The Columbia Club has received a $25,000 donation, made through the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, to aid in restoration of the Columbia Theater in Downtown Paducah.
Co-Chair of the Columbia Club task force Darlene Mazzone says restoring the architectural gem will improve downtown economic viability and expects the donation to be put toward a feasibility study for the renovation project. The study will help the Columbia Club determine how to raise the near $8 million needed for the renovation.
“It’s a confidence boost for us that someone saw the potential of the project,” Mazzone said. “Someone decided that it was, you know, a viable and worthwhile project and made the donation. We are very excited about that and very grateful for that.”
Once restored, the club plans for the Paducah Film Society to run the theater. Landee Bryant-Greene, who has been Executive Director of Maiden Alley Cinema for six years and serves as Vice-Chair of the Columbia Club, says the Columbia Theater will be modeled after Maiden Alley Cinema, which Bryant-Greene says has been successful since it began twelve years ago.
“I went on a tour of the Columbia several years ago and was quite touched and moved, to tears, actually, that that structure existed in Paducah. I just couldn’t believe it,” Bryant-Greene said with admiration. “And the inside is just magnificent. I’ve just been very passionate about it ever since. We’ve finally got a great group of people that are excited about it and that are dedicated to it. It’s just such a moving time.”
Maiden Alley has been unable to keep up with demand and the Columbia Theater would allow it to expand its educational programing, movie screenings, and live music events.
The Club hopes to hear back this month about the Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a $50,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection to take care of asbestos and lead paint in the building.