Meeting outlining efforts to reopen Lyric Theatre set today

Details about the continued work being done to refurbish the historic Lyric Theatre will be outlined at the Colonel Drake Cultural Alliance’s annual public meeting at 7:30 p.m. today.

The meeting will be held at the Lyric Theatre at 216 Seneca Street in Oil City.

An election of trustees and officers also will be held at the meeting.

“This will likely mark our last annual meeting in the ‘leaky roof’ Lyric Theater,” said CDCA president Joe Boland.

Members are developing a plan to install a new roof for the restored theater over the existing building.

This will protect the property and allow for the continued rehabilitation work to be done in a dry and secure space, Boland said.

The roof project will provide the community with physical evidence that the restoration project is moving forward, he said.

There are many projects happening behind the scenes as well, Boland said.

Building plans are entering their final stages with the addition of PBCI of State College writing the mechanical engineering specifications.

The design documents from PBCI should be done by early fall, according to Boland.

Raising funds for the building project continues to be important, Boland said.

The Cultural Alliance’s board of trustees is exercising every resource available in the rehabilitation project at the theater.

“We are in reach of saving the last remaining ‘Vaudeville’ theater in the Oil Region,” Boland said.

The CDCA has hired Ashley Stephens Consulting of Pittsburgh as a grant writer. The company is developing personal relationships with several large foundations.

“This is the key to successful grant campaigns, according to Halsey North of the North Group, a New York City consulting firm who analyzed our project,” said Boland.

The Lyric Theatre opened in 1927 and remained a vaudeville house until 1937.

A Vaudeville house was a type of entertainment extremely popular in the early 20th century featuring a mixture of specialty acts such as burlesque, comedy and song and dance.

After 1937, the building operated as a movie theater until closing its doors in 1955.

Community Playhouse Inc. bought the Lyric Theatre in 2001 and began demolition of the storerooms that replaced the theater after its closing in 1955.

The Colonel Drake Cultural Alliance began an agreement with CPI in 2006 to assume management and development of the theater. The CDCA was formed in 1994 to restore, preserve and maintain historical buildings in Venango County.

The Oil City Arts Council, the Arts Revitalization Committee and the Oil City Civic Center are the primary organizations leading the activities at the theater.