The Pex Theatre holds a rich history in Eatonton, and now that the Downtown Development Authority is working to renovate the building, eventually Eatonton residents and visitors will once again be able to enjoy the theatre in all of its glory.
Recently, Phase 1 of the renovation was completed, and the building is officially cleaned out and ready for changes.
Eatonton DDA Chair Teresa Doster spoke with Lake Oconee News on Aug. 13 to update plans for the historic building. The development authority is currently ready to move on to stage 2 out of 4 of the renovation – recreating the façade of the building and replacing the marquee which have both deteriorated over the years.
“We want it to look nice even if it’s not open,” Doster said. “We want that part to be finished by the end of the year. We want it to be nice and very eye-catching.”
She says that they hope to have the front façade and marquee done around Christmas, but it’s more likely that it’ll be done later than that due to COVID-19. After the second phase is finished, the DDA will move on to work on the interior of the building.
Stage 3 will be the point at which the development authority starts renovating the inside of the theatre, starting with the front lobby area.
The DDA is planning on building a café and concession area that can remain open when the theatre itself is closed to bring in a steady stream of revenue and make the business more economically viable. Doster also said they want to have an area in the lobby dedicated to either Alice Walker or African American history.
The theatre still has traces of its segregated past. A separate entrance and balcony seating area were for African American patrons only. Doster says this is why she would like to have a room in the theatre dedicated to celebrating African American history.
“I hope we’re able to use this to help foster some black history in downtown,” she said.
Doster added that the DDA plans on having frequent showings of The Color Purple, other community-friendly movies and host community events.
“It’s a project we kind of hope people can get behind. We’ll probably approach it very similar to the Plaza Center,” Doster said. “Sort of a privatepublic partnership.”
“I hope, from an aesthetic standpoint, it will be sort of a showplace for downtown,” said Doster. “The Downtown Development Authority’s mantra is to drive business downtown, so our intent is to have people here more frequently than they are now.”