After years of standing idle or underused, construction to restore the iconic Ashland Theatre to its former glory, and then some, is now officially underway. The Theatre was donated to the Town of Ashland by Jean and A.D. Whittaker, with a $500K grant from the Virginia Department of Community Development, matched by the Town of Ashland, the million dollar plus renovation will turn an old town treasure into a new town jewel. Plans call for spacious reception and concession areas, brand new seats, new handicapped accessible bathrooms, a dramatically expanded stage, backstage changing rooms and state-of-the-art sound equipment. And more. The new Ashland Theatre will re-open its doors in the early 2018.
The project has deep roots in the community. McKinney & Company, which produced the blueprints and will be the owner’s rep is headquartered in downtown Ashland. F Richard Wilton Jr, Inc Construction Company which will oversee the project is located next door to the Theatre. Hugh Joyce, whose company James River Air Conditioning Company, is donating much of the plumbing and electrical work, is a past President of Ashland Main Street, and Ashland resident, Chopper Dawson, of Chopper Dawson Incorporated will partner with Wilton Construction to bring the project to completion. All of these individuals and companies have given generous in-kind and discounted services so that the project will come in at or below budget.
Today marked the start of renovations at the Theatre with Mayor Jim Foley doing the honors with a ceremonial strike of the sledge hammer to a wall that will ultimately be removed. At the ceremony, Clark Mercer, President of the Ashland Theatre Foundation, stated, “This is an exciting milestone for the Ashland Theatre— this Theatre belongs to the community and with the community as a partner in its renovations, we will all be proud to see this landmark return to its former glory.”
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