Friends of the Embassy to present master plan at Festival of Ice

LEWISTOWN – The marquee of the Embassy Theatre will be alight once more during the Festival of Ice this Thursday and Friday in Downtown Lewistown. Known as one of the only chances of the year to see inside the historical theater, visitors will also get a glimpse of the landmark’s future with a presentation of the conceptual master plan.

“The plan will be the final key to bringing the Embassy back to life,” said Paul Fagley, Friends of the Embassy president. “It will detail how the original architecture will be restored and how to refit the theater for a variety of uses beyond its original use as a single screen movie theatre.”

The master plan is being designed by the architectural firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky, located in Ohio, known for its work on more than 100 historical and modern theaters across the country including Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditorium.

The firm was hired in October out of four company proposals submitted during a bid process based on qualifications. The architects will be present during the Festival of Ice to discuss the plan and answer any questions.

“It’s really exciting to finally get to this stage and show everyone what we’ve been working on,” Fagley said. “We’ll have some visual aids and floor plans on hand and we welcome any public comment or suggestion.”

The presentation will also include potential uses for the Embassy based on interviews between Westlake Reed Leskosky and a number of community leaders. Many of those interviewed mentioned the need for a place to hold seminars, large meetings, workshops and community forums in addition to the theater uses already identified like classic and second-run films, small stage plays, stand-up comedy, concerts and children’s theater.

“One thing to understand, it’s common with historic buildings, that they can no longer serve the original function for which they were built,” Fagley said. “In the case of the Embassy, it can no longer survive as a single screen first-run theater. The more uses we find for it, the more financially stable it will be.”

Following the festival, Friends of the Embassy plan to meet with a company that specializes in the creation of fundraising plans. Then, sometime next year, the organization will begin a capital fundraising campaign, which will be used to fund the majority of renovation work on the theater.

“When completed, the plan will lead to beginning work on the interior of the theater,” Fagley said. “If everything goes well, we could start renovations within the next two years leading to a limited occupancy permit.”

For more information on the Embassy Theatre of Friends of the Embassy, visit The Festival of Ice is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday.