The Hyart Theatre, know to some as the “Grand Ol’ Lady of Lovell,” needs a new roof. It’s as simple as that and Hyart board member Jack Brinkerhoff is spearheading an effort to raise the $175,000 it will take to get the job done right.
The theatre, built in 1950, is a familiar landmark and a hub of activity in Lovell on movie and other performance nights. A number of fundraisers have kept the building and its equipment in relatively good repair, in part due to a tremendous tradition of community support that has developed over the years. Brinkerhoff hopes the tradition will continue.
Brinkerhoff said he has already had contractors examine the roof and considerable damage was found caused by water damage from leaks. He said, though he hoped initially that just the leaks could be repaired, he has received recommendations that it be replaced entirely to prevent further damage.
The fundraising campaign is being called “Raise the Roof.” It kicked off this week with its first donation of two $1,000 checks from the current and past presidents of the Lovell Woman’s Club. Peggy Rohrer, a member of the club, said she thought it was very fitting that the club was the first to step up with a donation toward the project, since it has long enjoyed the use of the Hyart for its biggest fundraiser, “The Mustang Follies.”
Brinkerhoff has also set up a GoFundMe site for receiving donations, which brought in more than $1,000 the first week it was up. He is encouraging Hyart supporters to share a link to the site on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites.
The GoFundMe site contains a history about the theatre, which was designed by Hyrum “Hy” Bischoff and later built from a sketch without the use of an actual blueprint. The Bischoff family owned and managed the theatre for many years until it closed its doors in the 1960s.
“With the exception of occasional community stage productions, the theatre had remained dark for nearly a dozen years when an enterprising group of local residents got together to determine the best way to resurrect the theatre,” wrote Brinkerhoff on the GoFundMe website.
After countless hours of volunteer efforts, the Hyart reopened in 2004 and has enjoyed considerable support and use by the community since that time. The theatre is run for the most part by volunteers, who take tickets, operate the concessions counter and clean up after movies and events.
“Unfortunately, due to her age and a long period of disuse, the Hyart continues to show the stress of her 66-year existence,” said Brinkerhoff. “In addition to a long list of upkeep and repairs on the wish list, during the winter of 2013-14 it was discovered that the original roof is now in dire need of repair.”
In addition to showing first run movies, a number of other events are held at the theatre including school programs, touring arts programs, the Mustang Days Follies and the Hyart Film Festival. The relatively large theatre seats just under 1,000 people, making it suitable for large productions.
“In 2009 the Hyart was added to the National Register of Historic Places and looks much as she did back in the 1950s,” said Brinkerhoff. “It’s hard to attend an event at the ‘Grand Ol’ Lady of Lovell’ and not be touched by a hint of nostalgia. After all the hard work that went into getting the place re-opened the Hyart Redevelopment Board is doing all that they can to keep her operational without passing the costs onto the public.”
Brinkerhoff noted that as water from leaks continues to do damage, its replacement becomes more and more urgent.
“If it keeps leaking like this it will only cause more damage,” explained Brinkerhoff. “It could even damage some of the improvements we’ve already invested in the building.”
By Patti Carpenter