‘Decades-Long Dream One Step Closer to Reality’: Effort to Resurrect Century-Old Oxford Theater Receives $2 Million

Oxford Theater
Image via Oxford Mainstreet, Inc.

A decades-long dream to bring a performing arts space to downtown Oxford is one step closer to reality with renewed hope for the Oxford Theater.

The nonprofit Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. has received $2 million in state funding for the reconstruction of the historic Oxford Theater on Third Street in the heart of the borough.

“This is an exciting day for Oxford,” said State Rep. John Lawrence. “Today’s news is the next step in the continued revitalization of the downtown core, and a recognition of the hard work that so many have been a part of over the last few years.” 

Originally constructed in 1922, the Oxford Theater was one of three movie theaters in Oxford over the years. After closing in 1956, the facility was partially converted into retail space. Much of the old theater infrastructure remains behind the retail area.     

“The performing arts can be a powerful catalyst for recreation, education, and economic revitalization in our communities,” said State Rep. Carolyn Comitta. “I’m proud to support this project and excited to see the historic theater returned to its former glory. As we emerge from the pandemic, places for neighbors and visitors to come together to watch a film, enjoy a concert, or take in a lecture will be more important than ever. The theater will be a welcome addition to Oxford, and I look forward to its completion and opening.” 

Oxford Mainstreet will lead efforts to turn the old theater building into a 12,000-square-foot multipurpose facility. Plans include a state-of-the-art auditorium for films and live performances. Classrooms and studio spaces will be available for rehearsals, classes, and community use.  

Work has already begun on The Shoebox, a smaller, secondary theater within a theater that will open shortly. Plans also include a small café to cater to theatergoers and other patrons. 

“On behalf of the board of directors of Oxford Mainstreet, and the vision we share with the borough and the great spirit and culture of Oxford, we are most appreciative of this opportunity to use this grant and work hard to bring this project to reality,” said Ed Herr, chairman of Oxford Mainstreet. “What a blessing this will be for our beautiful town.”

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