- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TIPTON, Iowa (AP) - A preservation group on Wednesday announced it has bought a nearly century-old movie theater in eastern Iowa, the first phase in sprucing up the historic structure into a multipurpose entertainment space.

The Hardacre Theater Preservation Association says it recently acquired the purchase agreement of the Hardacre Theater for just over $96,000, the Quad-City Times reported (http://bit.ly/1b80VSg ).

The announcement caps months of planning since the beloved theater closed last year. The preservation group, which recently received nonprofit status, launched an official fundraising campaign in December. They’ve raised $114,000 since then.

That quick ascent includes two anonymous donations worth a total of $80,000. A crowdsourcing website also included help from local residents and others.

“We had a spike online and some other checks received, and eventually that got us up to our goal,” said Will Valet, vice president of the preservation board.

Fundraising will now focus on renovations for the building, which originally opened as an opera house before it was converted into a theater in 1919. The group estimates the project will cost millions.

The Hardarce Theater closed its doors in August, after former management said it would cost too much to switch over to a system that plays digital movies. The preservation group says the building needs more than a revamp of its movie projection system; it needs electrical and plumbing updates and it needs to be in compliance with safety codes.

In the end, the group wants the theater to have a functional performing arts space for entertainment outside of movies, Valet said. They hope to reopen the building by 2016, the year it officially turns 100.

“Our journey is not done,” he said. “It’s going to keep on going. Hopefully people will continue to listen to our message and support us.”

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com