A 25 percent match is required for $1 million in special purpose local option sales tax money. As of Monday, the theater had raised $212,000.
“We’re in the final stages here. God willing, by the end of this year we will have raised the $250,000,” said Charles Scavullo, the executive director of the Imperial Theatre.
Since the campaign began in August 2011, it has received large donations from Wells Fargo, Georgia Power and the Knox Foundation, Scavullo said. About 30 percent of contributions were from foundation grants, and the rest came from individuals and corporations, he said.
The tax money would be used to update heating and air systems, repair the exterior building enclosure and replace the original fire curtain and fire escapes.
During the campaign, an extra $1 renovation fee was added to each ticket. Mailings and TV commercials also solicited donations.
In time for holiday gift-giving, the Imperial is offering two more options.
A limited-edition print created and signed by artist Henry Wynn depicts the Imperial’s facade in 1938. The numbered prints are available for $100. Donors also may personalize an engraved two-line plaque that will be attached to the armrest of a theater seat for $95. More details are available by calling the box office at (706) 736-1406 or visiting imperialtheatre.com. Donations can also be made online.
The theater opened in 1918 as The Wells, presenting vaudeville and photoplays. Later that year, The Wells was sold to Lynch Enterprises and renamed the Imperial Theatre.
The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves 40,000 patrons annually, half of whom are schoolchildren who attend Storyland Theatre and other productions, Scavullo said.