Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 20, 2014

Princeton Renaissance Project making strides

PRINCETON — Work on restoring a Mercer Street theater and raising the money to fund the project are both continuing to make strides.

The former Royal Theatre, also once known as the Lavon Theatre, on Mercer Street is one part of the ongoing Princeton Renaissance Project. In late December 2013, Greg Puckett, executive director of Community Connections, raised more than $10,000 for the renovation effort by spending more than 24 hours in a bucket truck. Puckett was not available for additional comment Friday.

“It’s gone well,” said Lori McKinney, a Princeton Renaissance volunteer, said of the fundraising. “We have a long way to go, but we’ve made big strides. And then the main theater area still has a way to go before we raise the amount we need to do the complete renovation,” she said.

Once the renovations are complete, the theater will be able to seat approximately 300 people, McKinney said.

“We’re still trying to complete the demolition process in the front portion, and the front portion where the businesses will go,” said volunteer Jennifer Farmer. “They used to be apartments.”

The goal is to complete the upstairs portion first and open space for entrepreneurs, Farmer said. This could bring in some revenue and help pay expenses such as utility bills.

“From there, we will do what will be the museum,” Farmer said. “Then we will look toward tackling the main theater. We want to keep the main theater intact.”

Volunteers who have gone through the theater have already found items from its past. Old RC Cola cups and ticket stubs from both the Lavon and the Royal Theater have been discovered. Lavon ticket stubs recall the days when a movie tickets cost 25 cents.

“We would like to put them in shadow boxes where they can be preserved,” Farmer said. “We get excited when we see trash in the walls. What will we find? We can see some stuff under the projection room. Hopefully, we will find some interesting things.”

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