope that a success is in the cards for the Ashland Theater as well!  Once again, this building could be the center of The Center of the Universe!!

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