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The Lamp Needs Hefty Fundraising to Shine Again

Thursday, October 28, 2010
By Norm Vargo

Will the Lamp shine again?

The once-popular movie theater in downtown Irwin closed in 2005. Its marquee still boldly predicts “the Lamp will shine again.”

But $500,000 is needed for that to happen.

Westmoreland Cultural Trust acquired ownership from Irwin-based KCS Real Estate Services in 2007. KCS purchased the property in early 2005.

The Trust spent more than $400,000 on renovations, but the project stalled nearly two years ago when that Greensburg-based nonprofit ran out of funds.

Renovations included a new roof, plumbing and electrical work, and a clean-up of the interior and marquee.

In 2008, S&T Bancorp donated $5,000 for a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system.

The shuttered 75-year-old landmark, viewed as a key to the economic revival of Irwin’s business district, has become an eyesore along Main Street. The first phase of a state-funded $1.9 million Streetscape project should start in February.

Trust officials, however, estimate that $500,000 more is needed to complete renovations, according to Irwin council president Deborah Kelly. And she said the Trust does not have the money to resume the project.

Residents of the borough and surrounding areas may be asked to chip in as part of a public-private fundraising effort to complete renovations and reopen the Lamp as a cultural center/movie theater.

That option was discussed recently when concerned borough and Irwin Project officials met with state, county and Trust representatives to discuss the future of the theater-restoration project, Ms. Kelly disclosed.

“Timing is critical to the revitalization of downtown,” Ms. Kelly said. “I set up the meeting with the Trust to determine if we’re going anywhere with the Lamp Theatre. They say it is still over $500,000 away from completion of renovations.

“That said, we did some brainstorming to meet some of that funding issue. We’re going to form a committee to explore some fundraising options from the borough and from within the community.”

She added that the borough has asked the Trust to provide a business plan for the renovations, an operating plan once they are completed, and will look into grant funding.

“Once we have that information,” she said, “we can have a more informed discussion about any involvement in fund raising options.”

Earlier this year, the Trust was awarded a $15,000 grant sponsored by state Rep. James E. Casorio Jr., D-North Huntingdon, to develop plans to complete work on the marquee.

Meanwhile, council on Oct. 13 unanimously adopted a resolution that will designate Irwin Park, Pangolin Park and Bell Park as smoke-free. The ban will take effect in November.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633