Supporters of the restoration of the historic Holly Theatre in downtown Medford announced this week the project has received another $300,000 in donations.
Fundraising is continuing, with supporters hoping to bring in enough money to launch major construction in the months ahead.
"I'm excited, because if we're able to raise about another $500,000 by the end of the year, we'll be able to start construction in the first quarter of 2017," said Randy McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, the organization in charge of the restoration. "And that means we'll be able to be open in early 2018 so the community can come back and enjoy this beautiful place that's been boarded up for the last 30 years."
The cost of the restoration is estimated at $4.3 million, although updated bid figures are being sought, McKay said.
The theater will host a "Taste and Give" event from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight to promote the restoration project and local nonprofit organizations. Area wineries and breweries will offer drinks, Jeff Kloetzel and Phoenix Sigalove will give live musical performances, and artist Cammy Davis will demonstrate fine-art painting. Admission is free.
Restoration of the 1930 movie palace located at the corner of Holly and Sixth streets began in 2012 with completion of the building's facade and installation of its marquee sign.
"The building was also stabilized so it doesn't continue to deteriorate and it's not in danger of collapsing as it was before," McKay said.
If Jefferson Live! can raise $500,000 by the close of this year, it can seek needed permits and file plans for a phase of major interior construction to begin in March 2017, he said.
That 12-month phase includes removing parts of the building to install new duct work, plumbing and electrical systems, then replacing the building components.
The final phase of the restoration includes restoring historic finishes and decorative elements, adding seats and installing lighting and sound systems, McKay said.
McKay, who has worked on the restoration of other historic theaters, said such projects typically take about five years, with fundraising taking up much of that time.
Once complete, the 1,003-seat Holly Theater will be the largest indoor entertainment venue between Eugene and Redding, California. It will host live concerts, film screenings and other events.
By comparison, the Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Art in downtown Medford has a seating capacity of approximately 730.
In Ashland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's largest indoor theater, the Angus Bowmer Theatre, seats approximately 600. OSF's indoor theaters operate from February into October. Its outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre — which runs from June into the fall — seats 1,190.
Once the Holly Theatre is open, entertainers who pass by the Rogue Valley when large outdoor venues are closed will be able to stop in Medford, McKay said.
That will help revitalize Medford's downtown core, bring 10,000 additional hotel guests to town each year and boost the Rogue Valley economy by $3 million annually, supporters said.
McKay pointed to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report that the arts contribute more to the American economy than travel and tourism, agriculture, transportation or construction.
"In cities with successful downtown economic revitalization, plans are centered on dining and entertainment," he said. "We're taking that economic powerhouse and putting it downtown."
Significant new donations to the project came from California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., Mike and Mary Mahar, the US Bank Foundation, Robert and Suzi Given and Lenart Charitable Foundation, Dave & Jeanne Freel, Asante Health System, Neuman Hotel Group, Joe and Frances Naumes Family Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and The Blum Family Foundation
For more information on the Holly Theatre or to donate, see www.hollytheatre.org.