Construction breaks ground on $2.25 million Vogue Theatre restoration

The restoration has started on the historic Vogue Theatre in Manistee.

Construction to restore and reopen the historic Vogue Theatre in Manistee officially started Wednesday morning. Dozens gathered outside of the 74 year-old landmark theatre for a special ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the start of the restoration project.

Construction crews wasted no time getting to work on Phase One of the project, focusing on interior demolition to get ready to pour concrete for the new theatre floors.

The full cost of the project is expected to be nearly $2.3 million and will include two theatres, a concession area, new sound and projection equipment, and an all new interior. The Vogue Theatre Capital Campaign still needs to raise about $500,000 dollars to complete the project. Phase Two of the Vogue Theatre Capital Campaign will be launched in March to raise this money. Campaign officials says they hope to raise the remaining money by April so that the Theatre can be fully restored this summer.

The historic theater recently received a $100,000 grant from the Frey Foundation. The grant marks the largest grant received to date from a private foundation.

"Our board was impressed with how the community and people from coast to coast have contributed to bringing the Vogue back to life as an entertainment center on the City's historic River Street," said Steve Wilson, President of the Frey Foundation.

The goal is to have the theatre fully restored by this summer.

"The Manistee area has taken a leap forward toward providing a year-round venue for great film entertainment that will delight movie-goers of all ages and interests for generations to come," said Cyndy Fuller, Chair of the Board of the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee.

The Vogue's restoration and operation will be similar to the State Theatre in Traverse City, which was restored under filmmaker Michael Moore's leadership. Moore has agreed to provide programming help for the Vogue, much like he does for the State.

Travis Alden, Director of the Manistee Downtown Development Authority says nearly 600 people and organizations donated or made grants to the project. He added that the Vogue will prove to be important as Manistee attempts to market itself as a destination for arts and entertainment. Alden says, "We did a market analysis of downtown market, our local trade area less than a year ago, there were a couple of key market areas that were identified that we were losing out on: dining, entertainment. Tens of millions of dollars are going outside of the Manistee area, and that's what we really see the Vogue Theatre being central in changing that story. "

The restoration project started in February of 2011.

The Vogue theatre was built back in 1938 and was the only movie theatre in the county. After 47 years of success, the theatre fell on hard times and was closed.