MIAMI, OK-- From ornate woodwork to a million dollar pipe organ, renovations at the Coleman Theater are extensive and span decades.
Work on the theater is about 90 or 95% complete. But even with some renovations left to do, the complex has come a long way since Bob Phillips covered the project 16 years ago.
From the Phillips' Filel: "The Coleman Theater Beautiful in Miami is one of the Midwest's architectural jewels. This famed showplace along Route 66 opened in 1929. It was built by George Coleman who had made a fortune in the area mining industry. And recently an extensive renovation project was launched to restore it. It's cost $300,000 for a new roof, safety measures, and updating of the theater's original Wurlitzer organ."
Now, in 2012, what was a good start is almost finished. Director Barbara Smith remembers the 75th anniversary in 2004 when that wasn't the case. "We still didn't have our seats. They had springs sticking up and no carpet."
An Adopt A Seat program filled the main floor of the theater, and a generous donation from a transplanted Miami native finished the balcony. "$250,000 that we didn't have to match!" added Smith. She estimated renovations have totaled $7 - 8 million which has meant a lot of fundraising. It's a tough sell, helped by the unique role the Coleman fills in the community. "This theater is the heart of our community - the first dates, the first kiss, the marriage proposals - all the history. It's just so meaningful."
The commitment of roughly 100 volunteers has helped install silk and paint on the walls, replace linoleum with reproduction carpet and restore the original 2,000 pound chandelier. Smith says it's a labor of love. "We call it Coleman fever. You get Coleman fever because there's just something about the place."
Smith credits the partnership with the city of Miami with making it all possible. The opening of a new ballroom now allows the facility to host everything from conferences to prom - and helping to ease the need for funds. You can find out more by clicking here.