Jorgeson named fifth cornerstone by foundation

PARKERSBURG – Felice Jorgeson is named the fifth “Cornerstone of Our Community” by Our Community’s Foundation – Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and Regional Affiliates through its 50th anniversary awards program, sponsored by Superior Toyota. Jorgeson receives a gold Fenton vase and the honor of awarding $1,000 for charitable purposes.

Foundation Executive Director Judy Sjostedt said, “A cornerstone is that fundamental building block upon which a foundation can be established. Felice was chosen for her dedication to historic preservation and commitment to the arts, as evidenced through her decades of attention to, and leadership of, the Smoot Theatre’s restoration and creative programming.”

Just days before its scheduled demolition in spring 1989, the Smoot Theatre in downtown Parkersburg was bought by a volunteer group that believed the 1926 vaudeville house was too valuable to destroy. While closed for three years, the theater had become dank and dirty. Led by Jorgeson, enthusiastic volunteers began the cleaning, scrubbing and polishing required to return the Smoot to its public purpose and glory, according to a news release.

“I thought it would be fun!” Jorgeson recalls. “It’s a great place to do your own production and a vehicle for a lot of things for kids to do.”

The theater now regularly offers fine opportunities for children, such as Camp Vaudeville and the Missoula Children’s Theater. This spring, Jorgeson offered Warren High School students the opportunity to perform “The Miracle Worker” at the Smoot, after viewing the school’s production. Three performances occurred, exposing many local children to theater as well as giving an opportunity for hard-working students to showcase their work in a first-class setting.

Jorgeson’s nominator said, “The one constant throughout this theater’s progress is Felice Jorgeson.”

Jorgeson’s involvement with the Smoot began almost 25 years ago, and she notes, “Now it’s time to do it all again! We need a new roof, insulation and equipment.”

Although it requires a lot of time and hard work, Jorgeson continues, and her passion and dedication to sustaining this local treasure earned her the Cornerstone of Our Community Award, the release stated.