Liberty Theater gets a boost: Idaho Heritage Trust gives $100K to revitalize Lewiston venue’s marquee, lighted signs


The new “movie poster” unveiled Tuesday in front of the Liberty Theater in downtown Lewiston received two thumbs up from a group of dedicated arts and entertainment supporters.

Members of the Liberty Theater Preservation Alliance cheered as John Taylor announced a $100,000 grant from Idaho Heritage Trust has been awarded to the non-profit organization to help revitalize the classic building’s marquee and vertical lighted signs.

Taylor, a regional Idaho Heritage Trust board member, thanked the alliance volunteers who are working toward a goal of raising $3.25 million to renovate the building and offer the community a historic venue for public and private events.

From 1921 through the early 2000s, the Liberty Theater was an entertainment hub on Main Street, and it’s important to bring it back to life, he said.

“If you revitalize a downtown theater, you revitalize the entire neighborhood,” Taylor told the crowd. “Hopefully, this is first of a lot of grants. The money provided by this award will go directly to restoration of the marquee.”

The board overseeing the Liberty Theater estimates the marquee restoration will cost around $400,000, Taylor said. A match of $10,000 has been committed to the project, and the balance will be covered by donations and fundraisers.

Taylor said the group is proud to be one of the nine historic theaters to receive $821,000 in funding through Idaho Heritage Trust’s Historic Theater Revitalization Subgrant Program. The grants, which are also supported by the National Park Service, were awarded to preserve vital structures in communities that have a population of less than 50,000 people.

Alliance Board President Jan Johnson, of Lewiston, recognized volunteers Christine Frei, who wrote the grant application, and Joanna Alford, chairperson of the fundraising committee, for their skills and dedication to the project.

“These powerful women really got this grant for us,” Johnson said.

In addition, architect Tim Lynch provided essential figures and estimates during the process, Johnson said.

The city of Lewiston and developer Mark Alexander also played important roles, Taylor said. The building, which was donated by Alexander, now has a new roof and stabilized structure, and “everything is ready to go to complete the restoration of the community’s beloved theater.”

When the project is finished, film screenings, concerts, dance recitals, stand-up comedy and lectures at the theater will draw people throughout the region to the downtown site to enjoy arts and humanities, Taylor said. The venue can also be rented for conferences, family reunions, receptions or cocktail parties.

“We will honor the Liberty’s rich history — and our fond memories of it — by giving the Liberty a new purpose as a cultural and event center,” Alford said in a news release about the project. “It will have state-of-the-art sound, video and lights for film, live music, speakers, and live-streaming events for public and private events for all ages.”

More information about the organization and project is available at

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