Bonnie Kate to reopen this weekend after months of closing its doors

Published 8:08 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

After months of renovation and delays, the Bonnie Kate Theater will be reopening its doors this weekend with back-to-back movie screenings.

Jeff Treadway, a member of the Bonnie Kate Restoration Board, said they are excited to see the theater open to the public again.

“We want to have an ongoing program to support the restoration project,” Treadway said.

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Normally, the theater has been able to host plays and other theater performances to support the overall restoration project, but a series of complications over the past few months forced them to close their doors completely.

“The biggest challenge was the leak in the roof,” he said. “We tried to do patchwork repairs and that was when we discovered the issues with the duct work.”

He said they were able to receive funding from the city of Elizabethton to get the roof situation squared away, and then a series of other issues arrived.

“We removed the original seats,” Treadway said. “We started working with the fire marshal, because if you have collapsible seating like this, you have to have a sprinkler system, and we are not quite ready for that yet.”

The solution: fix some of the original seats to the floor manually so they do not have to install a sprinkler system just yet, though Treadway said it is certainly on their agenda to install.

Another issue came when they were setting up the system to play movies. Originally, the theater just had the one large screen, but after a while, this changed to two smaller screens so the theater could be split in half if they desired.

“One of them went to Parks and Rec, who did not use it,” Treadway said. “The remaining screen was sitting on only one side of the theater.”

The original plan was to purchase another screen to replace the one Parks and Rec used, except it arrived folded, so it was already ruined.

“We were eventually able to reposition the remaining screen so it was in the center,” he said.

For some, the above series of events might seem like worst-case scenarios, but to him, the end result was worth the struggle.

“This is a labor of love,” Treadway said. “Most people involved remember how the theater used to look like.”

He said they do not just want to get the theater up and running again; they want to make it a cultural icon of Elizabethton as a whole.

“We want this to be a cultural art center, where people come downtown to catch a play or movie or a concert and then go get something to eat nearby,” he said. “We want this to be a central part of downtown.”

Currently, the theater plans to play classic movies on Friday and Saturday nights and family movies on Saturday afternoons.

The theater’s first movie will be the original Casablanca on Friday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. The theater is located at 115 S. Sycamore St.

“We are always asking for donations,” Treadway said. “You will notice an improvement when you walk in.”