Richmond’s oldest movie theater and its “Mighty Wurlitzer” need seven figures worth of fixing.
The Byrd Theatre Foundation is in the middle of a $5 million capital campaign to restore the 85-year-old Carytown movie house to its original grandeur.
Its list of repairs includes the restoration of the Byrd marquee, updating the 60-year-old box office and concession stands, repairing the exterior the theater’s exterior, expanding cramped restrooms and installing handicapped accessible restrooms, rewiring outdated electrical systems, restoring ornamental finishes, and replacing damaged, uncomfortable theater seating.
The nonprofit foundation, which owns and operates the movie theater, has already raised $1.5 million toward its goal. That has been put toward installing a new roof, a new boiler and a digital server, among other projects. The foundation also plans to use some of the money it raises to pay off a $1.2 million loan for the purchase of the theater.
High atop its list of repairs is the full restoration of the Byrd’s iconic Wurlitzer organ – to the tune of $650,000.
The foundation has financed minor fixes to the Wurlitzer organ over the years to keep it running for its weekly Saturday night performances. But much more work needs to be done.
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