103-year-old Park Theatre getting a facelift

It’s been transformed from a shuttered movie theatre to an award-winning music and event venue, but the improvements to south Osborne’s Park Theatre are still ongoing.

Owner Erick Casselman told 680 CJOB Wednesday that the Park is getting a facelift to replace a crumbling exterior, which includes brickwork that was completed prior to the Second World War.

“We found some of the old brickwork from the ’30s, but it’s in pretty rough shape,” said Casselman.

“It looks great until you start getting closer to it and you see how it’s just crumbling and falling apart. There’s a very good reason why they covered it up in the ’70s. I wish I could salvage it.”

The entire front of the building is getting a revamp, with a new wood facade and an updated, digital version of its iconic “PARK” marquee, said Casselman.

The new look, he said, will better reflect the venue’s current use as a concert venue rather than its historical role as a movie theatre.

“The front of the building just wasn’t in great shape – the marquee itself especially,” he said.

“The marquee will be there, it’s just going to be updated to a digital marquee so I don’t have to send my staff up and down dangerous ladders, especially with the weather coming up.”

Steve Nelson of Winnipeg’s Clipwing performs at the Park Theatre.

The renovations are music to the ears of local musicians like Steve Nelson, who have seen the continued positive improvements Casselman has made to the venue over the years.

“Erick has a true passion for the Winnipeg scene and cares deeply for the bands that are a part of it,” said Nelson, a member of numerous local bands, including Clipwing and In 2 Months.

“The Park Theatre has quickly become a staple of the Winnipeg music scene. The atmosphere is fantastic.”

Artist’s depiction of the new-look Park Theatre.

That passion for live music and for the building itself, said Casselman, is the motivation behind the ongoing renovations.

“I put a lot of money and a lot of heart and soul into the building and into the neighbourhood,” he said.

“I’ll be honest, if I was trying to make money, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. I’m doing this more out of love, out of passion for the neighbourhood and passion for the building itself.

“I’ve put way more money in than I’ll ever get out of this place.”

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