BY CAROL HICKS
HOOPESTON — The 98-year old Lorraine Theatre recently received a face lift and a few upgrades inside the building.
The theater, built in 1921 and opened in March of 1922 showing silent films, is slowly being renovated through fundraisers and events by the Save The Lorraine Foundation and with generous donations from local and area businesses, and by Hoopeston alumni near and far.
The rest of the money used for upgrades has come from grants from the Cadle Foundation, Iroquois Federal and generous donations from several loyal Cornjerkers wanting "the Lady" to remain an integral part of the Hoopeston community.
The most recent upgrade in June was the fabrication of a few new metal pieces to replace several rusted and broken ones on the marque, which was caulked and sealed. The marque was painted white with an art deco red trim.
New lights will be replaced in the Lorraine letters and bulbs will be returned to the marque once all the paint work has been completed. Older bulbs, not useable, will be sold as memorabilia later, according to foundation vice president Alex Houmes.
This year saw the west side of the building being tuckpointed, curtains covering the front doors, sweeps for all the outside doors, repair of several seats in the auditorium, railings added for the two handicap boxes in the auditorium, the purchase of two more stage lights, and a new overhead light in the middle of the auditorium. Also new this year was the remodel of the women's restroom with a handicap stall and the addition of a candy case beside the popcorn machine. Several pieces of memorabilia have been placed on the walls.
Before the end of the year, said both Houmes and president Jim Richards, the men's restroom will be remodeled to include a handicap stall with funds from another Iroquois Federal grant. Also, railings will be installed on the balcony stairs at the Lorraine and a railing installed by the back door of the Little Lorraine.
Richards said the Brick by Brick fundraiser will soon be retired. Donors names of the Brick by Brick are now in the process of being discussed regarding how and where to display the many donor names.
The next order of business for the Save The Lorraine Foundation is a new fundraiser to raise much-needed funds for a new roof, projector, sound system and sound boards in order to once again show movies at the Lorraine Theatre as well as the live events.
Live events coming soon are Doug Church, The Voice of Elvis, at 7 p.m. Aug. 24; Beach Boys Tribute artist at 7 p.m. Oct. 26; and a Neil Diamond Tribute artist at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Lorraine Theatre. Tickets are on sale now for $28 online, from City Hall, Treasured Roots, Little Lorraine during weekend shows, and from Lorraine officers and board members.
New Lorraine shirts have been designed and are now for sale at Treasured Roots and the Little Lorraine. Lorraine ornaments also are available for gifts for birthdays and Christmas at both places and Mr. B’s and the Little Lorraine.
Earlier this year, the foundation purchased the old Humble Gas Station located on the corner of Third and Main Street on a tax sale. Members of the organization and several area residents, including a couple council members, cleaned the debris from the station, garage and yard of the station. The garage will be remodeled for storage space for the Lorraine. Discussion regarding the little gas station is in process to decide how best to deal with it.
The Save The Lorraine Foundation is in its seventh year of fundraising, looking for grants and donations to complete the renovation of the theater. In April of 1921, ground was broken to begin building the theater and in April 2021, this theater will be 100 years old.