Reflection on my week at the LHAT Conference in San Diego


I’ve just returned from one of the best conferences I have ever attended!  I spent all of last week in beautiful San Diego at the League of Historic American Theatres conference.  It truly was an exceptional event and I’m returning to THS full of ideas, inspiration and excitement about what we do, what LHAT does and how we can work together in the future.  I also met some really terrific people and many of them are already THS members!

I kicked the week off by attending the LHAT Theatre Ramble, touring some of San Diego’s great old theatres.  We stopped at the Birch North Park Theatre, the newly re-opened Village Theatre on Coronado Island, the Old Globe Theatre Complex and Copley Symphony Hall, which was originally built as a Fox Theatre.  We also stopped in at the Marston Home & Gardens, the Whaley House in Old Town San Diego and the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado.  Many of our THS Movie Buffs will know the Hotel Del from the fabulous Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon classic “Some Like it Hot.”  Throughout the week we were also able to visit the San Diego Civic Theatre, the beautiful Spreckles Theatre, which celebrates its centennial this year and the historic Balboa Theatre.

I attended many sessions this week about owning, operating, and restoring historic theatres.  I sat in on sessions about fundraising and development, as well as sessions about individual stories of bringing a theatre and a community back to life by the restoration of a neighborhood theatre.  One of the many highpoints of the week was the awards presentation and particularly Tony Award-winning actor Hal Holbrook.  Mr. Holbrook was given an award recognizing his devotion and contribution to historic theatres in America.  His acceptance speech was quite inspirational!

I also spent a great deal of time talking with other conference attendees and making new connections for our future.  In fact, this coming week Ken Stein, the new LHAT Executive Director will be here in Chicago and we’ve already carved out some time to spend in the THS Archive.  I feel that Ken and I both possess a spirit of collaboration, and in finding ways to support each other both THS and LHAT will thrive in the future.

It truly was a remarkable week and I’m glad that your THS Board has the vision to send me to the conference.

As always, I’d love to hear from our members!  Feel free to e-mail me at or call the office at 630-782-1800.

Until next time,



  1. Joe Petrosino

    Hello Rick, Thank you for the nice review of the LHAT conference, did you happen to hear any word at all on the California Theater in San Diego.

    Thank You
    Joe Petrosino

  2. I am very pleased to read this post. I looked up the Village. Redone to designs by the now late Joseph Musil. Read about it here & look at the video below:

  3. Gary Parks

    Thanks for this post, Rick! sounds like a truly idea-rich experience.

  4. Mary Beth Aungier

    Fantastic post! When I attended my first LHAT conference our small theater was 1/2 million in debt, exhausted staff and board and at a state where I did not know how to turn it around. The guidance of LHAT members and the true openness of ideas helped me to turn the theater around within 18 months. I’m a walking testimonial of what great work these theater administrators do every day. I’m so happy you posted about this. True great work in historic theaters is being done by THS of America and by LHAT.

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