The Grand Theater Restoration Project’s A Grand Night in
Vegas fundraiser Saturday at Froehlich’s Classic Corner drew the crowds,
including Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci, left; showgirl Julie Langille
of Las Vegas; and Jim Felix, Elvis Presley impersonator from Pittsburgh. The
fundraiser featured performers from Vegas, including Elvis, Dean Martin and
Cher. All funds raised go toward the restoration’s next step, which includes
renovation of the lobby and repairs to the adjacent building’s roof. Fran
Carinci was chairman for Saturday’s event. For information on the project,
go to: www.historicsteubenville.org -- Mark Miller, Herald Star April 15,
‘Grand Night in Las Vegas’ coming
March 29, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor Herald Star
"A Grand Night in Las Vegas" is hoped to be a grand
night in Steubenville for the Grand.
And "thank you, thank you, thank you very much" is
what event organizers hope to be saying afterwards to public response
making this fundraiser a big success.
This is an evening that will combine live
entertainment, food, giveaways and gambling - an evening that chairman
Francesca Carinci of the Grand Theater Restoration Project predicts will
be "one of the most extravagant concerts that I believe we've had in
this city in recent history."
"A Grand Night in Las Vegas" will be held April 14 at
Froehlich's Classic Corner at Fifth and Washington streets,
Steubenville, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and five back-to-back shows
in addition to "Las Vegas gambling" - black jack, roulette, craps and
poker - going on throughout the evening that extends to 1 a.m.
Shane Patterson, an Elvis impersonator from Caesars
Palace in Las Vegas, will perform two shows, each with a completely
different playlist of songs and both with "his Vegas showgirl" Julie,
who'll be "packing her feathers and finery."
The entertainment lineup goes like this:
8 p.m., Dean Martin tribute with Bob Morelli,
Pittsburgh's own Dino impersonator;
9 p.m., Elvis and his Vegas showgirl;
10 p.m., Cher tribute;
11 p.m., Elvis and his Vegas showgirl.
Midnight, Frank Sinatra tribute.
"There are two Elvis shows so if you can't be there
for the early show, come for the late show at 11 p.m. This event will be
going on until well after midnight," notes a publicity e-mail sent by
Scott Dressel, president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project.
In a recent interview, Carinci and Billy Petrella, a
member of the event committee along with Donna Keagler and Dressel,
explained that there will be a cigar bar on the patio, and "We are
having real Las Vegas gambling, and it's for money, not prizes," said
There will be professional male and female dealers
courtesy of the Bikini Bar in Chester, Carinci added.
"We're trying to push the card with this event,"
"This is going to be a spectacular event, over the
top, something we're bringing to Steubenville because people always say
there's no entertainment here, and this is probably one of the biggest
events we've ever had downtown," Carinci said.
Carinci said the showgirl is bringing her Vegas stage
costume, head dress and all.
"That in itself will be cool to see," she said.
Patrons can have their photos taken with Elvis for a
donation, and there will be a keepsake CD of candid photos available for
a $20 donation, courtesy of Kristy Seditz. Money from pre-sales of it
will benefit the Grand also.
All those attending will be eligible for free
"It's going to be cool stuff," said Carinci of a
Marilyn Monroe tote bag "full of Marilyn stuff," including a robe with
her face embroidered on the back, and also a Dean Martin bag. "There
will be giveaways through the night of free Las Vegas type things," she
General admission tickets are $50, which includes all
five shows, food and access to the gambling tables.
In addition, there are about 25 VIP tickets for $150
each, which include all of the above plus front row seating for the
shows, beverages, complimentary champagne at the shows and access to the
high rollers room on the lower level.
Tickets are available in advance at several
locations, including Two Brothers Dry Cleaners, Froehlich's Classic
Corner, Tri State Financial, Carinci's Law Office and Village Sleep
Center in Steubenville and the Center of Music and Art in Wintersville.
For information, call (740) 284-8008.
Tickets also can be ordered online using the paypal
donation button on the website
Carinci said the Elvis impersonator and showgirl
heard about the Grand Theater restoration project through a Facebook
link, "and they were interested in this."
"They are super excited about coming for this,"
"They think the project is wonderful, and they want
to see the Grand Theater," Carinci said. "They are very big theater
people, and somehow they got a link about this."
Proceeds from this fundraiser are earmarked for
plumbing for the theater, because in order to have an event there,
functional restrooms are a must.
"That's why we need to get plumbing," Petrella said.
The lobby restoration is finished, complete with
crown molding, paint and carpeting.
"The lobby is gorgeous," Carinci said. "The furnace
and gas line are done, and everything we've set out to do, we've done,"
"We have come amazingly far," she said. "The lobby is
done, and it looks beautiful."
Petrella said roof work is about 75 percent completed
on the adjoining building recently donated.
"A lot of people have questioned why we took on a
second building. The reason why is it has an elevator," Carinci said.
The two said repairing the roof is by far cheaper
than the expense of an elevator and digging an elevator shaft. Having an
elevator is essential to the project moving forward.
While progress is being made, a restoration effort
takes time and money, according to the two.
"Restoration is preserving a part of the history of
this town," Carinci said.
"We're preserving a part of our heritage."
Minnesota Native Leads Campaign to Save Steubenville
By TYLER REYNARD - Staff Writer The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Regis
STEUBENVILLE - When he saw the possibility of having the
last of Steubenville's theaters wiped from the city's landscape two years
ago, Scott Dressel reached out to the community to "Save the Grand."
Built in 1925 by the Biggio family, the Grand Theater was
a venue for stage productions and films. It was under the ownership of a New
York-based company when it closed in 1979 and was being used primarily for
storage. The structure had fallen into a state of extreme disrepair since
its closing, and the city wanted it razed or repaired.
Dressel gained an appreciation for restoration early in
life while working on a family farm in his home state of Minnesota. He grew
up in a home that his father rebuilt and believes architecture is a core
feature of history that should be preserved. Since relocating to
Steubenville in 1996, Dressel has been involved in the restoration of
numerous homes on Historic North Fourth Street.
When he heard about the city's plans for the Grand
Theater, Dressel emailed a number of Steubenville residents to gauge their
interest in preserving the structure. He said the response among those
queried showed a desire to restore the theater, and he formed a board of
directors for the project. But the overall response from the majority of the
community when work began was a conflicting one.
Dressel said prolonged disappointment had developed in
the downtown area. Steubenville residents had grown skeptical of downtown's
redeemability and negative energy surrounded any efforts to do so. Public
opinion slowly shifted, however, and the campaign to "Save the Grand" began
to build momentum. Dressel said Steubenville residents quit asking why save
the theater and began asking when it would be opened.
The restoration process will be expensive and lengthy,
costing around $6 million and taking about 15 years, according to Dressel.
All the funds are coming through donations, and an abundance of volunteers
have dedicated their time to the project. Dressel said a group of Franciscan
University students recently spent their spring break cleaning up inside the
theater. In fact, he added, about 75 percent of the volunteers were never
inside the Grand Theatre while it was operational.
"People just want to see downtown improved," he said of
the volunteer effort. "Downtown Steubenville is interesting and unique;
keeping it vibrant is important to putting a good face on Jefferson County.
Losing the Grand would have been a huge blow to the redevelopment (of
downtown), because you don't have an entertainment focal point."
The new roof was completed last summer, and volunteers
spent the fall removing trash and debris from the theater area. Work is now
being performed on the front facade, while the lobby and office are almost
After it is restored, operating the Grand Theater would
be relatively simple, Dressel said.
He said the initial goal is to hold events monthly, at
least, and eventually every weekend. The structure's ballrooms can also host
events such as receptions and meetings. A museum displaying the city's
history will be open daily, with the goal of ticket revenue paying for the
Renovation continues at Grand Theater
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer Herald Star
STEUBENVILLE - The lobby of the Grand Theater was alive
recently as children laughed and enjoyed pretending to be ready to watch a
movie at the 87-year-old theater.
The main seating area of the theater is still a long way
from showing movies again. But the lobby has been restored to an original
look with the painting completed and new carpeting now in place.
"I just wish Bill Croskey was here to see what the lobby
looks like. Bill was a strong supporter of our efforts to restore the
theater and to preserve an important part of Steubenville history. He
donated the lobby carpeting. And we will use the leftover carpeting for the
adjacent office space," explained Scott Dressel, chairman of the
Steubenville Historic Landmarks Commission.
"We had several of Bill's relatives come down for a
dedication ceremony and they enjoyed walking in the lobby and looking
through the glass doors into the theater," said Dressel.
Once the office space is completed and Dressel obtains an
occupancy permit, he is planning to hold events in the lobby that will allow
other visitors to watch work progress in the theater seating area.
"Our current activities include having structural
engineers come in to help evaluate and design what we need to modify for the
mezzanine, balcony and all the roof trusses to ensure they meet current code
and load requirements. Steubenville architect Les Zapor is working on the
architectural drawings for us. And of course we need additional funding to
continue that work," said Dressel.
"It is encouraging to see a refurbished lobby area. I can
remember walking in here when we started this project.The lobby certainly
does look nice compared to a year ago," noted Dressel.
"Our next fundraiser will be a Grand Night at Las Vegas
from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. on April 14 at Froehlich's Classic Corner. We have
an Elvis Tribute Singer from Caesar's Palace in Vegas and an appearance from
the Rat Pack.We are recreating a Las Vegas Casino in Steubenville. There
will be gambling, shows, cigar bar and food," said Dressel.
"The show is from 8 p.m. to midnight and will includes
the Elvis Tribute performer who will perform two shows. Also performing will
be the Dean Martin, Cher and Frank Sinatra Tribute performers," said
He added tickets are available by calling (740) 284-8008.
Grants sought for theater, former nursing home
March 13, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer , The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - The city's Urban Projects Office will
proceed with applications to the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund in order
to perform asbestos abatement at the Grand Theater and the former
LaBelle View nursing home.
A required public hearing was held Monday afternoon
by the Urban Projects Office to answer questions.
"Both properties are very much needed in the
community," said Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi.
David Kreeger, project manager of TRC Solutions of
Gahanna, said his consulting firm has prepared the environmental
assessment and cleanup plans for the theater on South Fourth Street and
the former elementary school and nursing home on Maryland Avenue.
"We are now applying for $90,000 for the cleanup and
remediation work at the Grand Theater and $360,000 for the work at the
former nursing home," said Kreeger.
"We did a site walk through the theater and looked
for anything that could be an environmental concern. The theater is part
of an effort by the Grand Theater Restoration Project to revitalize the
theater as a mixed use theater," said Kreeger.
"The LaBelle View nursing home was recently used as
an unlicensed paint ball business. It is an old building and is in
pretty rough shape. A developer is looking at demolishing the building
and doing site prep work in order to build a 40-unit low-income housing
development for seniors 55 years of age and older," explained Kreeger.
"The building is in such poor condition with
asbestos, mechanical and maybe structural issues we feel it would be
more cost effective to demolish the building and fill in the basement
with appropriate material and prepare the site for future use," noted
The former nursing home is currently owned by the
nearby Tower of Power Church.
Petrossi said church officials have been cooperating
with the city and he is hopeful that cooperation will continue.
According to the grant application, the property is
currently unoccupied and does not generate any revenue through property
"The property would be redeveloped and will qualify
for existing tax incentives," reported Kreeger.
The application indicates the redevelopment of the
former nursing home property as housing for low-income families will
bring immediate community benefit through access to safe, affordable
housing, removal of neighborhood blight and ancillary job creation.
Kreeger said he will appear before the Clean Ohio
Commission on May 18 to discuss the two grant applications.
"This is a very competitive process so
representatives from the Grand Theater and the former nursing home can
attend the hearing to discuss their projects," said Kreeger.
"The grant applications will be updated and be
available for the public to review at the main public library on South
Fourth Street in Steubenville," Kreeger said.
Grand project gets boost
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ((Gossett can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)) The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - Scott Dressel had his eyes on the
vacant building near the Grand Theater for months.
Now Dressel and a two-man work crew are busy cleaning
out the interior of the structure while a construction crew repairs the
Dressel, chairman and president of the Grand Theater
Restoration Project said he plans to remove the drywall and restore the
original brick walls, "and I hope to bring a retail business in here."
The building was owned by Derek and Lisa Ferguson who
donated the property to the theater project.
"We originally owned the theater and had used the
buildings for storage. We had donated the theater to Bishop Al Fenner
some time ago who later donated the building to Scott for his
restoration campaign. We no longer needed this storefront building and
felt it was time to donate it to the theater organization," explained
"At one time the building was home to Barclay's
Finance and later a bridal shop. We are happy to donate the building to
the Grand Theater group," added Lisa Ferguson.
According to Dressel, a new vinyl roof is replacing
the existing building roof.
"The nice thing about the building is it's attached
to the theater buildings. There is an elevator in the building that was
once used for access to the theater second floor area. We have to have
an inspector look at the elevator but if it can be repaired it will save
us the trouble of installing a new elevator," noted Dressel.
He added heat has now been restored to the theater
offices, lobby and museum.
"We had gas heaters donated and Columbia Gas has
recently installed the gas lines. The lobby painting has been completed,
the original mirrors have been put back on the walls and we hope to have
the new carpeting put down within the next couple of weeks. That will
allow us to hold events in the lobby and visitors will be able to look
through the glass interior doors to watch work progress in the lobby,"
"Our goal is to finish the lobby, theater office and
the museum this year. That will allow us to host events in the lobby and
to put donated items from the Steubenville theaters on display in the
museum. And if I can find a business person interested in leasing space
in the donated building it will bring some retail back to this block and
give us a funding source for our restoration efforts," stated Dressel.
"We still have a lot of work to do. Years of work.
But we are making progress. And once we complete our projects for this
year people will be able to see the glory of the past and glimpse what
the future holds for the downtown," Dressel said.
"We continue to seek donations and apply for grants
to help us complete the Grand Theater project. There is still a lot of
interest in restoring the theater. I am already planning a Christmas
party for this December that will be held in the theater lobby," said
Copyright 2012 The Herald-Star. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
Art auction at ballroom helps Grand Theater
December 6, 2011
y JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor,
Organizers of the first celebrity art auction to
benefit the Grand Theater Restoration Project are calling the fundraiser
The Grand Theater Restoration Project committee
joined forces with Hamilton Fine Art & Auctions for the event on Dec. 1
that featured about 150 works - "fine art originals and limited editions
from Disney to Dali."
It was held at the Fort Steuben Ballroom, a place
that was interesting to go to and what seemed like a perfect venue for
such an event.
Billy Petrella and Francesca Carinci were co-chairs
for the fundraiser, serving on a committee that also included Scott
Dressel, Jan Glaub Rainbolt, Donna Keagler, Ed Stanislaw, Tony Corella
and Patricia Fletcher.
Carinci reported that there were about 100 people
attending with 70 registered as bidders for the auction conducted by
Janice Hamilton, who is the owner of Hamilton Fine Art & Auctions and
who was a successful actress in stage, film and television. She had
recurring roles on "As The World Turns" and "All My Children."
I find it's always a pleasure to meet another Janice,
considering there seem to be so few of us.
Carinci loved one painting in particular.
"The Renoir captivated me from the minute I saw it,
and I could not stop looking at it - the gilded copper frame, the
shadows and the 1918 ambiance. I went home with it, and it makes me
smile every time I look at it," Carinci said.
Jon Cooper donated "a fabulous hand-carved, beveled
glass mirror. He painstakingly carved the piece, used old-world carving
techniques learned from his wife's grandfather, who was a local cabinet
maker," according to Carinci who said Jody and Carolyn Glaub won the
mirror and were very pleased with it.
"It was a 'Grand' time," she said of the event.
Sponsors included Apex Environmental, Walmart
Distribution Center 7017, the Center of Music and Art, Froggy 103.5, the
Herald-Star, WTOV9, the law office of Francesca Carinci, Fort Steuben
Apartments, Village Sleep Center, Rehab Plus and Tri-State Financial
Service, according to the program book.
Among the photos you'll see on this page are Charlie
Hick and his wife, Holly, who looked really sharp in their dress-up
The couple marked their ninth anniversary on Nov. 30,
the day before the auction, so they were continuing their celebration.
And check out the photo of Roberta McHugh with
Madeline and Ed Stanislaw. That is indeed Roberta on the left. I hereby
publicly apologize to Roberta, who I misidentified in a photo taken
earlier this year when the Jefferson County Red Cross Chapter had its
Girls Night Out fundraiser. I didn't know that until the auction. Sorry,
The art auction raised almost $9,000, according to
Carinci, and I understand that the gasline and heat work at the theater
possibly will be done before Christmas.
So things are moving along in "grand" fashion.
Celebrity art auction for Grand restoration
November 23, 2011
The Grand Theater Restoration Project committee is
joining forces with Hamilton Fine Art & Auctions to present a celebrity
art auction at the Fort Steuben Ballroom, located at 180 N. Fourth St.,
It will be held Dec. 1 with the preview beginning at
5 p.m. and the auction itself getting under way at 6:30 p.m.
The cost is a $25 donation for the cocktail attire
event with a complimentary wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres.
Tickets can be obtained in advance by calling (740)
264-4466 and also will be available at the door. They also are on sale
at the Center of Music and Art in Wintersville and Frank & Jerry's and
Two Brothers Dry Cleaners, both in Steubenville.
The event will feature 175 pieces, according to
committee member Billy Petrella. There will be oils, watercolors,
serigraphs, lithographs, mixed media and prints. All artwork is custom
framed. Artists may include Harrison, Schluss, Miro, Max, Ebgi, Sabzi,
Treby, Blank, Haney, Erte, Dali, Picasso, Neiman, Britto, Chagall, Raad,
Tarkay, Deleuze, Benfield, Kupesic, Capen, Sacasas, Anagnostis, Disney
Cells and more, according to an event flyer.
It bills the event as something featuring "fine art
originals and limited editions from Disney to Dali." And that's in
addition to sports memorabilia - for Steelers' fans, there will be an
autographed Jerome Bettis jersey - glass, sculpture and fine jewelry.
"There's literally something for everyone in every
price range," said Petrella, who is event co-chair along with Francesca
Carinci. The planners also include Scott Dressel, Donna Keagler and Jan
There also will be four faux furs up for auction.
They're in pristine shape and originally came from two downtown
businesses no more: Denmark's and Cooper and Kline's.
The auction will be conducted by Janice Hamilton who
is the owner of Hamilton Fine Art & Auctions, not to mention a
successful actress in stage, film and television who among other things
had recurring roles in the television soap operas - "As The World Turns"
and "All My Children."
Those of you planning to attend can park your
vehicles at one of two locations - the Steubenville Post Office in the
front or back lot and the parking lot at Tri-State Financial Services at
255 N. Third St.
There will be an attendant at both locations, and
both spots will offer shuttle service back and forth to the hotel, so
don't let parking be an issue that might keep you away, organizers say.
"Whether you like art or not," said Dressel,
president of the Grand Theater Restoration Project committee, "it's
going to be a nice event."
Grand night of fashion
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor, Herald-Star The Herald-Star
Well, that was fun.
The Committee for the Restoration of the Grand
Theater combined fashion, furs and food to raise more than $5,000 toward
its ongoing effort to give new life to a downtown fixture many may have
thought was destined for doom.
"A Grand Night of Fashion" was held Nov. 5 for a
standing-room-only crowd at the Center of Music and Art in Wintersville
- facilities courtesy of Jody and Carolyn Glaub - and featuring men's,
women's and children's outfits from Macy's, both dressy and casual.
Macy's sales managers Carrie Porter and Julie
Woodbury were on hand to make the show a success with three of the
store's Clinique and Estee Lauder makeup artists available to make
everyone sparkle. They were Chrissy Speedy, Ashlie Black and Lorianne
Francesca Carinci, one of the restoration project's
biggest cheerleaders, looked smashing in her red dress and silver heels
as she introduced all the models, yours truly included who was ordered
to be the first one out on the runway. All the better to snap some
photos, my little pretties.
And by the way, I liked my outfit so much, Better
Half bought it for me as an early Christmas present. He just doesn't
know it yet.
Other models were Emily Canella; Jennifer Cesta;
Cathy Davison and her son John; Nina Dutton; Dave Elias; Patricia
Fletcher; Sarah, Tom, Tony, Nolen and Julia Gentile; Claudia Holmes; Dr.
John Irvin Sr.; Nate, Noah, Rachel and Shannon Irvin; Betty Kessler;
John Mascio; Laura Meeks (one of two women Better Half whistled at on
the runway - yes, the other one was me); Shay and Quinn McCoy; Michelle
Miller; Meredith Rohan; Billie Petrella; Mike Petrella; Joyce Ryan
Orlando; Doug Potts; Margie Radakovich; Kay Sedgmer; Ame Taggart; Ronda
Teramana; Ramaine Turrentine; Nan Watzman; Marie Wilson; Cindy Yanez;
and Nikki Zimnox.
Carrie Porter gave a description of all the outfits
to an attentive audience that afterwards enjoyed an array of wine, hors
d'oeuvres and holiday pastries. Students from the Franciscan University
of Steubenville helped as hosts and hostesses.
The evening began with a "Happy Birthday" wish to
Francesca's mother Mary Carinci and cute commentary from the Rev.
Richard Davis, who noted his wardrobe isn't exclusively limited to his
black robe. There's the white one, too, but only for May through
September, he joked.
After the style show came an auction conducted by
Dale Featheringham with assistance from Donna Keagler, another staunch
restore-the-Grand person who called the event a huge success. Up for
grabs were several donated vintage furs - all quite lovely - and a trip
to Aruba. Door prizes were furs as well, which Scott Dressel held as he
stood next to me. Karen Jarrett, who said she never wins anything, went
home with one of them.
Behind the scenes as we "models" awaited our runway
time, I met Doug Potts of Bellaire, a retired librarian who told me he
was an usher at the Grand Theater from 1969-70 when one of the big
movies of the day was "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." He was a
junior at Stanton High School in the Edison school district then,
graduating in 1971. Turns out his sister Darlene Potts was friends with
my sister, Cathy Hout, during their Class of 1966 Jefferson Union High
School days. Small world.
Later in the evening, I was approached by John
Cooper, who told me he graduated with my sister Cathy. John's
sister-in-law is Francesca Carinci. The world is shrinking.
So it was a great evening. Hats off to Macy's, the
committee and all who made this possible.
Next up on the fundraising calendar for the Grand
Theater is an art auction and holiday gift sale on Dec. 1 from 6:30 p.m.
to 9:30 p.m. at the Fort Steuben Hotel Ballroom at 180 N. Fourth St.,
Steubenville. Preview time begins at 5 p.m.
There will be fine art from Disney to Dali, sports
memorabilia, jewelry and many other items. Celebrity actress Janice
Hamilton will conduct the auction, and there will be valet parking,
according to a post on Facebook. Wine and holiday treats will be served.
Tickets are $25 per person and are available at Frank
and Jerry's and Two Brothers Dry Cleaners as well as other locations to
If you'd like to be a "Friend of the Grand," annual
tax-deductible memberships are available. They're $25 for an individual;
$50 for a family; $100 for a business with less than 50 employees; and a
corporate membership of $1,000 applies to more than 50 employees.
Members receive invitations to special-members-only
events and other specials as determined. Contact any board member to
join or call (740) 632-2899 for information.
Johnson tours Grand
GOSSETT - Staff writer The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - The plaster is still flaking from the
walls and ornate artwork in the Grand Theater. But the 86-year old
theater that has sat empty for decades is starting to live again.
The lobby has been painted, workers are preparing to
install a heating system, and new carpeting is ready to be installed on
the lobby floor.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, took a personal
tour of the theater Friday morning and walked away encouraged.
"This is another example of the beginning wave of
prosperity for eastern and southeastern Ohio. The projections are of
10,000 new jobs here in the area for the next three years," Johnson said
as he walked through the theater.
"According to the recent ABC World News report anyone
who wants a job can have a job in Steubenville. That is exciting. We
have an opportunity coming our way because of the Marcellus and Utica
shale drilling industry," said Johnson.
"We now have to keep the federal regulators off the
backs of the companies taking advantage of what God has given us. And we
have to make sure these companies are hiring Ohio workers for these
long-term jobs," Johnson added.
He was at the theater to pick up a Dave Barnhouse
print he had purchased earlier this year at a fundraising auction for
the Grand Theater restoration campaign.
"I have performed in community theater. Back in 2006
I played a part in the play "Inherit the Wind" in a community theater.
This would make a great community theater, and I will be here when the
doors open for an audience," he said.
"I personally donated to the restoration and my
campaign has donated to the campaign," remarked Johnson.
Local businessman Bob Becker also stopped by the
theater to donate several art-deco pieces.
"I came here as a kid probably 60 years ago. I always
thought the Grand put all of the other theaters to shame. It was elegant
in the true Biggio fashion. The restoration of the lobby is putting it
back to the way it once looked," Becker commented.
"The Grand Theater committee is tackling a big
project and it will take a long time. But this theater has potential.
You can walk into the theater and still visualize what it once was and
see what it can be again," stated Becker.
"With the new building materials now available the
restoration work should actually be easier. This was once the place to
go in Steubenville. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished project,"
Scott Dressel, chairman of the board of directors for
the theater, has said he expects the complete renovation of the
86-year-old theater to take approximately 10 years.
"But we hope to have the lobby finished by this
winter that will allow us to hold fundraising events there and to bring
back a glimpse of the grandeur of the theater from past years," said
Grand cleanup continues
GOSSETT - Staff writer The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - Chris Bomely never saw a movie in the
Bomely is too young to remember when the downtown
business district was home to five theaters. But the Steubenville native
spent six hours Saturday with other volunteers cleaning debris from the
theater and is planning on returning this weekend for a final cleanup
"I wasn't around when this theater was open. But I
want to do something to help my community and I would like to see what
it looks like after it has been restored to its original condition,"
Bomely and Kyle Stutzman were assigned the task of
cleaning out several dressing rooms located at the back of the theater
"There are six dressing rooms located up there.
Plaster is falling from the ceiling and walls, so we are picking it up
and putting it in buckets. Then we carry the buckets outside and dump it
into a Dumpster," noted Bomely.
"Some of those rooms are tiny. Its hard to imagine
actors or performers running up that iron stairway and changing costumes
in those rooms. But I guess at one time they did," added Stutzman.
The final Saturday cleanup in October is set for 9
a.m. Saturday at the Grand Theater.
Scott Dressel, chairman of the Grand Theater board of
directors, said Saturday's volunteers will focus on the main seating
area in the theater and the balcony.
"I started this project in April last year after we
persuaded the city we could save this building. Our first volunteer
cleanup was in March this year when we took out 104,000 pounds of trash
and debris. A second cleanup campaign took out another 100,000 pounds.
So we are now basically cleaning up the remainder of the debris,"
He added he is close to completing the painting of
the lobby walls but is waiting for more work before applying a third
coat of dark blue paint.
"Thank goodness we received a furnace from TEAM
Automotive. We will place that in our office next to the lobby and I can
always open the door to the lobby to allow some heat into that area. I
am hoping we can get one more furnace donated for the museum that will
be located in the store to the south of the lobby," Dressel said.
"The six main lobby doors are in the process of being
refinished and that will included replating the hinges, door closers and
handles. When the doors are done and holes are cut into the lobby floor
to allow us to run heating ductwork we will paint the walls again and
put down new carpeting in the lobby hopefully by late November,"
"At that point every surface in the lobby will have
been cleaned, polished and restored. After that I will take a break.
Although I also want to help install new lighting that has been donated
to our poster frame boxes," added Dressel.
Linda Hilty and Jeff Wargo were helping three
students from Franciscan University of Steubenville clean out the
projectionist booth Saturday afternoon.
"Why do we come here for this? We ask ourselves that
question every time we are here. But I view this as kind of a project to
restore old Steubenville.
"It is much better in here since the roof was sealed
up. It is drier and smells better," said Hilty.
"When I agreed to volunteer today I had no idea the
building was this bad. I guess I thought it was just a matter of some
peeling paint. But after spending time in here I can see this theater
was really nice at one time. I can imagine what it will look like once
everything is cleaned up and restored," observed Tim Michaud, a senior
at the university.
Michaud and Sean Blouin volunteered for the clean-up
day at the urging of classmate Chris Kotur, who is a Steubenville
"I want to help out my hometown. My vision is to have
the downtown area rejuvenated and I think this is a good start. You can
already see other businesses doing their part," said Kostur.
And Dawn Tony Leone spent her Saturday at the theater
because her friend Francesca Carinci asked for help.
"Fran has been my friend and my inspiration for the
past 15 years. I came here at her request. But I also enjoy helping out
and making a difference here," stated Leone.
Dressel has said he expects the complete renovation
of the 86-year-old theater to take approximately 10 years.
"But we hope to have the lobby finished by this
winter and that will allow us to hold fundraising events there and to
bring back a glimpse of the grandeur of the theater from past years,"
The next fundraiser set to benefit the theater
restoration is a fashion show at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Center of
Music and Art.
"Local business women and celebrities will be our
models and we will have a drawing for vintage furs from the Hub. A $25
donation will include admission to the 'Grand Night for Fashion' as well
as wine and holiday goodies," said Dressel.
"Right now we are continuing to seek funding through
donations and grants. We hope to move on to several major projects at
the theater in 2012," he said.
Cleanup continuing at the Grand Theater
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writerThe Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - The more Scott Dressel explores and
cleans the Grand Theater and the adjacent store buildings, the more he
Dressel recently stepped down a steep flight of
wooden steps into the basement of the store just south of the theater.
He is planning to creat a mini-theater and downtown
entertainment museum in the former store and wanted to see what was in
"First of all there is a dirt floor and we found a
number of meat hooks down here. But probably the most mysterious
discovery so far has been a brick room in the middle of the basement. I
thought it might have been used at one time to store illegal liquor
during prohibition," related Dressel.
"But when I opened the wooden door I found about 100
wooden spindles and wood frame windows that appear to have been built
during the Victorian era judging from the design," said Dressel.
"The brick room is about 8 feet long, 6 feet wide and
6 feet tall. The inside ceiling is arched and entirely of brick. I have
made some calls but so far no one knows what the room might have been
used for," explained Dressel.
According to Sanborn maps, the building at 123 S.
Fourth St. has been used as a saloon, restaurant and meat store at
different times in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In
later years the store was home to a men's clothing store.
Dressel is hoping for more discoveries this month
when he hold three cleanup weekends in the theater.
"We will be working from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 cleaning the main stage area, the dressing
rooms, balcony, main floor and projection booth. Anyone who would like
to donate some time toward the restoration of the Grand Theater will be
welcome," declared Dressel.
He has started to paint the theater lobby walls a
dark blue that will reflect the original lobby colors.
"We will be taking out the ground floor seats at some
point and save the best seats for a mini-theater next door in the
museum," said Dressel.
"The former store is a fairly long room and I would
like to put up a flat screen television in the back and create a mini
theater. We will also have the museum in the front of the store so we
are collecting memorabilia for display from the Grand as well as the
other downtown theaters that are now gone," stated Dressel.
"The rest of the ground floor seats will be offered
for sale to anyone who wants a piece of the theater history," he added.
"We still have a long way to go but we are making
progress day by day. It is exciting to see the theater lobby start to
look like it once did and always fun to discover these little mysteries
in the buildings," said Dressel.
Grand cleaning continues
August 5, 2011
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - Gary Brown hasn't been inside the
Grand Theater since he was a kid joining his brothers to pay $2 to
watch Bruce Lee in "Enter the Dragon" over and over.
"It was great because you could stay all day. We
just lived a few blocks from here. The ushers didn't make you leave
after the first show. So we sat in the balcony and watched the same
movie all day long," recalled Brown.
He returned this week to a different looking
theater to remove mold that has been created by years of rain water
leaking into the building.
Brown and Apollo Pro Cleaning Field Manager Jerry
Truex were taping plastic over the doorways leading to the theater
so they could conduct mold remediation in the lobby and adjacent
room that eventually will serve as the theater office.
"The first step was to stop the water issues,
which was done when the theater roof was covered and sealed last
month. Our guys will be wearing ty-vex suits and respirators when
they work in here cleaning out all of the contaminants. That's why
we put up a yellow caution tape out front so no one comes in here,"
explained Chris Elliot, the operations manager for Apollo.
"Our job this week is to remove the
microbiological contaminants and that is what we will do. After that
we will apply a sealant to the surface walls and ceiling and the
theater and room next door will be ready for the next step," said
Elliot said the in-kind services donated to the
Grand Theater Restoration campaign, "are valued at approximately
"This is probably a two-day job that we can wrap
up by Friday afternoon," he noted.
According to Scott Dressel, president of the
Grand Theater board of directors, "Anthony Mougianis donated the
mold removal services from Apollo Pro Cleaning and drywall for the
lobby restoration has been donated by local contractor Jim Sarlo.
"These in-kind services are very helpful and can
be used to secure additional matching grants," said Dressel.
"We plan to start painting in September when the
humidity drops and it is a little cooler. Our goal is to have the
lobby completed by late fall and we will then have the lobby lit at
night so it looks like the theater is open again.
The ornate scroll work next to the ceiling will
be done in a bronze color and Terri English has volunteered to
handle that detail painting," Dressel said.
"Once the lobby is completed we can host small
events in the lobby. We will probably take down the curtains on the
doors that lead to the theater. That will allow visitors to see the
theater as it is now and watch the restoration work over time. We
may also want to finish at least one of the ballrooms so we can hold
events there in the near future," said Dressel.
"The glass poster frames and the mirrors in the
lobby are still in good shape and would be very expensive to
replace. So we will keep them in place," he added.
Grand Theater moving forward
July 19, 2011
We join the Friends of the Grand in sighing a bit
of relief that a major step in the long climb toward restoration of
the city of Steubenville's last great downtown movie theater has
The roof project at the Grand, which finally
stops further damage from wind, rain, snow and weather from
advancing, has been completed.
The Grand Theater represents an icon of hope for
the future that can spark a new generation to have a reason to come
downtown for entertainment, and the roof is a milestone.
No, it's not a step indicating any shows will be
held in the theater at anytime soon, but without completing a roof
replacement, any future work would have been for naught.
The 87-year-old building is just beginning down a
long road, expected by project leaders to take as long as 10 years,
Grants are beginning to join the private
donations, including $5,000 from the J.C. Williams Charitable Trust
to go toward the lobby paint and decor and renovating the theater
offices next door. Drywall has been donated by local contractor Jim
Sarlo and Anthony Mougianis has donated the services of his
professional cleaning firm for mold removal.
All are key steps in the physical renovation
project, but equally important is a donation from DPS Penn, a land
company for Chesapeake Energy, which will be used to establish an
endowment fund. The fund is important because it can be used to
match grants and donations in the future.
Friends of the Grand is growing from a concept to
The endowment can mean it will become a spirited
movement involving the whole community.
Theater restoration is moving forward
July 18, 2011
STEUBENVILLE - It is quiet inside the Grand Theater
The sound of water dripping from leaks is gone now
that Jason Zumbahlen and his crew from Blast Master of Effingham, Ill.,
have completed spraying a polyeurathene and sealant foam cover on the
roof of the 87-year-old building.
The complete silence is noted immediately by Scott
Dressel and a visitor to the building that has survived the water leaks
and is now being prepared for the next phase of a 10-year restoration
"I know I am sleeping better at night and my blood
pressure is down. And the theater gets a little drier every day. We no
longer have that musty smell in the theater we had when it was always
wet," said Dressel, president of the Grand Theater board of directors.
Two large rolls of carpeting, donated by Bill Croskey
of Steubenville, are now stored in the theater lobby.
Dressel said before the carpeting is installed, a
complete mold eradication job donated by Apollo Cleaning of Wintersville
will be done. That will be followed by the installation of drywall over
the original walls and, finally, the painting of the lobby walls and
ceiling in the original theater colors.
"We received a $5,000 grant from the J. C. Williams
Charitable Trust. That money will be used for the lobby painting and
decor as well as renovating the theater office next door. The drywall
for the lobby has been donated by Jim Sarlo, a local contractor, and
Anthony Mougianis has donated the mold removal services from Apollo
Cleaning. These in-kind services are very helpful and can be used to
secure additional matching grants," explained Dressel.
"We plan to start painting in September when the
humidity drops and it is a little cooler. Our goal is to have the lobby
completed by late fall, and we will then have the lobby lit at night so
it looks like the theater is open again. The ornate scroll work next to
the ceiling will be done in a bronze color. Terri English has
volunteered to handle that detail painting," Dressel said.
"Once the lobby is completed, we can host small
events there. We will probably take down the curtains on the doors that
lead to the theater. That will allow visitors to see the theater as it
is now and watch the restoration work over time. We may also want to
finish at least one of the ball rooms so we can hold events there in the
near future," said Dressel..
"The glass poster frames and the mirrors in the lobby
are still in good shape and would be very expensive to replace. So we
will keep them in place," he added.
Dressel also announced the restoration campaign has
received a $5,000 grant from DPS Penn to establish a Friends of the
Grand endowment fund.
"Members will receive invitations to special
members-only events and discounts on event tickets. To join the Friends
of the Grand, interested persons should contact any board member or call
(740) 632-2899 for information," Dressel said.
"Only the earnings from the endowment fund will be
spent on operating expenses. This kicks off a Friends of the Grand
membership drive. Individual memberships will be $25 and a family
membership is $50," Dressel said.
"The purpose of the endowment is to create an
investment fund, from which the interest and earnings can be used to
cover operating costs like utilities and, eventually, staffing. The
interest and earnings can also be used for improvements and maintenance.
The principal donations are intended not to be used and to grow the
endowment to a level that makes the Grand Theater self-sufficient. The
endowment funds are invested to result in the best return available with
no risk to the principal balance," explained Dressel.
"We continue to focus on our fundraising efforts. But
we are also planning clean-up weekends this fall. Since we will be
working in the lobby, we will set up Dumpsters in the alley behind the
theater and resume cleaning out the main theater, the ball rooms and the
basement. There are marble panels and seats in the basement that we need
to bring upstairs to inspect. And we have volunteers who want to get
busy cleaning again," Dressel said.
"The next phase of the restoration after the lobby
will be on the front of the building. We are working with Steubenville
architect Les Zapor to have a marquee designed that will look like the
original theater marquee of 1925. We will have environmentally friendly
LED lights in the marquee. It is an expensive project and we hope to
receive donations for the construction and installation of the sign. And
we will be looking at the windows that were painted over. We can either
scrape and clean the original windows or replace them with historically
correct windows. We will strip the front facade of the white paint,
clean it and restore the front of the building to the original look,"
"I see a growing interest in restoring the Grand. You
can see sprucing up going on all over the downtown area. North Fourth
Street was once considered a pretty bad area, but look at it now. The
downtown is looking better. There is a growing pride and interest in the
downtown area. The Grand Theater will be part of that downtown
restoration. It just takes a commitment and work," Dressel stated.
Grand roof nearly done
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - It should stop raining inside the
Grand Theater by this weekend.
A three-man crew spraying a polyurethane foam and a
sealant hope to have the 87-year-old roof completely covered and sealed
And that is welcome news for Scott Dressel, president
of the Grand Theater board of directors.
"I will be so glad when this roof is completely done.
That will stop the water leaks into the theater and allow us to move
forward with our cleanup and restoration work," said Dressel.
Dressel stood on the tar roof watching Jason
Zumbahlen, owner of Blast Master of Effingham, Ill., slowly spray the
yellow foam onto the roof top.
"It is similar to a rhino liner that is applied to
truck beds. I was able to talk to the director of the Playhouse Square
in Cleveland where the same material has been used on seven theaters
there and it has stood up very well. Once the foam is dried, they will
apply a white sealant that will help protect the roof and serve as
insulation," said Dressel.
"We use an Energy Star-rated material that has been
used on other buildings and been quite successful," noted Zumbahlen.
Dressel and his volunteers have been seeking
donations for months in order to repair the roof.
Dressel said he made the journey through the theater
lobby, up the steps to the projectionist booth and climbed the iron
ladder to the roof, "at least 20 times today. But people have donated
money to this project and I just want to make sure their money is
invested properly," said Dressel.
"I am still looking at about 10 years to have the
theater completely restored. But we are taking this in stages. We will
restore the lobby where we can hold events and the two front rooms
facing South Fourth Street. The theater will take a lot of work, but we
can make this happen," Dressel said.
"We will be stripping the front facade of the paint,
then cleaning it and restoring the facade. All trim and windows will be
restored and sealed to the weather.
A new marquee will be designed that will incorporate
the 1920s original vertical "GRAND" and the 1950s horizontal signboard
portion of the marquee across the entire front of the building," noted
"It is a lot of work but we are seeing more support
for the project. People aren't asking why we are doing this. Now they
want to know when the theater will be open again," concluded Dressel.
"I still have a vision of what this theater can be.
Once the roof is sealed we can continue our work," Dressel said.
Roof work under way at Grand
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer
, The Herald-Star
STEUBENVILLE - The Grand Theater Restoration Project
has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Ohio Governor's Office of
Appalachia allowing the repair of the building roof to start this week.
Scott Dressel, president of the project board of
directors, said Tuesday the Delagrange Construction Co. of Carrollton
started the repair of the building roof on Monday.
"They were the only contractor to give us a bid on
the roof, gutter and downspouts, roof coping and covering the skylight.
"They will be spraying the entire roof with
polyurethane foam that will give us an R-15 insulation rating. That will
not only stop the leaks but give us insulation that will keep the heat
out in the summer and the heat in during the winter months," Dressel
"We talked to several contractors but we were asking
for people interested in rehabilitation work.
"That can be irritating work because there is a need
to pay attention to the little details. The Delagrange Construction
people suggested different alternatives and were flexible enough to find
the material we needed for the project," added Dressel.
"I was convinced we needed to go with the
polyurethane roofing material after talking to the maintenance manager
at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. They have used the same type of
material on their buildings since the 1970s and are very pleased with
the results," Dressel added.
Dressel estimated the roof work will be completed by
"We originally planned on just repairing the theater
section of the roof. But the state grant will allow us to complete the
entire roof. The contractor will also be spraying both sides of the
building down to the adjoining building roofs so the theater will
finally be secured and dry," he said.
"State Rep. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, put us in
contact with the Governor's Office of Appalachia. And Wanda Hairston
from the GOA helped us tremendously throughout the application process.
"We were fortunate to receive $30,000, which is the
largest grant amounted awarded by the office," remarked Dressel.
"We also plan on replacing the current electrical
system with temporary service that will allow us to start setting up our
office on one side of the theater and the museum on the other side of
the lobby. There were several theaters in Steubenville and we hope to
create a display of that history in our museum.
"Once the roof and electric work is done we will
shift to the building's front facade and marquee. And we hope to get
heat installed before next winter although that will require an
additional donations," Dressel stated.
"I have been working on this project since April 2010
and I believe in it now more than ever. Once the roof is completed the
building will be dry and we will have time to start working on the
interior," Dressel said.
Dressel said the restoration project has so far
received 132 donations from individuals and businesses.
"Once the roof is done, I will be setting those names
aside in a special category of those who helped save the Grand by
putting on our roof. These were the people who believed in the project
from the beginning," Dressel said.
"Theater restoration work takes time. We would like
to have this project completed in six years but that will depend on
money and the time to do the work. I have noticed a change in public
opinion. When we started this project a year ago people were asking why
we were doing it. Now people ask when we will be ready to open the
theater," noted Dressel.
"Getting the roof done is a major accomplishment.
Every time it rains it causes me anxiety. It will be nice to see the
building dry and secure," said Dressel.
WINTERSVILLE - Today marks the conclusion of Ed
Looman's second year as executive director of the Progress Alliance
public-private economic development organization for Jefferson
After hearing a report on the organization
gaining one private trustee a month this year, at $2,000 per trustee
business, Looman gave thanks during Tuesday's Community Improvement
Corp. meeting to the private trustees and the governments that
provide money to operate the economic development and marketing
programs of Progress Alliance.
"The support we receive is nothing short of
amazing, particularly given the economic times we are facing," he
said. "I know it's tough to cut that check."
The CIC trustees, who oversee the work of
Progress Alliance, held their May meeting at the American Red Cross
Jefferson County Chapter offices on Talbott Drive.
Looman's two-year report noted work Progress
Alliance has done in providing assistance that led to the expansion
of Wildfire Motors and the purchase of the Jefferson County Chamber
of Commerce building by Capital Recovery Systems, which also added
more jobs at its Steubenville location.
Activities in his report included involvement by
Progress Alliance with:
The Power of 32 Pittsburgh economic regional
The 3-2-1 Jobs (three counties, two states, one
goal - to build a better economic future for Jefferson, Brooke and
Hancock counties) initiative, which is being spearheaded by
assistance from the Voinovich School at Ohio University through an
Economic Development Authority grant.
Work to create a Jefferson County Port Authority
and folding it into Progress Alliance.
Involvement with the MCBI Muskingum business
incubator and the Big Idea entrepreneur contest.
Work with EM-Media on the Be Jefferson County
Proud advertising campaign.
The successful launch of the Best of Jefferson
County annual awards event and banquet.
Increasing ties with state economic development
Regional involvement, including Looman's service
as co-chair of the Columbus-to-Pittsburgh Corridor highway
committee, serving as a founding member of the
Jefferson-Belmont-Monroe economic development partnership and work
with the Downtown Weirton Civic and Business Association to hold
annual Regional Economic Outlook forums.
Continued data gathering and development of a
database of available commercial and industrial properties in the
There were a number of other items on Looman's
report, but he spent time talking about the property listing. Looman
said the state is changing its system for the listings and the next
staff addition at Progress Alliance will be spending time this
summer updating the listings. Interviews for the hub coordinator
position, who will work on small business development and relations
with the MCBI group among other duties, are being conducted now.
Looman said the listings already on hand helped
Jefferson County stay in the running for a potential 300-job, $100
"We are in the hunt for a huge opportunity that
the Ohio Department of Development brought to us," Looman said. "The
initial site we suggested was rejected. The site selectors found two
more sites on our website. If they had not been listed, we would be
totally shut out. We may not win it, but we are in the game because
the inventory is there."
Looman and CIC President Ken Perkins said a
meeting is being held soon with representatives of the Steubenville
Area Board of Realtors on better coordination between the groups.
Perkins said often, there are properties for sale that Progress
Alliance could market, but it's not aware of their availability.
In other developments at the CIC meeting,
Heard an update from Scott Dressel on the work to
form the Steubenville Historic Landmarks Foundation as a non-profit
group to raise funds and manage the project to restore the Grand
Theater, the last remaining downtown theater building. Dressel said
it was recently determined a repair to the roof to make the building
weather-tight will be about $120,000, not $300,000 as initially
believed. He said once money is raised and the roof is sealed off,
the renaming interior work can progress over time because the
building no longer will be exposed to the elements. Dressel said he
will have details soon on where citizens will be able to cast votes
in hopes of the Grand project landing a $250,000 grant from Pepsi.
Heard from Kathy Musso, Red Cross chapter
director, and Kyle Brown, chapter president, about the work of the
chapter. Brown noted locally raised funds are important to the
chapter because without the local Red Cross, service would have to
come from Canton. Musso said in addition to disasters, the local
chapter responds with assistance to an average of 30 fires that
impact families each year.
Heard Perkins report that the CIC is on pace to
continue adding one trustee a month for the first six months of the
year. The goal is to add a total of 12 trustees during 2010.
Heard Looman's update on the scheduled Aug. 6
Bridge Invitational Golf Tournament, to be held at the Steubenville
Country Club as a fundraiser for Progress Alliance's marketing
efforts for the county. The tournament has been changed from a
marketing effort to a corporate challenge and will feature a
traveling trophy to the winning business team. Apex Environmental is
a title sponsor and the Herald-Star is a presenting sponsor. Two
more title sponsors are needed and there is room for as many
presenting sponsors as want to sign on, Looman said.
(Giannamore can be contacted at
Panel hears theater update
GOSSETT, Staff writer Herald Star
POSTED: May 7, 2010
STEUBENVILLE - Organizers of the
"Save the Grand Theater" campaign are asking for a share
of the city's Community Development Block Grant funds to
assist restoration efforts at the South Fourth Street
Scott Dressel, who also serves as
chairperson of the city's Historic Landmarks Commission,
on Thursday made the formal request for $100,000 a year
for a total of $500,000 to City Manager Cathy Davison
and Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi.
"Also we will be applying for a
number of grants, some of which may require matching
dollars from local government and individuals. I realize
it's a big request, but it's a big project. A $100,000
match would probably ensure that we get the roof done
this year and then move on to other items as funding
grows," Dressel told city officials.
Petrossi said his office is currently
preparing a draft of the city's new five-year
consolidated plan for 2010-14 as well as the fiscal year
2010 one-year action plan.
"The city has been notified the FY
2010 CDBG allocation will be $809,394. We are always
open to comments on the 2010 plan and are preparing a
draft plan to present to the planning and zoning
commission at their June 7 meeting," said Petrossi.
Dressel updated the Historic
Landmarks Commission members on efforts to save the
theater that has been closed since 1979, and predicted
restoration efforts will cost from $4 to $5 million.
"Bishop Al Fenner owns the building
but he has agreed to donate the theater to the
Steubenville Historic Landmarks Foundation. We now have
an attorney, Francesca Carinci, who has agreed to help
create a nonprofit status organization for us and once
that is completed we will be opening an account for
donations for the restoration campaign at JPMorgan Chase
Bank," explained Dressel.
"We have James Ludwig, an area
architect who will be doing some renderings of what the
theater will look like once it is restored. And we have
a lot of volunteers from Boy Scouts to people in their
70s who want to help with the restoration work. I have
also heard from a group of retired Wheeling-Pittsburgh
Steel electricians who want to help rewire the theater.
We have a lot of talented retires in the Ohio Valley who
are willing to help with this project," he noted.
"We also have 450 fans on the Grand
Theater Facebook page, and I have created a website
called www.historicsteubenville.org dedicated to the
Grand's restoration campaign," said Dressel.
He noted he is obtaining bids to have
the theater roof refurbished.
"One of the storefronts next to the
theater will be used as a museum for the performers who
used to visit the city's theaters in past years. We are
considering removing the storefront on the other side of
the theater entrance in order to put a staircase in to
the second floor and restrooms on the main floor,"
"The inside of the theater is pretty
much of a mess but it is still very elegant. The lobby
is pretty much untouched. A friend and I went up on the
roof to cover the open skylight above the stage so that
will stop rain and snow from falling onto the stage,"
"We also plan to replace the marquee.
And Dave Barnhouse has given us permission to use his
latest downtown Steubenville painting to create the
original marquee," noted Dressel.
"This work may take the rest of my
life but I am pretty sure we can do this campaign. And
it will revolutionize downtown Steubenville. I have
heard a comment about the lack of parking for the
theater. I can only hope we become so big that we have
to worry about parking problems. When this is done it
will be the most important impact in the downtown since
the Grand was originally built. Restoration of the Grand
Theater will have massive and positive economic
repercussions for this community," commented Dressel.
(Gossett can be contacted at
Guest column/There are many great things
POSTED: May 3, 2010
Great things are happening in
downtown Steubenville. There is a wonderful
resurgence of attitude, commitment and
investment taking place by building owners,
business owners and entrepreneurs from
Steubenville and from outside the area.
A can-do attitude has taken a
firm hold on the historic downtown business
district. During the past six months, a variety
of new and unique businesses have opened their
doors in the downtown business district. Some of
them are already contemplating expansion.
In addition to the variety of
businesses already opened, there are eight
additional storefronts currently under
development with specific announcements of
tenants coming during the next couple of months.
The group that originally
started the push for revitalization of the
downtown area is the Steubenville Revitalization
Group. This group was originally started by a
small, but determined, group of downtown
business people and a handful of other
hardworking folks who care deeply about the
After organizing a core group
and agreeing on a mission in its first year, the
group decided to take the step to take its goals
of revitalizing the historic downtown district
to the next level. The SRG made the decision to
retain Valley Ventures to develop a
comprehensive and implementable (key word) plan
to restore and revitalize the core 12-block
focus area of the historic downtown during a
36-month period. This plan was developed last
summer, and introduced to the full SRG
membership and the general public in late
September. Since that time, much positive energy
and activity has been regularly occurring
throughout the downtown.
Just last week, as a result
of all this positive energy, a new group has
been formed to focus on saving and restoring the
Grand Theater on South Fourth Street. The
restoration of the Grand Theater will enable
live plays, concerts, recitals, movies and other
performing arts to be available once again in
our historic downtown.
As always there were (and
still are) some naysayers doubting whether
revitalization of the downtown is possible. My
answer to them is always that everything is
impossible until somebody does it.
I tell the doubters they can
choose to dismiss what we say will be happening,
but to watch closely for the ongoing business
openings, successes and developments that are
As outlined in the master
plan, downtown Steubenville is beginning to take
shape as a lifestyle center. A lifestyle center
is a pedestrian-friendly center where citizens
will now have the opportunity to work, shop in
unique stores, dine at quaint eateries, take in
entertainment and cultural events and live
downtown again in trendy, loft apartments. This
is not some theoretical plan for some future
time, but is representative of what is currently
occurring throughout the downtown area.
Unlike many cities, historic
Steubenville is very fortunate to have retained
a significant infrastructure of grand, historic
buildings which many cities can only dream of
having available for redevelopment. While
pessimists may look at vacant buildings as
problems, optimists, such as myself, see them as
The many fine businesses that
have been located downtown for many years are
now being joined by new businesses and
entrepreneurs. In the coming months more new
businesses and facilities will be joining in to
provide additional retail, restaurants, fine
arts galleries, museums, entertainment
facilities, professional offices and loft
It is important to note that
all of this is happening through private
development and investment, not through
government funding. People should not look to
the government to create jobs or develop
Government's role is to
efficiently operate the important city services
for its residents and to create a climate of
cooperation by working closely with building
owners, business owners, entrepreneurs and
investors to facilitate the significant ongoing
and future investment that will be taking place
throughout the downtown.
In my discussions and
interactions during the past couple months with
the new city manager and other city personnel, I
have been very pleased with their positive
attitudes in cooperating and working closely
with the private sector development that is
taking place by businesses, building owners,
contractors and developers. This spirit of
cooperation is essential to stimulate and
continue this exciting revitalization of
If you currently own a
business in the region or are thinking of
starting a business, I invite you to come and
join the ever growing family of businesses that
are seeing the unique opportunities that are
available in historic downtown Steubenville.
You can contact me at Valley
Ventures Inc. at (304) 748-1525 or e-mail me at
email@example.com to discuss this
business opportunity in greater detail. We can
assist with financing, business planning and
marketing to expand or start your new business
in the downtown area. The discussions are
strictly confidential. I look forward to hearing
and working with any and all business owners and
entrepreneurs to help share our vision.
(Stein is the executive
director of Valley Ventures Inc.)
Grand could be a rallying point
April 29, 2010
The Capitol. The Rex. The
Olympic. The Paramount.
Ask Steubenville residents of
a certain age about watching the movies in their
younger days and they'll recite a litany of
places that are gone.
The last theater downtown
that is standing is the Grand Theater, and it's
a shadow of its former self. But it can be saved
with some support and the same kind of dedicated
effort that has led to a resurgence of small
business in the downtown central business
The Grand project is indeed
just that. Grand.
One local contractor
estimates the full restoration of the building
would take as much as $5 million. That's big
But it's a big idea that
could help feed a downtown renaissance.
A Web search of the words
"theater restoration" brings a lengthy list from
across the nation of efforts to preserve, as
community-based efforts, the theaters that once
were the focal points of entertainment for
One of the points during the
recent Smart Communities seminar was that
literally every community that has undertaken
such a project meets with success.
However, to achieve dreams
takes a healthy dose of reality, and reality in
this case is money.
But it shouldn't stop the
dream but spur it on.
Fundraising efforts have to
extend beyond the city and its environs to reach
out to Hollywood. Steubenville has Dean Martin
among its favorite sons, and the late
singer/actor/comedian had many friends and fans
among the Hollywood elite, many still active
We hope the efforts of local
citizens to try to reach out to that community
with the concept of a lasting memorial to Martin
in his hometown find open ears, open hearts and
a few open checkbooks.
To the world of Hollywood,
the Grand Theater is something small and far
away, but to the city and its residents, it can
once again be a very large part of the future,
honoring the past.
We laud the efforts of the
citizens who are getting behind the project,
hope they can preserve the building now to allow
it to be restored over a longer period and see
the Grand as a rallying point for community
spirit and civic pride.
Fourth Street theater remembered
as an elegant place to be entertained
By DAVE GOSSETT
POSTED: April 25,
STEUBENVILLE - It was
originally built to house a saloon and a livery
station in the 1880s by a German immigrant and
was converted into a theater in the 1920s.
Today the Grand Theater is an
auditorium filled with seats, a water-soaked
wooden stage and falling plaster.
But Scott Dressel, chairman
of the Historic Landmarks Commission, said he
can look past the aging interior and see a
theater once again filled with movie and stage
patrons and "the glory of the past years."
According to John Griesinger
of Steubenville, the large, warehouse-sized room
above the lobby area of the Grand Theater once
was home to the extended Griesinger family and
visitors who included Buffalo Bill Cody.
"My great-grandfather Jacob
Griesinger drove a stagecoach and that is why he
built the livery stables. Plus he had the saloon
and restaurant," related John Griesinger.
"In 1924 the four Biggio
brothers (Charles, Edward, Howard and William)
leased the property and tore down the livery
stables and built the auditorium for a theater.
At that time it was the second air conditioned
theater in the country and was modeled after a
theater in New York
[please see AC note above].
The lobby was known for its mosaic tile and
beautifully detailed painted interior. The
theater was also known for its art deco style,"
"I grew up in that theater,"
Mary Martha Biggio Salata remembered.
The daughter of William
Biggio said after classes ended at Holy Name
Catholic Grade School she would walk to the
"I held my fingers up to my
mouth to shush the ushers, walk down the aisle
to the third row from the front and hunch down
in my seat. About 4:30 or 5 I would feel a firm
tap on my shoulder. It was my dad telling me it
was time to go home for dinner," recalled
"My father was very strict
about the movies I could see. Shirley Temple
movies and anything considered of an uplifting
educational nature were fine," she added.
"The Grand in those years was
very elegant. There were two ushers during the
day and four or five ushers during the evening
hours. And they all wore tuxedos. There was no
popcorn sold in the theater but in the later
years a candy dispenser machine was installed in
the lobby," said Salata.
"My best memories of the
Grand were when I was in junior high school and
I was permitted to fill in for the cashiers who
sold tickets from a small booth at the front of
the exterior lobby. It was absolutely wonderful
to sell tickets to customers although my school
classmates would expect to get into the movies
for free. It was a very glamorous and exciting
world because I felt like I was part of the
entertainment world. I could read Variety and
the Hollywood Reporter. I felt I was on the
cutting edge of the entertainment industry,"
"There were so many theaters
in Steubenville those days because everyone went
to the movies. The new releases started every
Thursday and I would often see the same people
every Thursday. It was mostly mamas and papas
going out for the evening. It was during the
Great Depression and theaters were big in
Steubenville. The movies, and especially the
musicals, helped people forget the hard times
for a time. And about three or four times a year
the movie production company would bring in live
entertainment as an added attraction," Salata
"I know the theater has
deteriorated. It is sad. But if there is a
chance to save it I would like to see that
happen. It was a great place for entertainment,"
Tina (Micucci) Chambers
walked through the theater last week and
remembered going to the Grand on Easter Sunday.
"A bunch of parents would
drop their kids off at the Grand Theater after
Easter Mass and we were good for at least a
couple hours," Chambers said.
Chambers said she has been
told the last movie shown in the Grand Theater
was a Disney film, "which was probably the most
For Janice Straker Maze, a
former city resident, the memories were fun and
on occasion embarrassing.
"As a child, I loved going to
the movies at the Paramount and the Grand. I
remember a woman who worked at the ticket booth
gave me a hard time when I went to buy a ticket
because she said that I was not a child and
needed to pay the adult price. I was tall for my
age. I, of course, only had enough money for the
child price. We went back and forth about this
and she finally let me in. I remember that I was
with friends and other people were in line and
it was really embarrassing. One other thing I
remember is they used to have movies where the
monsters came out of the screen. The screen
would go black and the lights would go out and
you would see people coming up the aisles with
"One of our friends, who was
on the end, crawled over everybody so that she
could get to the other side and not be on the
end. It was hilarious," Maze recalled.
Griesinger explained the
Dipson brothers took over theater operations
"sometime in the 1960, then it was operated by a
Pittsburgh-based movie theater company and was
closed, re-opened for a short time and then
finally closed for good in 1979," said
"At that point several
Griesinger family members all owned a share of
the property, but it finally came down to my
sister and I," noted Griesinger.
"I always liked the Grand
because when I was a child we had passes from
the Biggio brothers because our family owned the
property. I could go to the movies for free
whenever I had a chance," Gwynne Griesinger
"I sold the organ in the
theater in the early 1980s to a businessman from
Chicago who bought it for his wife who was a
church organist. They came in and spent about
two months carefully identifying each pipe at
the rear and on the right side of the stage
before removing them for shipment," Griesinger
And then in 1996 I sold the
building to Derek Ferguson, who used the theater
space for storage for his waterbed business,"
Ferguson donated the theater
to the Shepherd's Walk Church in 2006.
"If they can save the theater
I would be happy. And I know Jerry Barilla of
the SRG and Scott Dressel have a lot of drive to
make this happen," said Gwynne Griesinger.