Historic Miller Theater renovation moves forward

  • Follow Metro

The restoration project at downtown Augusta’s Miller Theater is moving forward with the selection of an architectural team and plans to acquire property next door.

Back | Next
Visitors tour the lobby and arcade of the Miller Theater. The vacant Cullum's building next to the historic theater will be acquired to give the facility more space.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Visitors tour the lobby and arcade of the Miller Theater. The vacant Cullum's building next to the historic theater will be acquired to give the facility more space.

At a news conference Fri­day, Symphony Orchestra Augusta announced that Atlan­ta-based Lord Aeck & Sar­gent and Augusta’s 2KM Archi­tects Inc. will work together to restore the historic theater, which has been vacant since 1984.

The $14.6 million project is expected to be completed for the 2014-15 season, though that is fairly aggressive and depends on fundraising, said Levi Hill IV, the chairman of the Miller steering committee.

The theater will serve as a performing arts hall and music institute. Hill said the symphony plans to acquire the vacant Cullum’s building next door to expand the theater.

“We really don’t have enough space in the theater itself to do these things,” Hill said. “Fortunately, there’s space nearby.”

The facility next door will allow space for rehearsals and classrooms and serve as a gathering place for theatergoers. The properties will be structured in a nonprofit limited liability corporation that will be governed by a board of directors that has been appointed by the symphony, Hill said.

Tony Aeck, the principal architect for Lord Aeck & Sargent, said he had a crew taking laser scans of the main hall for measurements Friday. The firm has meetings scheduled Monday to begin evaluating the facility, he said.

“We’re confident we can breathe new life into this building, and hopefully it will breathe some new life into downtown,” Aeck said.

Lord Aeck & Sargent will consult with Kirkegaard Asso­ciates and Theatre Consul­tants Collaborative Inc. for the project, which Aeck said are “first-rank firms.”

The Miller project is eligible to receive $5.1 million in special purpose local option sales tax funding if the symphony can raise 25 percent.

During tours of the theater, Hill said some modifications are needed, though work will be done to preserve its architectural features, Italian marble floors, anodized aluminum handrails, flesh-toned mirrors and paintings.

The balcony is too deep and hinders sound quality for those in the back. Architects will need to remove five rows from the front of the balcony and extend the stage by eight feet, Hill said.

The seat count will be reduced to about 1,300 from about 1,500 to accommodate the changes. Seats lost on the floor will be replaced with box seats on the wall. Architects will hang another front row of seats onto the balcony, Hill said.

A staircase will be built leading to the space at Cul­lum’s, which is about four feet lower.

In 2008, Peter Knox offered the building as a gift to the symphony, which took possession of the building in De­cember after conducting a 2½-year feasibility study.

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
seenitB4
90981
Points
seenitB4 06/23/12 - 08:24 am
4
3
Great news

I'm so glad this wonderful building will be restored,........so many happy moments there..
I saw my 1st Gone With The Wind in this theatre......my daughters & I still cherish the times we shared there.....

The article says ...
work will be done to preserve its architectural features, Italian marble floors, anodized aluminum handrails, flesh-toned mirrors and paintings.

Thank you .....

countyman
20631
Points
countyman 06/23/12 - 09:03 am
3
4
Soapy 725... Splost money

Soapy 725... Splost money went to both the Miller Theatre and Augusta Mini Theatre...

The renovation of the Miller goes along perfect with the new performing arts center, and upgraded Imperial downtown...

Downtown Augusta will soon have a vibrant Arts District...

seenitB4
90981
Points
seenitB4 06/23/12 - 08:58 am
5
4
soapy

This building sorta reminds me of the Fox....& sometimes we need to keep works of art (in some ways) even though I fully understand the comment about downtown getting the $$$.....

One good thing is that ALL can enjoy this theatre when completed....maybe school functions & etc......kids need art & music in their make up kit of life.......music can do wonders to calm the soul...

seenitB4
90981
Points
seenitB4 06/23/12 - 09:01 am
2
2
Don't know what has happened

Lately I have been giving countyman thumbsup....don't know what this means.....has he changed or did I???

floridasun
310
Points
floridasun 06/23/12 - 09:45 am
2
4
Great News

This is great news for Augusta.
The Miller Theatre is a treasure and holds fond memories for many in the community. So happy it is being put to a new use.
Soapy 725, the vast majority of the funds raised for this project will come from the private sector. And what do illegals have to do with this news story? I guess some people's day is not complete without making a negative anonymous comment about something

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 06/23/12 - 10:24 am
3
2
Great News!

Seenit, I've come to the conclusion that "county" isn't one person. It's a conglomerate of a few county employees that post "rosy" things about the the CSRA. Been reading "his" posts for so long that there are different voices to different posts at different times of the day....just my impression.
But it is great news about the Miller...I remember going to movies there as a kid and loving the decor of the place. I've heard that the main challenges revolve around the fact that it was built as a movie house, not a performance theater.
That makes certain structural changes necessary. Good luck to everyone involved with the project and I look forward to attending shows there when it's completed......

story1
802
Points
story1 06/23/12 - 11:18 am
4
2
Conservative Man

Some like to refer to the Miller as "just a movie house". It was a performing arts venue, with an orchestra pit, elevating stage and organ lift. Designed and built by the best architects and contractors in the business along with the expertise of Frank Miller. Proposed structural change on this project is the WRONG direction with HUGE cost associated. Oh well, downtown politics at its best....

Conservative Man
5577
Points
Conservative Man 06/23/12 - 05:53 pm
1
2
Story...I was told (by people

Story...I was told (by people associated with the renovations) otherwise. I DO know there are no dressing rooms nor orchestra pit now,so one of us has been mis-informed. I know since I was a kid (the early 70's) it was used ONLY as a movie house. Prior to that I have no first-hand knowledge. Let's be honest. As a movie house it has NO value for the arts in Augusta. The only way to use it effectively is to renovate it or tear it down and do something else with the property.THAT would be a shame....

story1
802
Points
story1 06/23/12 - 06:13 pm
2
0
Conservative Man

Go see it for yourself and then you will know the truth. Plenty of dressing rooms, orchestra pit, organ lift, massive fly-loft area etc. Lots of live performances took place in that building. Yes, the Miller was a popular movie theater only because there was a tremendous amount of profit in screening film during that era. With all due respect, your source mis-informed you about the details of the building but by all means go see for yourself or ask someone that has seen the inside.

triscuit
3157
Points
triscuit 06/23/12 - 07:40 pm
1
1
Local SPLOST funds used and

Local SPLOST funds used and local residents and businesses will be asked to pony up the money for the renovations. Yet once again the bulk of the work will go to out-of-town consultants and architects.

ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA
24
Points
ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA 06/23/12 - 08:33 pm
1
1
Miller Theatre

$14.6 million for the total renovation to symphony specs? Not by a long shot. The $5.1 million tha Friends of the Miller did the work on would have restored the Miller to the movie theatre, small off broadway shows, dressing rooms, orchestra pit, and showplace of the South that it was---and that is what the taxpayers voted for. That was the Mike Deas plan. But the symphony has other plans. The Miller, as it was, will be lost forever. The Richmond County taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill on it all. Technically the symphony is supposed to raise 25% of the $5.1 million, and no word on that. How many people showed up for the "big event" at City Club? How much money has already been raised? No report on that. Too bad Mike and his folks didn't get the chance do this for the city.

Jake
32960
Points
Jake 06/23/12 - 08:33 pm
0
0
Miller

Preserve your history or be content to look at it in the old photo's. The Miller was always a comfortable place to watch a movie. Clean, will lit and parking was never an issue. I saw the TAMI show there for free while a freshman at Aquinas in 1965. The fact that the old Cullums store is going to be part of this is even better. Good for Augusta.

ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA
24
Points
ColumbiaCountyOrchestraA 06/23/12 - 08:50 pm
1
1
Conservative Man

Conservative Man,
You have been misinformed. It was not just a movie house. It does have dressing rooms, an orchestra lift, an organ lift, and much, much more. I have been all through it. Don't take my word for it...ask Mike Deas and Friends of the Miller. "Night at the Moulin Rouge" was an off-broadway show done there. To change the balcony and the stage will be a crying shame. Old song...new verse. So much to say, but some folks have made their minds up and the public will have to live with that. How much of the $15+ million has been raised?

Trueloverofthearts
23
Points
Trueloverofthearts 06/24/12 - 10:42 am
1
2
Miller

Old guard still guarding. Lots of talk... Too bad Mike Deas and Friends of the Miller could not have RESTORED the Miller. Instead, the symphony will re-fit the Miller, and it will never be the same. Too bad for history, the CSRA, and Augusta. MAYBE this project will never happen.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs