The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

November 1, 2013

If walls could talk

OTTUMWA — An exciting piece of Ottumwa's history is becoming an exciting piece of Ottumwa's future.

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has purchased the former Capitol and Capri theaters at the corner of Main and Green streets with the intent of making it part of the downtown revitalization. The buildings have been vacant for more than eight years, and the foundation believes now is the time to bring them back to some of their former glory.

"The Foundation feels very strongly that it is time for Ottumwa to control its own future and destiny," ORLF President Brad Little said in a release Friday. "The purchase of these beautiful, historic and significant buildings is yet another step in the right direction for downtown Ottumwa."

When ORLF put together a steering committee to begin looking into uses and needs for the buildings, it became apparent that there were many people and many suggestions. Committee co-chairs Jeff Hendred and Pam Kaupins soon realized that someone would be needed to help Ottumwa decide the best ways to plan, design and revitalize these amazing buildings.

To that end, the Legacy Foundation has hired Artspace, a nonprofit developer for the arts based in Minneapolis, Minn., to come to town. A team from Artspace will lead two days of focus groups, tours and meetings to form a feasibility study of developing the theaters into an artist live/work community.

"The goal is to put something in that will live forever," Kaupins said. "We don't want to start something and in five years say, 'Well, that didn't work.'"

The Artspace team will meet with civic leaders, the arts community and city and county leaders Nov. 14-15.

On Nov. 14, a public town hall meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Bridge View Center. Entertainment by Indian Hills Community College drama students, a magician and dancers will begin at 6:15 p.m., and photographs of the inside of the theater will be shown.

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