Campus Theatre Renovation Project Honored by AIA

By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. - The Campus Theatre Renovation Project has been honored with a Citation of Merit for Architectural Excellence by the American Institute of Architects' Pennsylvania Chapter.

The award was presented April 3 to lead architect Ted Strosser, of Ted L. Strosser, Architecture & Conservation.

The citation reads, "This apparently straightforward, modestly budgeted 'rehabilitation' of an old cinema is really a meticulous and gorgeous work of interior conservation, together with a generous commitment to downtown revitalization. The result captures what many of us imagine to be the magic that accompanied going downtown to the movie palace."

Bucknell University purchased the 1941 Campus Theatre in 2010 to assure its survival and increase the vibrancy of downtown Lewisburg.

"The design team pushed for a higher level of historical conservation than the original requirements," said Strosser.

John Hartmann, a 1979 Bucknell graduate and art conservator and president of Carlisle, Pa.,-based Hartmann Fine Art Conservation Services, returned to Lewisburg to painstakingly conserve the long-obscured murals and art deco fixtures, uncovering layer upon layer of oil and tobacco residue to reveal their vibrant images.

According to Strosser, the Campus Theatre project also includes new infrastructure: a fire suppression system as well as new sound, projection, IT, HVAC and electrical systems.

"Great care was taken to refurbish original lighting fixtures and all original cinema equipment no longer in use was retained in place to preserve these early technologies," he said.

The $2.5 million renovation project was funded by a Commonwealth grant and funding from Bucknell University. The University owns the building, but a nonprofit group continues to set programming and run day-to-day operations. The Campus Theatre, which celebrated its reopening last August, is one of a handful of art deco theaters built in the early 1940s that remains in operation.

The project is one of four undertaken to directly invest in the community: the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore; the Federal Post Office building, which houses the Office of Development and Alumni Relations; and the DeWitt Building, which houses the Downtown Art Gallery, an Entrepreneurs Incubator, and the Small Business Development Center.