Historic Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs Receives $2 Million Donation Pledge for Ongoing Restoration Project

PALM SPRINGS – Stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, a fundraising effort to restore the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre has been resuscitated with multimillion dollar donations and pledges.

In October, noted television/theatre producer, director, and writer David Lee, a Palm Springs resident, pledged $5 million to jumpstart an extensive renovation project of the celebrated theatre.

On Thursday, former Palm Springs City Councilmember and current Planning Commission vice-chair J.R. Roberts announced that the restoration project fundraising efforts received a new $2 million pledge of support. This new donation satisfies the matching challenge that was part of the record $5 million donation Lee made.

The donation includes a challenge of its own. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, issued a challenge to the City of Palm Springs to match this donation with a $2 million contribution. The city owns the historic theatre which has fallen into disrepair and needs an estimated $10-$12 million to restore it and bring it up to current code.

“We are absolutely thrilled that this new donor has joined David Lee, our Plaza Theatre Foundation Founders, and all the other people who have donated to this important preservation project,” Roberts said in a prepared statement. “This donation challenges the City of Palm Springs to match this pledge and help us get closer to our fundraising goal.”

The City of Palm Springs recently created a non-profit Foundation that launched a campaign to raise capital to fully restore one of its most iconic buildings – the historic Plaza Theatre. Originally built in 1936, the building was used for film premieres and screenings, nationally broadcast radio theatre programs, and other performances. In its later years, the theater was home to the long running “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.” Over the decades, the building has deteriorated, so the City of Palm Springs has initiated a capital campaign to restore the beloved structure to its former glory.

The comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan will provide essential infrastructure repairs, installation of new theatrical equipment, and structural improvements to ensure that the building meets today’s fire prevention and American Disabilities Act mandates. This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York.

Palm Springs architect Harry Williams designed the theatre in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The theatre opened in 1936 with the premiere of the George Cukor film, “Camille,” with its legendary star, Greta Garbo, who allegedly slipped into the back of the theatre after the lights went down. Garbo’s co-star in the film, Robert Taylor, attended with Barbara Stanwyck.

When the restoration is complete, the Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment for years to come.

There are numerous ways in which the public may play a significant role in the Plaza Theatre restoration, including becoming a Founder, securing a Naming Opportunity, or making a donation. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information or to make a donation to support preservation and restoration, contact Foundation Chairman J.R. Roberts at 760-218-6330 or click here.


Image Sources

  • Plaza Theatre: Shutterstock