ASHTABULA — Great theater awaited folks who attended a meeting Tuesday at the Senior Center about restoring Shea’s Theater.
At the invitation of the Ashtabula Downtown Development Association, theater restoration expert, Michael Hurwitz of Columbus, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about rescuing, restoring and returning Shea’s Theater to its former grandeur.
He garnered much support from just about everyone — except Troy Bailey, a member of the Ashtabula County Council on Aging Board of Directors, who said he was asked to speak Tuesday on behalf of the board.
“We own the building, the bricks are falling off of the building and we are taking the building down,” he said. “We plan to demolish the theater.”
The Council on Aging owns the building at 4632 Main Ave., but only a small portion of the building is used for the Senior Center. Behind a false back wall is the main hall and the theater.
Bailey called the theater “an albatross.”
His statements shocked the crowd.
Lynda Annick, president of the ADDA, who welcomed the crowd, said, “People remember Shea’s from years ago and said they would like to see it restored, so we brought in an expert.”
Before the meeting, ADDA member, Roberta Madar-Pruett, said she heard the seniors were looking to relocate but believed no decisions about the Shea’s future had been made.
Afterward, Hurwitz said he was sorry he “stirred up a hornet’s nest.”
He believes Ashtabula has just what it takes to start such a project — an exceptional turnout for its first meeting.
“You have to energize the community and that’s what happened here today,” he said.
Hurwitz complimented Shea’s architecture.
“It’s a beautiful art deco attraction,” he said. “The banister, the marble ... but it’s your decision. It’s what your community wants to do.”