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Hoopeston Community Rallying To Save Historical Theatre

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It's been a staple in Hoopeston's downtown for decades, and now the community is fighting to keep the doors of the Lorraine Theatre open. The theatre has been a part of the community for nearly a hundred years. That’s why members of the Save the Lorraine Foundation said it's not easy to let it go, but with the help of donations from the community they might not have to.

“It's a part of our history and we want to keep it here, we don't want to lose it,” the secretary of the foundation, Carol Hicks, said. “I remember one New Year’s Eve [the theatre] stayed open for the kids so the parents could go out and the kids came here and stayed after midnight.”

Opening its doors in 1922, the Lorraine Theatre quickly became a part of the Hoopeston community, however, in 2012 the theater closed due to financial problems and costly repairs.

“We had to clean things out and remove all the sound panels that had been ruined by moisture and mold,” Vice President of the Save the Lorraine Foundation Alex Houmes said.

The foundation was launched a year after the theatre closed its doors. The Little Lorraine down the block from the theatre is being used to temporarily host film screenings and the foundation is using that money to support the theatre.

“And it's with those donations, with the fundraisers that we've hosted as well with a few local grants that we've graciously been awarded, that it still stands,” Houmes said. “And as the Lorraine sits right now, we have about $280,000 to $300,000.”

With that money, they look forward to keeping the gem in their community.

“Everyone has an experience of coming here,” Houmes said. “Watching a movie, whether it was a first date or coming here with their parents, and even people outside of Hoopeston in the surrounding areas knew it for its sound system and its unique atmosphere. There's nothing quite like the Lorraine in this area.”

The theatre isn't open for movies yet, but live theatrical and musical performances will start at the end of the month. The foundation said though they've been making progress with renovations, they are not sure when the theatre will be fully operational.

The Little Lorraine will show the film "More than Chance" this weekend as a part of the foundation's fundraiser. For tickets and information about helping Save the Lorraine click here.

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