The Old Greenbelt Theatre has received a $75,000 boost to its renovation efforts, thanks to a Partners in Preservation online competition.
American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Monday that the theatre would be one of seven sites in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area to receive grants of $75,000 or more.
“We’re very excited, happy, pleased and yes, honored, to have just been asked to participate. To actually receive this grant is just amazing,” said Celia Craze, Greenbelt’s director of planning and community development, who is overseeing renovations to the city-owned historic theater.
The grant, one of the largest awarded, will be combined with state bond money and city capital funds to renovate the theater’s 1930s art deco lobby, bathrooms, concession stand and ticket booth and improving handicap accessibility, Craze said.
Since 2006, Partners in Preservation chooses a different metropolitan area and through a screening process, selects historic sites to compete for grant money, said Robert Nieweg, field director of the National Trust’s Washington, D.C., office.
The Old Greenbelt Theatre was one of only three Maryland sites out of 24 in the District metro area to be selected to compete for up to $100,000 in grants through an online voting public process. Greenbelt’s project finished fifth in the competition.
The Washington National Cathedral and Mount Vernon (Va.) were the top winners, each receiving $100,000 in funding.
“I was so pleased,” said Barbara Simon, president of the nonprofit Greenbelt Community Development Corp., which has formed a committee, Friends of the Old Greenbelt Theatre, to assist with preservation and fund raising efforts for the historic theater.
Simon’s group helped get the word out through email, social media and fliers to distribute at the library, the community center and other locations.
“We had an awful lot of people rooting for us. I think everyone in Greenbelt was telling their friends to go vote for us,” Simon said. “This was a real community effort.”
Greenbelt Mayor Judith Davis credited strong community involvement and support as well as the dedication of city staff that helped get the word out.
“It was fun to be a part of it and to watch us competing with the ‘big boys’ — some really nationally known sites,” Davis said.
The grant announcements were made Monday during a press conference at the Decatur House in Washington, D.C.
“We were the only big winner in Maryland,” Simon said. The two other Maryland sites, the Darby Store in Beallsville and The Historic Kennel Building at Aspin Hill Memorial Park in Silver Spring each received $5,000 participation grants. “We have a lot to crow about, and I think we deserve it.”