REXBURG — The Romance Theatre, currently undergoing restoration, is $30,000 richer thanks to online support.

The Hampton Hotels’ Save-A-Landmark Program featured various landmarks from five states that people could vote online to receive the money. Voting began in October and wrapped up on Nov. 30.

The online voting had more votes than ever before, with 60,000 votes. The announcement is in celebration of International Volunteer Day, which is Sunday.

In Idaho, the Romance was competing against the Potato Museum in Blackfoot and the Rock Creek Station, a cabin on the historic Oregon Trail near Twin Falls.

Other landmarks that received the grants were  the Children’s Museum of Bozeman, Mont., the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover, Del., the Kilauea Lighthouse in Kilauea, Hawaii, and the Westerly Armory in Westerly, R.I.

Restoration of the Romance Theatre is already under way with a Saving America’s Treasures grant.

The goal is to restore the facade and interior to its original look.

Local Romance Theatre Committee members say the venue is planned as a focal point for the performing arts in the upper valley.

The Romance was built in 1917 and was originally known as the Rex in the days of vaudeville and silent films. It was remodeled and renamed in 1935 and began showing movies with sound.

After the Teton Dam broke in 1976 and flooded the theater along with the town, it was remodeled once again and became known as the Westwood Theater.

Later, with only a single screen competing with newer multiplex theaters, the Westwood closed in 2001.

The city bought it in 2005, and restoration has been picking up the pace since then.

During the past decade, the Save-A-Landmark program has preserved 55 historic sites in 45 states and three countries.  The program has donated more than $2.5 million and more than 8,000 volunteer hours towards the research, attention and preservation of roadside landmarks.  According to a Hampton preservation survey conducted in September 2010, more than 90 percent of Americans believe it is important to preserve our nation’s landmarks and another 40 percent thought the nation’s historical sites were in need of repair.


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