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Anonymous donor helping Denis Theatre Foundation near $2.3M fundraising goal

| Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
The Denis Theatre on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 in Mt. Lebanon.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
The Denis Theatre on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 in Mt. Lebanon.

The Denis Theatre Foundation is on its way to meeting a challenge grant it plans to put toward renovating the iconic Mt. Lebanon structure next year.

Treasurer Alan Trivilino said an anonymous person has promised $145,000 if the group raises $290,000 by the end of this year.

Trivilino said the foundation is on target to meet that goal, which would put it near the $2.3 million needed for the project. Since 2007, $2 million has been raised, mainly through individuals and foundations, he said.

An adult carnival Saturday will raise money for operating expenses unrelated to the capital campaign, Trivilino said.

Opened in 1938 as a grand one-screen movie house, the Denis closed in 2004.

The foundation signed a 15-year lease in 2008 with plans to rehabilitate and reopen the theater. It purchased the building in 2010.

The design phase began in 2013.

Plans call for two screening rooms seating between 100 and 200 people, plus a smaller one for 40 to 50, board member MJ Meenen said.

There will be room for private screenings, discussion groups and receptions, as well as community space.

Meenen said “thought provoking” fare, including independent films and documentaries, will be shown. Mainstream entertainment will be available for people of all ages.

The theater is expected to serve as a business and social gathering place, Meenen said. “We want to facilitate discussion,” she said.

Trivilino said the facility will require major updates, including new plumbing and handicap accessibility.

“We need to totally rebuild it,” said Trivilino, adding removal of debris, leftover documents and seats already has begun.

Meenen said construction probably will take nine months to a year, with a 2017 grand opening.

Karen Kadilak is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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