Lakeside Theater restoration priority of guardians of historic business district

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The Maine Avenue Revitalization Association (MARA) considers itself to be the guardians of Lakeside’s Historic Business District.

Their mission is to clean up, restore and beautify the Maine Avenue buildings and the surrounding blocks that make up the Old Town area of Lakeside.

The Maine Avenue Revitalization Association (MARA) considers itself to be the guardians of Lakeside’s Historic Business District.

Their mission is to clean up, restore and beautify the Maine Avenue buildings and the surrounding blocks that make up the Old Town area of Lakeside.

Over the years they have painted 14 buildings and purchased old-fashioned awnings for 12 businesses. They have also hired local artist David Ybarra to paint 12 old-fashioned signs on the buildings as well as paint five historical murals. In addition, they purchased concrete trash receptacles and hired Unuway (adults with developmental disabilities) to sweep the streets and empty the trash receptacles on a weekly basis.

Last year, MARA had its eye on the Lakeside Theater for a planned clean-up and painting of the historical building, which was originally used as the Town Hall, and was built by Lakeside residents in 1911. However, the owner of the theater was not at all cooperative and would not even return their phone calls and letters asking for permission to paint and restore the exterior of the theater. Finally, he admitted that the building was in foreclosure and would be sold by the bank.

There is a lot of community interest in the theater and MARA often gets phone calls from concerned citizens who don’t want to see it neglected. Unfortunately, the theater has been left unattended and no effort has been done to keep it secured, so homeless people have since claimed it and have done extensive vandalism inside.

In 1997, MARA rebuilt the marquee, painted the facade and bought new light bulbs for the surrounding areas of the theater. Octad One Productions, a theater group from College Grove, restored the interior of the theater.

The name was then changed to the Lakeside Playhouse and later to the Manhattan Playhouse. Octad One Productions kept folks happy with their many productions, using a lot of local actors. It was then put on the market and sold to a local businessman and has since fallen into a neglected eyesore, much to the dismay of MARA and residents who want to see it restored to it’s former glory.