Task force presents plan to renovate historic theater


Reporter - Julie Collins
Photographer - Justin Jones

PADUCAH - The magic of the historic Columbia Theater faded decades ago. However, a local group showed commissioners how they plan to raise the curtain once again tonight.

The Columbia Theater Task Force is an outside architecture firm from Cleveland, Ohio, that has done historic theater projects like this one all across the country. They have been working on a plan since August and hope with some effort and lots of money to unlock the old doors once again.

Underneath the layers of thick dust, there is hope.

"You can see all the potential and what it used to be," said CTTF Vice Chair Landee Bryant-Greene.

It was once a vibrant, ornate theater with smooth, velvet curtains gleaming brass details. Time, however, has been cruel to the empty building. Paint peeled and wood decayed. Mold and rust now cover up the grandeur of the Columbia which has slowly faded into a mess.

"There are so major things as far as getting it up to code," Greene said. That's where the Columbia Theater Task Force comes into play. After months of planning they brought their ideas to the city commissioners in September about turning this into a non-profit cinematic art house.

"We want to keep true to the historic relevancy to the place, and keep a lot of the esthetics," Green said.

They also want to liven up this section of Downtown Paducah by creating a three-screen space for film and live entertainment.

The project is estimated to cost between 5 and 8 million dollars. The Task Force will first apply for grants and tax credits, and then use fund raisers. They hope to have the Columbia reopened by 2017.