The Lyric Theater was constructed on Washington Avenue in downtown
Endicott by Benjamin Dittrich. Initially, the theater catered to vaudeville acts,
but with the advent of ‘Talkies’ (movies with sound) the theater became a
movie house. The Carrol's Corporation purchased the theater from the
Dittrich Family and operated it for many years as the Towne Movie Theater.
It was closed due to competition from local mall movie theaters
and unused, the heating system broke down, the roof leaked,
pipes burst, and the theater fell into terrible disrepair.
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 LouLigouri headed up the theater restoration project
and with the help of many dedicated volunteers brought the theater back
from the brink of destruction to a very useful and busy place.
The name of the EPAC Theater was changed to “Robert Eckert Theatre”
to honor Robert Eckert, an Endicott native who was very active in Community Theater, and also forgave the EPAC mortgage. Pat & Lou finished the
restoration and ran the theater for many years as a Live Performing Arts Venue.
EPAC celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Lyric Theater, offering a
beautiful, quant, performance space to local and traveling performance art groups, who wish to take advantage of the classic proscenium style
theater that we are so lucky to continue to operate.
EPAC is commemorating its 25th Anniversary, and will
continue to provide quality performing arts to the
community at an affordable price while maintaining the
historic Lyric Theater that has been restored to its’ former glory.
The Lyric Theatre was constructed in 1917, and there is even a legend associated with the theater, that the ghost of a pregnant woman haunts its many rooms and hallways!
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. Pat Foti & Lou Ligouri headed up the theater restoration project and with the help of many dedicated volunteers, they have brought the EPAC Theater back to its former glory. This Grassroots effort was started by a group of volunteers called the Dirty Dozen, which was about 12 or 13 community members who ripped down walls, hauled out concrete and resurrected the proscenium of the Lyric theaters' vaudeville stage. Many hundreds of volunteers later, the restoration project is all but complete, with only the Fly System still needing to be restored, so that backdrops and stage lights can be raised above the stage. EPAC has moved beyond the restoration of the historic theater and started updated key systems with modern technologies. A new roof and Air Conditioning system has been installed, as well as large amounts of new plumbing and electrical work. The original marquee now houses a new LED Message Center that displays full video and digital graphics to promote EPAC events and productions. The EPAC stage lights are being upgraded to cool running LEDs and moving spot lights. EPAC has also installed a state of the art Live Video Streaming System to live video record and stream EPAC productions across multiple platforms on the internet.
EPAC will continue to maintain the historic theater that it has saved from ruin, as well as upgrade essential systems for its' continued operations.
The Robert Eckert Theater
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.