As local economies continue to struggle, smaller villages and hamlets tend to suffer the most. Small businesses either close up shop or the money isn't there for upkeep and buildings start to fall apart. But one development group is hoping to kick start a movement in the small Oswego County village of Pulaski. As our Brian Dwyer reports, it's starting with one of the community's most iconic landmarks.
PULASKI, N.Y. -- Like so many others who grew up in Pulaski shortly after World War II, Charlotte DeGaetano got a job at the Kallet Theatre. She sold tickets at the front booth.
It was the 1950s and the theatre and village were filled with people. Times were good.
"It was a way to earn money," DeGaetano said. "Everybody went to the theatre. That's what you did. There was no other place to go. It was just a good experience and a lot of fun."
But as time wore on, so did the theatre. It closed for good in the 80s. Several businesses, including an auto parts company, moved in, but those didn't last too long. For quite some time, the building was just vacant.
"The back wall was falling into the Salmon River. The upstairs apartments hadn't been used. There was food in the refrigerator from 20 years ago," V² Development Partner Vinny Lobdell Jr. said.
So recently Lobdell and his father, Vince, moved their business, V² Development, to Pulaski. The goal was to kick start a once thriving village. Their first step was the Kallet.
The front was redone to look just like it did in the 50s. The inside went from dirt and stone to tile and granite. The theatre got a brand new stage.
"We want it to be a multi-use function facility where people can use it for high-end weddings," Lobdell Jr. said. "We're looking at bringing Broadway plays in. We're looking at bringing a lot of off-Broadway plays in, acts from Vegas, et cetera, to really give the local people and all the people in Central New York something to be proud of and something to enjoy."
"I'll be showing many of my friends and family what I've done to contribute, you bet. There's a little pride there," Rehab Project Manager George Seymour added.
The theatre also with this new deck overlooking the Salmon River, what will be the central target in Lobdell's grand vision of a new and improved Pulaski.
"If you look at the way small market America is now-a-days, you don't see a lot of these anymore. So I think now that we've revitalized it, it's become the cornerstone. You start to see the town walkway down to the river has been redone. A lot of the buildings have been redone. People are taking pride in it," Lobdell said.
But maybe no one prouder that this particular piece of history was brought back to life than Charlotte DeGaetano. She walked through the Kallet in pure amazement and the memories came rushing back.
"The lights lit on the marquee, it was just wonderful," she said. "It was the past coming alive again."
The Kallet opens next month with the Marshall Tucker Band in concert. The rehab took a little more than a year to finish. It cost about a million and a half dollars. The Lobdell's did get a state grant that will refund some of their costs.