It was fun to be in downtown Steubenville on Saturday, Dec. 8, to watch a Christmas parade that was well attended and to stop by the Grand Theater, the site of an open house that offered visitors a chance to see the restored lobby and the status of the theater itself.
Several hundred people attended the open house, according to Scott Dressel, president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project.
An effort to restore the theater at 121 S. Fourth St., Steubenville, was launched about three years ago.
Visitors check out the restored lobby of the
Grand Theater during the open house.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
"The comments were positive and supportive, with most everyone wanting to know when we will be open. Of course that depends entirely on donations to get us from where we are to completion," said Dressel, who was pretty busy during that three-hour open house period taking people on tours of the theater area beyond the lobby.
I checked it out myself and did some video footage which you can see with this story on our website. Go to www.heraldstaronline.com and look for this story under the "community" heading of posted articles.
"It was great fun talking to everyone who stopped by and discussing the restoration. Our next step will be completion of the engineering and architectural work," Dressel said.
The event included representatives of the Grand Theater Restoration Project Board, including Donna Keagler and Jan Glaub Rainbolt, selling "Friend of the Grand" annual memberships which are $25 for an individual or $50 for a family.
There also are business memberships available - $100 for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and $1,000 for a corporate one for 50 or more employees.
Board members also were selling Grand Theater pins that double as a Christmas ornament for $10. I have one of them on my Christmas tree, incidentally.
Susanne Curn-Escobar also was on hand and is the board's newest member. "She will be taking on the museum portion of the restoration - everything from fundraising to restoration and the eventual collection and display of the history of entertainment in Steubenville and downtown generally," Dressel said.
The lobby was busy with visitors when I arrived, greeted initially by board member Francesca Carinci and Rachel Roggensack, one of two "elves" from the Franciscan University of Steubenville on duty as door openers.
The lobby looked great, decked out for the holiday with a donated Christmas tree and poinsettias from St. Peter's Catholic Woman's Club. A festive touch.
By the way, Donald Springer was the winner of a $100 Visa gift card as part of a photo contest open to anyone who submitted a photo of themselves in front of the lobby doors with the lobby Christmas tree lights on. The photos were to be posted to the Grand Theater Restoration Project's Facebook page for the random drawing conducted at the open house.
As I left the open house to head out and find a spot to watch the parade, I ran into co-worker and former Jefferson Union High School classmate Pat Mayers Scheel, who was waiting with her mother, Barbara Mayers, to watch the parade.
I mentioned that I'd just come from the Grand Theater, and Barbara, who was eager to visit there after the parade, shared a little story about what makes that place something special to her.
When she was a teenager, the former Barbara Curry - she grew up on Pleasant Heights - had her first date with her future husband, the late David Mayers, at the Grand Theater.
They met in 1947 and went to see "The Egg and I," starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert.
The two were married for 60 years before his death in March 2011.
"It was beautiful," Barbara said of the Grand.
"We always sat in the balcony, and they used to have giveaways on certain days when you would go and they would be on the stage and give dishes away and things like that. I remember that real well."
A promotional flyer notes the restoration goal is that the theater be transformed into "the Grand Event Center and Performing Arts and History Museum to be completed in 11 years."
If you'd like information about the restoration project or want to get involved in seeing the theater brought back to life, contact Dressel at (740) 632-2899.