PAAC works to ‘raise the roof’ through donations and a can drive

North Central UP

NEGAUNEE, Mich., (WJMN) – $40,000 out of the first $100,000 needed has been raised toward fixing the Historic Vista Theater.

According to PAAC Advisory Board President Rusty Bowers, they are still working hard to raise the $60,000 still needed for the first part of the project.

“What we’re trying to raise right now is about $100,000 and that is to take the debris of the roof out of the Vista Theater and put up bracing to shore up the walls on the inside and the outside so that it protects it from winter weather, from the wind,” said Bowers. “So for the safety of everyone in downtown Negaunee so no bricks or anything fall off the wall because we can’t do a new roof until the spring time.”

Bowers says they have to wait until the spring to put a new roof on the theater because contractors are working on other projects and there won’t be enough materials until spring. The other part of the initial project is to close off the areas that still have a roof to the elements.

“The stage is an open area for the proscenium where the acting goes on and we have to close that off and put up a wall and we have to close up the doors and everything in the lobby area and the balcony area so no winter weather gets into the rest of the building,” said Bowers.

Bowers says after they put a new roof on in the spring, they will then have to put in new electrical work that was also in the ceiling. They also need to fix the heating that also fell with the roof before the building can be occupied again.

“I don’t really foresee us getting back in the building to do much any kind of work or any shows or anything for probably a couple years because we’ve got quite a bit to do for raising money and for covering it and fixing the interior,” said Bowers.

According to Bowers, PAAC is raising money with a can drive currently too. They are also looking at other ways to fund the project.

“We’re looking at different grants, we’re contacting different businesses to see if they will do any donations or matching donations for us,” said Bowers. “We’re also doing a can drive, a huge can drive is going right now until the 18th of October.”

There are trailers in the parking lot at Super One Foods in Negaunee and at the produce stand on US-41 in Ishpeming across from the National Guard Armory. They will be doing can collections on the following days as well:

  • Friday October 9th at Super One Foods in Negaunee from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday October 11th at Econo Foods in Marquette from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Friday October 16 at Super One Foods in Negaunee from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday October 18th at Super One Foods in Marquette from noon to 5 p.m.

There will be a zoom town hall meeting for anyone interested in the project and fundraising on Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 PM. They will discuss the plans for the building and get input from the community. Bowers says the link will be available on their website and on Facebook.

“To get everyone an overlook of what’s happened to the building, where we’re at right now, what our plans are and to kind of get a temperature and a gauge from people to make sure that this is what they want,” said Bowers.

Bowers says they want to get the Vista Theater back into working order again and that they’ve had an outpouring of people donating money and time. He says they want to respect the history of the building and the future history of the building.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Vista Theater, you can donate money through their gofundme page, which can also be found on You can also find information on volunteering on their website as well. Bowers says they are looking for people to help sort cans from their can drive soon. For updates on the theater, you can find Friends of the Vista Theater and the Vista Theater on Facebook.

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