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Proud of the progress at Penn Theater

On Thursday evening, the Penn Theater left the lights on for us — literally.

The owner of the building, who has taken on the renovation of the Main Street space faster than anyone could have imagined, left the iconic marquee lit up for a Butler Eagle photographer to stop by for a picture.

After some electrical work, the noteworthy sign was repaired earlier this summer. Thursday's experiment proved the light is nearly ready to stay aglow.

In Friday’s Butler Eagle, we learned owner Brian Frenchak considers the renovation to be nearly 80% complete. An Eagles tribute band called Hotel California is booked for Nov. 17, which signals that he plans for that 20% to wrap up rather quickly.

Here at the Butler Eagle, we couldn't be more excited about this.

On Oct. 29, 2022, we had taken a somber stance on the future of the Penn Theater.

“It was about time someone did something about the Penn Theater. Sure, it’s unfortunate that the ‘something’ is a demolition order from the City of Butler, but considering the state of the theater, it’s likely the right direction for the facility,” we wrote at that time.

When city council made the decision to order the structure demolished, we quoted Mayor Bob Dandoy saying that the decision comes “with not a whole lot of joy.”

There was no joy in reporting that the theater’s fate could be so dire.

At that time, we wrote that perhaps the theater could be memorialized another way, but “if someone thinks they can still save the space and have the money to do so, the clock is ticking. We’d love to see that happen, but a much-needed deadline is now firmly in place.”

We don’t think that even those who had an inkling of Frenchak’s plans could have anticipated such a quick turnaround for the space. We’re thrilled to see the progress, which is so significant that it is expected to reopen just more than a year after it was ordered to be demolished.

This story was updated Sept. 18, 2023 to reflect the opening date is Nov. 17. A previous version of this story said Oct. 17.

— TL

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