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Contact: Jay Sheridan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2010
CONSTRUCTION TO START ON HISTORIC FRANKLIN THEATRE
Public Invited to Groundbreaking Ceremony on Wednesday, April 7
FRANKLIN - After two and a half years of fundraising, planning and public anticipation, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is breaking ground on the historic Franklin Theatre on Main Street in downtown Franklin.
The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, April 7, at 9:30 a.m. at the theater. A brief program and celebration will include remarks from the Foundation's leadership, recognition of donors, presentation of design boards that reveal the details of the new Franklin Theatre, and a few surprises.
"So many people made this project possible, and we want everyone in town to come celebrate with us," said David Garrett, president of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, which owns the Franklin Theatre. "This is a big moment for Franklin, and we are extremely proud of and humbled by the opportunity to restore and expand this fixture on Main Street."
Built in 1937, the Franklin Theatre has a storied history, but had fallen into disrepair and ceased operations in 2007. The Heritage Foundation, with the support of hundreds of donors, was able to purchase the theater in late 2007 and has been planning its restoration and expansion ever since.
The dream to save the theater started with a $1.75 million loan to purchase the buildings from longtime Heritage Foundation board member and volunteer Emily Magid. Lead donors include Cal Turner, who kick-started the renovation project with the first major challenge grant of $1 million; the Martin Foundation - Charlie and Shannon Martin offered a matching challenge grant of $1.5 million; and Magid forgave the loan to meet Turner's challenge. Other large gifts followed and there was an enormously successful campaign to sell more than 200 seats in the future theater for $2,500 each. Hundreds of others chipped in with gifts ranging from thousands to $5 and $10 cash donations placed in boxes at festivals and through a number of benefits. Countless organizations jumped in to support the effort.
Hasting Architecture was selected for the design work, with the goal to seek inspiration from the theater's Depression-era Art Deco design and make it a state-of-the-art, multi-use entertainment
venue for live performances, movies and events. Batten & Shaw will serve as the general contractor, and First Farmers & Merchants Bank is handling the financing to fund the gap before pledges are fully collected.
The theater will be a LEED-certified project, meaning it will meet national standards for green buildings, and will be the first LEED-certified restoration in Franklin. The size of the two buildings comprising the Franklin Theatre will be increased by 50 percent, and will include a catering kitchen, green room, storage and backstage space. The theater's sprinkler system includes the neighboring building, ensuring that one more historic building will have added protection from fire.
The restoration will include the replacement of the neon marquee that graced the front of the building from 1937 until the early 1970s.
About The Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving our historic resources in Franklin and Williamson County, Tennessee. Among our programs is the award-winning Main Street Program, the Downtown Franklin Association, which promotes and revitalizes the 150 unique places to explore in the 15-block downtown National Register District.
The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County was founded in 1967 and has a long history of preserving historic resources. The Foundation started with a group of citizens with vision who wanted to protect the historic resources that make Franklin and Williamson County a special place. The efforts of the Foundation have played a major role in keeping Franklin and Williamson County from becoming "Anywhere USA."
The Heritage Foundation and its division, the Downtown Franklin Association, are nationally recognized as being among the most successful and largest preservation groups in the country. To learn more about the Heritage Foundation, please visit www.historicfranklin.com and www.savethefranklintheatre.com.