BOSCOBEL - With no revenue coming in over the past nearly 12 weeks due to the coronavirus shutdown, and needed renovations long overdue, the manager of Boscobel’s historic Blaine Theater is looking for some help from fans of the community landmark that dates back to the mid-1930’s.
“We’re trying to get some renovations done and since we’re closed now it seemed like the perfect time,” said Clifford Monroe, who has managed the Blaine since last summer. “State Theatres is buying us a new $8,600 popcorn machine, but we need to renovate the concession stand to make room for it. We’re also looking at doing some interior decorating but keep the historical feel.”
However, the problem with all such endeavors is money, or the lack of it. The city of Boscobel owns the Blaine Theater, but has no budget to support it. State Theatres leases the building for $9,000 a year, with $1,000 of that designated for building and equipment maintenance and repair.
Monroe is a carpenter who has done much of the work, as well as painting, on his own. However, he estimates the total cost of the work at around $20,000—which would include renovating and installing air conditioning in the front lobby, installing a staircase through the old VFW clubhouse and eliminating the narrow, obsolete steel, spiral staircase that leads to the projection room and converting the ticket booth to a pop stand to alleviate some of the congestion at the concession stand.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” Monroe said. “We’re probably not opening anytime soon with the restrictions so now would be the time to get it done.”
Monroe has raised about $600 in donations and another $400 through a Go Fund Me page. He has also been selling the Blaine’s well-known popcorn on Saturday afternoons and plans on doing that for the foreseeable future, but is still well below his goal.
“It’s helping, but it’s not enough,” he said.
City Administrator Misty Molzof told the Boscobel Common Council Monday night that the city has about $4,900 in its Blaine fund but Council members were reluctant to spend it because the city is responsible for replacing the screen.
In 2012, the city borrowed $85,000 over 10 years to pay for a new digital projector, sound system, screen, marquee renovation and restroom upgrades.
“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right,” Ald. Milt Cashman said at the time.
And while the Council decided not to spend city funds on the theater at this time, Administrator Molzof is hoping to garner some state and federal monies in the near future from unused Community Development Block Grant Funds, specifically for compliance with the American Disabilities Act.
“I’ll be looking into that,” she said Tuesday, hopefully to add automatic door openers and make the front lobby more handicap friendly.
In the meantime, you can show your support by stopping by the Blaine for Saturday afternoon popcorn sales or donating to their Go Fund Me page.For more information, contact Clifford Monroe at (701) 740-4767.