Springville residents rally together to renovate historic theater

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In the mid-1950s, Lee Taylor went on his first real date. He was in the fourth grade and with a dollar in hand from his parents, he and his friend treated two girls to a movie, popcorn and drinks and left with memories that have lasted his entire life.

“I always am reminiscent of that first date,” Taylor said. “I even brought home the left over 15 cents. I was such a good son.”

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Springville residents have banned together to try and save a historic downtown theater.
This date took place at the Rivoli Theater in Springville. Taylor, a resident of Springville for 65 years, said he had many memories of going to this theater in his youth including that first date.

“We loved the Rivoli,” Taylor said. “I remember going there whenever we could afford it. A matinee on Saturday was only 15 cents.”

The Rivoli opened as a silent movie house in 1927. Since then, it was shut down, and re-opened, several times over the years and even endured a name change. During that time, the stage hosted live theater, family films, and musicals written by local artists.

In 2008, Springville City bought the property. According to savetherivoli.org, the plans to renovate it came to halt because of the economy.

That was until Andy and Norma Shelline, residents of Mapleton and founders of the Save the Rivoli committee.

“My husband just felt it was a building that needed to be restored,” Norma Shelline said. “We both loved the theater and saw a need for a gathering place for Springville.”

Norma Shelline and her husband lived in Springville for 27 years and only recently moved to Mapleton. She said the Rivoli sits in the middle of historic Springville and she would hate for to be replaced.

“It has been around since the 1920s,” she said. “It was a real gem in the community.”

Since starting the Rivoli restoration committee, Norma Shelline said is support from both community members and the city council. She said they hope to raise $500,000 to help with the restoration–enough to get it running.

“We hope to make it operational so we can have performing arts there and raise more money to finish it,” Norma Shelline said.

She said the committee has been working hard to get grants and start fundraising efforts. They recently were given a matching grant from the Utah Historical Preservation Society. In addition, there are plaques available for people to purchase that would be on the seats.

Even though the process has been slow-moving, progress was recently made. The ticket booth was just restored and new tile is being put in. In efforts to help support the restoration, Ogden High School donated 300 mint-condition chairs.

“The value of the chairs is about $45,000 and they donated them,” Norma Shelline said. “They are new-old. We just completed installing them.”

After the theater is complete, Shelline said she hopes it will be a multi-functional arena. She said that it could be the new home for the Springville Playhouse, recitals, and large events. And, of course, be restored to be a fully functional movie theater.

“It wouldn’t be a first-run movie theater, but perhaps a venue for showing some of the classics,” she said. “There are a lot of great old movies I’d love to see on the big screen again.”

Shelline said she hopes that the community and city support will continue throughout the whole process.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” Shelline said. “The city has been very supportive and we are hoping that their trust in us will be recognized so that we will be able to [have the] Rivoli be an asset to the city.”

Four students from UVU have helped a lot with the renovation efforts, particularly on the website, Shelline said. Yvette Beaudoin, a resident of Springville, was one of those students. She said she was looking for a digital media senior project, and when she saw an article about the Rivoli, she knew she wanted to help, rather than focusing on an international project like fellow classmates.

“I saw a real benefit in working with a local organization because, as easy as remote communication is these days,” Beaudoin said. “I think that becoming involved with the community in which you live is a much more rewarding experience.”

Beaudoin said that her group created the brand for the theater as well as the website. One of the major projects they worked on was a YouTube video, documenting the history of the Rivoli and interviewing local community members. Beaudoin hopes that the theater will benefit both Springville residents and those from around Utah.

“Once the theater is open and operating in a sustainable manner, hopefully it will draw diverse audiences to Springville’s downtown theater,” Beaudoing said. “Hopefully it will increase cultural engagement and economic activity in the community.

The Rivoli Theater is located on Main Street in Springville. More information about the renovation efforts can be found at savetherivolli.org.

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