In collaboration with the Robbinsdale Historical Society, David Leonhardt’s business American Classic Cinemas has started a legacy program to help restore the letters salvaged from the Terrace Theatre and put them on display for a 2019 historic exhibit.
Leonhardt was president of the Robbinsdale group, Save the Historic Terrace Theater. He worked hard, when the city was divided, to raise funds trying to register the Terrace as a historic place. While the Terrace was torn down in 2016, Leonhardt knew that he had to find a way that the legacy of the Terrace lived on.
Then a light bulb went off, or 670 light bulbs to be exact, in the form of the Terrace Legacy Project.
“This idea was originally one we were going to use while we were fighting to save the Terrace, but it never had a chance to get off the ground,” Leonhardt explained.
The idea is to restore saved artifacts from the Terrace Theatre and put them on display for the public to see, starting with restoring seven letters of the double TERRACE sign.
As of Oct. 16, the project has announced the first fundraising effort to start the restoration process.
“We are asking people to make the symbolic purchase of one of the 670 light bulbs that light up the key feature of the exhibit,” Leonhardt said.
The goal is to raise more than $6,700 so that the Terrace sign can be lit again and other artifacts, like the two salvaged lobby chandeliers, restored and put on display.
While the Save the Historic Terrace Theater group did raise funds during their efforts, most of what was raised was exhausted by the time the building came down, according to Leonhardt. Some of the funds went to the registration fee for historical places.
“We appreciated the support the community gave us during our fight to save the theater and we hope they continue to support us as we work to save its memory,” Leonhardt said.
Of the 14 letters that once stood on the top of the Terrace building, only seven are salvageable. Some of the letters had been damaged with time and others during their removal, according to Leonhardt.
“There were some we couldn’t save if we wanted to,” Leonhardt said. “But between all of the letters, we can get one good set.”
As funds are raised, each letter will be restored by local Noah Kolkman. The hope is to restore a letter a month prior to August 2019 exhibit.
The exhibit will feature other theater artifacts like pictures and documents, the recommendation of historic registration, as well as art inspired by the building and stories of those who visited it for over 65 years.
“As we were fighting for the Terrace we learned how important the theater was in people lives,” Leonhardt explained. “When the Terrace came down this seemed like the natural extension of our efforts.”
According to Leonhardt, everyone, even those who weren’t interested in saving the building’s shell, had fond memories of the place.
“We put so much into trying to save the building that by having these letters restored, it feels like we are still saving a piece of it,” Leonhardt said.
Light bulbs can be sponsored with a one-time donation of $10. Everyone who donates will be recognized on a list of bulb sponsors and displayed when the exhibit debuts in August.
“The Terrace was around for 65 of Robbinsdale’s 125 years,” Leonhardt said. “Isn’t it time that its place in Robbinsdale’s history was cemented?”
Leonhardt hopes to find a place to display the letters for free once the exhibit is completed.