Bells, TN – Historic Bells Theatre one step closer to encore presentation
From wbbjtv.com: The sound of applause will sound ring out again at the historic downtown Bells Theatre. “It’s been closed for 20 years, but the wallpaper, the lights, the seating, the velvet curtains — it’s all right there,” said Mildred Brimm, who says she grew up in the theatre.
Brimm’s grandfather had a store beside the theatre. Now there’s an effort to make Bells Theatre the main attraction again, and it all started over a conversation at lunch.
“We started looking at different places in our cities that maybe we’d forgotten but could be a great tourist attraction or something hidden, we need to bring attention to,” Charlie Moore with the Crockett County Chamber of Commerce said.
That same day, they got the key and unlocked the door to the theatre and saw the work that needed to be done, but Brimm said it brought back so many memories.
“When I walked in, it looked just like it did when I was a child growing up in this town. I could almost smell the popcorn,” Brimm said.
Friday morning, state officials presented a round of grants to the city to make these efforts possible. A $380,000 grant from Tennessee Parks and Recreation, a clean energies grant for $350,000, and a $50,000 check from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Department of Rural Development.
“The mayor referred to us as some bulldogs, and he’s right,” Sarah Conley with Crockett County’s Arts Council said. “We got a hold of this project and we’re not going to let it go until it is completed.”
“They’re determined to do it, and I think they will,” Bells Mayor Joe Williams said.
There is no word yet on when the $1.2 million project will reopen for its second act.
“We’ve got to do it now. If we don’t, small-town America and the feeling of growing up in a small town is going to be lost,” Brimm said.
The project still needs $185,000. If you would like to donate, visit the Facebook Page for the project, Save the Bells Theatre.
Link to the story, with video: http://www.wbbjtv.com/2016/11/18/bells-theatre-one-step-closer-encore-presentation/
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Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at historictheatres.org