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Red Curtain Background

In 1962, the Red Mask embarked on a transformative journey that led them to the edifice at 601 N. Vermilion. The congregation of Immanuel Presbyterian Church decided to sell the building and the minister's residence on Davis Street, a move that captured the attention of the local theatrical community.

While the selling price was reasonable, for Red Mask, it might as well have been a million dollars. With strong determination, they proceeded with the purchase as though a million dollars were at their disposal.

Securing an option on the property, Red Mask was soon welcomed by the church members, a move that exemplified Christian charity. The task of converting the religious building into a theater was no small feat. The pulpit was removed, a makeshift stage constructed, and the stained glass windows were left intact, adding a charming aesthetic, much appreciated by audiences who sat in the old wooden pews.

Financial support came from various quarters, with the Second National Bank (now First Midwest Bank/Danville) playing a vital role. The bank's officer, J. Harold Oberwortmann, took a keen interest in the project, enabling Red Mask to secure a 10-year mortgage at 4 percent interest—an echo of the good old days. They also donated air conditioners and paid for a new heating system.

Contributions were not limited to the financial sector. Electric Eye Equipment Co., later known as Hurletron Altair, designed and donated a light control panel. Fischer Theater's manager, Julius Connelly, gifted replacement seats, leading to the removal of the pews. And the neighboring Paul Millikin facilitated the construction of a parking lot after the residence was torn down.

The theater has seen various improvements over the past two decades, ranging from a new roof, heating and air conditioning system, and modernized seats to a lowered ceiling and updated lighting. All these enhancements have enriched the value of the theater.

Yet, the most visible and symbolically important additions are the sign indicating Red Mask's founding date and the lighted marquee bearing the name "Kathryn Randolph Theater." These landmarks have done more than any other feature to raise the public's awareness of Red Mask's presence and its commitment to the artistic life of the community.

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