Lansdowne Theater receives $89K state grant

February 16, 2016
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has awarded a $89,050 grant in support of the development of schematic design documents, the next phase of architectural design for the restoration of the 1927 landmark Lansdowne Theater.

As per state requirements, the grant was made to the borough of Lansdowne in support of the Lansdowne Theater Project. The total cost of the design phase is $178,000.

The Historic Lansdowne Theater Corp., the non-profit owner of the theater, seeks to adaptively reuse the historic movie house as a performing arts facility that will host nationally known adult alternative and classic rock musicians and singer/songwriters.

Additionally, the 1,358-seat theater will host educational, cultural and civic programming.

The theater has been closed, except for special occasions, since a fire in 1987.

"We greatly appreciate DCED recognizing the significance of the project to the Philadelphia region," Matt Schultz, executive director of the HLTC, stated in a press release. "The support of the project by the general public is growing everyday as demonstrated by the overwhelming support of our crowdfunding campaign, growing following on social media and numbers of donors."

To date, the outside marquee, ticket booth and lobby area have been renovated.

"Up until now we have focused on the exterior of the building because it was in desperate need for attention and our donors required that the work to be supported needed to be completed in a relatively short time frame," Schultz said Tuesday afternoon. "The work completed with this grant enables us to begin the planning for the entire building. We also wanted to undertake projects which the public would see being completed and encourage them to support the project by making a donation. This next design phase is a major step forward in the restoration of the entire landmark."

State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby, said she was proud to support the HLTC and borough in securing the grant.

"The reopening of the Lansdowne Theater holds great promise for the communities of Eastern Delaware County," she stated in a press release. "These are the kinds of economic development, job-creating projects that I am passionate about supporting in this region."

Lansdowne Mayor Anthony Campuzano commented, "Residents of the borough are excited by the recently completed restoration of the outdoor lobby of the theater and are very eager to see the project move forward."

The necessary matching funds for this project have been secured in a grant made by the National Endowment for the Arts and National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The $89,000 is the most recent large source of funds to come to the theater after a campaign drive late last year raised $45,000 from more than 300 donors.

The design team is led by project architect Mills + Schnoering. Other members of the team include H. Gilroy Damon Associates, Fisher Dachs Associates, Geo-TechnoIogy Associates, Keystone Preservation Group, C+B Consulting Engineers, LLC., Lighting Design Colloborative, K2 Audio and Brecker Frondorf.

The HLTC is a nonprofit corporation operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. The corporation was established to purchase, restore and reopen the Lansdowne Theater as a tool of community and economic development, to make the arts more accessible to residents from throughout the region and to preserve one of the last movie palaces from the 1920s.

The Delaware County Daily Times
By Kevin Tustin