Columbus Commission Considers Renovation Of Historic Theatre

The city of Columbus is considering renovating the historic Crump Theatre, the oldest theatre in Indiana.

Crump Theatre

Photo: Jeff Hart

The city of Columbus is considering an $11 million proposal to renovate the historic Crump Theatre.

The City of Columbus Redevelopment Commission heard from the Crump Steering Committee about their recommendation for the future of the historic Crump Theatre at their regular board meeting Monday.

The Crump Steering Committee, represented by committee member Bob Crider, said they supported “Scenario One,” which is an $11 million proposal that would renovate the Crump into a 450-seat performing arts space.

Crider said the plan fielded the most public support, and will improve the city in different ways.

“Appeal to tourists, and have an economic impact that way, as well as be a great quality of life enhancer for residents,” Crider said.

The steering committee asked the redevelopment commission for $20,000 to hire consultants to help develop a detailed operating plan for the renovation and running of the theatre.

Mayor Kristen Brown was enthusiastic about the overall proposal, however she and other commission members, like Russell Poling, want to see a more detailed proposal before granting their approval.

“I think one thing that was really made clear tonight was we need a more exact amount, and who are we going to pay, and what are we going to get from them?” Poling said.

John Pickett, another member of the steering committee, believes the health of the performing arts in Columbus hinges on saving the Crump.  He says there is a serious lack of facilities to promote the arts in Columbus.

“You can’t have a baseball program without baseball diamonds,” Pickett said.  “So we can’t get theater and some of the arts things happening if we don’t have some basic facilities.”

The Crump Theatre was built in 1889 and is the oldest theatre in the state.

David Sechrest, curator of the Historic Columbus, Indiana website, spent the last year writing a book about the Crump.  He says the historic significance of the theatre can’t be overstated.

“There’s 125 years of history in that building,” Sechrest said.  “How do we just throw it away? How do we just say, we don’t need it anymore?  I feel it’s just an important part of the community that we need to keep.”

The steering committee will present their proposal to the City Council on June 2nd, and if approved, will present again to the redevelopment commission for final approval.

Will Healey

Will Healey is a reporter for WFIU/WTIU News. He has studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at Fordham University in New York and Journalism at Indiana University's School of Journalism. He is excited to be part of the team and report on issues that impact the lives of Hoosiers.

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  • Bob Eckert

    The should ABSOLUTELY do the renovation. Renovating the Indiana theater has been an over the top success. Columbus should look at least partially to its wonderful array of philanthropic donors to give the project an initial kick of quality. In Bloomington, that huge wonderful kick came from the Buskirk-Chumley family and is now officially called by two names: the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and The Indiana Theater. It hosts films, live events, meetings, every manner of get-togethers. The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is a jewel in Bloomington and that family no has an eternal legacy in the hearts of area citizens.

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