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CROWN POINT — A work crew has drawn back the curtain on the Crown Theater's new facade, which is about a century old.

Renovation of the old movie house at 19 N. Court St., has revealed original brickwork hidden for decades by a decaying wood facade, the only one many Crown Point residents have known.

"Some people were getting upset when we took the old facade down. They thought we were demolishing the building," Brad Strom, the new owner of the Crown Theater said. "But no, we were taking a lot of rotted wood off so you can see the beauty behind it."

Strom announced last month he had purchased the Crown Theater, which had operated as an independent movie house from about 1926 until it closed five years ago. He plans to turn it into a comedy club, small concert venue and live theater venue for performances and children's shows.

He said their work inside the movie house has gone well. "I was afraid we would run into issues and we didn't so that put us ahead of schedule."

He said he had some inside information about building original facade. "We received some old photos from someone out of state taken in the early 1900s when there was a doctor's office functioned out of there.

"I knew there was a chance it was going to be back there. I didn't know what the condition would be. I took a gamble in hopes it might be okay. The majority of the brick is pretty well preserved because the horrible wood has been protecting it for the past years.

"Every intention we have is to preserve the brick and bring it back to the true, traditional facade. It will require a lot of work to get it into historical condition," he said.

Greg Falkowski, chief of staff for Mayor David Uran, said, "The original facade has some nice lion's heads at the corners holding the cables on the marquee. We are pretty excited for him to restore it back to the way it is. Any way the city can assist through Indiana Landmarks and our Redevelopment Commission to find funding we will.

"We have Indiana Landmarks looking out for grants available for those kind of renovations. We also have a downtown facade grant program. He will be more than eligible when he applies," Falkowski said of Strom.

Brad Miller, director of the Northwest Field Office of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit that repurposes historic buildings said, "Our office allows money for private property owners on income generating buildings on the National and Indiana Registry of Historical Places to rehabilitate the exterior of the property. Most of downtown Crown Point is in the Downtown Crown Point Courthouse Square Historic District."

"We want to make that another destination in downtown Crown Point," Falkowski said.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.