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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and Holland Entertainment LLC of Oak Grove, La. were informed Thursday afternoon by the United States Parks Service that the Fiske Theatre has been approved and is now officially listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“It is my honor not only the be the United States Representative but also a native of West Carroll to see the theatre I attended as a child be restored to such a stature that it has been over the last few years to be now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.” Congressman Vance McAllister said. “I commend Adam Holland for his leadership and all other community leaders that have contributed not only to restoring it to such prestige to be recognized, but also to what it has given back to a community that works so hard to maintain Louisiana’s core values that I am proud to call my hometown and birthplace.”
Congressman McAllister and Senator David Vitter both wrote letters of support to the National Parks Service on the theatre’s behalf supporting its listing on the National Registry.
“Words cannot express how big of an honor this is not just for the theatre, but for the Town of Oak Grove, our citizens and all of West Carroll Parish.” Adam Holland, W.C. Chamber Director of Special Events, and President of Holland Entertainment said. “This listing brings with it much distinction and prestige for the theatre and the town, as well as, the possibility for grants to preserve the building for our posterity.”
The Fiske is the first building in the City of Oak Grove to be listed on the National Registry. There are other buildings in town that may qualify for listing including the Legion Hut, OGHS Old Gym, and both the First Baptist and United Methodist Church to name a few.
“We are proud of Adam for all he has put into bringing the theatre back to her prime and this listing is just one more testament to the work he has done and the support that we as a chamber have received from countless people to make restoring the theatre possible.” W.C. Chamber President John Elliott said. “By having the theatre now officially listed on the National Registry we as a Chamber and the City can capitalize on this distinction and the theatre can become even more of an economic engine for our town than she already is by drawing tourist who travel the country side visiting historic places.”
The process of having the theatre listed on the National Registry began when the Chamber received the Tulane School of Architecture’s Dean’s Fund for Excellence grant in April of 2013 which funded a group of students and professors to travel to Oak Grove and study the architecture and cultural impact the theatre has had on Northeast Louisiana. The students published a book and used that information throughout the application process. Adam Holland, Doug and Rita Ainsworth along with Donald B. Fiske Jr. then represented the theatre at the November hearing of the Louisiana Historic Registry Commission where they voted unanimously to forward the nomination on the NPS.
“I’m very proud of the Fiske Theatre and the entire Oak Grove community for receiving this recognition. It’s a great tribute to Mr. Donald Fiske and all of the local leaders who have worked so hard to restore, update, and maintain such an iconic structure, and I’m pleased that it will be enjoyed for generations to come,” Senator Vitter said.
The current Fiske Theatre was built in 1950 featuring the Ultra-Moderne Art Deco style that was prevalent in movie theater construction of the time. It was designed by the late B.W. Stevens who also designed the Joy Theatre on Canal Street in New Orleans which is an almost replica of the Fiske. In 1951 it was named “The Most Modern and Well Equipped Theatre” in the United States that was constructed in 1950 by the Motion Picture Exhibitors Catalog.
The Fiske Theatre was donated to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce in 1988 by its founder Donald B. Fiske and is currently operated by Holland Entertainment LLC. The Fiske is open each Thursday-Sunday showing a different first-run film each week.
(Photo Caption: Left to Right: W.C. Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth, Tulane School of Architecture Professor Dr. Andrew Liles, Donald B. Fiske Jr. and Adam T. Holland, Presient of Holland Entertainment at the Nov. 21 Louisiana State National Registry Review Board Hearing in Baton Rouge, La.)
BATON ROUGE, La. — Oak Grove’s own Fiske Theatre was approved in a unanimous decision for nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places, November 21 by the Louisiana State National Registry Review Board and is now waiting for notification from the United States National Park Service for final approval and listing to the National Registry.
“This is huge not only for the theatre, but for the Town of Oak Grove and everyone in West Carroll Parish,” Adam T. Holland, President of Holland Entertainment who operates the theatre for the W.C. Chamber said. “Being included on this list brings with it much prestige for the theatre and our town, along with possible grants for Historic Preservation.”
Holland was accompanied to the hearing in Baton Rouge, La. by Donald B. Fiske Jr., Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth, Chamber Director Rita Ainsworth along with Dr. Andrew Liles and Gabrielle Begue from the Tulane School of Architecture at the hearing on Thursday.
He presented to the review board a presentation entitled “The Fiske Theatre: ‘The Anchor Holds’,” which gave a brief history of the theatre, its architecture features and its story of overcoming the odds to become once again the No. 1 Independent Movie Theatre in North Louisiana.
“In 1988 Mr. Donald Fiske entrusted the chamber with the theatre so it would be preserved for our posterity,” Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth said. “By getting it on the registry not only will it bring his pride and joy the national prestige it deserves for its architectural and cultural contributions to West Carroll Parish and the industry, but this will protect its integrity for the generations that will follow us.”
The Fiske Theatre is being nominated on the criteria of its Architectural Contributions to Mid-Century Theatre Construction and the historical cultural impact it has had for the citizens of Northeast Louisiana and Southeast Arkansas.
The Fiske Theatre was designed by the late B. W. Stevens of New Orleans and was named the “Most Modern and Well Equipped Theater” constructed in the nation in 1950 by the Motion Picture Theatre Exhibitors Catalog. The Fiske and her almost twin The Joy on Canal Street in New Orleans are the only two remaining theatres still in operation that were designed by Stevens. Though in a state of unrepair you can also see resemblances of Mr. Stevens work and the Fiske Theatre in the Joy theatre on US 80 in Rayville.
OAK GROVE — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and the Tulane School of Architecture recently donated two copies of the book “The Fiske Theatre: A Case Study for the Preservation of Mid-Century Theaters in North Louisiana” to the West Carroll Parish Library in Oak Grove, La. in order for them to be available to the public for years to come.
A team of four students and two professors from the Tulane School of Architecture in New Orleans spent a weekend in Oak Grove this past April studying the theatre from the roof to the basement while at the same time interviewing local citizens who had memories of the theatre and going through the Fiske Family archives that are stored at the theatre and records at the Clerk of Courts office to compile this very in-depth book.
“This is something we as the W.C. Chamber wanted to do from the time we found out the depth of the project that Tulane was conducting at the theatre.” W.C. Chamber Special Events and Historic Preservation Coordinator Adam Holland said. “By donating these two copies to the library they will not only be available for the public today but for our posterity in years to come.”
The book takes an in-depth look at the history of Carroll Parish, the theatre and goes into details of the impressive architecture and the role it played in theatre construction throughout the Mid-Twentieth Century.
“We as citizens of Northeast Louisiana take for granted how important our theatre was and is,” Holland said. “When the ‘New Fiske Theatre’ was built in 1950 she was the model for theatre construction of her day with all of bells and whistles movie goers could only imagine being able to enjoy.”
The Fiske Theatre which was designed by Architect B.W. Stevens of New Orleans won the “Merit Award” from the 1951 Motion Picture Exhibitors Catalog for being the most modern and well equipped theatre constructed in the nation in 1950. B.W. Stevens also designed the Joy Theatre located on Canal Street in New Orleans which is an almost twin to Oak Grove’s Fiske.
The Fiske is on the agenda for the November 21 hearing of the Louisiana Historic Preservation Board’s meeting to be considered for nomination to the Nation Registry of Historic Places which will put her in the same league as such structures as The Myrtle Plantation in St. Francisville, Bedienhorn Gardens in Monroe, and the Old State Capital Building in Baton Rouge
The chamber also has copies of the book available for $20 by calling the chamber office at 318-428-8283 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The funding for the study conducted by Tulane was provided by the Tulane School of Architecture Fund for Excellence Grant in 2013.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The West Carroll Chamber of Commerce and Holland Entertainment LLC which operates the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove, La. were recently informed by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Louisiana that a hearing will be held Thursday, November 21, 2013 at the State Capitol where the Fiske Theatre will be considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
“This is the culmination of six years of hard work, by everyone that has been involved with the rebirth of the theatre.” Adam Holland, President of Holland Entertainment who operates the theatre said. “In 2007 when I was asked to serve as the chairman of the West Carroll Chamber’s Theatre Committee, I could see the potential for the theatre, but in no way knew she would grow to once again be one of the most respected and most attended independent movie theaters in North Louisiana.”
The current Fiske Theatre was built in 1950 by the late Donald B. Fiske of Oak Grove, La. and was designed by Architect B.W. Stevens of New Orleans in the Streamline Ultra-Moderne Art Deco style that was prevalent in movie theatre architecture of the day. In 1951 it was awarded the prestigious “Bronze Merritt Award” by the Exhibitors Theatre Catalog as being the most modern and well equipped theatre built in 1950.
“We thank Adam Holland for his leadership and commitment to preserving the theatre and his vision to bring her back as the primary entertainment hub for our community,” W.C. Chamber President H. Doug Ainsworth said. “We also thank the theatre committee and the countless volunteers and donors who made restoration of the theatre complete last summer and fall.”
Oak Grove’s Fiske Theatre is one of two remaining theatre’s in Louisiana that bear the undeniable mark of Architect B.W. Stevens, the other is the Joy Theatre on Canal Street in New Orleans which was restored and reopened in December of 2011 after it sustained major damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
The Fiske’s nomination to the National Register would not have been possible without a grant from the Tulane School of Architecture that funded a team of four students and two professors to come to Oak Grove and study the Fiske this past April. Their findings and research, which will be made available to the public soon, were used in the application process. Gabrielle Begue who was a Master of Preservation Studies student in spring helped compile and edit the information included in the application to the Lt. Governor’s office.
“We are crossing our fingers and feel confident that we will get the nomination from the Louisiana State Review Committee to be included on the National Register,” Holland said. “Once this happens it will bring much more prestige to what we already know is a treasured part of our region’s history and also help attract more people to our town that travel the countryside visiting historic places thus the theater will further enhance the economy of our town and parish.”
The Fiske Theatre was donated to the West Carroll Chamber of Commerce by the late Donald B. Fiske shortly prior to his death and is operated by Holland Entertainment LLC of Oak Grove, La.