The Commercial-News, Danville, IL


November 10, 2013

Efforts under way with hopes to save theaters

HOOPESTON — The Save The Lorraine Theatre Foundation members wait patiently in the wings while appraisers, lawyers and accountants make sure all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed in the paperwork process the government demands with all property sales.

This process will eventually allow the donation of the two Lorraine theaters to the foundation.

“We are looking at Dec. 1, if we are lucky,” said president Jim Richards at a public meeting Thursday.

In the meantime, the organization is working diligently to find grants and secure donations to rehabilitate the theaters, set a fundraising plan, membership levels including family and corporate levels, and work schedules needed in both theaters.

Members want to hit the ground running when the theaters are finally in their possession, to get the smaller Lorraine II operational while work on the Lorraine Theatre restoration project begins.

The planned project of the 92-year old theater will bring the Lorraine back to a semblance of its former life and a return to previous offerings of talent shows, classic movies, performances by local and area people, children’s events and maybe even a wedding or other special events in the older theater.

Replacement bricks on the northeast corner of the building will be FMC bricks as a memorial to a building that once employed the families of Hoopeston and the area for more than 100 years. Hoopeston lost the FMC building in a major fire last June.

According to Richards, about $200,000 to $300,000 is needed to totally refurbish, clean and restore the Lorraine.

The Lorraine Theatre officially broke ground in 1921 and opened for business in March of 1922. The building originally could seat 750 people. During the years, as the building was remodeled and upgraded, the seating capacity dropped to about 450.

Under the previous owner, the seating capacity dropped to around 300-340 with new seats and additional leg room being added. The theaters closed in April 2012.

For more information about the Lorraine Theatre project, or to volunteer to help in the restoration, contact Jim Richards at 283-6111 or email or vice president Keith Catron at

To donate to the Save The Lorraine Theatre Project, send donations to Save The Lorraine Theatre, c/o Jim Richards, P.O. Box 247, Hoopeston, Illinois 60942.

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