Executive & Restoration Director

The Athens Theater is a historic vaudeville house built in 1921. For decades it was the entertainment centerpiece for downtown DeLand, operating in various capacities. First presenting live shows and then for several years operating as a movie house.  It even operated for a short time as an arcade.  Over time, the facility deteriorated and after several tumultuous years, closed in 1991. Not wanting to have the historic structure demolished, a non-profit group purchased it and restoration efforts ensued. 

Several initial attempts to restore the historic theatre either failed or stalled and controversial management decisions caused the project cost to balloon from an initial $1.5 million budget.   When Jeffrey took over the project in 2006, he inherited a $6.5 million dollar budget deficit.  Through solid business and operation planning, professional staffing, fundraising, value engineering and redesign, Jeffrey brought the restoration project to completion in less than 3 years.  On January 6, 2009 the historic vaudeville house once again reopened as a centerpiece for the city of DeLand

Display their FAQs



The final cost of the restoration came in at approximately $12 million with the majority of funding coming from city, county, state and federal grant sources.

Grants awarded included:

City of DeLand(CRA – paid $30,000 for 5 years/ ended in 2002) $ 150,000
Volusia County(paid $30,000 for 5 years/ended in 2003)               $150,000
State Historical Grants
                        1994 (S5001)                       $  30,000
                        1995  (SC603)                     $300,000
                        1997 (SC702)                      $250,000
                        1998 (SC902)                      $350,000

                        Total Historical Grant Funding: $ 930,000

State Cultural Facilities Grants 
                        2001 (01-9008)        243,000
                        2002 (02-9006)          50,000
                        2006 (06-9024)        500,000
                        2007 (07-9027)        500,000

                        Total State Cultural Facilities Grants $1,293,000

Volusia County Echo Grants
            2002 (02-14)                                    $ 500,000      (491,755.15) 
            2004 (04-01)                                    $ 242,000                              
            2005 (05-10)                                    $ 500,000                  
            2006 (06-13)                                    $ 266,245                              
            2007 (07-05)                                    $ 491,755      

            Total Echo Grant Funding: $ 2,000,000

Hud Grants
            2003 Grant  (B-03-SP-FL-0146)               $ 201,184
            2004 Grant  (B-04-SP-FL-0164)               $ 298,000

            Total HUD Grant Funding $ 499,184

SUBTOTAL GRANTS: $ 5,022,184

In addition to the Grants, the Historic Tax Credits awarded by Federal Government to the Athens Theatre in 2008  was $ 2,002,153


The remaining funding for reconstruction came from donations to the non-profit company that owned the Athens at the time (either Mainstreet DeLand or the Sands Theater). Donations included both CASH as well as substantial IN-KIND services and supplies. In 2008, a construction loan ($1.5 Million) was obtained to assist in the completion of the building.   The Federal Tax audit for the Historic Tax Credit program awarded almost $2 million dollars (20%) to the Athens Theatre as a management fee.


For those contemplating restoration projects, a solid board, business plan and professional staff is necessary for success. 

Feel free to contact Jeffrey Ault for further details.