Buyer will move Camelot Theatre building

ARealtor with a passion for preserving older buildings will move the current Camelot Theatre building to a nearby lot he owns on Talent Avenue.

The building, being replaced by a nearly finished theater next door, needs to go to make way for the extension of Main Street to West Valley View Road.

"I heard they were going to tear it down," said Jack Latvala, owner of Star Properties. "I've been involved with architectural review and historic preservation. I wanted to try to find an alternative to tearing it down."

Talent's Urban Renewal Agency has accepted a proposal by Latvala to move the building, with a contract to be signed by March 18. Latvala, who bid $10 for the structure, will have to clean up the site.

"He gave us a proposal that looked really good," said agency director Marla Cates. "It will save TURA some money. It's not a good idea to put it into the landfill. It's best to find another use for the building, either in its entirety or in parts."

TURA's project includes the street extension, construction of another street and a gateway entrance to town.

"We've had a couple pretty strategic buildings that were razed in the last 10 years," said Latvala, who said he didn't want to see another historic building disappear.

The Camelot Theatre building, originally a feed store, was probably built in 1951 or 1952, said Neil Stockeman of Prospect, who drove a truck for the Stebler family, who ran the operation.

The building was later used as a secondhand store before it became the Minshall Theater, where melodramas were produced.

Still later it became the home of Actor's Theatre, which was subsequently renamed Camelot.

The building will be moved to the corner of Talent Avenue and Lapree Drive, just a couple hundred yards from its current location.

Latvala has a .4-acre lot there with a house that serves as his office.

Built to handle heavy loads of feed, the 40-by-60-foot structure sits on large beams that run the width of the building and are topped with 2-by-12s. That configuration should help facilitate a move, said Latvala.

Moving cost is estimated at $20,000, with expenses for a foundation, access, utilities and system-development charges.

Camelot Theatre, which sold the building to the urban renewal agency last year, will move into its new home in June. The old building must be moved by Nov. 30.

Latvala said he may restore the original appearance of the building, but he hasn't yet determined how he'll use it.

"I've been approached by a couple of businesses, but it's all hypothetical at this point," Latvala said.

Among possibilities are business offices, art spaces and a restaurant, he said.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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