You may have noticed a lot of activity going on at Meridian's historic Temple Theater lately.
Over the last couple of months, new owner Roger Smith has put a lot of work into renovating the building, and getting shows there that interest the public.
Smith and his management team seem to have figured out how to get the antique theater filled to capacity.
"Along with increasing the shows, we've had a lot of rehab going on here in the building," said Smith. "A lot of painting, carpeting, and plumbing work to bring the building up so that it is more usable, more user friendly for the patrons."
Efforts at the Temple Theater to show new releases and generate non-traditional revenue is not only helping the theater, it is also generating more traffic for other downtown businesses.
"Our first business that we touched base with when we started here was the Chili House, Tammy and Kim. The Meridian Underground Music, Music Emporium, and Jean's and the Wing Shack," said Philip Jacobs, Temple house director. "A lot of them have seen a lot of traffic and they have really commented on the traffic and where they're coming from and where they're going downtown. So it has increased."
The plan, according to Smith and Jacobs, is to attract more young people into the downtown area. Smith said he believes the youth traffic is the future of downtown Meridian and is using every available resource to entertain them while there at the Temple and while they linger around the arts district.
"As we go into 2010, we have joined with the Community Foundation of East Mississippi which is a nonprofit foundation working here in Meridian to help downtown businesses grow," said Smith. "The Community Foundation of East Mississippi is basically a spring board for renovation of the downtown area of Meridian."
This weekend is jammed full of events for the Temple. Details are available at its Facebook page or its Web site (a link is provided below) to find out more about their upcoming shows.
The Temple is one of the most historic buildings in all of Meridian. It was built in the 1920s, opening in 1928. The Shriners did a major renovation on the building in 1973. They sold the building to Smith in 2009.