Goshen Theater restoration fund drive gets $1 million infusion


GOSHEN — A $1 million grant has pushed the Goshen Theater restoration fund drive out of its private phase and into its public phase.

On Friday the Community Foundation of Elkhart Countygave the money to the theater restoration board as its share of a match challenge.

The not-for-profit Goshen Theater Inc. board hopes to raise $5.2 million for the first phase of restoring the historic theater. As part of that fundraising drive, the foundation promised the $1 million donation if the board raised $2 million during its “quiet phase” of the fund drive. As of March 31, the board had $1.9 million in commitments in donations, according to Joanna King, co-chair of the board.

The money raised during the private phase of the fund drive will be added to the $835,000 promised by the Regional Cities Initiative and $850,000 budgeted by the Goshen Redevelopment Commission.

“We have raised a significant amount of money but we have about $600,000 to still raise,” King said Friday morning during the board’s meeting. “This is a good moment to pause and take a look at what we have done and celebrate, but we still have $600,000 to raise. And I am excited to be able to now share publicly a little more with people about what we are doing.”

What the board is doing now is formulating a plan on how best to present the fund drive to local residents.


In May, according to board co-chair Everett Thomas, the board will hear a proposal from Eyedart Creative Studio about the public portion of the campaign.

Thomas said the board’s former consultant estimated it would take up to 18 months to raise the $5.2 million, meaning the board has about 12 more months to raise the remaining $600,000. He said the intent is to begin renovations on the theater following the River Bend Film Festival in May 2019.

Construction will cost $4.2 million, he said, and $1 million will be set aside to start an endowment fund.

“The next step is for us to come up with a strategy for the public phase,” Thomas said.

The $4.2 million will be used to make the most urgent renovations at the theater, which dates to 1907.

“Some of the things we are doing in this first phase are very much needed in order to use the rest of the facility. For example a four-stop elevator. We currently use the ballroom on the third floor for a dance studio, which is wonderful, but it (the lack of an elevator) really limits our ability to do any kind of catered events.”

Thomas and King said caterers balk at the idea of having to lug food and serving equipment up 52 stairs to the ballroom.

“Some of the amenities that really needed to have been made a long time ago are finally going to happen now,” King said.

Article written by Roger Schneider, Goshen News City Editor.