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Created in the Corridor: Hardacre's 100th

The Hardacre Theater's new designation on the National Register of Historic Places. (photo by Scott Sanborn)

Rarely does a 100th birthday celebration offer hope for another hundred years of life. But that's what's happening in the heart of Cedar County this month with efforts to save a cultural icon Created in the Corridor.

"My grandparents went to the Hardacre Theater. They were married in 1938," remembers Linda Beck who has fond memories of family fun at the Hardacre Theater in Tipton. So does the city's mayor who worked his way through high school there. "It was a fun place to work," says Bryan Carney. "Everyone was friends. We got to see a lot of great movies that they brought in."

If only the walls of the historic theater--dating back to 1916--could talk. "When the theater originally opened up it was the centerpiece of Tipton. And Cedar County, in fact," says Greg Brown, President of the Hardacre Theater Preservation Association.

Starting as a community hall and then an opera house, the Hardacre became a movie theatre in 1919 and operated continuouslywith the popular Hardacre Film Festival as a highlight-- until nearly 3 years ago. Under private ownership, the building fell into disrepair. But a group of dedicated community members had a vision, formed the non-profit preservation association and managed to raise enough money to buy the building.

"People had the idea of what our vision of the theater was but we really didn't have a lot to back us," says Brown. "So for the community to come forward with the money to buy the theater- kind of on blind faith- was incredible."

Through a lot of hard work, the vision is now coming into focus. A roughly $4M restoration project that promises to transform the Hardacre into a jewel the next generation can be proud of; a showcase for movies, live performances and other cultural gatherings. And now that the theater is on the National Register of Historic Places, tax credits and grant money can provide some of the funding. Adds Brown, "The National Register of Historic Places designation tells the community that this facility is, indeed, worth saving."

Local historian Sandy Harmel lives in the Tipton home the theater's namesake built in 1884. She believes Jacob Hardacre would welcome the renovation. "We're in the generation of 'let's bulldoze it down and put up a new building or leave it blank' and for a town like Tipton which has so much history, I think it's terribly important that we go ahead with this."

Others see it as an economic development project that will bring people to Tipton's downtown. "We have individuals who will patronize our restaurants, we'll have shoppers," insists Beck, Tipton's Development Director. Mayor Carney adds, "The fact that we could have a movie theater would keep the kids here in town as well. They could have something to do on Friday and Saturday nights."

"It is about family, Beck says. "And that is the definition of the Hardacre Theater; Family."

The Hardacre Century Celebration fundraiser is happening Saturday, April 23rd. You can get more information and order tickets HERE.

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