Will Rogers Theater and Commercial Block Rehabilitation Project
Charleston, Coles County, Illinois
Program Statement
To rehabilitate, for contemporary commercial and community use, the 1938 Art Deco Will Rogers Theater and Commercial Block located in Charleston, Illinois.
Property Context
The Will Rogers Theater and Commercial Block was opened to the public by a trio of regional movie theater entrepreneurs in 1938. This ensemble of buildings is the only Art Deco commercial block in the surrounding region and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The property was successively owned and operated by a number of Midwestern movie theater chains until listed for public sale in 2010, when it was purchased by a private partnership with the intent of rehabilitation and reuse as a commercial block and entertainment venue.
Project Methodology and Affiliations
The planning and execution of the project will incorporate the recommend approaches of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties overseen by a qualified architect/engineer in order to receive a 20% Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The project is a private undertaking supported by local and State of Illinois governmental entities as well as local and statewide historic preservation advocacy organizations.
Principal Affiliates
1. Summer House Entertainment, Inc. (SSEI)
2. Melotte Morris Leonatti Parker, Ltd. (MMLP)
3. City of Charleston, Illinois
4. Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA)
5. Landmarks Illinois (LI)
Project Products
1. Physical Preservation of a Recognized and Valued Local and Statewide Historic Resource
2. Opportunity for Economic Stimulus within the Downtown Charleston, Illinois Business District
3. To Provide a Film and Live Entertainment Venue for the Community and Region
4. To Provide a Catalyst for the Bonding of Local and State Business, Historic Preservation and Cultural Arts Constituencies
Principal Project Tasking
1. Project Lead – Katie Dumke Troccoli, SHEI
2. Architecture/Engineering – Dave Leonatti, MMLP
3. City of Charleston
A. Executive Administration – Mayor John Inyart & City Manager Scott Smith
B. Planning – City Planner Steve Pamperin & Chief Building Inspector Dennis Wolf
C. Historic Preservation Commission – Kit Morice, Chair
4. IHPA Tax Credit Design Review – Anna Margaret Barris
5. Statewide Advocacy – Lisa DiChiera, LI
1. Private Funds
2. Donated Services & Reimbursables
3. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Historic Preservation Grant Funds
4. 20% Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit (FHPTC)
Tentative Timeline & Tasks
1. Jan 2012 – Mar 2012: Coordination with the City of Charleston and IHPA. Architect/Engineer Selection. Consultations with potential commercial space tenants. Demolition of non-historic features.
2. Apr 2012 – June 2012: Preparation of base architectural documents. Development of scope of work that addresses immediate structural, envelope and mechanical issues. Remove non-essential/non-historic objects. Submit for City of Charleston TIF funding. Prepare and submit to IHPA Part 1 and 2 documents related to the FHPTC application. Investigate historic preservation grant opportunities.
3. July 2012 – Sept 2012: Physically address immediate deficiencies. Preparation of A/E plans for rehabilitation of the commercial space/theater, to include mechanicals and exterior cosmetics. Submit A/E plans to IHPA and NPS for FHPTC Part 2 review.
4. Oct 2012 – Dec 2012: Bid, award and begin rehabilitation.
5. Jan 2013 – June 2013: Complete interior rehabilitation. Lease commercial units. Initiate theater operations.
6. July 2013 – Sept 2013: Complete exterior rehabilitation. Submit Part 3 of the FHPTC application to IHPA. Project closeout.

Inquires related to this project should be directed to:
Katie Troccoli
Summer House  Entertainment, Inc. P.O. Box 2142, Ottawa, IL 61350

Will Rogers Theater
705 Monroe Avenue
Charleston, Illinois 61920
815/228-2085 (c)