Coyle Theater revival eyed in Charleroi

November 12, 2013
Restorations to the Coyle Theater in Charleroi have stalled for more than a decade. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

CHARLEROI – A restructured board of directors overseeing long-stalled restorations to the historic Coyle Theater in Charleroi is hoping to get the project back on track.

The nonprofit Mid Mon Valley Cultural Trust, which owns the former burlesque house dating to the 1890s, has a new slate of officers and won support of a new majority on borough council known as “Restore Charleroi” set to be seated in January.

“We support them,” said Councilman-elect Larry Celaschi, who worked at the theater in its heyday while in junior high school and into college.

“It’s going to be a long haul,” said Celaschi, adding the borough will not be able to use taxpayer money to fund the project.

Charleroi Mayor Nancy Ellis, the former trust chairwoman, resigned from the organization in September after struggling to raise money for more than a decade to restore the building at 331 McKean Ave. and two neighboring storefronts. Ellis was replaced by Adele Cardinale Pireaux, whose board plans to hold an annual “signature” summer festival to raise money for the project.

The festival will have a Great Gatsby feel, honor Olive Thomas, a silent film actress and model born in Charleroi, and include the screening of a movie.

“We want people to understand we’re moving forward,” Pireaux said.

She said the board has retained an architect to draft restoration plans, and it also put together a business plan.

The trust is close to filling all 11 slots on its board of directors and is seeking volunteers to serve on committees to perform such tasks as organizing fundraisers, its Facebook page indicates.

“Now they have some good people with credible standing in the community,” Celaschi said. “I certainly believe they’re on the right track.”

The restoration project also has the backing of Charleroi Area Historical Society as the borough attempts to restore the image of a community working together to bring about positive change.

“We as a historical society support that project. It’s important to the town,” society Chairman Nikki Sheppick said.

“I see signs of everything gelling,” she added.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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