Thursday, September 14, 2023

Penn Theatre awarded Dunning Foundation grant

Friends of the Penn has received a grant of $19,000 from the Margaret Dunning Foundation to support the upgrade of house lighting at the Penn Theatre.

Built in 1941, the Penn was built exclusively as a movie theater. The current house lighting offers  adequate illumination when films are featured, but presents a challenge for events that are not film-based, explained Ellen Elliott, executive director of  Friends of the Penn.

“The whole community has the potential to benefit from this project. We host a mental health lecture series for the Plymouth-Canton Community School District that benefits our youngest citizens. 

“We also collaborate with the Plymouth District Library to schedule author lectures and other events for people of all ages. We work with other non-profit organizations, including the Plymouth Historical Museum, Plymouth Pollinators, Keep Plymouth Leafy, and Plymouth Community Arts Council, to schedule programming that educates and inspires our residents.

“This improvement will provide a more desirable environment, allowing our guest speakers to see their audiences and permit the audience members to actively participate in a well-lit space. We are grateful to the Dunning Foundation for their assistance in helping us continue with our charitable mission of preserving and maintaining the historic Penn Theatre,” Elliott said in a prepared statement.

The Margaret Dunning Foundation was founded by Ms. Dunning in 1997. She was born in 1910 in Redford Township, and moved with her mother to Plymouth in the 1920s. During her lifetime, Ms. Dunning was a successful businesswoman, philanthropist, and civic booster. She was a major supporter of many Plymouth nonprofits, including the Plymouth District Library and the Plymouth Historical Society. In addition to her personal philanthropy, Ms. Dunning was a classic car enthusiast and was a regular participant in the Woodward Dream Cruise with her 1930 Packard 740 Roadster. Ms. Dunning died in 2015 at the age of 104. Her estate provided additional funding for the Margaret Dunning Foundation, which continues to support her charitable interests and legacy. For more information: