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Clarksburg Hopes the Robinson Can Be Grand Once Again

The City of Clarksburg is looking to other municipalities across the state and around the country to aide in their endeavor to restore and rehabilitate a historic theater in the city’s downtown.

Clarksburg City Council voted in April to purchase the Rose Garden Theater, once known as the Robinson Grand, for $430,000 from C.J. Martin, James Lambert and David Rexroad, all of Upshur County.

Members said the city has been working to purchase the property since 2005, but the previous owner wasn’t interested in selling.

Since the decision to purchase the West Main Street property, City Manager Martin Howe said they are now looking for aide in funding the project with a $250,000 grant from the state Division of Culture and History and federal loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture of up to $3 million.

Clarksburg is also looking to other cities who have taken on similar projects for guidance in how to make their revitalized theater a success.

“We’ve reached out to multiple municipalities, some within the state, who have been successful in acquiring a theater and in also renovating it,” Howe said, “but also how they operate.”

Howe said the building is structurally sound but will need aesthetic upgrades, things like new bathroom fixtures, paint and seat cushions.

Once engineering and architectural bids have come in, Howe said the city will have a better timeline on when improvement will be completed.

Until then, Clarksburg is working to create a foundation to manage capital projects for the theater and will also be researching professional theater management firms to handle day-to-day operations.

Howe is also hopefully restoring the theater will draw more people downtown, enticing new businesses to open in the area.

Ashton Marra covers the Capitol for West Virginia Public Radio and can be heard weekdays on West Virginia Morning, the station’s daily radio news program. Ashton can also be heard Sunday evenings as she brings you state headlines during NPR’s weekend edition of All Things Considered. She joined the news team in October of 2012.

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