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Local News

June 21, 2014

Group aims to revitalize century-old theater

Since 1910, the Wieting Theater has been a gathering spot for the people of Worcester.

Now, the community is rallying behind it, hoping to infuse it with new technology that will allow patrons to view popular movie releases from Hollywood in digital format.

But acquiring a new digital projector will take money, said Mike Austin, president of the non-profit Wieting Memorial Association.

The Wieting’s life is on the line as the all volunteer organization is hoping to raise about $45,000 in donations by this fall.

Because the theater is such an key part of the community, the future of Worcester is also at stake, said Otsego County Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, a long-time community resident who is hoping that area residents respond generously to the fundraising drive.

“If we don’t keep that building going, the town is going to die,” said Lindberg.

The construction of the old two story Colonial playhouse was financed by Helen Wieting, who built it as a memorial to her late husband, Philip G. Wieting, a local dentist, who died in 1906.

Because the village of Worcester was not incorporated, she gave the building to the Wieting Memorial Association “to be held and managed in trust for the people of the village of Worcester and vicinity,” the now defunct Worcester Times reported in February 1910 after the maiden performance — a drama with a cast of seven — at the venue.

“In so doing,” the newspaper continued in its report, “she wanted the people to understand that it was their building, and desired them all to think of it and speak of it as such.”

One hundred and fourteen years later, they still do.

“The theater is really a focal point for our entire community,” said Austin. “The theater goes hand and hand with the hotel, especially when we have our plays here. It provides entertainment not only for our children but for the adults in the community as well.”

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