From the beggining
Where we are now
The Park Theatre has been in the small town of Mckenzie, TN for over 70 years! The original opening at the current location was in 1941. It remained open with many different owners until the late 1990's. In 1998 the Industrial Development Board of Mckenzie purchased the property and ownership of the property was transferred years later. This would begin the long journey of the theatre becoming re-opened.
In 2010 the city began looking into ways to raise funds to restore the Park Theatre, which had at one point been considered for demolition. In 2011, ACT II: Plan, Preserve, and Protect was founded to identify and pursue grants as well as raise cash through a broad range of events and fundraisers. The first grant acquired was a Parks and Recreation grant of $249,000 with a $50,000 contribution from the city, which was used to restore the front of the theater to as close to the original as possible. A second grant of approximately $200,000 from Delta Regional Authority required that the facility be used in part for job training. Those funds, plus the city's $131,000 match, were used to make the building structurally sound, safe, and usable as well as replace the projection screen. ACT II relied on money from donations, sponsors, and frequent fundraising events, bringing in $95,000, to complete the remainder of the work. A new surround sound system has been installed, and the projection unit and all equipment have been upgraded. The curtains and chairs were all replaced, and repairs were made to the interior walls.
ACT II was originally chaired by Dr. Lisa Norris and had since been led by S.T. Holmes and Ryan Griffin.
Bethel University has been involved in the project from the beginning. Students have held haunted houses at the theater, operated a pizzeria in the lobby, and assisted in countless other fundraising events, such as the Boo Bash and the Southern Fried Food and Sweet Tea Festival.
Even as the grand opening comes, the balcony, upstairs offices, and basement are unfinished. The next phase of ACT II will be continuing to improve those areas for potential future use. The balcony could potentially add another 99 to the current seating capacity of approximately 200.
Source: The McKenzie Banner