We are extremely honored to be featured in the summer 2015 edition of Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s quarterly magazine. The issue features places restored, threatened, saved, and lost. The Orpheum Theatre was deemed saved, and the piece highlights some of our past, present, and future restorations.
Our spotlight in Preservation
The mission of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is to connect Americans with our pasts by saving the historical places in our country. They say that historic preservation is “the cause that transforms communities from places we live into places that we love.”
The Orpheum’s restoration project of 30 years owes much of its success to organizations such as the Trust and the countless individuals and organizations that share our belief and commit to preserving an important piece of Wichita history. In 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act was passed, giving acknowledgment to the need to protect our history. This act established a federal policy for the preservation of our nation’s history and created the National Register of Historic places as well as the National Historic Landmarks program.
In 1980, the Orpheum was placed on the National Register of Historic places, a status that means the theatre is deserving of protection and preservation. Not long after this designation, the Orpheum underwent a 10-year rehabilitation period and is now on its way to being fully restored.
A major step forward for our restorations occurred when we received a $200,000 grant and were thus considered an “American Treasure.” This grant, known as the Federal Save America’s Treasures grant, was issued by the National Park Service in 2001.
Since that time, approximately $5 million has been raised and invested in the theatre’s continued improvements and restoration, and with additional funding, we will be able to continue our work until the Orpheum Theatre is restored to its original glory. Famous travel expert Arthur Frommer said,
“Every study of travel motivations has shown that an interest in the achievements of the past is among the three major reasons why people travel. The other two are rest or recreation and the desire to view great natural sights…Among cities with no particular recreational appeal, those that have substantially preserved their past continue to enjoy tourism. Those that haven’t receive no tourism at all. It’s as simple as that. Tourism does not go to a city that has lost its soul.”
We believe the Orpheum is considered both an achievement of the past and a place for rest and recreation. By preserving our theatre, we will enhance our ability to serve the community and will add value to Wichita by providing history, tourism, economic development, and most of all, the enjoyment of films and live entertainment.
We look forward to sharing our future restoration with you.