FAIRBORN — The Fairborn Phoenix Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to renovating the historic Fairborn Theater, just celebrated it’s third year of getting the venue back to working order.
The Fairborn Phoenix has spent the last three years raising money, awareness and manpower to revive the iconic theater in a five-phase plan, the first of which has just been completed.
Phases outlined on the Fairborn Phoenix website begin with trash removal and raising money — tasks already completed by the foundation — to completely overhauling the electrical system and eventually offering film grants to up-and-coming producers. The Fairborn Phoenix is clear in its intention to bring life and culture back to the theater and the city as a whole.
Founded by Jordan C. Tyrell, Chris Morse, and Steve Butcher, the organization has spent the last three years building everything from the ground up, and working with the community and the city to bring this ambitious plan to fruition and reinstate the Fairborn Phoenix Theater as a staple of downtown Fairborn.
Although almost everything needs rebuilt, Tyrell made clear his mission to preserve the history within the theater and maintain its vintage roots.
Lead architect Rick Holmes and stage architect Ted Ohl are only a couple of the community members integral for the huge plans the foundation has in the works, and are responsible for the previously unreleased layout created for the theater. Included in this layout is a theater with curtains that can section off seating areas depending on the audience size, and an upper for workshops, music and video editing classes, and a space to relax and study when its not in use.
As the foundation celebrated its third year in production on March 1, members shared some of their recent developments on their Facebook page.
“We have new temporary electric,” reads the post. “New roof, and we’re building a community of people who love the space.”
Tyrell, also a documentary director, spoke about his passion for giving back to his community through his skill in videography and community connections.
“There was a lot of community help,” said Tyrell, “I just feel like it took our organization to help realize the value of the theater.”
Although other community members had had similar sentiments about renovating the theater before Tyrell, no one has taken the steps to build support and raise money like the Fairborn Phoenix Foundation has already done.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the volunteer support we do have,” he said. “We’re grateful to the mayor and everybody.”
The theater has a long way to go, with incredibly expensive costs along the way, but Tyrell claims to have the knowledge to discern when to cut back and when they should invest in expensive equipment. He also has a team behind him with the knowledge and expertise in all areas of architect, design, fundraising, performing and many other skills necessary for such a monumental revival of the historic building.
“We’re being as conservative as possible when it comes to a lot of things,” he said, though he is confident conservative use of funds will not take away from the grandeur of the vision the foundation has.
While the organization certainly spurred forward the renovation process, the initial inspiration behind the project came before that, when Tyrell created and showed his own documentary, “HEROINOHIO,” about the danger of heroin and how it has hurt already struggling communities in Ohio.
The original show sold out “within two minutes,” according to Tyrell, which prompted a second showing at the theater and, in the process, a passion to continue cleaning out the theater and creating a space for enjoyment and learning once more.
Even though the team has a long way to go in its 5-phase plan, what they’ve managed to accomplish could serve as an incredible inspiration to residents of Fairborn and the surrounding area. With the capacity to show films and raise real money, the Fairborn Phoenix may very well soon build up the momentum it needs for a complete renovation.
Those wishing to donate, or are interested in learning more about the Phoenix Foundation and their mission, can visit www.fairbornphoenix.com.
Contact Ethan Charles at 937-502-4532.