The Eisentraut family of Hillsboro is ringing in the new year with some "Grand" plans to bring more life to downtown Hillsboro.
Owners of the Orpheum Theatre in Hillsboro, Jeff and Julie Eisentraut and their children have purchased the building next door with plans to remodel it into the Grand Theatre, featuring a third screen for movies and a stage for live theater.
The building was most recently home to Rising Sun Martial Arts, but was destroyed by a fire last October.
"We have been talking about a project like this since we moved to Hillsboro 16 years ago," said Jeff Eisentraut.
Previously, the family has looked at the former Sherman building, which is next door to the Orpheum on the other side, but when this building became available, the family decided to take on the project.
The building itself is 43-feet wide by 145-feet long, and will need extensive renovations to become a new theater. Eisentraut said they will take out the second floor of the building and rebuild the front into a marquee. They selected the name Grand Theatre in homage to the former Hillsboro theater named The Grand, located across from the post office.
Renovations will likely take several months and the family has no projected opening date, but Jeff said he plans to work on the facade of the building early on, so that it doesn't remain an eyesore in the downtown area.
"Shortly after we moved to Hillsboro, we thought that someday we would love to add a third screen," he said. "Right now, we have to prioritize what movies we bring in, and adding a third screen gives us more choices. Every year we have been here traffic has gone up at the Orpheum. It's seen a nice steady growth over the years."
The idea to add in live theater began with a conversation at Black Rabbit Coffee (owned by Isaac and Bailey (Eisentraut) Reynolds) about a year ago, as a way to bring more quality of life to the Hillsboro community.
"With the opening of the Opera House and Black Rabbit Coffee along with the other businesses downtown, there's just this energy in Hillsboro right now," Jeff said. "This is just the energy we want, and we knew that now was the time to act."
Eisentraut said he plans to work with Susan Collins of the Imagine Hillsboro Theatre Group on things they will need for future live productions in the new theater.
Other plans include luxury seating and a chance for patrons to relax and enjoy themselves at the theater.
Plans are still in the works for the new theater, but it will be an exciting year for the Eisentrauts and Hillsboro, as the Orpheum Theatre celebrates its 100th anniversary.
"The Orpheum was the seed that got us started here," Eisentraut said. "We have since added theaters, offering movies in underserved communities. But the Orpheum has always been our home. We just felt like we needed to do something in our own home that shows respect for the community because we do love what we do here."