NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- The theater that launched "I Love Lucy" is on track for its reopening.
The Ritz Theater, where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz first performed skits as a duo has received $1 million in state grants as it continues its restoration. Safe Harbors on the Hudson hopes to have the theater open before 2020.
The theater received a $500,000 grant in 2016 to help replace the roof and in 2017 received a $500,000 grant to help restore the theater to its original state.
"It will be a huge leap forward," Safe Harbors executive director Lisa Silverstone said.
The theater expects to select a contractor for the roof in February and hopes to have it finished by the spring. Then they will work on repairing the stage and restoring the theater to its original roots.
"The theater will be a tremendous boon to Newburgh," Silverstone said. "It will be a center for the community. It will be a center for creation, performance and education. It will really be a hub for the center of Newburgh and bring a lot of vibrancy and also attract tourists.
The theater was built in 1913 as the Cohen Opera House and later became a vaudeville theater that saw performances from Ball and Arnaz, Ella Fitzgerald, Red Skeleton and Frank Sinatra. It was later turned into a movie theater before closing. It has been vacant since 1999.
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