Bringing back The Boyne

An effort is underway to bring new life to The Boyne Theater.

CHARLEVOIX COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- If you drive through a growing handful of Northern Michigan towns, you'll notice they are the brightest lights usually on the main street. Theater marquees are once again becoming major draw to local downtowns.

One of our communities is looking to breathe new life into a real gem of a theater and in the process get those lights shining brightly once again in Boyne City.

Standing outside, the former Boyne Theater, Nik McLane can remember back to his childhood and the memories of walking through the doors. Nik says "as a young person, it was nice because that was one of the first places we could have some independence, our parents would drop us off at the movies." But like his childhood, those days are gone. The Boyne shut down a decade ago, ending a long run as the place to be.

Rich Bergmann is hoping to start a new run for the movie house by bringing back some of its original glory with some new flair. Rich not only remembers The Boyne from his youth, but also from stories passed down through his family. Rich says "It was classy. It was gorgeous. My grandfather actually saw Harry Houdini here in the '20's and he was telling me it was as beautiful as the theaters in Chicago."

But that was close to 100 years ago and the grandeur and the beauty of the Boyne Theater slipped a little with each passing year.

Rich says over the past decade, the space was neglected and the garbage inside starting accumulating. When he purchased the property, he had plans and hopes for it. But the first step was emptying it out. Rich says "We put in a good six months of cleaning it out to get to where it is today. We took out over 60 cubic yards of debris and trash in there."

The next step was trying to figure out how to restore the glory. To do that, Rich and his team traveled around the area, visiting places that have already been down the path. As Rich explains, "We went to most of the other older Northern Michigan theaters and asked them how did they manage their renovation projects and got some good lessons learned on what's the right approach."

Their approach is to create a new gathering space. A venue that not only will offer movies, but also a place where local musicians can perform with a dance floor nearby and where the community can meet. Right now Rich says they are in the process of determining compliance with building codes and the structural requirements, while at the same time figuring out the best grant writing approach in order to fund the multi-million-dollar project.

To see inside The Boyne, watch the video above.

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