The Grand celebrates '100 Years of Memories' Jan. 15
by Marie Nesmith
Jan 05, 2011 | 1842 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Grand Theatre plays host to an annual theater camp inspiring future thespians. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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For Cheryl Kennedy, The Grand Theatre has been a cultural gem in Cartersville for the past century. As the editor and videographer for "100 Years of Memories," she learned her belief was shared by a host of individuals who have visited the theater throughout its transformation into a performing arts venue.

Rescheduled for Jan. 15 at 7 p.m., the video presentation provides a snapshot of The Grand's history through photographs, videos of past performances and oral interviews conducted with about 40 people, ranging from patrons and performers to theater personnel.

"I was just very moved by how much it impacted the people in this community back then and then even today because everybody just has such fond memories," Kennedy said. "It brings a smile to everyone's face to think about their time spent there as a teenager and then later as adults watching the live theater, when that came to be. It just made everybody happy and it still does. I've always felt that personally it's a gem in our community, but it just validated all those feelings that I had and I love it just as much as everybody else.

"[In editing the presentation] I just thought it was neat that young people would spend their entire day there. I know Martha Wellsandt and her friends, they would have spend-the-night parties and then they would go the next day and spend the whole day at the theater. ... the other interesting thing was just the volume of events and happenings that have taken place there even through all the renovations and downtime for that kind of thing ... and I think that's why it's such an integral part of this community. It's just always been there and even when it was being renovated people were excited and followed that and were glad it was happening. It's just a treasure."

Opened in 1910 as The Greenwood Theatre, Cartersville's Grand Theatre started as a performing arts venue and then presented movies from the late 1920s until 1977. After a "Save the Grand" campaign was launched by The Pumphouse Players and The Cartersville Opera Company, The Grand Theatre was purchased by a local resident and underwent two renovations, the latest one being in 2005.

Originally planned for Oct. 30, "100 Years of Memories" was postponed when The Grand's staff received word that their technical director, Don Kordecki, passed away at the age of 78. Credited by many of his peers for Cartersville's thriving arts community, Kordecki was known for overseeing The Grand's renovations in 1988 from a movie house to a performing arts venue.

"It was rescheduled because we had planned to show it the week that Don passed away and that was just really a devastating time for the whole staff and pretty much everybody involved in it," said Terri Cox, program coordinator for The Grand Theatre. "So we didn't think that was the proper time. Since then we've spoken with his family and we've rescheduled it. We added onto the film a tribute to Don. We have this wonderful oral history that he actually did for the [Etowah Valley] Historical Society about a month before his death, where he talked about his whole career and we're going to put some of that in the film.

"Then the special tribute also will be where his family will be here. His daughter works in theater in New York and they have a tradition there that the best seat in the house is the fourth row center seat. So they have asked if they could dedicate the fourth row center in our theater to their dad. So we're going to have a plaque installed on it in memory of Don. So we're just going to take a little special time during the presentation and do a dedication for that."

To be held at The Grand Theatre, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, the 7 p.m. presentation will be free to the public. Interested individuals also will be able to order copies of the DVD for $20. For more information, call The Grand at 770-386-7343.