VASSAR (WJRT) -
(08/20/14) - A landmark in a small Mid-Michigan town is in limbo.
The Vassar Theatre has been closed since March, when its owner suddenly passed away. It is now for sale, and many in the community are hoping someone comes forward, buys it and opens it up as a theater once again.
"He was a kind of a perfectionist," said Rick Moreau, friend of Tim O'Brian.
O'Brien died from a heart attack at the age of 52. He spent several years restoring the Vassar Theatre, which was built in 1937.
Moreau helped organize a Kickstarter campaign last year that raised more than $70,000 to convert the theatre to digital projection.
"Everyone came together," Moreau said.
While O'Brien was the owner, Moreau says O'Brien didn't look it at that way.
"He just took care of it for the time he owned it and it belongs to the community," he said.
O'Brien wasn't married and had no children. After he died, a probate judge declared his sister as heir of the theater. The Detroit-area resident is selling it.
"It's sad, yeah, especially since he put so much of his life into it," said Laura Leiterman, owner of the Cork Pine Eatery and Saloon, located across the street from the theater.
Leiterman says the status of the theater is the talk of the town.
"You hear it all the time in here, it should be open, somebody buying it, all sorts of questions circulating," she said.
Thomas Napper is not sure the theater will ever open again.
My wife and I used to come here, we used to bring our kids here," he said. "I don't think anyone will take the time to do what he did. He was great."
The asking price is another question people are asking. Some have heard $150,000, others $180,000. When the realty company was contacted for a sales price, the answer was 'one will be available soon.' Until then, people will wait and wonder, will the Vassar Theatre ever open again?
"A lot of people are praying that someone comes forward and purchases the theater and can run it," Moreau said.
We were not able to reach Tim O'Brien's sister for comment.