The Lyric Theater was constructed in 1917 on the corner of Washington Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Endicott by Benjamin Dittrich. Initially, the theater catered to vaudeville acts. With the advent of silent movies, the theater began to offer this form of entertainment as well. ‘Talkies’ (movies with sound) eventually displaced vaudeville acts, and the theater became mostly a movie house. Special events were also held periodically at the theater, including movie premiers with visiting celebrities such as Irene Dunne, beauty pageants, concerts, and the like.
The Carrol's Corporation purchased the theater from the Dittrich Family and operated it for many years as the Towne Theater for movies. In 1993 it was closed for business due to competition from local mall movie theaters. From 1993 to 1998 when it was closed and unused, the heating system broke down, the roof leaked, pipes burst, and the theater fell into terrible disrepair. In 1998, it was purchased by Bob Corwin, Patty Daglio and Steve Daglio, a trio of Endicott natives dedicated to restoring it as a theater.
Pat Foti and Lou Ligouri headed up the theater restoration project and with the help of many dedicated volunteers have brought the theater back from the brink to a very useful and busy place. Pat and Lou are now the Artistic Director and Executive Director, respectively, of the Endicott Performing Arts Center.
In 2010, the name of the EPAC Theater was changed to “Robert Eckert Theatre” to honor Robert Eckert, an Endicott native who has been active in professional and Community Theater for many years.
The Lyric Theatre was constructed in 1917 on the corner of Washington Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Endicott by Benjamin Dittrich. Initially, the showplace/theater was named "The Lyric Theatre" and catered to vaudeville acts. With the advent of silent movies, the theater began to offer this form of entertainment as well. Movies with sound eventually replaced vaudeville acts, and the theater became strictly a movie house. Special events were periodically held at the theater, including movie premiers with visiting celebrities such as Irene Dunne, beauty pageants, concerts, and the like. There is even a legend associated with the theater, that the ghost of a pregnant woman haunts its many rooms and hallways!
The Carrol's Corporation purchased the theater from the Ditttrich Family, and in 1993 it closed for business due to competition from local mall movie theaters. During the time that the theater was closed, from 1993 to 1998, the heating system broke down, the roof leaked, pipes burst, and the theater fell into terrible disrepair. The theater remained unused from 1993 to 1998, when it was purchased by a trio of Endicott natives dedicated to it regaining its former glory: Bob Corwin, Pat Daglio, and her husband Steve Daglio. Shortly thereafter, Pat Foti, Lou Ligouri, and Sue Dunlap joined the team.
Pat Foti & Lou Ligouri headed up the theater restoration project and with the help of many dedicated volunteers have brought the "new" EPAC Theater back to its former glory.
EPAC Mourns the Loss of Robert Eckert
(January 17, 2014)
The Endicott Performing Arts Center is deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Robert R. Eckert, who passed away on January 16, in Florida.
“Bob was a wonderful man. Passionate about the arts particularly musical theater, he touched many people’s lives through his generosity and unique insight as a Broadway producer and newspaper editor. “ said Patrick Foti, EPAC’s Director.
Retired EPAC Executive Director Lou Ligouri adds, “Bob took an interest in EPAC as a community theater years ago and asked if we’d be interested in producing the regional premier of the Broadway show “The Summer of 42”. It was a terrific collaboration, a wonderful show and our friendship was formed. Bob also assisted EPAC in its programming endeavors by refinancing our theater mortgage and then later forgiving the mortgage. We held his 90th birthday party in May , 2010 at the theater and surprised him by naming the building ‘The Robert Eckert Theatre’. EPAC has lost a dear friend. We’ll miss him, but never forget him. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the Eckert and Zayac families.”
God Bless you, Bob Eckert and thank you for touching so many lives in such a positive way.
Endicott Performing Arts Center Honors Robert Eckert
(June 25, 2010)
The Endicott Performing Arts Center located at 102 Washington Ave. in Endicott, NY is pleased to announce that the name of the EPAC Theater has been changed to honor Robert Eckert, an Endicott native who has been active in professional and Community Theater for many years. The new name of the building that houses EPAC will be the “Robert Eckert Theatre”.
Mr. Eckert recently celebrated his 90th birthday and the event was celebrated at the Endicott Performing Arts Center on June 25 with an all star show and formal announcement of the naming of the theater. Retired after a long career as a newspaper publisher, Mr. Eckert was publisher of the Press & Sun Bulletin in the 1970’s, and newspapers in Elmira, Hartford and Paris, France among others. Since his retirement he has very active with professional and Community Theater, most recently attending the TONY’s as an investor in the TONY winning musical “Memphis”.
EPAC Executive Director Lou Ligouri says, “Bob Eckert has been a friend of EPAC for a number of years and was the producer in 2006 of the regional premier of the Broadway musical, “Summer of ‘42” at the EPAC Theater which helped raise money for the EPAC Capital Building Fund. He’s been a tireless advocate for community and professional theater both locally, on Broadway, and in Florida. Through his generosity, the building that houses the Endicott Performing Arts Center is now mortgage free and busier than ever. We felt it only fitting that Bob’s name and legacy should live on forever by naming this historic 94 year old theater ‘The Robert Eckert Theatre’. Bob’s generosity will help EPAC to continue to expand on its mission of providing high quality performing arts events and education to the community.”
The Robert Eckert Theatre was built in 1916 as a vaudeville theater by Benjamin Dittrich with support from George F. Johnson and was originally named “The Lyric Theater”. As movies took hold, the theater was converted to a movie theater and was purchased by the Carroll’s Corporation. It was renamed the Towne Theater and operated as such until 1993 when the movie theater closed. The building remained empty and fell into extreme disrepair until it was purchased in 1998 by an Endicott group and volunteers began renovations to transform the theater back to a performing arts theater and the Endicott Performing Arts Center was born.
Since then, the nonprofit arts center operates year around producing Broadway shows, plays, concerts, dance events, and educational workshops. EPAC’s Kids Theater Workshop was one of the first children’s theater workshops in the area and has been operating for over 10 years. Over 22,000 people each year attend performances, rehearsals, meetings, and classes at the theater.
For more information about the Endicott Performing Arts Center or to find out volunteer opportunities call the theater at 607-785-8903 or or click on the ‘Volunteer’ button at the right. If you’d like to contribute to EPAC’s Capital Building Fund, Devin Spears Scholarship Fund or Robert Eckert Scholarship Funds, contact Pat Foti or Lou Ligouri at the theater at 607-785-8903.