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Searcy comes together to revive Rialto Theater | News

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Searcy comes together to revive Rialto Theater

SEARCY, Ark. (KTHV) - In Searcy, there's a project underway to restore one of its historic landmarks, The Rialto Theater.

The movie theater was built in the 1920's and still stands as one of the area's most well-known movie theaters. It still shows select movies for a dollar on Tuesdays and pays homage to the 1950's., but as with any building it's had its fair share of wear, and a local group of Searcians is trying to raise money to renovate it.

"A lot of people like nostalgia and that's what the Rialto is to me," said local Nancy Showalter, who has lived in Searcy her whole life and now owns Stott's Pharmacy in downtown.

"It's the cornerstone. We have the courthouse and I would really say the next building would be the Rialto," added James Carson who was also born and raised in the town of 22,000.

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that doesn't have a memory about the art-deco building

"I worked there when I was in high school- three years. Had a great time it was fun," Carson added.

With $0.25 Coke's and a $0.65 admission back in the 1950's it's hard not to, but over the years the theater's paint chipped, and its lights faded leaving it as it is today, a functioning theater in a seemingly dysfunctional home.

But that's when Mat Faulkner and the rest of the community stepped in.

"Really we haven't pushed it yet but people are already starting to donate. It's raised almost $1,000 already," said Searcian Mat Faulkner who owns the local advertising firm Think Advertising.

Through the Website GoFundMe the community is trying to raise $60,000 for new painting, new neon lights and a new exterior- all things they say will reflect the way this relic used to look and feel.

"And just the feel," said long-time resident Patrick Stegall. "When you walk in and you watch a movie you feel like when you walk out the door you're coming back into the 60's and the 70's."

All in an effort to preserve a landmark so the memory of the Rialto doesn't fade like its exterior.

The project has two phases. The first one is for the exterior and then the second will be for the interior.

The city hopes to have its lights back in order for December's Holiday of Lights.

A link to the GoFundMe page can be found here.