The LAKEWOOD LITTLE THEATRE/BECK CENTER, 17801 Detroit Ave., began as "The Guild of the Masques" under the leadership of Richard Kay (1929). In 1933 the group incorporated as the Lakewood Little Theatre. It was not until 1938 that they found a home in the vacant Lucier movie theater at 17823 Detroit Ave., which was remodeled for live performances (capacity 466) and purchased outright in 1943. In 1958 the theater studied potential sites for a cultural center and found its own site best. It purchased the adjacent properties, bringing the total area for the future center to 2.33 acres.
In 1972 a fundraising campaign netted $600,000, which was matched by businessman Kenneth C. Beck. Ground was broken for the Lakewood Little Theatre/Kenneth C. Beck Ctr. for the Cultural Arts in Dec. 1975. Opening the following year and built around the original facility, the 42,000 sq. ft. center included the 500-seat Karl A. Mackey Auditorium, a museum, the Galleria, a general office, and dressing rooms. Besides the Lakewood Little Theatre's productions, the center's programs in the 1980s included educational programs (adult dramatic arts, dance, arts and crafts, and the Children's/Teen Theatre), the Museum/Galleria shows, and a special events/performing arts series, including touring dance companies and special concerts. Purchase of an adjoining Natl. Guard armory in 1979 and renovation of the original theater into a studio theater in 1984 further enhanced the center. The Beck Ctr. operated on a budget averaging $1 million in the 1980s.
In 1995 the Beck Center completed a $200,000 renovation of its existing facilities, and was planning a cooperative program with the Riverside Academy of Music, and the Lakewood Y (Lakewood branches of both the YMCA and YWCA) that would coordinate after-school activities for children. Beck Center's managing director in 1995 was David Pierce, and its artistic director, Scott Spence. It operated in the early 1990s on a budget averaging around $1 million.
"50th Anniversary" (Lakewood Little Theatre brochure, 1979-80).
Kenneth C. Beck Center for the Cultural Arts (LLT publicity pamphlet, ca. 1984).
The Lakewood Little Theatre/Beck Center (LLT Publicity Pamphlet).