Historian to talk about 20th Century Theater restoration

Posted: Sunday, May 05, 2002

Arthur Hart, a historian and expert on the preservation of historic buildings, will be in Juneau this week to share his expertise and talk about the 20th Century Theater restoration project.

Hart's visit is sponsored by the 20th Century Theater working group, a consortium of volunteers exploring the feasibility of restoring the 20th Century Theater on Front Street. Hart has been involved with the successful restoration of historic buildings in Idaho, where he lives. He'll inspect the 20th Century Theater and speak about its condition and design.

On Monday at 4 p.m. there will be an open house and tour of the 20th Century Theater, followed at 5 p.m. by a slide show and discussion of restoration projects and opportunities for Juneau. Juneau filmmaker Lisle Hebert will show a short documentary film he made on the life of William David Gross, the theater's founder.

At noon on Tuesday, Hart will meet with the public at an informal brown bag lunch at Northern Light United Church. At 7 p.m. that evening he will give a slide show and presentation at Centennial Hall on restoration projects he's been involved with.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, he'll offer a slide show and talk at the Back Room at the Silverbow on art deco buildings and architecture. All presentations are free and open to the public.

Arts advocate Bob Banghart is part of the 20th Century working group. He said Hart will be able to offer valuable insight into Juneau's 20th Century Theater. He said other groups are taking advantage of Hart's expertise, as well.

"He's walked this process in other communities and he's credible on a national level," Banghart said. "The lighthouse people, the folks at the Russian church, they're all tapping him while he's here."

Hart who lives in Boise, Idaho, has written hundreds of articles on history and historic buildings. He's published work on the history of baseball, law enforcement, aviation, barns and theaters of Idaho. He wrote a weekly column for the Idaho Statesman for 25 years.

He's the recipient of numerous awards for his work in historic preservation, and was named an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, the highest honor awarded by the group to a nonarchitect, for work on historic preservation and public education.

Judy Klein, a member of the 20th Century working group, worked with Hart in the 1970s in Idaho. She and Hart were involved in the successful restoration of Egyptian Theater, a historic building in Boise with an Egyptian motif.

"He's very good, he's sought after, and it should be entertaining, as well as informative," she said.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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