Georgetown Palace Theatre Honors Sonja Asendorf
The Georgetown Palace Board of Directors at its May 2015 meeting conferred upon Sonja Asendorf the title of Historian Emeritus to honor her lengthy history with the Palace and the Palace Board. While the term “Emeritus” is normally used for one retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held, Sonja will remain active on the Board of Directors where she currently holds the office of Secretary and acts as Operations/Board Liaison. The title “Palace Historian Emeritus” is unique and honorary in nature, allowing Sonja to continue as a valued resource for historical information for both internal and external inquiries and the keeper of an accurate written account of the history of the Palace Theatre. She will continue to participate in current activities such conducting tours, preparing and sending press releases, helping with fundraising, and acting as liaison between the Board and Palace Operations. Sonja will be the known valuable historical resource for the Board and Staff as well as the public.
Sonja began as a volunteer with Georgetown Palace Theatre, Inc., in 1996, serving on the first Board of Directors as Secretary through 2002. Office management, grant writing, preparing playbills and press releases, selling tickets, ushering at events, even helping all the other Board members clean the old movie house – these were some of the necessary chores in those early days of this non-profit. With a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English (Concentration in Writing and Editing), Sonja’s skills were generously provided for the daily operation, maintenance, and overall restoration (including grant writing) of the Palace.
As a singer with Charlie St. George’s Memory Makers Orchestra, Sonja arranged for the services of Charlie’s band for Palace fundraisers from 1997 to 2004. Sonja joined Taylor Weaver, Heather Dillard, Trisha Douglas, and Lisa Holmstrom at the microphone for many events through those years. For 13 months, June 1998 through June 1999, Sonja produced and performed in a show on the old Palace stage for the Palace’s fundraising efforts. Called Pop Goes the Jazz, the show was produced once a month on the Friday night preceding Jimmy Sims’ monthly Saturday night Georgetown Opry. (On July 1, 1999, the theatre was closed for a little over two years for the major restoration/renovation project.)
<p p>When a new Board of Directors was formed in early 2004 to help save the theatre once again, Mary Ellen Butler was hired as Artistic Director, with Sonja’s strong support. Sonja took up the volunteer position of Office Manager, moving eventually to Operations Manager (again a volunteer position). She served in these capacities, with the considerable help of part-time paid staff, until an Executive Director was hired to begin work in January 2013.
Historical note: Jeannine Fairburn of Georgetown was Palace Historian (a Board position) from 1991 to 2001, when she left the Board. Jeannine’s major contribution was a Palace scrapbook project from 1991 until 2001. The scrapbook project lapsed after 2001 until Lee Pettit came in as an office volunteer. Lee’s specialty was scrapbooking, so she brought the Palace scrapbooks up to date, adding her own photography of Palace events. Jeannine retired from the Board in 2001 but remains a valued Palace Volunteer. Lee is an office volunteer and the official Palace Archivist.
If you have historical artifacts or information that you would like to share about the history of the Palace Theatre from any era, Sonja would welcome your input. You can contact her through the Palace Office: 512-869-7469 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Historic Palace Theatre is located at 810 South Austin Avenue in downtown Georgetown and is part of the most beautiful Town Square in Texas!