Historic theater key to rebuilding downtown
By Glenn Wallace/Staff Writer email@example.com | Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 12:00 am
The old Lompoc Theater has had a long and interesting history in its 83 years. Renamed the Calvert Performing Arts Center, there is a $10 million renovation effort to ensure the theater has just as long a future.
The renovation project has stalled, however, in an economy where federal, state and local governments are cutting budgets and doing without credit. Still, Lompoc city and business leaders say the theater is worth the price, and can serve as the cornerstone to build up downtown Lompoc’s future.
“It will help create a people place. In order to create a successful downtown environment, we need a reason for people to be here,” said Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Denny Anderson.
Anderson has reason to believe a renovated theater can help a downtown flourish, having been part of a similar theater project that was successful in Loveland, Colo., before he moved to Lompoc.
Anderson is not alone in that belief. Mayor Mike Siminski said he could not think of a single project that would be more of an asset to revitalizing the old downtown.
Former mayor and community activist Joyce Howerton agreed.
“I believe it really is sort of the gem of Lompoc. If we’re ever going to have a vibrant downtown, the theater would be the anchor,” Howerton said.
Once upon a time, the Lompoc Theater really was a major attraction to the city’s vibrant downtown, centered at H Street and Ocean Avenue. The 600-seat theater was built by Walter Calvert and William Baker in 1927. Historical records show the theater often sold out, even back when Lompoc only had a population of only 2,000. The entertainment included plays, lectures, movies, concerts, and even a Mickey Mouse Club.