City of Palm Springs Launches Fundraising Campaign to Restore Historic Plaza Theatre

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The City of Palm Springs recently launched a capital campaign to fully restore one of its most iconic buildings - the Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs. This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York. When the restoration is complete, the Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment for many years to come.

This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York.

The City of Palm Springs recently launched a capital campaign to fully restore one of its most iconic buildings - the Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs. This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York. When the restoration is complete, the Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment for many years to come.

Seminal Palm Springs architect Harry Williams designed the theatre in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The theatre opened in 1936 with the premiere of the George Cukor film, “Camille,” with its legendary star, Greta Garbo, who allegedly slipped into the back of the theatre after the lights went down. Garbo’s co-star in the film, Robert Taylor, attended with Barbara Stanwyck.

Over the years, the theatre was the venue for memorable performances by entertainment giants Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Performers Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show broadcast live radio shows from the Plaza, bringing national attention to Palm Springs. It also was one of the most popular movie theatres in the growing Palm Springs community and was the venue for a number of motion picture world premieres, including “My Fair Lady” and “Music Man.”

In the late 1980s Sonny Bono created the Palm Springs International Film Festival at the Plaza Theatre. In 1991, a vaudeville-type revue called “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies” launched and ran there for 23 years. The long-running show brought international exposure to the theatre and in many ways helped revitalize downtown Palm Springs.

Establishment of Historic Protection:
The Plaza Theatre was declared a Class 1 Historic Site in 1991. This designation prohibits any structural changes that do not adhere to the original design. The theatre is in dire need of repair and restoration and the City of Palm Springs is committed to bringing it back to its original luster as the heart of the City.

The comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan is estimated to cost approximately $10 million, and will provide essential infrastructure repairs, installation of new theatrical equipment, and structural improvements to ensure that the building meets today’s fire prevention and American Disabilities Act mandates.

There are many ways in which the public may play a significant role in the Plaza Theatre restoration, including becoming a Founder, securing a Naming Opportunity, or making a donation. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information or to make a donation to support preservation and restoration, contact former Councilmember J.R. Roberts at 760-218-6330 or visit http://SaveThePlazaTheatrePS.com

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Tim O'Bayley
Plaza Theatre Palm Springs
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