Correction: The published October 31, 2015 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Gazette's article regarding the RE Development's agreement with the Santa Rosa Historical Society to bring more shows and entertainment to the Imogene Theatre incorrectly stated the historical society owned the Arcadia Mill site. The historical society does not own Arcadia Mill. Our publication would like to apologize for any inconvenience the misinformation may have caused.
Residents can expect to see more events coming to the historic Imogene Theatre in downtown Milton, due to a operating agreement between RE Development Inc. and the Santa Rosa Historical Society. The tax exempt and nonprofit organization currently owns the Imogene Theatre along with other historical sites including the West Florida Railroad Museum.
Gary Pruitt, one of the two operators of RE Development Inc., a for profit company, anticipates bringing a variety of entertainment events to the Imogene including movies, concerts, comedy shows, plays, community events and more.
“There is too many days where we are not using the Imogene and we want to see it used to its maximum,” Pruitt said. “Everybody wants to see something happening downtown.”
RE Development was recently responsible for September’s ‘Southern Rock All-Star Revue and Jam’ which featured the band members from Molly Hatchet, Georgia Satellites and others. The event also served as a fundraiser for the Black Hawk Memorial, honoring the 11 service members killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise in March. Pruitt said the event received positive feedback and fundraised nearly $3,000 for the memorial.
On Thursday night, RE Development welcomed the Destin-based band ‘Continuum,’ who according to Pruitt, was also recording a live album at the establishment during their performance.
Not only would more events bring additional life to the Imogene, Pruitt said, it would also bring people to the businesses of downtown Milton. Which is also a big emphasis for Vernon Compton, the president of the Santa Rosa Historical Society.
“This will benefit the town overall and the patrons at the Imogene will visit area businesses,” Compton said.
Compton anticipates the agreement with RE Development will serve as an entertainment venue just as the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola, which also offers a variety of shows.
Compton said the agreement, which was approved by the society’s officers in October, will not keep residents from renting the building for special events, including weddings, or restrict the Panhandle Community Theatre from occasionally performing at the historic site. Compton said the theatre will continue to serve community events, including as a regular meeting location for the Blackwater Pyrates organization.
“We do not see any of that changing,” Compton said.
Compton said the agreement, which will give the historical society a portion of proceeds made through paying events, will benefit the organization’s mission statement, “To preserve the history and historic buildings and places in Santa Rosa County and to share that history through the Museum of Local History and other education and outreach.”
In addition to maintaining the facility, the changes might also allow for more access to the theatre’s museum, and further preservation and upkeep at the premises.
A recently awarded Impact 100 grant assisted the theatre through upgrading the facility’s kitchen for catering events, theatrical lighting, museum improvements and a projector for movies.
The recent renovations will now serve their purpose, according to Compton.
“The emphasis was making more events available with those improvements,” He said. “(With the agreement), I feel like this is the way to do it.”