Most anybody who grew up in Goshen has a memory of The Goshen Theater. Maybe it was seeing “Cannonball Run” or “Ghostbusters.” Maybe it was a first kiss up in the balcony. Perhaps it was attending a Quiet Riot concert or, in more recent years, a church service.
With the decision by members of Downtown808 — the church that has occupied the theater since 1998 and has owned it since 2002 — to sell the historic, 106-year-old facility, the downtown theater sits again at a critical crossroad. What will become of the approximately 700-seat auditorium? Will it rot away? Will it barely hang on? Will it thrive like never before?
A feasibility study shows the theater, which is in pretty good shape overall, could use more than $7 million in upgrades in order to become a sustainable entertainment venue. Please understand that figure is a wish list and many of the improvements could be prioritized and implemented incrementally as funds are raised or become available.
Goshen Theater Inc., led by Downtown Goshen Inc.’s Gina Leichty, is spearheading the effort to purchase the theater, keep it active and develop a plan for its future use. There is much work to be done and we commend those who are stepping up to do it.
Deep down we feel this is an incredible opportunity for Goshen. A person can sit inside The Goshen Theater and absorb the warmth of this community, even now. It is a special space. It is historic and it has the potential once again to become the hearth of downtown, offering that undeniable sensation that you are at the center of what’s happening here.
Goshen is in a unique position. Often communities will invest in their aging theaters to help revitalize a downtown or an entertainment district. Goshen’s downtown is as healthy as it’s been in many decades, maybe ever. Now is the perfect time to channel that energy into this theater project and revitalize a facility that could very well be the catalyst for more growth than we can even realize now.