Art Deco theatre in Kirkland Lake, Ont. reaches finals for a contest to pay for renovations

An Art Deco theatre in Kirkland Lake, Ont. is one of 12 finalists in a competition meant to preserve historic places across Canada.The National Trust runs the Next Great Save competition, which offers a $50,000 grand prize to help preserve an historic site.”Heritage places are critical for sustainable communities, central to responding to climate change, and vital to our collective wellbeing and sense of belonging. Yet every day more are lost,” the National Trust said in its description of the competition.”The Next Great Save competition is our way of highlighting the impact of saving and renewing these places, and getting people from coast-to-coast-to-coast involved in the process.”The LaSalle Theatre in Kirkland Lake, built in 1939, is one of the 12 buildings in the running for the big prize.Michael Rawley is the LaSalle Theatre’s managing artistic director. (Submitted by Michael Rawley)Michael Rawley, the theatre’s managing artistic director, estimates it would take at least $5 million to restore the theatre to its former glory.But he said winning the grand prize would at least allow them to address some immediate issues with the building’s roof.”It actually precipitates on the stage occasionally when we’re doing a show,” he said. “So we get rained on.”Because of leaks in the roof, Rawley said some of the building’s plaster has water damage and needs to be replaced. The theatre has also had flooding in the furnace room, he said.In addition to live theatre, the LaSalle also screens movies and has diversified by hosting different events, including a haunted house every Halloween and even dog training sessions.Rawley said if they don’t win the competition the national spotlight at least helps bring more visibility to their goal to preserve the building.The old St. Thomas Church, built between 1856 and 1864 in Moose Factory on the James Bay Coast, is also in the running.It was deconsecrated in 2006, but there is now a major effort to restore the church building and use it as a community centre in the Cree First Nation. Voting for the Next Great Save competition starts on April 18 and ends on May 6.

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