LAKE PLACID - It looks like no part of the Palace Theatre will go dark.
The Go Digital or Go Dark campaign, led by the Adirondack North Country Association and the Adirondack Film Society, has helped the theater near its final fundraising goal. In total, around $150,000 in contributions have been given through ANCA and the Palace Theatre directly.
Jennifer Jubin, who heads the project for ANCA, said they are readying a final push.
The Palace Theatre is close to its fundraising goal, needing only $15,000 to convert its last two projectors to digital.
(Enterprise photo — Matthew Turner)
"We're just under $15,000 left to go," Jubin said.
The theater, built in 1926, is owned by Reg and Barbara Clark. The Clark family themselves contributed about $100,000 and, with donors' help were able to convert two of the Palace's four screening rooms to digital back in October 2013. It costs around $65,000 to convert a screen. The entire estimated cost of the project is $275,000.
Barbara said they are in the process of preparing the two remaining screening rooms.
"It's a huge project," she said. "We'll be relieved when it's over."
Over the holidays, John Bogle, a prominent investor and part-time Lake Placid resident spread some cheer by donating $25,000 to the theater. Another effort is currently being led by Ed Weibrecht, owner of the Mirror Lake Inn. He donated $1,000 and is urging other business leaders to help in the effort. In all, he hopes to raise $5,000.
"I'm challenging other hotels and businesses to match that," Weibrecht said. "I think the Palace Theatre is an important part of the community."
Weibrecht said the reason behind his effort is to keep the small-town feel a local movie theater gives the community.
"There aren't very many small-town, Main Street USAs left anymore, and a part of that is our historic theater." he said.
He said it would be bad if a big chain theater took its place.
"I went there as a kid, and all my kids did. It's really a neat thing for the community."
Weibrecht's challenge only needs $1,800 to reach its $5,000 goal.
"That will help us," Jubin said. "We will probably be within the $10,000 range of the goal at that point."
Seven movie theaters in all benefitted from the Go Digital or Go Dark Campaign. The State Theater in Tupper Lake completed its conversion, even adding a 3D projector.
The project launched back in April 2013, after state Sen. Betty Little approached ANCA about helping save local theaters. ANCA then partnered with the Adirondack Film Society to begin the effort.
Jubin said the campaign has gained nationwide attention and helped raise nearly $1 million in funds across the North Country.
"This was a true grassroots campaign that proved the resilient capacities of the communities and people of the North Country," Jubin said. "It was both inspiring and heartening to see donations big and small pour in from 40 states, many with notes detailing a personal attachment to their hometown theater.
"It is a true testament to community spirit and what can be accomplished through regional collaboration."
Barbara Clark said she was very humbled by the donations the community has given.
"We are extremely appreciative," she said. "We wouldn't be where we are without the public."
Community members can give online at www.adirondack.org/godigital or send checks payable to ANCA for the Palace Theatre to: 67 Main St., Suite 201, Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Groups or individuals interested in donating can contact Jubin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org