Business support of theater welcomed by citizens

It isn’t the first name change for the building formerly known as the Colony Theatre, and some local residents with an interest in history say they understand the decision.

For Mike McCarthy, president of the Citizens Armory Preservation Society, the most significant part of Wednesday’s announcement wasn’t the renaming of the more-than-90-year-old structure as the Peoples Bank Theatre, but the fact that it could be open for business again by the spring of 2014.

“Fundamentally to me, it’s all about community. And I think it’s extremely important that businesses support the social as well as the economic” aspects, he said. “I see nothing wrong with giving credit where credit is due.”

McCarthy said the theater, like the former National Guard Armory he’s worked for 20 years to preserve and revitalize, is an important part of the city’s history that can be a beneficial part of its future.

“We need, as a community, to take care of these historical properties that can survive economically for the good of the community,” he said.

Built in 1911 as the Hippodrome, new owners renamed the building the Colony Cinema in 1949.

Marietta resident Don Rary, 71, said he sees why the Hippodrome/Colony Historic Theatre Association decided to change the name, but his preference would have been for it to revert back to the Hippodrome. If not, he would have at least liked it to stay as the Colony.

“It being a historic town, I would love to see it remain that,” he said. “But then, the choices are not always mine.”

The previous name change is one reason local historian Louise Zimmer isn’t bothered by the latest one. The original designation hasn’t been lost to history, and she doesn’t believe either “Hippodrome” or “Colony” will be forgotten now. She anticipates its history and its names will be remembered and shared going forward, she said.

“I think the building is so rich in history … it’s just like a huge treasure trove,” she said. “I’m just so happy that they’re going to do something with that magnificent building.”

The Colony was a frequent stop on Lynne Sturtevant’s Hidden Marietta Ghost Trek tours and she expects the Peoples Bank Theatre to be on the itinerary in the future. She understands some people may have an attachment to the previous name, but she also gets the rationale behind wanting to recognize a key donor.

“I think it’s absolutely fabulous that Peoples Bank stepped up,” she said. “I think that the thing that is important is that they’re moving forward.”