Organizers: Saturday work at Rees a success, but donations still needed for Marshall County landmark

Nearly 35 volunteers helped clear the interior of The Rees Theater on Saturday. Organizers still hope to raise $1.5 million before Oct. 31 to qualify for a matching grant.
By: 
Shawn McGrath
Staff Writer

Dozens of volunteers turned out Saturday to help save a downtown Plymouth landmark.

Organizers behind the effort to rehabilitate and repurpose the Rees Theater said 34 people turned out for Saturday’s volunteer-led effort to clear the building’s interior.

“Plymouth had a very successful day Saturday cleaning out the interior of The Rees, all four floors,” Randy Danielson, one of the organization’s leaders, said. “Volunteers … from all walks of life, including high school students, retirees, professionals, artists, educators, labor force workers along with community service individuals all with an incredible goal in mind: Bring back The Rees.”

Danielson said more than 300 volunteer hours went into “removal of remaining seats, clearing a ceiling collapse, removal of carpet, cabinetry, obsolete fixtures and mounds of dirt and debris.

“The projection room remains as it did when the theater closed the evening of Dec. 22, 2009, with the showing of 'Old Dogs’ – at least for the time being,” Danielson continued.

He said a stone sharpening wheel dating to the 1800s was found beneath a basement stairwell and was “immediately accepted by the (Marshall County Historical Society) museum as an antique artifact.”

With the demolition work done, it will allow for the removal of the auditorium’s plaster and metal lath ceiling, Danielson said Sunday.

He said Michiana Contracting will do that work yet this fall and through early winter.

In the spring, foundation and masonry work will be done and the roof will be replaced.

“With a sound and protected structure, work will begin on the interior build out that will re-create the art deco look of its 1940 opening night,” Danielson said. “The Rees Project Committee remains fixed on achieving a $1.5 million goal before the 31st of October.”

He said the organization has passed the $1.1 million level with more pledges coming in daily.

Donations can be made online through the Marshall County Community Foundation at www.marshallcountygives.org or, for project details and specific donor levels, visit www.reesproject.com, according to organizers.

Pledge forms are available at the Marshall County Community Foundation, Marshall County Historical Museum, Bowen Printing or by calling 574-286-2391, organizers previously said.