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Melba Theater receives Arkansas Preservation honor

The Melba Theater in downtown Batesville was recently recognized by a statewide preservation organization.

Preserve Arkansas hosted its annual Arkansas Preservation Awards dinner and program, Jan. 19, to honor individuals and organizations for projects focused on historic preservation, education, and advocacy throughout the state.  Among the recipients were Janelle and Joe Shell and Mandi and Adam Curtwright of Batesville. The Shells and Curtwrights restored and reopened downtown the Melba with the help of local businesses and community members.

The Melba theater was originally constructed as a mercantile store. It was eventually remodeled in Art Deco style and reopened in 1940 to become one of Arkansas’ first Cinemascope theaters.

Though the theater closed in the early 1990s, repairs and alterations were made and it reopened in 2000. In 2015, just before the theater had to close its doors again, it was purchased with the goal of renewing this historic building. The downtown Main Street business district, which includes the Melba Theater, is included in the National Register of Historic Places.


Pictured (from left): Adam and Mandi Curtwright with Janelle and Joe Shell of the Melba / Image via Preserve Arkansas

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