New Springfield Theater Owner: A Game Changer

New owner Gary Bowie points to the future for Springfield’s historic theater…

New Springfield Theater Owner: A Game Changer

SPRINGFIELD TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – Well, it’s official, the Springfield Cinema has new owners and it’s going to be a game changer for the old theater, downtown Springfield and even Robertson County.

His name is Gary Bowie (no relation to the singer) and he and his team of architects, music professionals, and light and sound experts have big plans that will likely turn the old theater back into the centerpiece it used to be for Springfield’s historic district years ago.

The process of acquiring the theater started last October and the deal was closed in April. Now Bowie will be turning his attention toward the future that, according to him, will incorporate several different venues but at the top of the list for Bowie is being a part of the community.

First, the screen will stay and families can look forward to attending matinees playing their favorite movies on the big screen. But the main goal will be to create a music venue, Bowie said.

Bowie’s partner, Marti Frederiksen, plays guitar for Steven Tyler. Frederiksen will work with Bowie to help bring the old cinema to life. Frederiksen’s girlfriend is a publicist and puts acts together, so we brought her in, Bowie said.

Bowie recently moved to Robertson County to oversee the theater project, amongst others. He even bought a farm in Cedar Hill, so he’s here to stay with big plans for projects like the theater that will help Robertson County retain its historic charm. That’s Bowie’s M.O., in his own words, he’s not a developer, “I’m, a preservationist.” Bowie would rather reconstruct an old building from a pile of old bricks then build a brand new structure. Once the old buildings are gone, they are gone forever.

Bowie says there are lots of opportunities for the theater building but first he wants to start building some energy from within. To Bowie that means starting with the theater’s lobby. He wants to “gut it and take it down to bones, that’s what I do,” Bowie said. Springfield has long awaited to hear those words, now it looks like it will finally happen. If it does, it will assuredly be a game changer for Springfield’s historic square.

To offer some kind of a timeline, first there are some infrastructure issues, climate control and the roof in the short term, then the lobby and by years end we should see the project taking shape, Bowie said.

Bowie says, once he’s done, big-name singers may want to rent the space to get ready before hitting the road. Performers are always looking for a place with good acoustics and lighting to practice ahead of concert tours, Bowie said. The size and acoustical properties of the theatre, along with its proximity to Nashville, will make it perfect for them to put their shows together. “It (the theater) is going to have multiple purposes, Bowie said.

Bowie wants the theater to become a destination so, in turn, Springfield will become a destination.

Bowie said he was approached by a very large group of investors, one out of Alaska, a philanthropist (oil money) that wants to put a show together that’s a cross between Cirque Du Soleil and Rock and roll. He wants to build out the theater to an extent where he can put it together here and then take it on the road, that’s one thought, Bowie said.

Recently a group contacted Bowie’s team about putting together a documentary called finding Springfield. Bowie is also considering creating an artist village. You would be interviewed and then apply. You would live/work there but you would have to do something in the creative arts.

“The larger circle of Nashville, with a population, of 1.3 mil., has 250,000 musicians, good musicians,” Bowie said. “We want to play off that, in fact, according to Bowie, Springfield is already seeing it.  Some of the people buying houses in Springfield’s historic district are songwriters. They’re people looking to avoid East Nashville’s home prices.

Bowie said he’s a salesman but he believes in Springfield so that makes the sale easy.

On the ground level, the cinema will become a free community theater and secondly, Bowie wants to develop some kind of a program that offers a Sunday 1$ matinee for the kids. It will be movies they may have seen a hundred times but not on the big screen.

The important thing, according to Bowie, is the community. Springfield may become a destination location but, according to Bowie, the community will always come first.

Needless to say, Bowie’s head is spinning with ideas and he would love to hear ideas from the community. Have you got an idea for the theater, spill it in comments, it’s a guarantee Bowie will read all of them.

This is not a situation where a buyer comes in and sits on a property for 10 years in speculation. Bowie says it already being done. The interior designer, Kathy Anderson of Anderson Design, already has paper on the table. The goal, make Springfield a destination.

Bowie has had countless meetings with Springfield leaders like City Manager Gina Holt and they all seem to be on the same page Bowie says, “We need to preserve.”

“I’m not a developer, I’m a preservationist, I want to preserve what’s there. When I did Printers Alley, I’ve been interviewed a hundred times, I was the first one to do that. Those buildings were empty, I looked at them at night and they spoke to me and they almost said; ‘I’ve got life left, give me a shot. I can be used for something new.’ …and that’s what I did, and that’s what I’d like to do here but I won’t ever take away the respect and the dignity and the history of what was here.”

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