The local landmark on Broadway where folks would watch films and live performances now has a new name to carry on the venue’s mission: Columbia Art House.
Columbia Art House Board Chair Darlene Mazzone said the board recently voted to rebrand the landmark, formerly known as the Columbia Theatre, to help establish an identity for the Columbia as a cultural center in the city.
“We see the utilization of the space and of the theatre as much more than film. For more of its life early on, especially in the ‘20s and in the ‘30s, it was much more of a performance venue than it was film,” Mazzone told The Sun.
Mazzone said the board envisions the Columbia Art House as a place for all types of events, such as live performances, entertainment, art exhibitions, workshops, classes and weddings.
Volunteers have completed all of the “boots on the ground” work that could be done without bringing in professionals to help with revitalization, Mazzone said. In addition, asbestos has been removed from the art house, and the Columbia’s fire curtain has been restored and protected.
Now, Mazzone said the Columbia Art House, which first opened its doors in 1927, is in need of building stabilization. The Columbia Art House Board of Directors is working with DLR Group, an architecture firm from Cleveland with experience restoring historic theatres, on a design and approach for revitalizing the space. Columbia Art House’s building is also in “dire need of stabilization,” Mazzone said.
The board is hoping that it can come up with a design and stabilization plan that will be about half the cost of a previous design, Mazzone added.
Additionally, the board of directors has commissioned a market analysis so that it can have a better understanding of what kind of events would do well at the Columbia Art House, and what kind of events the revitalized space could attract.
Mazzone, who has served as the board chair since 2013, hopes to see an architectural design plan created by the end of the year so that the board can have a plan to move forward with stabilizing the Columbia Art House building over the next few years.
Getting the building stabilized, Mazzone said, is a big step toward the event space eventually being opened up to the public to host events and to bring a new chapter of activity to the art center.
“For almost 100 years … that theatre has been an iconic part of the historic district and, you know, an anchor of entertainment and night life and livelihood, and that’s ultimately what we want to get back to is — A) not to lose this amazing structure … and, B) to open up a lot of vitality down on that part of Broadway,” Mazzone said.
Columbia Art House is one of the charities that benefits from the Fred Paxton Challenge for Charities, which runs now through Aug. 31. Donations to local charities, which the Paxton Foundation matches up to $10,000 per charity, can be made at cfwestky.org.
Mazzone said the Columbia Art House is also hosting an “American Graffiti”-themed event on Sept. 10 outside of the building with vintage cars, music and food. More information on the art house is available at savethecolumbia.org.