The Eatonton City Council got a first look at the preliminary drawing for the planned renovation of the Pex Theater in downtown Eatonton.
Councilmember Teresa Doster, who is working on the project with the Eatonton Downtown Development Authority (EDDA), showed the group a preliminary drawing of what the design plan is for the outside façade.
“What we’re trying to do, if we can afford it,” Doster said, “is to pull the marquee over the old jewelry store.”
She said they hope to have four LED message boards on the marquee. Right now, the inside of the theater has been gutted, and the next step is to work with an architect on how best to rebuild the space into a multi-use facility.
“There probably will be a stage so there can be community meetings there,” she explained. “There was a stage there years ago when it was open. Our intent is, on the front side where the concession area is, there will be, I hate to call it, a coffee shop. There’ll be seating in that front area so you could use the lobby and the concession area without the theater part of it.”
Doster added that they are not trying to take anything away from the Plaza Arts Theater, Eatonton’s current premier performance venue.
The Pex Theater opened in 1941 with seating for 750 people. At the time, it was the first air-conditioned building in Eatonton. In 1986, it was the site of the premier of the Academy Award Winning film “The Color Purple,” which was based on a book by Eatonton native Alice Walker.
The property had been dormant for many years. It became a country cooking, all-you-can-eat restaurant for a short time a couple of years ago. In October 2019 when EDDA purchased the theater with funding from The Fox Theatre Institute. The organization was started by Atlanta’s Fox Theatre and gives “historic preservation and operations expertise, consultation, and education to performing arts venues in Georgia and the region,” according to its website.
Doster said that, on July 10, there will be a formal check presentation ceremony with representatives of the Fox Institute for money that has already been given to the project. She added that the Fox has announced it will not be making grant donations in 2020-21.