Historic theater getting makeover

HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - An old theatre in Hopewell is getting a makeover after 30 years.

Saturday some people got a first look at the city's multi-million dollar renovation to the Beacon Theatre.

The City of Hopewell has spent $1.3 million trying to get the building back in shape.

Several banquet rooms have been renovated and are now open, but there's still a lot of work left to be done.

The Beacon Theatre has been a landmark in Hopewell since 1928.

Kathy Bonds has lived in Hopewell all her life and has spent many weekends at the Beacon Theatre.

"This was our main entertainment every Saturday morning," Bonds said.  "A group of people from the neighborhood came down here to watch a movie, 'The Three Stooges', 'Godzilla Takes Japan', lots of crazy movies."

Kathy was one of many people that got a first look inside the theatre Saturday after the multi-million dollar renovation.

More than a million dollars in taxpayer money was used to renovate several banquet rooms designed for wedding receptions and other events.

Now comes the hard part - city leaders want to renovate the theatre.

"We want to bring it back so we can bring entertainment to the city," said Councilman Gerald Stokes. "We want to put on plays, we'd like to have Bluegrass music, Western music, Gospel singing. We can also have movies here."

Problem is, no one knows how much that will cost.

The city is forming a committee to look at how much money it'll take, but it won't be cheap.

"We're going to have to take it slow, no doubt about it." Stokes said.  "The economic recovery is very slow and therefore the money is going to be very slow but we're going to start with whatever we can do and pay whatever we can."

City leaders hope to have the theatre renovated by 2016. Fans of the Beacon say Rome wasn't built in a day so they know the theatre won't come back overnight.

"It's very sad that it's gotten to this point," Bonds said.  "It's still encouraging that people have taken up the cause again and we're going to get it back to its former glory."

So far the city has set aside $100,000 for the theatre next year, but that money is set to be used to operate and maintain the recently renovated banquet space.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.