Ogle County Brewery expanding operations to old theater

Brewery owners’ purchase of Oregon theater saved it from demolition

OREGON — Ogle County Brewery owners are expanding their operations, and hope to further revive downtown Oregon in the process.

Co-owners Joshua Skinner, Brian Wynn and Mike Blasciak purchased the city’s old theater — located at 110 N 4th St., Oregon — with plans to renovate the building. It’s just two lots north of the Ogle County Brewery location at the northwest corner of Illinois Route 2 and 64 in downtown Oregon.

The back part of the theater will be used by them to brew, can and distribute Ogle County Brewery beer, Skinner said. They plan to lease out two storefronts on the front end, each roughly 1,200-square-feet, he said.

“[The theater drew us because] it was available and the proximity to the actual restaurant,” Skinner said. “Plus, we wanted to keep our production in Oregon, as opposed to going to a different city.”

Skinner said he and his co-owners all are from the area and have family and friends nearby, which motivated them to stay in Oregon.

“The city was very helpful working with us and wanting us to stay there,” he said.

Oregon city officials and the economic development team worked for more than a year to find a theater repair or renovation company to purchase the building, said Liz Vos, Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. One theater company that was interested ended up backing out, she said.

“Small theaters aren’t really growing or expanding their operations right now,” Vos said. “People aren’t buying and renovating theaters anymore. At least this way, the theater is saved and we have new things growing and businesses thriving in Oregon.”

The old theater building was sold for $15,000 on July 8, according to MLS.com, a real estate listing service used by many realtors. It originally was listed for sale on Aug. 14, 2019, for $55,000.

“[This sale] means that the historical theater building will be saved and restored,” Vos said. “It kind of got a little scary there for a minute. The city of Oregon had some architects look into it, and we had about six months left before we were going to have to start demolition discussions.”

A timeline for renovations has not yet been established, Skinner said. At least the roof will be repaired within the next six months, Vos said.

“It’ll take some time,” Vos said. “They’re going to do it right and take their time.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has six-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards.