MUSKEGON, Mich. — In an effort to preserve the historic Frauenthal Theater, the Frauenthal Center, along with the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, has launched the public phase of their Preservation Campaign to raise funds to support the necessary renovations.
Earlier this month, an event was held in front of the Frauenthal Center’s marquee to announce the work that has been completed and the work yet to be done. Amy Heisser and Asaline Scott, co-chairs of The Next 90 Years Frauenthal Preservation Campaign Cabinet, announced the reopening of the Frauenthal Center to the public, welcoming limited audiences to a variety of programming throughout the coming months, including the Free Family Movie Days Summer Series and the 2021 Miss Michigan and Teen Scholarship Program, which has been hosted by the Frauenthal Theater for 70 years.
At the event, Todd Jacobs, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, gave a brief update on the Frauenthal Center’s COVID preparedness and safety guidelines, and Eric Messing, executive director of the Frauenthal Center, reviewed the renovations completed thus far and other planned improvements still to come.
“As a regional asset, the Frauenthal is showing wear after decades of steady use,” said Messing. “It’s time to do our part to enhance the patron and artist experience by preserving and improving the theater so it continues to inspire, enlighten, and educate our community for the next 90 years and beyond.”
The Community Foundation has identified more than $7 million in fundamental structural needs, renovations, and preservation that are critical to the theater’s future and use. So far, nearly $4.1 million has been secured in gifts and pledges toward an initial goal of $5.1 million that will help address the most pressing needs. This needed investment will enhance the experience of patrons and ensure the theater’s place in the community for future generations.
The majority of the funds raised so far are thanks to local donors and corporate partnerships such as the Howmet Aerospace Foundation, Consumers Energy Foundation, Hines Corporation, the Joyce Muston estate, and Mike and Kay Olthoff, as well as the City of Muskegon and Muskegon County.
“We are humbled and appreciative of the community’s generous support,” said Jacobs. “The Frauenthal Theater has been a jewel of Muskegon County for 90 years, and it will continue to be a place where all are welcome to gather.”
Thanks to the support of many generous donors, several improvements have already taken place:
• New, historically accurate windows not only reflect architect C. Howard Crane’s original intention and design, but they are also double-paned with a UV protective coating to help the facility save on energy costs. In total, the Frauenthal has replaced 102 windows throughout the facility.
• The HVAC system has also been replaced to improve air quality and includes its own hot water boiler, condenser unit, humidification, dehumidification, and filtration systems. The large air handler room, located above the stage area, had the original blower unit from the construction of the theater in 1929.
• The fire escapes that patrons, artists, and staff use to exit the facility in the event of a fire or emergency have been repaired and reinforced.
Other planned improvements include an updated sound and video system, restored marquee, upgraded lighting equipment, replacement of the stage, and heated sidewalks along the perimeter of the facility.
The Frauenthal Center operates as part of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. Continuing to improve the quality of life for community residents, the Community Foundation remains committed to the Frauenthal Center and its future development.
To learn more or support the Frauenthal Preservation Campaign Fund, visit frauenthal.org/TheNext90Years.