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A nonprofit is raising money to save the historic Uptown Theatre in Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri.

Next Stage Preservation Foundation, a disabled veteran-run 501c3 nonprofit, has launched an Indiegogo campaign with a fixed funding goal of $685,000. If they do not reach the goal, all money will be returned to donors.

Next Stage says on the campaign page:

Our goal is to help save and rejuvenate historic rural movie theaters. These theaters were once important places for rural America. They allowed rural residents to get a taste of “city life.” They were cultural hubs. Citizens would watch vaudeville, films, and plays and even get a great deal of their world news from reels shown at these theaters. First kisses, first jobs, first dates, and other firsts are part of the fiber of these buildings.

Thus, with 75% of Americans still living in rural cities with populations under 10,000—cities and towns which are often impoverished—revitalizing these theaters gives rural communities desperately needed jobs and brings the community together by allowing them to reclaim a piece of their history.

Next Stage is hoping to purchase and renovate Uptown Theatre, which was constructed in 1930. In July 2023, it was the first property in Marceline to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. It hosted the Midwest premiere of Disney’s “The Great Locomotive Chase” in 1956 and the world premiere of “The Spirit of Mickey” in 1998. It’s the last extant historic rural theater in Linn County, Missouri that can host films and festivals.

According to Next Stage, Uptown Theatre has mold, a leaky roof, architectural deterioration, and more issues. Many of these problems arose because the theatre was closed for years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ultimately, Next Stage will need $4 million to renovate the building but they are currently aiming for $685,000 to purchase Uptown Theatre, secure insurance, replace the roof, and complete mold removal and remediation.

Any money raised over the goal will be used to update the building’s five apartments so they can be rented and generate more revenue. Work will then begin on the utilities, façade, neon sign, marquee, lobby, and business spaces. The auditorium will be the most extensive part of the project and will be rehabilitated last.

Next Stage will be hiring local contractors to help Marceline’s economy.

They expect the project to take over six years depending on how quickly they get funding. They plan to reopen no later than the 100th anniversary of the theatre in 2030. For the grand reopening, they hope to recreate the premiere of “The Great Locomotive Chase” with Walt and Roy Disney impersonators.

They will then open to the public with vintage and old Disney movie showings, and hire a theater manager to start a company for plays and musicals. The space will also be leased for festivals.

Our goal is to not only rekindle the love of the old time movies in rural American, but to bring in more tourism to the city so more people can enjoy the beauty of the city’s historical architecture and the place that inspired an important part of Disneyland and future parks: Main Street U.S.A.

Donate to “Save Marceline’s Uptown Theatre.”

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The post Help Save Historic Theatre in Walt Disney’s Hometown appeared first on WDW News Today.