Itemizer-Observer report

DALLAS — The historic Dallas Cinema has been awarded a $55,185 grant to complete repairs and preservation projects.

The grant is paid for with federal funds and administered by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) for the preservation of historic theaters.  OPRD received the initial funding of $615,000 from the National Park Service Historic Revitalization Subgrant Program.

The funds were then distributed, via a grant request, to eight theaters across the state. The grant required that the theaters must be listed, or meet the criteria for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places and be located in a community with fewer than 30,000 people. 

The Dallas Downtown Association (DDA) pursued the grant opportunity back in the spring and worked closely with the business owner, Jeff Mexico, and property owner, Ron Burch, to prioritize a list of repairs needed on the building.

“As the Dallas Cinema business owner since 2007, we are excited to be chosen for the Oregon Historic Theater project grant. The theatre has been in operation since 1949 in a building that was built in the late 1800s,” Mexico said. “We are looking forward to updating and enhancing the building’s structure, HVAC and other areas to keep the building’s history as well as modern improvements to continue the theatre operating for many decades and beyond.  It truly is a staple in the downtown core of Dallas, Oregon.” 

The DDA also applied, on behalf of the property owner, for the Dallas Urban Renewal Façade Grant and plans to use that money as a match for the theater grant. The remaining funds will come from the property owner.

“Layering multiple grants and finding alternative sources of funding is a creative way to fund repairs on historic properties. The Dallas Cinema is a beloved theater and in many ways is the heart of our downtown. The DDA is thrilled to be able to help the business and property owner preserve this building,” said Melanie Fisher, DDA Executive Director.

The DDA plans to apply for arts and cultural grants to paint a large mural along the west facing wall.

COVID-19 has drastically impacted theater operations across the state of Oregon, causing many theaters to close their doors permanently.

“Many theaters are not able to continue normal operations let alone invest money into repairs for their building,” Fisher said.  “These grants will allow the Dallas Cinema to install a new HVAC system, repair the marquee, complete masonry work on the west façade, and repair the roof.”

Work is projected to begin this winter and will be completed in Spring of 2021. Portions of the $615,000 federal grant also are going to theaters in Enterprise, Coos Bay, Lakeview, North Bend, Newberg, Vale and The Dalles.

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