Council approves dually naming portion of train depot facility in honor of the late Peter Lewis

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One of Folsom’s most popular outdoor performance venues will be getting a backstage facelift and a new name to remember the young man that spent many hours behind the scenes at the facility. 

Watch as members of the Folsom Historic District honor a local family that donated $25,000 towards a renovation fundraiser and talk about the need to for the renovation project here.

Located in the heart of Folsom’s Historic District, the Zittel’s Family Amphitheater has become one of the premier outdoor community performance venues in the area. With the addition of improved shade structures and a sound system last year, it has become the go to place to enjoy live music, plays and more from spring into fall each year. 

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While all looks and sounds good from the spectator’s perspective, such isn’t quite the case when it comes to the backstage of the facility, specifically the area known as the greenroom where performers stage, dress, prepare and often take a breather between performances on the warm summer days. The historical building is owned by the City of Folsom. The majority of the property is leased to the Folsom Chamber of Commerce who has subleased the greenroom portion of the facility to the Folsom Historic District Association.

Currently a makeshift staging area in the rear of the historic train depot building, the aged facility has long been in need of some tender loving care. From the need for up-to-date heating and air conditioning, plumbing and lighting, to flooring and décor the desires that have been discussed add up to a costly venture, one that been out of reach, financially, for the FHDA.

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Fast forward to 2023 and those goals of a renovation are now closer than ever. The FHDA has launched a fundraising campaign for the project, a campaign that is well underway and got a kick start last week with a generous donation from a local family that has longtime ties to helping bring shows to life in Historic Folsom. 

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Many in the community, especially those who have performed in Historic Folsom have crossed paths with local resident Tom Lewis at one time or another. Lewis’ business, Power and Staging, provides a variety of lighting and sound engineering for a variety of different events across the city. 

Not only does the local company provide services for all the events in the Historic District, they also are known for bringing the Folsom Pro Rodeo to life and other high-profile events such as the local holiday tree decorating and more.

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In September of 2018, Tom and his wife Suzanne tragically lost their son Peter, 30, to a motorcycle accident. Through the years, Peter worked alongside his father, helping with all of the many events throughout the city. It was a labor of love for Peter, who always enjoyed working with the local bands and performers, along with installing area decorations that brought visitors to the area so much holiday joy. 

In honor of Peter, the Lewis family recently came forth and offered the generous donations of $25,000 towards the FHDA fundraising efforts to renovate the greenroom to make it suitable for local performers as well as house office space for the FHDA, the force behind the many events in town. 

Peter Lewis

“Peter always appreciated working with entertainers and other professionals in the industry.  Special for Peter was time in greenrooms backstage visiting, collaborating, and supporting that day’s event,” reads a statement from the Lewis family, released upon the time of the donation. “Recognizing this connection, we are considering the contribution $25,000 to the pending renovation to the greenroom.”  

In making the donation, the Lewis family asked that the district and the city would consider naming the renovated greenroom in honor of their son. The generous donation was announced to the public at the recent fundraising kickoff held at the amphitheater, and attended by community leaders, district supporters and additional donors. 

Jim Snook, president of the FHDA took the microphone to open the event and recognized the many attendees and spoke in regards to the large donation made by the Lewis family. He also acknowledged the numerous donors that added to the pool of donations at the event through various silent auction items and other offerings. According to Judy Collinsworth, in addition to the donation from the Lewis family, the event raised more than $8900 in additional funding. 

“We are beyond grateful that the Lewis family chose to honor their son’s legacy by gifting this large donation,” said FHDA Executive Director Judy Collinsworth. “It’s very fitting because Peter was involved with the concerts and events that happened at the amphitheater for many years.”

Forrest Johnson, Special Assistant to Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost attended the fundraising kick off. Johnson recognized the Lewis family on stage for their generous donation to initiate the fundraising process. 

The naming of the greenroom was approved by the FHDA board and went before Folsom City Council last Tuesday night.  The room was previously named the Bud Davies Ambassador Room sometime in the early 90’s. The council unanimously approved the greenroom to be dually named. 

Earlier in last week’s meeting, council reviewed a presentation detailing additional renovations of the depot building and possible funding methods. City officials will continue to explore such options for future consideration .

The Folsom Historic District Association will now continue to fundraise for the additional funds needed to properly renovate the facility. They have just launched a GoFundMe page on hopes of raising the additional funding needed for the project and other historical railway facilities in the city. Council will further review the topic in May that will be superset from the greenroom project.

Those wishing to join the Lewis’ and donate to the project can do so BY CLICKING HERE.

When it comes to the renovation once the funds are completely raised, the goal of the FHDA will be to highlight the historical aspects of the facility.  In the 1980’s the room was remodeled, those changes will be removed and the room will be designed to highlight some of the historic features from its earliest days in Folsom.

The plans for the renovation will keep the basic layout of the freight room while bringing the room into ADA compliance. Historic features will be highlighted, and the additions will complement the historical details. 

Tom Lewis (left) of Power and Staging is honored by FHDA President Jim Snook (middle) and Forrest Johnson, Special Assistant to Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost after the Lewis family announced its $25,000 donation to the greenroom renovation project. Photo: Adam Frick
In addition to the $25,000 donation form the Lewis family, attendees to the fundraising kick start party raised an additional $8,918 at the opening gala. Photo: Adam Frick
Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.