One of the first significant steps in restoring the historic but dilapidated Rivoli Theatre on the city’s near-east side is almost finished.
Officials of the not-for-profit that owns the building, the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts Inc., say a new roof should be installed on the building by the first of the year.
A Community Development Block Grant covered $300,000 of the cost. The group also received a $40,000 loan from Indiana Landmarks.
“Clearly, getting a roof on the building has been one of our major priorities,” said Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks’ vice president of preservation services and a director of the Rivoli Center. “This is huge for us and hopefully for the community, because we eventually want the building to serve some sort of purpose for the east side.”
The group has a long way to go, however. The total cost to renovate the Rivoli could run $5 million, with much of that still needing to be raised.
Next up on the group’s wish list: restoring the original marquee and the sign that sits above it, both of which date to the post-World War II era. Cost is estimated at about $100,000, Dollase said.
The building at 3155 E. 10th St. has been vacant since 1992. But the building’s supporters hope the new roof is the first step in revitalizing what was once the neighborhood’s crown jewel. It was built in 1927 as a single-screen movie house by Universal Pictures, seating 1,500.
“The ideal thing would be to restore it as it was in 1927, as a single-screen theater,” Dollase said. “But it’s highly unlikely in today’s market, the way movie theaters are done, a single-screen theater most likely couldn’t survive in that setting.”
A more logical use for the building might be an art center or restaurant, he said.