Early Efforts to Save the Woodward
The Woodward Opera House restoration project can trace its roots to the 1970s. The Knox County Landmarks Foundation (formerly the Knox County Renaissance Foundation) initiated the early efforts to save this historic gem by developing community interest in the theater. Many individuals contributed their time and energy to the Woodward, especially in establishing its place as the oldest authentic 19th century theater in the United States. Local historians such as Gail Peelman and Peter Dickson conducted in depth historical research for the Woodward to make this claim.
In 1995, a group of forward thinking artists and arts oriented citizens created the Knox Partnership for Arts & Culture (KPAC). Their original mission was to support the arts throughout Knox County, beginning with the restoration of the Woodward Opera House. They envisioned developing the theater into a state-of-the-art performing arts facility. KPAC continues to play an important role in the Woodward's story by advocating and managing the performing and visual arts usage of the theater and other usable spaces.
The Woodward Development Corporation
The Woodward Development Corporation (WDC) was established in 1996 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit for the purpose of purchasing and managing the Woodward Opera House restoration. This volunteer organization is led by a board of trustees. Board members are community leaders who have a strong influence in Knox County's business districts, arts programs, social development, and civic organizations.
WDC has conducted detailed structural analysis of both the Woodward and Annex buildings, as well as additional historic research. These studies revealed how the buildings evolved over time, as well as determined the best approach to take in the Woodward's restoration and the Annex's rehabilitation.
The WDC Board of Trustees acts as the landlord to business tenants in the Woodward and Annex buildings. It manages the day-to-day business of the project. It plans for, and oversees, the long term Woodward restoration. KPAC has developed plans for the community arts portion of the Woodward complex, and will oversee the visual and performing arts facilities.