WELLSVILLE - The Liberty Theater has sat vacant and unused for most of the years between its closure as a movie theater in the early 1990s and the present day. However, one local family is committed to seeing that the building become a place for Wellsville residents to gather and enjoy themselves once again.
Erin Roberts-Orr is spearheading the campaign, begun by her father, Bill Roberts with the Liberty Theater Association in 1998, to fix up the historic building on Main Street in Wellsville. It is presently owned by the Potter Players Community Theater, who received the deed to theater from the LTA a decade ago.
When the LTA was formed nearly 20 years ago, its board enlisted the late Joseph "Dixie" Frontone, whom she says was instrumental in securing the services of qualified contractors to replace the roof, install new windows and carry out other badly-needed work. The first priority on sealing the building from the outside to prevent more internal damage from occurring.
Artifacts from the glory days of the Liberty Theater have been discovered since work began in the building, including these signs that used hand out in the lobby and box office. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Due to a badly perforated roof, that included terminal damage to the hardwood floors, seats and the main stage, all of which were badly warped and rotted. Since then, all have been removed, with a new concrete floor poured last year. Rows of used seats have been acquired from the former Jefferson Community College and are in need of reupholstery.
Orr says her role mainly consists of organizing volunteer workers, plus managing fundraising efforts and seeking out grants where they may be found.