July 25--HORSE CAVE -- A large "For Sale" sign hangs in the window of the former Kentucky Repertory Theatre building in downtown Horse Cave, listing a phone number for prospective buyers can call.
The property, which includes the auditorium as well as other buildings in Horse Cave once owned by the theater's parent company, Horse Cave Theatre 76 Inc., are available for purchase from Citizens First Bank.
The bank bought the property in December during a master commissioner's sale at the Hart County Courthouse for $197,000, which was $98,000 less than the appraised value of $295,000.
After the master commissioner's sale drew no bids, Citizens First bought the property, said Ashley Gerughty, an attorney with Kerrick, Bachert and Stivers PSC in Bowling Green.
"Since that time they have been trying to sell the property," Gerughty said.
The bank has not posted an asking price, she said, and instead asks interested parties to inquire about the property by calling the number listed on the sign -- 270-779-6807.
KRT opened as Horse Cave Theatre in 1972 with Warren Hammack as director. Hammack left the theater in 2002, and Robert Brock took over as artistic director.
The theater's board of directors decided in February 2013 to close the facility due to financial problems, despite fundraising efforts.
Key community members have expressed little interest in the property.
"The city would be more apt to purchase it than we would with it being in Horse Cave," said Hart County Judge-Executive Terry Martin.
Martin attended some of the theater's board meetings to see if there was anything Hart County could do at the time to try to save it.
"It just didn't seem viable," he said.
The Hart County Industrial Authority tried to help by purchasing some permanent seats for the theater's auditorium in October 2012, Martin said. The theater's seats had been removed and replaced with folding lawn chairs in April 2011 when Christopher Sanderson served as executive director of the theater.
Martin said he hates that the theater is no longer open because of the educational aspect it offered.
Meanwhile, Horse Cave Mayor Randall Curry said the city council hasn't discussed purchasing the property.
"As of right now, I can't see the city (being) interested," Curry said. "I would like to see something come in that would be arts-related that would accompany downtown."
The Horse Cave Development Corp., a nonprofit corporation formed in 2004 that purchases empty downtown buildings in Horse Cave and restores them as potential retail spaces, is not considering the theater property.
"We're not pursuing that at all now," said Kenny Russell, president of HCDC. "We have a couple of buildings that we have an investment in and that's all that we can handle at this point."
Neither Western Kentucky University nor Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia -- where Brock is now an assistant professor of theater -- are looking at the property.
"We are not interested in the property in Horse Cave," said Torie Cockriel, executive administrative assistant for WKU President Gary Ransdell, in a telephone message to the Daily Times.
Brock said LWC has never had any interest in the actual structures, although the college did purchase in February some costumes, props and sets that were once used by the theater.
"They have probably 100 other projects going and I don't know what they would do with it if they had it," he said.
Brock was with the theater for 13 years, first as an actor and then as education director and finally artistic director. He left the theater to help start LWC's theater department in February 2011.
Officials with two area school systems also say they are uninterested.
Ricky Line, superintendent of Hart County Schools, pointed out that the theater property is in downtown Horse Cave, which is actually served by the Caverna Independent Schools district.
"We could not even look at if we wanted to," Line said, adding that he wished it was in the Hart County Schools district.
Cornelius Faulkner, assistant superintendent for the Caverna district, said, "I don't think that would be something that we would look at this point."
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