Hemet Theatre: a community landmark

Downtown theatre undergoing renovation entering 100th year

■ By Tom Jones / Contributed

Built in 1921, the downtown Hemet theatre is undergoing massive renovation as it approaches its first century in the community. Originally located across Florida Avenue from its current site and built in 1913 by William Martin, the theatre was destroyed in an earthquake in 1918. Vowing not to lose it again, he used cement and brick for the massive structure in no small accounting for its survival from a fire that consumed adjacent structures in 2010.
The theatre was purchased in March of last year and is being renovated by the Historic Hemet Theatre Foundation. The non-profit foundation holds film showings, live theater and dance programs with an enlarged stage and updated sound and lighting equipment, simulcast presentations and a variety of community and school events. It makes the facility available to local organizations for fundraisers, events and educational activities.
Renovations will include restoration of the marquee to its original design which was made flush with the building’s facade in the 1960s to accommodate widening Florida Avenue. The auditorium and lobby will be restored to their Art Deco design of the 1940s. In addition, the upper level will include a new Museum of Early Film along with an office, rehearsal space and community meeting rooms.
With cast space for larger productions historically a premium, a new “green room” at the rear of the theatre is being donated by the City of Hemet.
The foundation always welcomes new volunteers and tax deductible donations. Sponsorships are also offered in a variety of forms.
For more information contact Susan Carrier, President of the Historic Hemet Theatre Foundation located at 216 East Florida Avenue in Hemet, at (951) 551-5363 or via email at susan@valleyhappenings.com.

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