Bentonville’s Plaza

posted by SPresley on January 30, 2004 at 6:02 am

BENTONVILLE, AR — The Plaza, located on the square downtown, is an old theater that was closed in the early 70s. It was gutted and renovated into office space and most recently a hair salon. I have dreamt of renovating this old building back to its original use as a theater since I first laid eyes on it 18 years ago.

I have recently been in contact with a possible funding source, so the research begins. I have no background in restoration, or even starting a new business, so this is all new to me. Since the theater was gutted, all the furnishings are needed. Seating, lighting strips for the isles, screen, curtains, etc.

We would like to purchase previously used furnishings of sites that are being renovated, demolished, or sold for other use.

Comments (4)

EvanC on January 30, 2004 at 6:30 am

Sounds like you have a great desire to bring the place back, but you need a lot more than that. I restored a small town theatre years ago, and you will need lots of money and the following:

  1. Have lots of volunteer help—restoring the building, recreating the theatre interior, reinstalling all systems, as well as volunteers to run the place once it’s reopened.
  2. Expect at best to break even. Single screen theatres are a tough business unless you have a large college crowd to draw from. Lots of money has to keep coming in the door regularly to keep those doors open.
  3. You mentioned “lighting strips” Those are only a feature in newer theatres and would detract from a historic theatre interior. To properly restore a theatre, you need not only pictures of what it looked like before, but lots of source material of what certain era theatres looked like.(check Theatre Historical Society)The old time theatre interior and fixtures is half the fun for your customers.
    To me, nothing is worse than seeing a nice old theatre and walking in only to find some horrible modern makeshift remodeling. Take the time to find out how charming the old decor was.
  4. Still, it is a dream worth pursuing—I did it and loved every minute of it. I did the building restoration, projection equipment restoration, booked the films, did the advertising and bought the concession supplies. Without some background in theatres and film it’s going to be a learning experience—get lots of expert help and advice from people who have really done these projects.
  5. Money, and more money—-it will be a “black hole” for a long time that will require lots of cash to get restored and reopened.
  6. Find out what the local building codes are. You may have to retrofit to comply with codes.

Good Luck!

JeanVanMeter on March 4, 2004 at 12:21 pm

Theatre restoration is one of our strong specialties. Please contact me when you get ready to restore the historic theatre interior. We just recently completed the restoration of the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, MD. There are some photos posted on this website.

Good luck!

Jean Van Meter
Hayles & Howe, Inc.

bart1421 on August 20, 2004 at 8:53 am

I too would like to reopen this theatre. I went to movies there when I was younger. I went to a unique style of theatre in Indianapolis, which I think would work here. It had booths and tables, food, drinks, etc. and showed first-run movies as well as classic films. I think it would be a fun draw to the downtown square area. I would be interested in putting in some effort on this.

Rick N. Reynolds, RLA, ASLA
Project Manager / Landscape Architect

Harrison French Architecture
809 SW ‘A’ Street, Suite 201
Bentonville, Arkansas 72712
479.273.7780 ext. 228
479.273.9436 fax

EBThomas on September 13, 2004 at 8:29 am

To help aid in financial savings, we have some very historical, recently refurbished, great auditorium seats that we are selling from 2 of Alberta Canadaâ€\s most premier auditoriums.

This is the perfect time for you to jump at this opportunity as the ones we have are going very quickly (had 5400, only 2700 left). Give me a call at (780) 233-2407 or send me a message at

We have digital photos of the seats, and are offering them for $59 USD per chair.

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