Hearing held to make Historic Murphysboro theater a National Historic Site

MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - The Historic Liberty Theater in downtown Murphysboro is one step closer to being recognized as a National Historic Site.

A hearing of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency was held at the Lincoln Library in Springfield on Friday.

Rachel Malcolm Ensor, a senior research historian, whose Historic Properties Consultants prepared the extensive application and documentation answered questions about the theater's history on Friday.

Once the state agency approves the application, the National Register of Historic Places is expected to give its approval later this spring.

The theater was established in 1913 when it was known as the Tilford, which evolved to the Liberty in recognition of World War One patriotism.

At the time, it had a then state–of-the-art cooling system that used fans, had a hand-cranked projector, no restrooms or concessions, and wooden folding chairs for the audience.

In 1998 the Liberty closed and the City of Murphysboro took the property for payment of back taxes. By 2000, the restoration of the theater backed by a non-profit volunteer board had begun.  It included restoration of mildewed seats, crumbling plaster and gradual installation of modern equipment.

Currently, the Historic Liberty has diverse programming from showing winners from the Big Muddy Film Festival to local historic films, bands and music groups, and children from local schools who get a history lesson along with a film.

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