For over twenty-five years the Tivoli Theater in downtown Washington DC sat vacant and boarded up as the city decided what to do with the old historical structure. Built in 1924 it was once consider the city’s most elegant movie house. It’s Italian Renaissance structure with red tile roof, ornate cornices and numerous graceful arches occupied almost an entire block of 14thstreet. Unlike many of the buildings in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, the Tivoli didn’t get it’s damages from the 1968 riots, but from simple neglect. By the time it’s doors closed in 1976 much of the structure was in ruins.
Many times, city officials considered tearing it down. But in the mid 80’s the Tivoli was designated a local and national landmark thereby blocking any attempts to demolish the building. In 1998 rights were granted to a developer to restore the entire block, and the restoration process began.
When I left DC in 2005, much of the neighborhood was still boarded up and scaffolding covered the the theaters exterior. Plans were underway to build a large grocery store in the back and office buildings across the street.
Master craftsmen trained in the original construction methods were hired. Painstakingly, they removed what was old, polished it to perfection, and then put it back like it was when it was new. Once the restoration was complete there would always be evidence of the theaters history adding charm and grace to everyone who entered.
A couple years ago, while back in DC, I couldn’t resist driving up town to see the results of the Tivoli restoration. Having driven by the building many times while it was an eyesore, I was dying to see it restored. So on a brisk Sunday October afternoon I was surprised to see so many people walking what used to be vacant streets.
The theater was magnificent; you could hardly tell it had ever been desolate. As far as three blocks away, many of the row houses were now in the process of their own restoration. And many shops along 14thstreet were in various stages of their own restoration.
I parked my car across the street and walked to the large grocery store that had been added to the back of the theatre. The store was modern, elegant and packed with shoppers. Clearly the theatre’s restoration had brought new energy and life to a once depressed and vacated part of the city.
Restoration has an amazing effect on people. When I gave my life to Christ, He began a restoration on me. Just like a master builder, He took the recesses of my soul and began to restore them to reflect His glory. No longer a desolate damaged structure, I became a heavenly landmark.
Even now, when I choose to litter my soul with sin, Christ is quick to come and remove the damaged tiles, polish them and put them back. At no time does He feel I have destroyed His landmark beyond what he can repair.
Restoration, whether it applies to a building or a soul, lifts up everyone. When my soul is restored it not only blesses me, but those around me as well.