Historic Ioka Theater to close Christmas Eve
EXETER, NH — The historic Ioka Theater, which has operated since 1915 when it showed “Birth of a Nation,” will close its doors on Dec. 24th. The main reason is the high cost of installing a sprinkler system, with high energy costs and insurance costs as contributing factors.
The theater has 500 seats in the main auditorium with a smaller second screen in the basement which formerly served as the area’s YMCA.
The need for a sprinkler system came about because of the disasterous Station nightclub fire several years ago in Rhode Island. Many New England states have enacted laws requiring sprinkler systems in entertainment venues of more than 100 patrons. This is forcing many marginal bars and restaurants to close. Sprinkler systems can cost anywhere between $40,000 for a small space to over $200,000 for a large space.