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3:27 PM Wed, Nov. 14th

First stages of work on Elks nearly done

Movie poster courtesy of George C. Hall

"Things You Ought to Know About Prescott" is a film that the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce made in 1929 to promote Prescott. The film, which features many of the city's early attractions, will be one of three short movies that the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council will present as part of "A Silent Movie Sunday" fund-raiser on Feb. 16. The council is working to raise about $500,000 for future improvements to the Elks Opera House.

Reiman expects most of the work to be complete in time for two upcoming events that will take place in the theater – one in February, and another in March.

First up will be a fund-raiser by the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council. The group, which has committed to raise about $500,000 to help cover the cost of some of the future improvements to the Elks, plans "A Silent Movie Sunday" at the theater at 3 p.m. Feb. 16.

The event will include the showing of three short silent films:

• Charlie Chaplin's very first movie, "Kid's Auto Race in Venice," from 1914.

• "Things You Ought to Know About Prescott," a film the Yavapai County Chamber of Commerce made in 1929 to promote the city. Prescott resident George C. Hall, who owns the movie, said the film features many of Prescott's early attractions, such as the Allen Dairy, Ensminger's Drug Store, and the Hassayampa Country Club.

• "The Great K & A Train Robbery" from 1926, a Tom Mix classic.

Tickets, which are $5 for adults and $3 for children, are available at the Hassayampa Inn and at the Sharlot Hall Museum Store.

The second major event at the newly re-opened Elks Opera House will be a performance of the Navy Sea Chanters, the chorus of the U.S. Navy Band. The concert will take place at 6:30 p.m. March 4. The City of Prescott is sponsoring the concert in appreciation of the community's patience and support during the Elks renovations, according to a press release.

Although the concert is free, tickets are required and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, starting on Monday. The tickets will be available at the Prescott Library, the Prescott ConneXion inside the Prescott Gateway mall, Prescott City Hall, the Prescott Adult Center, the U.S. Navy recruiting office in the Gateway mall, and the Prescott Parks and Recreation programming office inside the Grace M. Sparkes Activity Center. The city is limiting tickets to five per person or family.

One portion of the improvement project that won't be complete in time for the two events is a restoration of the lobby. The city recently received an Arizona Historic Preservation Heritage Fund grant to help pay for work on the lobby doors, ceiling and ticket booth.

Although part of the work could be complete by the February event, Reiman said the bulk of the work probably won't be.

"We're going to try to fit that work in between bookings," Reiman said.

The restoration project will include removing the dropped ceiling in the lobby to reveal a painted canvas on the original ceiling. Although the entire canvas is not salvageable, workers have recovered enough pieces to allow for a replication of the original design.

The current improvements to the Elks Opera House are just the beginning of what advocates hope will be a full-fledged restoration of the early-1900s theater to its former grandeur.

In August, a "Friends of the Elks Opera House" committee announced its intention to form a foundation to raise $5 million over the next several years to go toward the purchase of the entire Elks building, as well as the restoration to the theater's original condition.

Currently, the city owns only the theater and lobby, while much of office space in the building is under private ownership.

Contact Cindy Barks at cbarks@prescottaz.com

or 445-8179, ext. 2034.