Tri-State Original: Washington Theater - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Tri-State Original: Washington Theater

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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM)-- The Washington Theater used to be the star of downtown Quincy, offering the first rate shows and attractions of its day.

That was until the 1980's, and for almost three decades, the building hasn't had a real purpose.

But one group of volunteers are hoping to bring new life to the theater and are the subject of this Tri-State Original.

It may be hard to believe now, but the theater used to house some of the biggest acts of the 1920s and 30s.

"You had people like the Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, and Hampshire also had other theaters that featured live performances," said Chuck Scholz, former Mayor of Quincy.

And when motion pictures became popular, Washington Theater was still the place to be.

But in 1982 the Kerasotes franchise moved out, since then the building has deteriorated.

That is until former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz and other volunteer groups stepped in.

"With our location between the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois, between St. Louis and Chicago, Kansas City and Indianapolis, you have a lot of first rate acts," Scholz said.

Today the project is in the hands of the Washington Theater Commission and are working to restore the historical building.

"We're working on the lower level of the facility trying to make it available to rent. We've got some prospective tenants interested in the space," said Jim Lawrence, President of the Washington Theater Commission.

Lawrence says making the building self-sufficient again is the first step in the theater's rehabilitation.

If the project goes to according to plan, the Washington Theater could once again be the star of downtown QUincy hosting live performances and concerts.

"That has been the big question, is what will the theater be like once its completed. We don't have the perfect answer but we do have an idea what we want the theater to be," Lawrence said.

Scholz says with the growth Hampshire street has seen in the last decade, now would be the perfect time for a live performance theater to once again take the stage.

"If you can get back to those days where downtown is the place to be and I think that's beginning to happen, certainly that says a lot," Scholz said.

The theater does still need volunteers to help with renovations for anyone who's interested.

For more information, click here.

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