Grimes Foundation grant to help GrandWorks Foundation to buy digital projection system for historic Gloria Theatre


A $50,000 matching grant awarded by the Grimes Foundation will help accelerate the GrandWorks Foundation toward buying a digital projection system that will enable the historic Gloria Theatre of Urbana to show newer movies no longer available in the 35-mm format.

As a nonprofit organization, the GrandWorks Foundation is accepting tax-deductible gifts from individuals, businesses and organizations to match the Grimes Foundation grant and purchase the state-of-the-art projection system. Formed in 2014, GrandWorks is renovating the theater as a community entertainment, performing arts and meeting/event center.

GrandWorks Foundation Chairman Steve Hess said, “We are extremely grateful for the Grimes Foundation’s generosity, which brings our goal of buying the projection equipment well within reach. The spirit of generosity and commitment to this community, exemplified by Warren G. Grimes during his lifetime, is alive and well through the Grimes Foundation.”

Advancing Warren Grimes’ legacy

Warren Grimes, an aviation lighting pioneer and founder of Urbana-based Grimes Manufacturing, purchased the theater in the early 1940s. After significant renovations, Grimes reopened the theater on Christmas Day 1941, naming it “Gloria,” after his youngest daughter.

Originally built in 1905 by vaudeville actor Billy Clifford, the theater sustained significant fire damage in 1918.

“We are very pleased to see the GrandWorks Foundation renovating the Gloria Theatre,” a spokesperson for the Grimes Foundation said. “It has been a significant landmark in Urbana for many years and is a wonderful legacy of Warren Grimes’ civic mindedness.

“We encourage the community to join the GrandWorks Foundation in supporting this project and responding to our challenge grant that will bring state-of-the-art projection capability to the Gloria. This historic theater has the capacity to be a powerful stimulus for the revitalization of our community.”

Bringing latest technology to the Gloria

A digital projection system will enable the theater to show newer movies. Since 2013, most new movie releases are produced in digital format only, as the traditional 35-mm film format is being discontinued.

The Gloria Theatre is equipped with two 35-mm projectors, used recently to show “Ghostbusters” on Halloween and “Saving Private Ryan” on Nov. 14 in honor of Veterans Day.

The theater has hosted dozens of events in 2015 and plans to end the year with a series of Christmas films each Saturday evening in December.

GrandWorks is supported by dozens of volunteers who have donated more than 2,000 hours to the project since late 2014, including renovation assistance, fundraising and working at events.

The GrandWorks Foundation aims to raise matching funds for the Grimes Foundation grant by the end of 2015.

For more information on contributing to the fundraising effort, call Lydia Hess at 937-653-4853 or visit the GrandWorks website ( to give securely online. A Kickstarter campaign has been created to help raise a portion of the funds. Visit and search for The Gloria Theatre Project.

Reed Embrey, a volunteer projectionist, operates one of the Gloria Theatre’s 35-mm film projectors during a Nov. 14 showing of “Saving Private Ryan.” Embrey, a volunteer projectionist, operates one of the Gloria Theatre’s 35-mm film projectors during a Nov. 14 showing of “Saving Private Ryan.”
Gloria seeks atching funds for digital projection system

Submitted Story

Submitted by the GrandWorks Foundation, the nonprofit organization in charge of redeveloping the Gloria Theatre.

No posts to display