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Group trying to save historic Dodge City theater

September 18, 2013|by Adam Knapp | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(DODGE CITY, Kan.) — The Dodge Theater opened in 1929 - the same year America was introduced to sunglasses and the Academy Awards. It served as Dodge City's movie theatre and playhouse for several decades.

But for the last 15 years, the downtown theatre has sat empty and is falling apart. Mark Vierthaler, a man who helped create the Dodge Theatre Foundation, is hoping to save it.

Click here to see the group's Facebook page

"We tried to start a grassroots campaign to basically say, 'Here's a piece of Dodge City history that we really want to preserve and we really want to see it stay,'" he said.

The theatre holds history not only for Dodge City, but for the entire Hollywood industry. In 1939 the world premiere of "Dodge City," starring Errol Flynn, was held at the theater.

"It was the first time Hollywood had ever hosted a premiere outside of Hollywood," Vierthaler said, "and they decided to do it here in Dodge City."

The foundation hopes to buy and restore the theatre to create a focal point in the middle of downtown, in hopes of attracting more restaurants, clubs, shops and other businesses. The nonprofit organization created its Facebook page to increase community support, and is working on a website that will allow people to send donations.

Vierthaler said it will cost approximately $3 million to restore the building.

"We don't really have that kind of money," he said, "so we're hoping we're hoping we can get businesses and individuals to help with that effort."


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