Legacy Theater Foundation Buys Legacy Theater From City of Carthage


CARTHAGE, IL – The Legacy Theater Foundation Inc. has announced that they are moving to a new stage in the operation of the Legacy Theater in Carthage, beginning with their acquisition of the theater from the City of Carthage on May 9th.

The City of Carthage has pledged to continue financially supporting the theater during the next three years of the transition beginning with $20,000 in the first year, and $10,000 each for the following two years, in addition to continuing to maintain the grounds with lawn mowing and snow removal services.

Says Doug Groth, president of The Legacy Theater Foundation Inc., “It was never the city’s intention to own the theater long term. It has always been in the plan for The Legacy Theater Foundation to take over ownership at some point.”

Carthage purchased the theater for $100 in 2016 from its previous owner, Carl Sandburg College. That same year, the Legacy Theater Foundation Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was formed and has managed all aspects of the theater operations.

During the city’s stewardship, several major improvements were made including tuck pointing the east side of the building, repairs to the HVAC system, and removal of the Douglas Center building, now space for parking.

“We were fortunate to have TIF funds to help with the work. It has been a big boost for Carthage,” says Mayor Jim Nightingale, “I can’t measure exactly, but with our sales tax as strong as it has been, you know people coming into town really helps. It has been a win-win for everybody, and I hope it continues that way. I am so glad we have such an active board operating the theater.”

By taking ownership of the building, the foundation is positioned to compete for grants and to make
additional improvements to the facility in the future, according to Groth.

“We are grateful to the city for helping us to get on our feet,” Groth said. “Together we have created a great venue for live entertainment and gatherings of all kinds in this region. We are excited for the future.”

The Legacy Theater was built as an auditorium for Carthage College in 1953. It was later used by Robert Morris College who owned the campus from 1965 to 1989. The auditorium and the rest of the campus was not used for many years, until it was purchased by Prairieland Investment Group in 2007. While most of the campus is used by Carthage Veterinary Service, the auditorium was gifted in 2008 to Carl Sandburg College branch campus in Carthage. CSC made major renovations to the auditorium and used the building until it was sold in 2016. Since that time, The Legacy Theater has hosted live entertainment of all types, drawing crowds from over 35 states with around 12 performances a year. It is rented by many groups in the area for their events.

“As we move forward into this new phase, we are grateful for the continued support of people who come to our shows, the businesses and groups who rent the facility, volunteers who give their time and talents, and donors who ensure the theater’s future,” Groth said.

The theater box office is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call 217-357-9479 or visit thelegacytheater.com.

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