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First Energy Foundation Gifts $5,000 in Support of Colonial Theatre Renovation

From left to right: Amby Jenkins, Randy Sanders, David McCauley, Tim Pingley, Carrie Perry, Cj Rylands, John Waltz, Keith Buchanan, Robbie Skinner, Allison Corbin, and Renee Preston celebrate the First Energy Foundation gift in front of the Colonial Theatre in Buckhannon, West Virginia on Tuesday, October 27, 2020.

October 27, 2020

BUCKHANNON, WV: The renovation of the former Colonial Theatre continues to move forward with a $5,000 gift from FirstEnergy Foundation announced at the theatre on Tuesday. The gift will enable continued work on the main theatre space, entrance, and lobby. Once complete, regular productions will commence, featuring theatrical pieces, performing arts, and music concerts that will thrill audiences of all ages.

Following the announcement, ART26201 and City representatives led a tour of the theatre and the recent renovations, including the Colonial Theatre Gallery, which is currently featuring its first solo exhibit, a collection of Japanese-style portraits by 11-year-old Ava Hibbs, a Buckhannon native and homeschooled student. The Gallery hosted its inaugural event in June with the group Upshur County Youth Art Exhibition. Corporate support like the $5,000 gift from FirstEnergy Foundation will help prepare the Colonial Theatre for upcoming community events.

The Colonial Theatre will serve as an expansion of the Stockert Youth & Community Center (SYCC), allowing for additional arts education and youth productions through the afterschool program and summer camp.  SYCC anticipates utilizing the space for afterschool programming in cooperation with the Upshur County Board of Education and local arts organizations. Buckhannon Community Theatre will make the Colonial Theatre their home, providing young actors with a venue to learn and share the craft. Opportunities will also be presented for instruction in set design, music/theatre technology, and costuming. ART26201’s Young Filmmakers Camp will bring film production education to the space each summer. Participation in the arts can create an avenue for positive youth development, community engagement, and academic achievement. SYCC’s Colonial Theatre will connect young artists to local arts venues and mentors, thanks in part to FirstEnergy Foundation.

The FirstEnergy Foundation gift will be received by ART26201 and dispersed to the City, once again demonstrating the power of strong public-private partnerships for successful community development projects. John Waltz, Vice President of ART26201, shared, “We are so thankful for the generous gift and support from FirstEnergy. Events like our recent and inaugural Gallery opening were made possible by these contributions. It is amazing to see the progress inside the Colonial Theatre, Gallery, and front façade which have all contributed to a bustling Main Street arts scene in Buckhannon. We are just scratching the surface of what is possible with this transformational space and through contributions like these.”  

Of the continuing renovation efforts, Mayor Robbie Skinner added, “I hope the community appreciates the progress that’s been made. It will forever enhance downtown when it’s complete.”

Tim Pingley, FirstEnergy External Affairs Consultant, commented, “Each time I come to see the progress, it’s amazing how much work has been done.” Pingley continued, “This space is amazing and just what we need with these troubled times to bring people together in the community.”

The FirstEnergy Foundation is funded solely by FirstEnergy Corp. and provides support to non-profit, tax-exempt health and human services agencies; educational organizations; cultural and arts programs and institutions; and civic groups in areas served by FirstEnergy’s ten electric operating companies and in areas where the company conducts business.

ART26201 and the City remain grateful and thrilled to receive previous significant gifts and pledges of financial support from The FirstEnergy Foundation, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, ART26201, Buckhannon Community Theatre via the Jim Knorr Memorial Lobby campaign, the McMurtry family, numerous fundraising events, and donations from additional members of the Buckhannon community near and far.

Built in 1924, the Colonial Theatre sits just across Main Street from the Traders Alley Arts District, home to Lascaux Micro-Theater, many outdoor artworks, and Jawbone Park, which features sculpture and is host to Festival Fridays and other seasonal performing arts. The Colonial Theatre, Main Street, Traders Alley, and Jawbone Park collectively form the downtown Traders Alley Arts District, complete with ADA accessible sidewalks, parking, and amenities.

ART26201 is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “celebrate and promote the creative and inspirational opportunities in the Buckhannon community.”  For more information about ART26201 projects, and for ways to provide financial support, email or visit the website at



City of Buckhannon: Callie Cronin Sams, or (304) 472-1651