Local firm upgrades historic Regent theatre

The facade of a historic downtown Springfield theatre is undergoing renovations as part of a long-term effort to find a new use for the building.

The former Regent Theatre, 117 S. Limestone St., is undergoing a partial facade restoration, which includes painting and repairs to wood, plaster and masonry, said Chris Simonton, president of Tectonic, a Springfield construction and property management firm. The Turner Foundation owns the building, and has quietly made important renovations in recent years to keep the facility intact, including installing a new roof a few years ago, he said.

There are no immediate plans to use the building, Simonton said, but the long-term goal is to fully restore the theatre and find an appropriate tenant.

The building has played an important role in the city’s history. The building was famous for housing the Gus Sun Booking Agency in the 1920s.

“My guys are telling me they can’t believe how many people are stopping down there and talking to them about the place,” Simonton said.

The building’s historic marquee was taken down about a year ago and placed in storage, but it will also eventually be restored and upgraded.

Much of the work that has been done in recent years to improve historic buildings downtown is starting to become more noticeable, Simonton said.

“People don’t realize how much work has gone on downtown and some of the more visible things are starting to happen,” he said.

Workers from Shatto and Sons Painting, based in Springfield, were busy scraping paint and repairing plaster on the facade Tuesday afternoon. The project is expected to take a little more than a week, said Dustin Shatto, who owns the company.

He said his company is a subcontractor that often does work on historic buildings downtown.

“We get a lot of historic work,” Shatto said. “It’s like you’re giving back to the community and getting paid.”

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