A VISON FOR THE EMBASSY!
The Embassy moves into its next stage of development as a stronger, more self-sustaining organization. It's called, "A Vision for the Embassy!"
A creative and innovative use of the Embassy has been developed by the board of directors to strengthen the organization and meet a growing demand from the community for larger and additional unique spaces within the building. This vision seamlessly combines improvements to the Embassy and its program capacity while solving the 40-year-old dilemma of how best to use the former Indiana Hotel.
While major renovation and preservation projects are nothing new to the Embassy, this four-phase $10 million renovation solves a historical challenge and also puts in place the following:
- Two-story Ballroom
- Rooftop Garden
- Rehearsal Studio
- “Lessons” Learning Center
- Harrison Street Entrance
- Embassy Heritage Center
If you would like to support this campaign, please contact Development Director Steve Linsenmayer by phone 260.424.6287 or email him here
Goldstine Foundation Grants $2,000,000 to Embassy Renovation
Fort Wayne, Ind. – The Embassy Theatre Foundation announced that the Goldstine Foundation has granted $2 million to the nonprofit theater as the lead gift to “A Vision for the Embassy” capital project.
The Embassy will use this significant gift toward a $10 million campaign to renovate four floors of the former Indiana Hotel and other undeveloped areas of the building. These areas have sat unused for more than 40 years. The plan calls for a two-story-high ballroom and rooftop garden, studio and rehearsal space, classrooms, history center and improved public access and concessions areas.
The Goldstine Foundation was established by the late Robert Goldstine, who was a key figure in saving the Embassy Theatre from demolition in the early 1970s. Through Goldstine’s leadership, the community raised $250,000 to purchase the building for the nonprofit organization, which continues to operate it today. The Goldstine Foundation, since its formation, has generously supported the Embassy with annual grants for maintenance and restoration work. Robert Goldstine served as president of the Embassy’s board of directors for its first 20 years and loved playing the historic and rare Grande Page Theater Pipe Organ.
“Bob had a love for downtown, for redevelopment and for the Embassy,” said Stephen Wesner, Goldstine Foundation board president. “This gift serves as a catalyst for the Vision campaign and as an annuity for future Embassy operations.”
The Embassy’s board and staff have spent several years researching best uses of the building, spurred by the facility’s 2009 third-floor renovation into a public corridor between the Courtyard by Marriott sky bridge and the Grand Wayne Center sky bridge.
“Renewed interest in downtown redevelopment provided the Embassy with an opportunity to move forward with plans that will enhance our current business model – we rent the building for shows and special events – and expand our capacity,” said Marla Peters, board of directors president. “Due to our busy schedule and limited rental spaces, we currently turn away many public and private events. This plan allows us to stick to our successful business model and gives us more spaces for the community.”
Upon receiving the Goldstine Foundation’s lead gift, the Embassy formed a campaign cabinet that began fundraising last summer. To date, nearly $3.7 million is committed to the Vision campaign.
“We conducted focus groups and completed an economic impact study and a feasibility study,” said Carolyn Brody, campaign co-chair and Embassy board member. “This plan generated a great deal of support from community leaders and downtown neighbors, with the feedback to us that this will be the best use of the entire building for decades to come.”
Added Gary Wasson, campaign co-chair, “This project also has to be self-sustaining, because we must be able to financially support what we do with and within the historic building. We thoroughly reviewed the business plan and, after very careful and conservative estimating, the numbers show the renovation generates revenues for the organization beginning in year one.”
The organization’s goal is to obtain at least $6 million in gifts and pledges by Dec. 31, 2013. The organization also is researching other funding sources, such as tax credits and financing. A building task force is currently reviewing proposals for architectural and construction services. “If fundraising continues at its current pace,” Brody said, “we could begin renovations in June 2014.”
Built in 1928, the historic Embassy Theatre is a nonprofit organization that features national productions from the Broadway stage, concerts of all musical formats, cinema, educational programming and a continued commitment to young people. For more information, visit www.fwembassytheatre.org.
Embassy Theatre Foundation celebrates 40 years and 19 presidents
In honor of Presidents Day, the Embassy Theatre celebrates 40 years as a non-profit organization characterized by a strong tradition of foundation presidents.
Built in 1928 as a movie and vaudeville palace and named the Emboyd Theatre, the stage hosted the biggest and brightest stars and motion pictures for nearly five decades as a commercial property in downtown Fort Wayne. The name changed to the Embassy Theatre in 1952, and continued to be a popular attraction. By 1972, the Embassy was in a state of disrepair and its current owner, Cinecom Corporation, declared bankruptcy. Faced with the wrecking ball, a handful of community leaders and volunteers, led by Robert Goldstine, banded together to form the Embassy Theatre Foundation, giving rise to the non-profit organization that owns and manages the cultural gem today.
During the past 40 years, the Embassy Theatre Foundation benefited from the guidance and leadership of 19 presidents. We salute them and their accomplishments. Embassy Theatre board presidents and accomplishments during each decade:
Robert Nickerson, 1972-73; Robert Goldstine, 1974-79
- Late 1972—Embassy Theatre Foundation incorporated.
- 1974—Foundation begins to present shows in theater.
- 1974—Embassy Theatre Foundation signs agreement to purchase building.
- June 1975—Embassy Theatre Foundation purchases building for $250,000.
- 1976—Broadway at the Embassy begins presenting shows. First show is Irene.
- 1978—Embassy’s 50th anniversary show is headlined by Milton Berle.
Philip Bonahoom, 1979-82; Alex Azar, 1982-83; David Silletto, 1983-85; Charles Rayburn, 1985-88; Stephen Smith, 1988-90
- November 1985—first Festival of Trees takes place, an idea introduced by future board president Barbara Wigham.
- Mid-1980s—Grand Wayne extension built with a bridge, elevator and handicap-accessible restrooms.
- 1988—Grande Page Pipe Organ undergoes complete console renovation.
- 1988—Major stage lighting installed.
- Late 1980s—Extensive repairs made to exterior terra cotta.
Ron Prater, 1990-92; David Willman, 1992-93; Barbara Wigham, 1993-94; Larry Edris, 1994-96; Tom Skiba, 1996-98; Steve Gillig, 1998-2000
- Early 1990s—$5 million capital renovation campaign.
- 1991—Grand drape installed on stage.
- 1992—Dressing rooms renovated.
- 1995—Major renovation enlarges theater stage and orchestra pit and restores hotel lobby and mezzanine.
Steve Hazelrigg, 2000-01; Paula Hughes, 2001-04; Gilmore Haynie Jr., 2004-06; Jan Wilhelm, 2006-08; Tom Borne 2008-10
- 2003—Walkway of Fame sidewalk installation marks Embassy Theatre’s 75th anniversary.
- 2004—Hoosier Room renovated.
- 2005—State-of-the-art marquee and vertical blade sign installed.
- 2005-06—Lower lounge restroom renovated.
- Dec. 2006—State-of-the-art stage lighting system installed.
- Feb. 2007—Down the Line, a signature concert fundraiser, begins.
- 2007-09—Embassy’s third floor is renovated as a pedestrian walkway connecting two hotels. Robert Goldstine bridge is constructed.
- 2008-09—Extensive heating and air conditioning upgrades are made.
Jill Perillo, 2010-12
- A donation from Tom and Penny Mathiesen funds drapery installation in theatre lobby
- Embassy ranked in Worldwide Top 50 Theatre Venues by Pollstar
- Embassy Theatre begins groundwork for capital campaign to renovate floors four through seven of the Indiana Hotel.
The 2011 Embassy Festival of Trees welcomed more than 15,800 patrons and delighted countless children. Please see below for the holiday memories created at the Embassy this past holiday season. All photos by 4ever Photography & Design, Cory & Erica Dold.