The Miner's Institute Foundation (MIF) is a non-profit corporation
organized by volunteer citizens for the purpose of raising funds for the rehabilitation and support of the Miner's Institute.
The Miner’s Theatre is associated with the City’s first most important industry, mining. The first coal mine was sunk in Collinsville in 1857. The town grew with the industry and by 1886 a man could walk underground through connecting tunnels between the mines from one edge of the City limits to the other. Mining and Collinsville were almost synonymous terms.
In 1916, a representative of the United Mine Workers of America Local 264 convinced fellow miners that a union hall and public theatre should be built. The structure was multi-purposed. The theatre brought entertainment to the City of a class not usually seen in cities of this size. The second and third floors gave a permanent home for the union offices and provided a central meeting place for the mining locals. These floors were also used by various community groups for social activities and housed a small library which was the beginning of the present day Collinsville Memorial Public Library.
The cost of the building was shared by a loan from the state U.M.W.A and the Collinsville union locals. The locals voted a one percent assessment on each member to provide the sum required for their part.
On December 28, 1918, at a cost of $138,993.26, the building was open to the public. The opening ceremonies and parade were well attended not only by the miners’ locals, but by hundreds of other residents.
The Miner’s Theatre continued to prosper but the mines did not. By 1930 the coal mines had slowly started to close. Restlessness led Collinsville union locals become members of the Progressive Mine Workers. Since the loans to the U.M.W.A. had long been paid off, the Collinsville Miners owned the building and thus title was transferred to the PMW. Even though mining has died out in Collinsville, the influence of this industry and its people are felt strongly today. The miners left this building as a lasting reminder of their history.
Over the years, Miner's hosted High School Graduations, Dairyman's conventions and other such events of the day, in addition to the occasional movies being shown in the auditorium. Built in the "vaudeville" style, the auditorium hosted several traveling troupes as well.
In 1969 the building was sold to Bloomer Amusement Co. and used as a movie house until it closed its doors in 1984. A group of local citizens dedicated to the historic structure’s preservation formed the Miner’s Institute Foundation, took ownership, and operated the Institute as a theatre and community center until 2008. Collinsville residents have many fond memories of attending plays, movies, concerts, dances, graduations, pageants, conventions and other such events in the theatre.
Today, the building is closed and requires significant renovation to make it Americans with Disabilities Act accessible as well as compliant with current building codes before it can be reopened to the public.
Work that remains to reopen the theater includes building ADA compliant restrooms, adding an automatic door opener, plaster repair, insulation, HVAC repair, adding a fire alarm system with voice evacuation, electrical upgrades, and code compliant exit and egress lighting. The Miner's Institute Foundation is currently seeking monetary contributions and organized labor unions wishing to join in the project by donating their labor.
The need to preserve this remarkable structure of such historic and cultural importance is clear and evidenced by its being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, named a Collinsville Progress Historic Landmark in 1993, and a City of Collinsville Historic Landmark in 2013. Once the theatre is restored and reopened, the City of Collinsville will once again have a cornerstone in its Uptown that will bring music, movies and live theatrical performances, be a space for meetings, weddings and exhibits, and positively impact the City and region as a whole.