The story below is a preview from our May/June 2016 issue. For the full story Subscribe today, view our FREE interactive digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Having lived a few blocks from the Grandin Theatre for years, I know a fine theatre when I see one.
And having seen the astonishing in-progress renovation of Clifton Forge’s Historic Masonic Theatre, I can tell you that we’re about to get another fine theatre in our area.
Opening July 1, the Historic Masonic Theatre—both visually and theatrically—will knock your socks off. As president of Masonic Theatre, Inc. John Hillert puts it, “The theatre has soul. You feel something when you walk in.”
Built in 1905 and known as The Mason Hall and Opera House, the four-level Beaux-Arts brick building stands three stories above Main Street. The history of the theatre alone could keep you entertained for a while, including early performers like Lash LaRue, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers (and his wonder-horse Trigger) as well as Burl Ives, The Drifters and the Count Basie Orchestra. They rode the train in and made memories.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the Alleghany Highlands who didn’t have a close connection to the elegant Masonic. Dance classes filled the top-floor Masons’ Hall. Reel-to-reel movies played. My own children discovered the wonder of Disney in the front row of the Masonic.
And come the first weekend of July, when the lights in the 540-seat Masonic Theatre come back up, you can be part of the new story. Take a tour of the breathtaking, historically accurate renovation. Listen to the Scott Miller Trio headliner concert. Watch a movie. Listen to some storytelling. And know that sometimes, the past meets the present with astonishing grace.