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12/23/2018 12:10:00 PM
Madison's Ohio Theatre group buys next-door store as part of plans to expand
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Madison Courier

Madison residents were told late yesterday that the effort to rebuild and restore the Ohio Theatre is moving forward with the purchase of an adjacent building at 103 E. Main St. just west of the theatre.

In a post to the Ohio Theatre’s Facebook page Thursday afternoon, the Friends of the Ohio Theatre said they were “thrilled to share that we just purchased 103 East Main Street, the building adjacent to and west of the Ohio Theatre! When we hired Webb Management Services as our feasibility study consultants, their research concluded that we needed to purchase the neighboring building to add ADA restrooms, green room and additional amenities throughout the building. This is an exciting step forward as part of our project to create a state-of-the-art entertainment venue in Madison.

“Even though the theatre is currently closed due to the June 2018 fire, we are still moving forward with our plans, and purchasing 103 East Main was a strategic move. The building was for sale and our board members believed it was important to take advantage of the opportunity to secure the property, as recommended by the feasibility study. Once again, we want to assure the community that we are financially sound and paying all of our bills.

“At this time, The Sweeter Life, Home of Sharon’s Cakes and other tenants will remain in the building. We bought the building to plan for the future.”

After many years of operation under different ownership, The Friends of the Ohio Theatre acquired the Ohio Theatre in March 2016 but the theatre was closed in April for a short time.

Elizabeth Auxier, board president of the Friends of the Ohio Theatre, and the group began cleaning, repairing and replacing various parts of the theatre. On Nov. 28, 2016, the group attained nonprofit status, a development Auxier called “a Christmas miracle.” They since have received grants and conducted a feasibility study in 2017 to get a comprehensive list of recommended renovations as well as a proposed timeline.

Madison was named a Stellar Community in 2017. That honor came with a $6 million award “intended to promote long-term permanent growth,” and the Ohio Theatre was named as one of Madison’s Stellar Communities Projects. The Friends of the Ohio Theatre’s plan was to continue fundraising and celebrate the Ohio Theatre’s 80th birthday, before closing in 2019 for significant repairs.

After the fire this summer, Auxier said that the Friends of the Ohio had been working to raise funds to replace the roof. “Now, we need to do it sooner,” she said.

In the Facebook post yesterday, the Friends of the Ohio Theatre expressed thanks to “John and Sandy Schaerli for selling the building, Tammy McCord Carnes with First Financial Bank for assisting with financing, Brenda Lou Eversole with Century 21 River Valley Real Estate for coordinating the real estate transaction, Kim Reece at Jefferson County Land Title Corp for helping with closing paperwork and Ralph Lee and Bonnie Lee with River Valley Insurance Group, Inc for providing insurance.

“Our volunteers realize that we are lucky to live in a community in which so many people are happy to help us work together to advance our dream of renovating the Ohio Theatre.”

Copyright 2019, The Madison Courier

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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