100-year-old Peabody theatre gets new use ahead of renovations

KSN Digital Extra

PEABODY, Kan. (KSNW) – A century-old building is giving the Peabody community a place to create art once again after the building was turned into a bowling alley.

The Sunflower Theatre was becoming an eyesore for community members until a couple decided to purchase it. It took new owners and a vision to give the historic building a new meaning.

“We just think this building is beautiful, we love the arts and we just want to see the building be used for what it was meant to be,” said Catherine Weems, Sunflower Theatre owner. “We created our non-profit organization and now we are looking to move forward and actually get some things done.”

Weems said she and her husband want to keep the floor plan an open space. She hopes to restore elements of the theatre, like the balcony, but she’d also like it to have a multi-purpose use. She said she’d like it to be used for musical programs, art shows, weddings and much more.

Dr. Susan Mayo who is a board member of the theatre’s newly created non-profit said the process of restoring the building is on the right path. Now, they are putting their focus on applying for funding.

“The spark is there and its just growing now, we are excited and optimistic about the future,” said Dr. Susan Mayo, Cellist and Sunflower Theatre board member. “It feels like there’s really an interest, just something in the air about the arts in the whole entire county. This Sunflower Theatre can really be a pivotal point of bringing that together.”

Dr. Mayo said the Peabody high school doesn’t have a permanent stage for performances and hopes to see the students get the chance to perform at the theatre in the near future. While renovations of the building haven’t quite started yet, that isn’t stopping the community from making use of the building.

“We’ve done haunted houses at Halloween, they made Christmas wreaths for the Christmas parade and we have a local art show coming up in March,” said Dr. Mayo.

For other Peabody residents, the theatre is a symbol of hope for future generations.

“I joined at the very beginning because I believed very strongly in the arts and making dreams come true,” said Faye Frederickson, Sunflower Theatre art program coordinator. “We have no place for the arts and that is why this is a necessity for our town and our children.”

The women say they have a wide range of events they will be hosting to keep the Sunflower Theatre at the forefront of everyones minds. They are also working to raise funds for the buildings restorations.

For more information on the Sunflower Theatre, or to make a contribution to the project, click here.

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