COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – A new owner has given another chance to Main Street Theater in Columbiana.
Since 1953, Main Street Theater has been a staple in the community. But since the start of the pandemic, it has laid dormant.
Last year, the building was being put up for sale.
The Columbiana Cultural Collective was tasked to raise about $1.1 million in less than a year.
“It was seeming dim. It was seeming like it wasn’t going to happen,” said Erich Offenburg, executive director of the Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce.
Through donations and fundraisers, they were only able to get about $20,000, but since it was a pandemic, there was only so much that could be done.
“Raising money during a pandemic is a difficult thing,” Offenburg said.
Over the last few months, John and Beth Kufleitner stepped in.
John Kufleitner said his wife wanted to see the community keep a theater, along with the fact that their son with special needs has been in a number of shows there.
“The minute I got the call from John and Beth, I was just floored by their generosity,” Offenburg said.
They were able to settle on a price with the previous owners.
In a statement from the Kufleitnerss, they are doing it purely out of philanthropy and are not looking to profit in any way. The plan is to have the Collective buy it back in five years. John Kufleitner said they won’t charge interest.
This gives them a head start.
“[John] came to us and said to us, ‘We’re to purchasing this. You can buy it from us. We don’t want to own a theater; we just want to get you started, and to get you started, we’re going to donate $100,000,” Offenburg said.
Offenburg said he has other donors willing to give and says the shows will help fund the investment.
“Something about every night here, whether it be film, whether it be music, whether it be a live theater play, visual arts, classes, all kinds of things going on,” Offenburg said.
The Collective still has to get its state certifications and COVID policies into place before reopening the theater.