Nonprofit Buys Benson Theater
By Bob Fischbach / World-Herald staff writer
The Benson Theatre nonprofit has purchased the historic former vaudeville theater at 6054 Maple St., after receiving more than $309,000 in donations.
The new goal is to raise $1.2 million to renovate the theater and fund its first two years of operating expenses.
The nonprofit had been leasing the building since April 2012 while raising money to buy it. A press release said Jim Mammel contributed a significant financial gift to make the purchase possible.
Plans are to use the theater as an alternative stage in north Omaha for existing nonprofits, schools and performing arts groups. Programming is expected to focus on education and workshops during the day — including for underserved populations, special needs groups and the impoverished — and entertainment at night.
Built in 1923 as a vaudeville house, movie theater and community space, the Benalto Theater became part of a chain of neighborhood movie theaters from 1927-53 and was renamed the Benson Theatre. It has been vacant for about seven years.
Lenli Corbett, vice president of development at Jesuit Academy, is chairman of the Benson Theatre board of directors.
Donations can be mailed to the nonprofit at Post Office Box 4972, Omaha, NE 68104.