Olde Glory is located in a repurposed church that was one of the oldest in Seward County. The church was built in 1873 and moved to the current location of 348 Jackson Avenue in Seward, Nebraska in 1901. It is one of the most historic buildings within the community.
The Seward Area Chamber of Commerce purchased the church in July of 2013 with a vision of renovating the church into a theatre while preserving historical aspects of the building.
One of the driving factors in establishing a theatre in Seward was to bring back the Goehner Centennial Players Melodrama to Seward County. The Players formed in 1987 as a tribute to Goehner, Nebraska's 100th Anniversary. For twenty years, the Players became the premier dinner theatre in Nebraska. With the death of Director Roger Harpham in 2007, the Goehner Centennial Players closed their final curtain.
In an effort to establish a theatre in Seward, a small group of financiers stepped forward to purchase the property and renovations began to convert the property into a Theatre and Community Hall. A board was formed consisting of Seward community members with backgrounds in theatre, business, and community service to oversee fundraising, renovations, and organizing performances.
After having successfully launched the theatre, and with growing concerns about divesting resources with respect to the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce's mission to the community, the Chamber elected to spinoff the theatre into a self-sustaining 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. With that, the Olde Glory Foundation was established in January 2015. Drawing again from experienced community leaders, a new board was formed, retaining three original members and adding four new members. The initial work of the board was to obtain non-profit status, which was granted in February 2015, and to transfer the property, completed on April 1, 2015.
The first steps in renovating the church was to convert the chancel area into a stage. Volunteers ripped up the carpet, carefully removed the pulpit and lectern, cut out rear stage entrances, and painted the stage. The Goehner Centennial Players purchased curtains completing the transformation. Electrical work and various building improvements were conducted to ensure the facility met Fire Marshal codes.
Patrick Runyan, son of original founding members Caryl and Lloyd Schulz, revived the Goehner Centennial Players in 2014. In partnership with the Olde Glory Theatre, the Goehner Centennial Players Melodrama was transitioned to Seward. Eleven performances were held and the Olde Glory Theater hosted audiences of over 1,400 people.
The goal of the theatre is to provide wholesome family entertainment at a low cost, show-casing local area talent. Seward is blessed to have a very talented community and many of the initial performances relied on local musical talent. As news of the theatre has spread, touring theatre groups have begun contacting Olde Glory about performing. The Olde Glory Foundation is actively working with touring troupes and the Lied Center for the 2016/2017 season.
The Olde Glory Foundation relies on multiple funding sources for annual operating expenses and improvements to the facility. Annual operating expenses come from revenue raised from performances and Theatre and Community Hall rentals.
For facility improvements, the Foundation relies on in-kind donations for labor and equipment, financial donations from the Community, and grants. To date, the Olde Glory Foundation has raised over $40,000 for building improvements and benefited from hundreds of hours in volunteer labor. The Foundation continues to raise funds for additional improvements required including: electrical updates for Theatre Lighting, Sound Equipment, catering equipment, building improvements, and restoration of stained glass windows. Along with the improvements is the $80,000 building loan, which needs to be repaid.
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