The entertainment phrase “bringing down the house” held a different meaning this week as the contents of the Old Town Theater were dismantled and auctioned off Oct. 7 after the landmark venue dimmed its marquee lights for good earlier this summer.
“We gave it our best effort to operate this as a theater but just didn’t get the support we needed from the community,” said Eileen Cross of PMA Properties, owners of the historic theater. “We’re still open to someone coming in and running this as a theater or even buying the venue outright, but for now we are moving ahead with our plans to convert the building into two floors of retail space.”
From the lighting in the rafters to the musical equipment in the orchestra pit, virtually everything in the theater was part of an online auction through Rasmus Auctions. A preview day for potential bidders was held Oct. 6.
Originally opened Aug. 12, 1914 by Ralph A. Steele and W. Harmon Reed as the Richmond Theater, the 8,500-square foot venue was acquired in 2011 for $2 million by PMA Properties founder Rob Kaufman.
Kaufman immediately went to work restoring the historic structure, which served at times as a community hall and overflow classroom in addition to being an entertainment venue
“We gave it our best effort … but just didn’t get the support we needed from the community.”
— Eileen Cross of PMA Properties
After extensive renovations, the theater reopened with much fanfare in December of 2012 but had trouble maintaining an audience. Kaufman will now revisit his original plan to lease the building to retailers.
“Construction drawings are at City Hall as we speak,” Cross said. “But there continues to be a lot of interest in this building so we’ll see what happens.”