In February 2021, the roof of Pec Playhouse Theatre collapsed under the weight of snow. A few months later, the building was condemned and then demolished. We intended to rebuild in the existing location after razing all existing and damaged buildings. Unfortunately, that plan met with opposition, and we began investigating alternative locations in Pecatonica. We researched and investigated seven sites, none of which were feasible due to cost, location, or availability.
While the location of the new Pec Playhouse Theatre facility is yet to be determined, the board feels strongly about rebuilding on Main Street in Pecatonica and the community agrees. Based on a poll of 230 residents and visitors on May 30, 2022, 99.1% believe that a community theatre brings significant value to Pecatonica and 95.6% would like to see the theatre rebuilt in the downtown business district.
To prepare for the rebuilding, we completed a planning session to determine the features we would like in a new building and conducted site visits to other regional theatre companies of similar size to evaluate affordable building options. We also secured an architectural firm but without a location, we can’t move forward with even the preliminary drawings – drawings that are critical to establishing a definitive fundraising goal.
Pec Playhouse has a proven 30-year track record for profitable performances and events which is critical as we raise funds to rebuild. We anticipate that new construction will realistically be a seven-figure project and even without knowing the amount needed, we have been able to raise money from patrons who are eager to support the effort. So far, we have raised just over $80,000 in donations and secured the insurance reimbursement. In addition, the Theatre received a $10,000 grant from the Rockford Area Arts Council which was used for clean-up efforts, lawyer fees, advertising, and securing space to perform “Escanaba in Da Moonlight.”
Thanks to the generous time and talent of our dedicated volunteers, we have raised money by salvaging the contents of the old theatre and saving the cost of replacing items. In winter and spring of 2021, volunteers logged more than 500 hours in cleaning up, preserving, and storing theatre contents. Thanks to donated space from the Village of Pecatonica, we have been able to hold on to most of the contents from the theatre. However, as time has drawn on without a building, the Village has needed their space back and therefore the sorting, disposal and moving of props, costumes, lighting, sound equipment, and furniture has continued into summer 2022.
When we are finally able to rebuild – and it needs to happen soon to receive the $100,000 held in escrow by the insurance company – the theatre will be better than ever, with full accessibility, compliance with all building codes and ordinances, and space for community gatherings.
Our time as a “theatre without a theatre” has been very challenging for the board and for the community. We have great hope that someday soon, we will return as an anchor business in thriving downtown Pecatonica and once again contribute to a lively, diverse business district for the social and financial benefit of volunteers, visitors, and residents.