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updated: 11/9/2017 7:15 AM

Metropolis theater in Arlington Heights gets biggest donation ever

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  • The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift that will name the lobby of the theater in honor of the family of Jack B. Whisler.

      The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift that will name the lobby of the theater in honor of the family of Jack B. Whisler.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights won't specify the size of the donation, other than to say it was its biggest.

      The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights won't specify the size of the donation, other than to say it was its biggest.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Video screens will be added to the lobby of The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights as a result of a major gift it has received.

      Video screens will be added to the lobby of The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights as a result of a major gift it has received.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift that will name the lobby of the theater in honor of the family of Jack B. Whisler.

      The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift that will name the lobby of the theater in honor of the family of Jack B. Whisler.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift to upgrade the lobby and other theater operations.

      The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights has announced a major gift to upgrade the lobby and other theater operations.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 

Jack Whisler, the retired chairman of an Arlington Heights commercial real estate management firm, has given the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre its single largest donation ever, theater officials announced.

At Whisler's request, theater board President Steve Daday declined to disclose the exact amount of the gift, saying only that it was "substantial."

The funds will be used to modernize the downtown Arlington Heights theater's lobby -- which will be named for Whisler and his family -- and enhance theater operations.

"It's transformative in the sense it will allow us to really bring the theater lobby into what I would consider the 21st century and put it in forefront of theaters of our stature," Daday said.

Whisler, who founded Brian Properties in 1973 and served on a number of local boards and committees, made the donation after viewing sketches of lobby improvement plans. Metropolis plans to put up a "video wall" of multiple flat screens to promote upcoming shows and events, install glass doors between elevators and the lobby, and increase sound absorption between neighboring buildings.

"I've lived in town since 1952 and had my business here since 1973," Whisler said. "I raised my family here. My wife and I were very involved in community things. I wanted to support the community and I think the theater is a draw for the downtown area in bringing culture into the community."

Whisler, 81, has been involved in the Arlington Heights community from his first days as a senior transfer student at the now-shuttered Arlington High School.

He is a former president of the Rotary Club and local chapter of United Way, a charter member of the Arlington Heights Economic Alliance, and chairman of the downtown master plan task force. He helped start First Northwest Bank, which later became Village Bank & Trust, and served on a number of local real estate organization boards.

Though he's now retired from commercial estate work, with two of his sons working at Brian Properties, Whisler says he still has an office there and manages a few investment properties.

Daday and Executive Director Joe Keefe credited former Metropolis board member and one-time interim director Neil Scheufler for helping secure the donation. Scheufler now serves as the theater's major gifts and planned giving officer.

Metropolis will host a reception Tuesday, Nov. 14, to recognize Whisler, his wife and former village Trustee Helen Jensen, and children Bob, Michael and Scott.

The lobby renovation project will take place in between shows in early 2018.

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