Some Commonly Asked Questions
Q: What will the name of the facility be when finished? Will it still be called the Embassy?
A: The facility will still be known as the “Embassy Theatre,” because this name embodies the luxuriousness and stateliness of the theatre, just as it did when it was built. We may add to the Embassy name something like “Community Arts Center” to show its expanded roll in the community. The proposed annex has not yet been given a name.
Q: How will the restored theatre be used?
A: It will be a versatile Theatre and Community Arts Center for use by the entire community. It does have fewer seats than either high school auditoriums, but it will fill a niche the community lacks. It will host movies (silent, classic, second run and select first run), concerts, plays, children’s theatre, pageants, seminars, and the like. Other uses include holiday programs, such as Christmas, 4th of July, etc. The theatre will also be rentable to community organizations and businesses for meetings, seminars, and programs.
Q: Has the Embassy been listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
A: Yes, it was officially listed on July 23, 1998.
Q: Why bother restoring the Embassy,isn't it an old building ready to fall down?
A: No, the building isn't ready to fall down. Yes, it needs a lot of work, but surveys of the building show it to be in remarkably good shape, structurally. The building does have some minor structural problems, but these can readily be fixed, and are not structural to the building itself. Besides, when finished, we can point with pride at the Embassy, knowing that this community has saved a relic from the time of grand opulence in theatre design. There are few historic buildings and structures in the community that defines us as a community -- The Historic Mifflin County Courthouse, McCoy House, Stone Arch Bridge -- to name but a few. Wouldn't it be nice to list the Embassy Theatre among them!
Q: Why is the project taking so long?
A: Short answer; Historic preservation takes time and money.
Long answer; First, to preservation-- Since the Embassy is listed on the National Register, work must be planned in accordance with the rules governing listed properties. In some areas, paint must be removed carefully so as not to destroy or damaged decorations underneath. For instance, the box office contains cast-on decorations. Most were missing or damaged already, but one set of each different type remained, buried under 12 layers of paint! Chemical strippers were tried on the damaged castings, which dissolved the castings as well. In the end, we used carefully controlled heat and dental picks to remove the paint, a process that took close to 3 years. Today, the box office is fully stripped, and finished in its original varnished walnut.
Now onto the money -- So far, only a couple potential major contributors have come forward to help finance the project. Some of our donations go for taxes, insurance, and the mortgage, which currently stands at around $25,000. After other necessary expenses are taken care of, what is left is put into restoration projects. We appreciate the donations we have received to this point, but without the larger contributions, this project will not succeed. Through some creative planning, can reduce what could be a multi-million dollar project down to about $900,000, a more reasonable figure for our rural community.
Q: How will this project be paid for?
A: Money comes from various sources: grants, fundraising concerts and events, charitable gambling, individual, club and business/corporate gifts. In-kind contributions of goods and services are also very important. Note that individual donations greatly increase our chances of receiving large grants because they show that this project has grass roots support.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: While we have had figured in mind over the years, finally we will be able to put more concrete numbers to that question. In 2005, a Historic Structure report will be completed which will detail actual restoration costs. Then we can talk to contractors and others in the community willing to do the work at a reduced cost as a donation.
Q: What has been accomplished so far?
A: The building has been stabilized, a new roof installed, and other improvements to secure the building. Currently, work is nearing completion on the front entrance. Replica doors have been installed. The box office is also restored. The marquee was replicated in 2003, and other improvements to the front have been done, such as a cleaning of the façade, and restoration of the windows. We are currently working on the movie boxes located on the front of the theatre.
Q: What work still needs to be done?
A: This includes new heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems, interior painting, theatrical equipment, film projection system, reproduction of the original marquee (completed), exterior masonry repair, and seating. An updated Master Plan is available upon request.
Q: Who are the Friends of the Embassy Theatre?
A: The Friends of the Embassy Theatre organized in 1991 to save the Embassy from the wrecker’s ball. The organization is registered as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, which owns the Embassy Theatre. Our main goal is to restore and operate the historic Embassy Theatre as a theatre and community arts center for the region. Office phone: The Friends do not have a phone number, but we can be reached by calling 717-248-0321 or contact us by Email at
. For additional details about the friends click "About" at the top of the page.
Q: Who locally supports the Embassy Theatre Restoration?
A: The following civic groups, governmental agencies, and prominent individuals have expressed support for the project.
Downtown Lewistown, Inc
Mifflin County Historical Society
Juniata Valley Chamber of Commerce
Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau
Greater Lewistown Corporation
The Borough of Lewistown
Mifflin County Commissioners
Community Partnerships RC&D
Mifflin County Industrial Development Corporation
Mifflin County Planning Commission
Mifflin-Juniata Arts Council
State Representative Kerry Benninghoff
State Representative Adam Harris
State Senator Jake Corman
Former Congressman John Peterson
Local citizens like you!
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
SEDA-COG Local Resource Center and Non-Profit Assistance Center, Lewisburg
League of Historic American Theatres
Theatre Historical Society of America