Arts/Culture
4:53 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Manistee's Vogue Theatre gets $100K anonymous donation

The historic Vogue Theatre in downtown Manistee is $100,000 richer today, thanks to an anonymous donor. The generous gift will go towards helping restore the long-dormant theatre.

Beth McCarthy, a member of the Capital Campaign to restore the Vogue Theatre, released a statement this afternoon:

"There is honor and humility in an anonymous charitable gift," McCarthy said. "While we can speculate about why the gift was given or who this generous soul may be, the important thing to realize is that someone passionately believes in the project and what it can do to support Manistee's revitalization. This is a remarkable reflection representing the conviction of many about the value the value of a restored Vogue Theatre to our community and future generations."

"This donation will focus on the good work that will be done to turn on the Vogue's marquee lights and bring prosperity and joy back to this community treasure," said Laura Heintzelman, Executive Director of the Manistee County Community Foundation, in accepting the donation.   "And to our anonymous friend, we want to extend the gratitude and appreciation of an entire community."

Filmmaker Michael Moore is among those leading the effort to restore the Vogue.  (Moore restored the State Theater in Traverse City in 2007, which now brings in millions for the city.)

The restoration of the Vogue Theatre is part of a larger trend taking place across the state. As we reported in our series, Stories from the North Woods, cities from Detroit to Marquette are trying to bring new life to their old movie palaces:

Garry Hoppenstand, a professor at Michigan State University and editor of the Journal of Popular Culture, thinks the restoration efforts are "very exciting and I think it’s certainly is good for the community."

Hoppenstand says Michigan's big theater boom took place just prior to the Great Depression in the 1920s. But he says the theaters "helped America to survive the Depression" in two important ways:

  1. The theaters provided an inexpensive form of entertainment where people could escape their day-to-day problems.
  2. Having a theater downtown brought people and income to the area.

Two things any Michigan city would be happy to have during this, the Great Recession.