Historic Miner's Institute
204 W. Main
Collinsville, IL 62234
Miner's Institute Foundation Mission Statement:
The Miner's Institute Foundation (MIF) is a non-profit corporation
organized by volunteer citizens for the purpose of raising funds for the rehabilitation and support of the Miner's Institute.
The Miner's Institute Foundation will support the advancement
of the arts and recreation by cultivating, promoting, bolstering,
sponsoring and developing in our community an appreciation and understanding of all the arts and recreation.
The Miner’s Theatre is associated with the City’s first most important industry, mining. The first
coal mine was sunk in Collinsville in 1857. The town grew with the industry and by 1886 a man could
walk underground through connecting tunnels between the mines from one edge of the City limits to
the other. Mining and Collinsville were almost synonymous terms.
In 1916, a representative of the United Mine Workers of America Local 264
convinced fellow miners that a union hall and public theatre should be built.
The structure was multi-purposed. The theatre brought entertainment to the City of a
class not usually seen in cities of this size. The second and third floors gave a permanent home for the
union offices and provided a central meeting place for the mining locals. These floors were also used by
various community groups for social activities and housed a small library which was the beginning of
the present day Collinsville Memorial Public Library.
The cost of the building was shared by a loan from the state U.M.W.A and the Collinsville union locals.
The locals voted a one percent assessment on each member to provide the sum required for their part.
On December 28, 1918, at a cost of $138,993.26, the building was open to the public.
The opening ceremonies and parade were well attended not only by the miners’ locals,
but by hundreds of other residents.
The Miner’s Theatre continued to prosper but the mines did not.
By 1930 the coal mines had slowly started to close. Restlessness led Collinsville
union locals become members of the Progressive Mine Workers. Since the loans to the U.M.W.A. had
long been paid off, the Collinsville Miners owned the building and thus title was transferred to the
PMW. Even though mining has died out in Collinsville, the influence of this industry and its people are
felt strongly today. The miners left this building as a lasting reminder of their history.
Over the years, Miner's hosted High School Graduations, Dairyman's conventions and other such events
of the day, in addition to the occasional movies being shown in the auditorium. Built in the "vaudeville"
style, the auditorium hosted several traveling troupes as well.
In 1969 the building was sold to Bloomer Amusement Co. and used as a movie house until it closed its doors in 1984. A group of local citizens dedicated to the historic structure’s preservation formed the Miner’s Institute Foundation, took ownership, and operated the Institute as a theatre and community center until 2008. Collinsville residents have many fond memories of attending plays, movies, concerts, dances, graduations, pageants, conventions and other such events in the theatre.
In 2008, the Collinsville Area Recreation District (CARD) acquired the building from Miner’s Institute Foundation, worked with architectural firm White and Borgognoni Architects, P.C. to create a historic structures report and began to restore the structure. The plan was to create an addition to the theatre to house ADA-compliant restrooms and an elevator, as well as an appropriately sized lobby, meeting space, and suitable backstage and dressing rooms. Many important improvements were made to the building including resetting exterior wall caps, tuck-pointing, exterior masonry repair, cleaning and repair of the terracotta, restoring the exterior windows, gutter and downspout repair, repair of electrical service and the exterior wrought iron balconies. Interior work that was completed consisted of replacement of wood stage supports with steel beams, installation and commission of fire sprinkler system, and replacement of exterior fire doors.
After the first phase of renovation was completed in 2011, costing just over $1 million, a newly elected CARD Board voted to cease the project and return the building to its previous owner, the non-profit Miner’s Institute Foundation. However, during the renovations, the boiler was damaged beyond repair therefore there is currently no permanent heating system. The building is currently being kept at temperatures just high enough to prevent freezing of the sprinkler system by a temporary, mobile heating unit on the exterior of the building.
Additional work that remains to reopen the theatre includes building ADA compliant restrooms, adding an automatic door opener, plaster repair, insulation, HVAC work, adding a fire alarm system with voice evacuation, electrical upgrades, code compliant exit and egress lighting and cleaning and encapsulating the asbestos-containing curtain. MIF has raised over $20,000 so far in cash and in-kind donations for the necessary repairs.
A major, multi-faceted fundraising campaign is currently being developed and certain elements have already been launched. The foundation successfully secured a grant from Landmark's Illinois, the state's leading advocacy group for historic preservation, conducted a direct mail campaign which resulted in donations from numerous individuals and businesses, launched a Rally.org page, and has successfully completed numerous smaller fundraisers. The Foundation also secured a commercial tenant who rents the East corner storefront. Antiques and Accents opened in June of 2013 and provides a small, but steady revenue stream for the building. Grant applications have submitted to several foundations and corporations for additional support.
The development committee grows in number each month and the group has numerous fundraisers planned and revenue sources identified to pursue in 2014 and beyond. The construction cost estimates provided by White & Borgognoni Architects for all of the work required to reopen the theatre totals $487,792. This assumes the donation of labor by the Collinsville Area Vocational Center for the work items that can be completed by the students which is extremely valuable, but also limited. CAVC students are not able to perform plumbing or advanced HVAC or electrical work. The Foundation is seeking not only monetary support but also donated labor, especially plumbing and highly skilled electrical and HVAC labor. The goal is to complete the renovations and have a grand reopening by December of 2018 which is the 100 year anniversary of the opening of the building.
The need to preserve this remarkable structure of such historic and cultural importance is clear and evidenced by its being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, named a Collinsville Progress Historic Landmark in 1993, and a City of Collinsville Historic Landmark in 2013. Once the theatre is restored and reopened, the City of Collinsville will once again have a cornerstone in its Uptown that will bring music, movies and live theatrical performances, be a space for meetings, weddings and exhibits, and positively impact the City and region as a whole.
Together, we can reopen Miner’s Theatre!
Historic Miner's Institute