Dick & Peggy Knowlton
On December 28,1999
The Historic Holland Theatre was purchased for
the Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc.
by Richard and Peggy Knowlton.
The Holland Theatre
Restoring Our History -- Enriching our Future
The Capital Campaign
Logan County, Ohio, is a study of contrasts - picturesque, industrial, historic, and high-tech - the county is all of these things. It is home to one of the Midwest's most concentrated clusters of automotive manufacturing companies, as well as more than 800 working farms.
It is a vibrant, growing area - one to which people return to raise their families, to retire, or simply to visit. The same qualities that make Logan County a pleasant place to live - charming small towns, tree-lined streets, solitary Victorian farmhouses, Amish homesteads, outdoor festivals and recreation, and historic amenities - are attracting a growing number of day-trippers and corporations.
The Logan County seat, Bellefontaine, is located at the very heart of the county and is the hub of the 14 small communities that make up this corner of Western Ohio. Over the last 30 years in Ohio, and across the country, many families have left their small towns and spread into outlying areas. Businesses that served these families, everything from shoe stores to dentists - followed, leaving thousands of American downtowns shuttered and silent. Bellefontaine has remained fairly active largely because most county business is conducted around the square. However, like similar cities, it suffers from the loss of its retail base and the subsequent loss of consumers who now flock to big box stores or malls, instead of downtown. Bellefontaine has an advantage over most small towns - a business community determined to revitalize downtown, public officials and residents who support that vision, and an exciting opportunity to create a downtown cultural district using an existing asset - the historic Holland Theatre.
The Holland Theatre is located just off courthouse square in downtown Bellefontaine. Although it has been vacant for several years, this significant structure is still in relatively good repair and has been placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Purchased by Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc., in December of 1999, the Holland is an anchor for downtown Bellefontaine’s revitalization plans. The restoration and the adaptive reuse of the Holland, as the Logan County Arts Center, offers the county an unprecedented opportunity to create a great community asset while preserving a nationally significant structure.
A restored Holland Theatre will not only spur parallel development in the contiguous area and encourage the establishment of complementary businesses, but also will create a more active, safer, attractive environment in the center of Logan County's seat. A series of formal and informal surveys and meetings with residents has determined that the public will support a redeveloped Holland Theatre that provides:
- High quality and affordable professional performing and visual arts events.
- Creative and inclusive opportunities for students, existing arts groups, and the general public.
- Multi-use, publicly available space for a variety of purposes.
- Responding to the needs expressed by residents, the Holland Theatre will offer four specific services to Logan County:
- It will attract and present local national professional performing arts programming such as concerts, plays, musical theatre, and dance.
- It will offer local schools, performing arts groups, theatrical troupes, and grass roots organizations a venue for public and private performances.
- It will offer gallery and classroom space for the visual arts.
- Corporations and individuals will be invited to rent the state-of-the-art auditorium and attractive reception areas for meetings, presentations, trade shows, and social functions.
Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc., has focused its efforts on the Holland Theatre project because the building is unique in the United States, because it is an indelible part of Logan County history, and because a restored and operational Holland will positively impact the entire region. To preserve and restore the structure is an important goal, but in order for the Theatre to create long-term benefits for the area, it is also important to approach this effort as an economic revitalization project. After numerous consultations with a respected architectural firm and other professionals, the Board of Trustees of the Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc., has developed a comprehensive $4 million capital and endowment budget. In a gesture of support, the Federal government, the State of Ohio, the City of Bellefontaine, and Logan County have made initial financial contributions to this project.
Restored historic theatres have served as an economic catalyst for hundreds of American cities of all sizes. Following the model provided by the most successful projects, the new Logan County Arts Center at the Holland Theatre can fill a community need while returning a nationally recognized building to its former glory. A unified public/private partnership will ensure that the Holland Theatre project is a success.
Initial Investment and Volunteer Support
Volunteers driving the revitalization efforts have completed a significant amount of research on the Theatre’s history and have done a tremendous amount of work to suggest possibilities for its future use. In order for an historic theatre to be successfully redeveloped into an entertainment facility, the community must support the concept and commit to the effort necessary for such an enterprise. It must be a grass roots effort in the broadest sense. To present a visible case to the community and to encourage buy-in from all constituencies, Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc. and the Holland Theatre, Ltd. have completed architectural and marketing surveys, explored the availability of historic tax credits and other funding sources, sought endorsements from community leaders, and developed a strategic plan. A business plan that includes startup and ongoing operations has been developed.
The Holland Theatre has already attracted support from within the community and at city, county, state and federal levels. The purchase of the Holland was made possible through a generous donation by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Knowlton. This $135,000 gift allowed the Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc., to acquire the property. Following this, the county’s leading corporate citizen, Honda of America, made a $75,000 donation. Then, State Representative Tony Core and State Senator Larry Mumper secured a $250,000 grant from the State of Ohio. In a gesture of support and confidence, both the Logan County Commissioners and the City of Bellefontaine have made gifts to the Holland project. These funds were used primarily to complete emergency repairs and to secure the theatre from further deterioration.
More recently, a Community Development Block Grant was obtained through the Logan County Commissioners and was used to completely upgrade and rebuild the women’s restroom, making it a large, roomy, modern facility that meets the handicapped standards of today. It also upgraded some of the electrical systems on the stage.
In 2005, through the efforts of Ohio Senator Mike DeWine and his office, the Holland Theatre will be receiving a $200,000 "Save America's Treasures" federal project grant. This is a matching grant. The money from this grant is a start to raising funds for a new heating and cooling system for the historic Holland Theatre. Sky Bank has donated $10,000 and Center Stage Productions (a theatrical group of home schooled children) has donated $3,000 toward the match.
In addition, through the hard work of State Representative Tony Core, $100,000 has been appropriated for the Holland Theatre and will be administered through the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission.
More than 28,000 hours of volunteer labor have been donated by citizens. Dozens of enthusiastic individuals have repaired and patched plumbing and electrical systems, hauled tons of trash, removed damaged materials, cleared rooms packed with broken equipment and discarded furniture, and presented the Holland project in public through lectures, presentations, performances and building tours.