Regional Cities Initiative project to raise $1.5MM in philanthropic matching funds.
Plymouth, IN (September 28, 2018) – A local industry with international recognition has lent its support in saving an iconic downtown theatre in rural America. On Friday, September 28th, Hoosier Racing Tire President, John DeSalle, was on hand to announce the company’s investment of $50,000 to the REES Theatre Project. The Plymouth manufacturer is matching a gift made by the Plymouth Industrial Development Corporation (PIDCO) earlier this summer. Both organizations donated at the leadership matching gift level which will provide significant capital investment to the project.
These investments by local businesses and organizations comes at an ideal time. The REES Theatre Project is striving to meet an October 31st deadline for a Regional Cities Initiative matching grant of $300,000. This is a wonderful opportunity to support a worthwhile quality-of-place enhancing project and capture the Regional Cities matching funds. Successful fundraising this year will allow interior renovations to begin quickly and a grand reopening to take place as early as the first quarter of 2020.
Since the closing of the iconic REES Theatre in 2009 after a 69-year run, the community of Plymouth has been imagining the possibilities for its return to the vigor of its grand opening night on April 12, 1940 featuring Gone with the Wind. Then in December of 2016, a Plymouth couple, encouraged by the presentation of 8th grade students from Lincoln Junior High and the many placemaking efforts occurring in the downtown area, decided it was time to take some action. Their $100,000 gift to the Wythougan Valley Preservation Council allowed for the theater to be purchased from private owners and placed in a 501(c)3 not-for-profit now known as The REES Theatre Inc.
Led by an original committee of twelve or the ‘Dirty Dozen’, this restoration effort has been supported by The City of Plymouth, Discover Plymouth, Plymouth Redevelopment Commission, Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, PEDC, PIDCO, Plymouth Chamber, M.C. Tourism Bureau, Marshall County Crossroads Museum & Historical Society, and the Marshall County Community Foundation. Endorsements have come from St. Joseph Regional Medical Center; LifePlex; Ancilla College; Culver Academies; and Plymouth, Triton, LaVille, and John Glenn Community Schools.
The REES has a notable historic past. Original construction of the theater began in 1939 within a massive three-story red brick building originally completed in 1865 as Plymouth’s tallest edifice on lot No. 1 of the 1836 plat map. Well known architect Alves O’Keefe designed the theater which was completed in February of 1940 by then owners Stewart and Opal Rees who resided on the third floor. It boosted the first ‘Mother’s Viewing Room’ for fussy babies.
In the spring of 2017 phase one work began to restore the art deco glazed block façade and repairs were made to the marquee which was completely rebuilt in a redevelopment project in 1997. With neon repairs complete and all new LED energy efficient bulbs in place, the lighted marquee was returned to the Plymouth streetscape by the fall of 2017. The marquee displays community and private messages that change on a daily basis.
With a sustainable business plan in place to create a multipurpose event center focused on the presentation of film, the performing arts, education and the celebration of life events, a capital campaign was established—Pledging to Save The REES. After witnessing the theater’s physical demise, the Plymouth community understands the need for renovation and sees the REES as a vital part of the city’s landscape once again.
In partnership with the Marshall County Community Foundation, pledges may be secured over a four-year payment period. In addition, an Endowment Fund has been established to secure and sustain The REES for the enjoyment of future generations.
Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter has given his support to the project, adding, “In 2020 the REES Theatre will turn 80 years old. In the last two years, a civic committee has brought forward an awesome idea to save the REES. Imagine the possibilities of a new downtown event venue for up and coming singers or new bands in the area, your daughter’s wedding and reception at a beautiful new site in downtown Plymouth, the Maxinkuckee Players performing on-stage an established Broadway musical, or watching the original Star Wars like you did in 1977 at the age of 11. Anything is possible at the REES.”
This summer, The REES Project was added to the Marshall County Crossroads Stellar Initiative, as another show of community support. When complete, the art deco restored interior will create a multi-use venue for the performing arts, educational programing and the celebration of life events. Dependent on successful fundraising efforts the facility is expected to open in its 80th Anniversary year 2020.