By M. Thomas / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Diamond Theatre
Historic Diamond Theatre

Small-town America may have been knocked down in recent decades, but don’t count it out. Private and public efforts have begun to breathe new life into abandoned main streets as people look for amenities closer to home.

Leigh Ann Rice-McCulty has made the Diamond Theatre of Ligonier a personal mission. When the Ligonier Theatre on the town’s Main Street was put up for sale last year, she and her husband, Matthew McCulty, decided to buy it.

The West Virginia natives moved to Laughlintown after attending West Virginia University and, as their children grew, they enjoyed participating in theatrical productions at the Ligonier Theatre. Mrs. Rice-McCulty wanted to ensure that their children — Lanigan, 12; Arison, 9; and Mariana, 4— would be able to continue to learn from such experiences, along with other local children.

“We were worried that it would be turned into a restaurant or antique store and that we’d lose the theater,” she said.

The building opened in 1920 as a Ford garage and was turned into a movie theater in 1939. With new paint, carpeting, draperies, electronic reclining chairs and a laser 4K projector, the theater launched with a children’s play in January. The first movie was screened this month.

Mrs. Rice-McCulty said Ligonier residents have told her, “We’re so excited we can walk to the movie.” (For upcoming events: www.diamondtheatre.com.)

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