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Floodwaters at Foellinger may be thing of past

May 16, 2018 GMT

The freshly painted, newly renovated lower level of the Foellinger Theatre looked a lot different a few months ago.

Nearby Spy Run Creek overflowed its banks : a common occurrence over the years in the area : and left the space intended for performers flooded.

“It was in ruins,” said Mitch Sheppard, deputy director of community outreach for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. “The creek had taken over the lower part of the building.”

Sheppard and others with the department, which operates the theater, said Tuesday the water problems that plagued the theater’s lower portion are likely now a footnote in the building’s 69-year history.


Parks officials showed off a $500,000 renovation project that includes better drainage, upgrades to a green room and seven dressing rooms for performers, a lounge and storage space. A water-activated metal plate at the entrance was put in place to seal off the interior from floodwaters.

“We’ve brought her back to as she was built,” Sheppard said.

Construction began in the fall and is nearly complete : an elevator will be installed in time for a June 16 concert by Dogs of Society, an Elton John tribute band. The green room includes seating and a flat-screen TV, and new restrooms have showers for performers.

Money for the project came from a bond issue.

“All of this helps to attract bands, because their comfort is very important when they’re choosing where to play,” Sheppard said. “This will definitely help our reputation in the industry for comfort for performers.”

The parks department also announced that Modest Mouse, an indie-rock outfit, will play Foellinger Theatre on Sept. 21 as part of its summer concert series. The series kicked off May 4 with rocker Gene Simmons.

Theatre manager Tim Byers said Modest Mouse is a nod toward younger concert-goers he is trying to attract to the venue.

“Classic rock, I think we’ve proven (ourselves) again and again,” he said. “We just need to do that with a younger crowd.”