Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 4, 2013

Renaissance Theater: Mercer Street renovations continue

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The quickly approaching arrival of Old Man Winter doesn’t appear to be dampening enthusiasm or ongoing efforts to revitalize Mercer Street in downtown Princeton.

At the heart of ongoing efforts to revitalize the historic downtown are the efforts to renovate and reopen the old Lavon Theater. It was recently christened the Renaissance Theater. Fund-raising efforts to finance the renovations are continuing, according to Lori McKinney, a volunteer with the Princeton Renaissance Project.

The new Artist Alley project on Mercer Street also is among the continued efforts of the Princeton Renaissance Project. The larger vision includes new lighting, benches, landscaping and other upgrades to the downtown area.

So far, approximately $180,000 has been donated toward the effort, according to Greg Puckett, executive director of Community Connections and also a volunteer member of the Princeton Renaissance Project. The project goal is $805,000. That sum will cover not only theater renovations, but also lighting, benches, landscaping, and other parts of the Mercer Street revitalization project.

In the meantime, volunteers are still hard at work inside the Renaissance Theater. The old theater itself has already been purchased by the Princeton Renaissance Project.

“There’s been a lot of painting and a lot of cosmetic work on the front of the building,” McKinney said last week. “There’s been a lot of clearing out of the old material, making way for the new construction. That will start sometime in the beginning of the year.”

The theater’s original seats are staying, but they will be refurbished as well.

“The whole inside will be remodeled with a fresh new look,” McKinney adds. “It’s going to be an art deco style. The colors are blue to hearken back to the Princeton tradition of blue. Princeton’s colors are blue and white.”

McKinney says donations toward the project continue. But she admits the volunteers have still have a long way to go.

Additional fundraisers and projects are planned to help with the effort. For example, Jonathan Buckner and Chosen Road will have a faith-based bluegrass concert at the theater on Saturday. And on Dec. 7 Dec. 20 and 21, there will be showings of the movie “A Christmas Tree Miracle” starring local actor Kevin Sizemore. A New Year’s Eve celebration called Downtown Countdown also is planned, which will feature music, a ball drop and Italian food.

We applaud the efforts of those volunteers and members of the Princeton Renaissance Project who are helping with this all-important downtown revitalization project. Their efforts will pay rich dividends in the not-too-distant future for the greater Princeton area.