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‘Raising The Curtain on Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge’ By Mike Allen

Roanoke Times
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2016 5:00 pm

rt sunday extraCLIFTON FORGE — The old stage had to go.Workers inside the Historic Masonic Theatre on Main Street in Clifton Forge pried up dry-rotted boards. At least 10 feet above them, pallets dangled from new rigging. The boxes on those pallets contained the new stage curtains, held in suspense until crews finished the unplanned replacement of the stage floor.

Renovations tend to come with surprises. This one, though inconvenient, wasn’t going to keep the 110-year-old theater from being ready for its July 1 grand reopening.
Seven years ago, a determined group of residents set up the Masonic Theatre Preservation Foundation to restore the crumbling theater to life. This month, the $6.5 million construction project is nearly done.
“It’s not an end. It’s just a beginning,” said John Hillert, the retiree from the insurance industry who started the push to save the theater.
The grand reopening will include big-band music by the Sway Katz and Americana rock from the Scott Miller Trio, a screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” and tours of the theater, which promoters dub an “architectural treasure.
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