Renaissance Theater
6:55 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Small Pieces of Personal History Uncovered During Mercer Co. Theatre Renovation

A non-profit organization is working to improve the community by renovating a theater. It’s part of the Princeton Renaissance in Mercer County. Gutting a theater built more than 100 years ago, uncovers interesting pieces of history 

While gutting a theater built in 1911, volunteers have some across pieces of history, not necessarily worth cash such as:

  • Candy wrappers
  • Ticket stubs
  • Film

Community Connections purchased the building last year. Executive Director Greg Puckett also found what appears to be a sketch by an architect that laid out plans for the 1950’s renovation and even the silver screen, which was painted blue, was found crumpled on the floor.

“You’re going through and you’re finding all of these really cool things that to the common individual they may go, 'oh it’s a ticket stub and throw it away," he said, "but when you know you’re holding a ticket stub that’s probably 75 to 80 years old … and you know that you’re holding a piece of the history that somebody else had 75 80 years ago that’s important.”

A study from West Virginia University's Bureau for Business and Economic Research indicates the state's population is expected to drop by 20,000 through the year 2030. But a Gallup poll shows a majority of West Virginians want to stay.  Puckett hopes this project helps to keep folks in Mercer County.

Community Connections is a non-profit organization that works to prevent drug abuse and better communities with multiple partners. The group also serves as a Family Resource Network for Mercer County.

The latest project might seem unconventional, but Puckett says renovating an old theater in downtown Princeton just makes sense.

“If you continue to be passive and not do anything than people will give in and do nothing or they will look elsewhere for those opportunities," Puckett said. "Unfortunately, we’ve been in area too long where people have looked elsewhere for the opportunities and they’ve left. Or those who have stayed have been content with what’s here. We simply can’t be content any more."

Originally the building housed:

  • Two Doctor’s Offices
  • Jewelry Store
  • Performance/Motion Picture Theater.

Community Connections is using volunteer labor to transform the building to house:

  • Motion Picture Theater
  • Small Performance Theater
  • Theater Box Office
  • Museum
  • Antique Arcade

Puckett says reminding us of our past, is a good way to look into the future. When complete, the theater will be open to the community for events. In an effort to attract families, Puckett says no “R” rate movies will play at the Renaissance Theater.

The 100 seats on the balcony were reserved for African Americans since only whites were allowed on the floor.
The 100 seats on the balcony were reserved for African Americans since only whites were allowed on the floor.