KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo State Theatre was named one of seven winners of the 2022 Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II made the formal announcement Thursday at the state Capitol Building in Lansing. The awards were started by the State Historic Preservation Office in 2003, committed to recognizing the landmarks that make Michigan unique.
“These projects are the result of partners coming together and demonstrating the resiliency, tenacity, innovation, and long-term commitment to telling Michigan’s story that truly define our state and our residents,” Gilchrist said in a statement.
Harry Phillips, the director of marketing and development for the Kalamazoo State Theatre, called the award a huge honor that affirms all the work done to save the building.
“It validates the effort that the Hinman Company put in when they purchased this in 1985 and decided to save it. Some people may forget that the theater shut down in the early 1980s and almost became a parking lot,” Phillips told News 8. “So, to us, it validates all the hard work that this team did during the pandemic to put on events and to do things that were embraced by the community. But even more importantly, it’s a huge shining star for Kalamazoo that we have another place here that is recognized.”
What’s next for the Kalamazoo State Theatre? More of the same, Phillips said, thanks to the long-awaited addition of an air conditioning system.
“Typically, we were shut down between June and September. Now, we’re going to be open. And that’s huge; the fact that we can put on shows year-round and have things all year round in a comfortable setting. That’s going to be huge,” Phillips said.
The State on the Street outdoor events that became popular during the pandemic will also continue. Phillips called them an easy way to get out and connect with the community while offering some free fun. The biggest State on the Street event will be Friday, July 15, to celebrate the theater’s 95th birthday.
The theater has some restoration plans in the works, but nothing that is ready to be announced. Phillips said theatergoers may see some new changes in the coming years, but nothing drastic.
“The one thing I will say is, in anything we do, we’re trying to maintain the integrity and the historic value of the theater,” Phillips said. “You’re not going to see any major revamps of the interior other than improving the comfort level … carpets and stuff like that.”
The other six winners of the Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation are the Alpha House in Detroit, Bay City’s Legacy Building, The Milton in Battle Creek, Leland’s Fishtown, the Orchard Beach State Park Shelter in Manistee County and the Thompson Block in Ypsilanti.