To aid in the restoration of the theatre and to highlight it's historical significance as one of the nation's most iconic theatres, while providing cultural programming and events that honor the legacy of Mary Elitch.
The theatre closed in 1991 and the amusement park moved downtown in 1995. The theatre was saved, but it sat empty for a decade.
A nonprofit organization, The Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Foundation was formed in 2002 to raise funds for the restoration, as well as to maintain, preserve and restore the theatre and the carousel pavilion. (The Foundation now works under the 'dba' of Historic Elitch Theatre -- aka HET.)
In 2006, the Foundation received $5 million in federal, state, and city funding, plus grants and private donations. Work began on phase 1 -- saving and restoring the historic exterior. The process began with restoring the building's exterior, including a concrete foundation under the exterior walls. The roof, gable, main entrance/lobby, and exterior walls were replaced and painted. A section of dressing rooms and shops on the West side of the building was demolished. Exterior restoration on the historic auditorium was completed in 2007.
Phase 2 of the restoration (2013-2014) included various health and safety upgrades, including restoring electricity and lighting throughout the building and the addition of a fire suppression system. This upgrade allowed the theatre to get temporary occupancy and begin tours and limited events.
With the completion of Phase 3 (2020-2021) restrooms were added, a new roof was put on, and various other upgrades were made, allowing for the theatre to gain a certificate of permanent occupancy.
Fundraising continues for interior renovations, including the need for theatre rigging, lighting, and sound. The vision is to serve as a community arts center for the education and presentation of theatre, music, and film.
"One of the greatest cradles of the drama in American history." -- Cecil B. DeMille (Summer Stock Alumnus - 1905)
"As one of Colorado's most iconic theatres, I declare the summer of 2016 as the summer of Historic Elitch Theatre." -- Then-Governor John Hickenlooper