By 1966 it appeared to be all over for The Grand. The crumbling old building faced demolition shortly after the last screening of “The Sound Of Music” in 1965. The auditorium was considered unsafe for occupancy and beyond reclamation. The two parcels just north of the Grand, running up the hill towards Spring Street, had already been leveled for parking lots that could serve the growing courts system, and The Grand seemed a logical target for creating one more.
Nationally, the idea that cavernous old theatres might be worth saving hadn’t been born yet. Theatres took up a lot of room, real estate squandered for who-knew-what anymore. Priceless rococo palaces went under the bulldozer. But Macon was one of the very first cities to say no to this madness. On Sunday, April 9, 1967, they formed the Macon Arts Council, which would be the master entity and driving force for saving The Grand.
Many decades later, the Macon Arts Council would evolve into the present Macon Arts Alliance, but in its embryotic form it was purely about making the saving of The Grand into Macon society’s cause célèbre. With Mr. Val Sheridan as its unstoppable ombudsman, the Arts Council set about reversing the considerable inertia that had surrounded the moldering old building, whose long litany of problems seemed simply too overwhelming: repairing the roof, restoring the air conditioning and heating, replacing the rotten seating, rebuilding the decorative plaster, upgrading the ancient electrical and plumbing. And that was just the basic list. But it was all doable.