Congress Must Seize the Opportunity to Revitalize America's Communities

The Hill
Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge, Va., — a small town in the Alleghany Highlands — opened in 1906. Over the years, the three-story architectural masterpiece has hosted vaudeville shows, movies, and live performances by stars such as Gene Autry, the Drifters and the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2009, six years after the Masonic had been donated to the town of Clifton Forge, a group of residents set out to renovate the deteriorating landmark. Their dedication bore fruit in 2016, when the Masonic reopened as a stunning performing arts venue, movie theater and educational facility. I'm proud that Virginia Community Capital, a member of Appalachian Community Capital, the organization I'm honored to lead, was one of the lenders that provided financing for the project. And I know that for Clifton Forge — a community that has struggled since the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway's maintenance shop there closed decades ago — the new Masonic is much more than a beautiful building.