MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) - More than 2,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to save a historic theatre building.
The Murfreesboro Little Theatre has performed in the space off and on dating back to the 1960s. The building first arrived on Murfreesboro's Ewing Boulevard in 1939. The city claims the building may be beyond saving.
"It's a great thing," said Charlie Parker, walking across the Murfreesboro Little Theatre property. "We're good neighbors to our community, and they're good neighbors to us here."
Parker said there's always been a diversity to the casts at the Murfreesboro Little Theatre. He said it's been vital for the little crew to have a variety of voices heard on the stage.
"We always did Shakespeare out here," he said, showing an outdoor structure behind the theatre building. "That's the only exposure some people will have to that."
It's the people involved who make Parker proud to be president of the Murfreesboro Little Theatre.
"I got involved in the theater in 1999, and I've been there ever since," he said.
The theatre building was closed and padlocked Friday. Summer programs at the theatre have ceased.
"Even the cheapest apartment in town gets a written notice, but we didn't," said Parker.
A representative for the city of Murfreesboro said an inspection showed a lack of a working fire alarm and proper emergency exit pathways. The representative also called the floor system sagging and building structurally unsound. The fire marshal noted a significant amount of combustible items in storage.
The city owns the building with the theatre maintaining it under the lease. The city doesn't think repairs are a viable option and is considering ending the theatre's lease ahead of its April 2020 expiration.
"It hit a lot of people hard," said Parker.
Parker said whatever happens, his theatre group will continue somewhere, but a place with this much history would be painful to lose. He's hoping some solution can be reached in a meeting with the city Tuesday, so they can continue their traditions at their current space.
"There are a lot of memories connected with this building," said Parker. "A lot of people, half of their childhood was spent in here."