February 10, 2017
From the Kansas City Business Journal: The new owners of Shawnee’s Aztec Theatre — one of the oldest movie theaters in Kansas — plan to bring it back to life, the Shawnee Dispatch reports.
It last saw life as a movie house in 1975, according to Cinema Treasures.
From The Greeneville Sun: A downtown landmark will soon get a bit of a facelift.
Work to repair the Capitol Theatre’s marquee is likely to get underway soon, along with other planned upgrades to the theater’s facade.
Earlier this week, the Historic Zoning Commission approved plans for the South Main Street landmark that include repairs to the marquee and its lights, enclosure of the existing ticket booth and installation of granite and tile on the lower portion of the building’s facade.
February 3, 2017
From bendbulletin.com: For a glimpse of the future of downtown Redmond’s entertainment options just look back to the 1930s.
That’s what Ted Eady’s doing. Eady, who owns several properties in downtown Redmond, has historic designs for the slender, two-story brick building on 349 SW Sixth St.: Return it to its former theatrical glory.
Over the past year, Eady and his son, Evan, have been working to restore the movie theater, which opened in the 1930s, he said. Currently the building is an under-construction maze of century-old brick, exposed insulation and creaky wooden stairs.
“We call this the mineshaft,” said Evan Eady, 26, descending into the ancient basement.
The duo have a vision of something more complete.
“We’re in this auditorium right now,” said Ted Eady, 58, leaning over a set of blueprints. “This is the pub area on the other side of the wall. We’re going to have 17 seats in the pub and 40 seats in each of the two auditoriums, with stadium seating for the back two rows.”
The Eadys have decided to call the theater Odem Theater Pub after the building’s former owner — historic Redmond planner, civil servant and theater mogul Milton Odem. It is scheduled for a summer opening. And even though there’s still some work to do — soundproofing, sheet rock, roofing, electrical — the Eadys are confident.
“I suspect I’m a bit manic,” Ted Eady said. “I’m not a manic depressive because I don’t get too bummed out, but I’m definitely a glass half full kind of guy.”
The renovations will try to keep a bit of the former Odem flavor, Eady said, pointing to a 90-year-old wooden stage that will be a part of a bar in a few months. Leaning against the wood were four letters — O D E M — that he found in the basement of the building.
“We don’t know what the original sign from the ’30s looked like because we haven’t found any pictures of it, but finding these in the basement spelling what they spell in an art deco style that was popular in the ’30s — I’m beginning to suspect this was part of it,” he said, adding that he’s going to try to restore the old marquee sign that’s on the front of the building.
And while the building itself might pay tribute to the past, the theater’s future programming and food offerings have a more modern feel. Eady said that he’s drawing on theater chains that are popular these days for inspiration — Alamo Drafthouse and Portland’s Living Room Theaters chain, for instance. He envisions a place where people can come and have dinner and drinks while watching original programming and films you won’t typically find at corporate cinema chains.
“We want to show films that will be in contention for best picture, not necessarily the newest Marvel superhero movies,” he said. “We’ll show art house films, for sure, but we’ll show anything that we think is good that we can get our hands on.”
Adding in the fact that he also owns the vacant lot next to the building and has plans to turn that into an open-air music venue with expanded pub seating, and the future of entertainment in Redmond sounds like it could have potential.
“Redmond’s not as cool as Bend, I don’t know if you’ve heard,” Eady said. “So, we would like to do something they don’t have in Bend. It’s such a small place and so elaborate, and it has the history. It was a movie theater for a long time in the community, so it just seems right.”
From the Lexington Herald-Leader: After having suffered from deferred maintenance for several years, the historic theater in Winchester is getting a touch-up.
The Leeds Center for the Arts is closed for the next couple of months while the historic theater gets renovations that include new plaster and paint. The work started in December.
Tracey Miller, president of Winchester Council for the Arts, a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to save the theater after it temporarily closed because of lack of attendance and cost of upkeep, said a leaky roof, crumbling walls and water damage were some of the major problems with the approximately 400-seat theater.
The roof has been repaired, and now new toilets, paint, a curtain and carpet are on the list to spruce up or replace.
A $100,000 anonymous private donation and a $50,000 donation from the Clark County Community Foundation made the renovations possible.
“Winchester is a very generous community,” Miller said.
The deadline for completion of renovations is April 15, when the Kentucky native and cellist Ben Sollee is scheduled to perform.
The theater, at 37 North Main Street, has had more than 18,000 visitors over the past two years, Miller said. He called it a “true theater” for the community, hosting theatrical productions, community gatherings and other performances.
January 25, 2017
From WCYB.com: Jonesborough won a $50,000 state grant to help boost tourism, and Tennessee’s oldest town is using the money to help restore a historic downtown theatre to its former glory.
Built in the early 1900’s the Jackson Theatre has been a huge part of the town for more than a century. The tourism grant is going to help renovate and refurbish this iconic building, and the hope is that the theater will bring more people into the town and help boost the economy.
“We’re bringing back a touch history so future generations can go back and say this is what is was and this is what it is again,” said Shawn Hale.
It’s been used as a silent movie theatre, an office space, and even a furniture store. Now the building will be transformed into a 300 seat theatre.
The town started working on it last year and it could cost up to $2 million to repair, and that’s why the tourism department said this grant is so important.
“We’ll be able to incorporate more plays, or musicals, more musical acts, more performances,” said Cameo Waters, Jonesborough Tourism Director. “It’s just so great to be able to expand and bring activities into Jonesborough.”
It’s also a big opportunity for the Repertory Theatre Company which will be using The Jackson. Actor and theatre company member, Shawn Hale, said they’re working out of a theatre space now that’s too small, they even had to put the men’s dressing rooms in the attic.
“We’ve done wondrous things here but to have space that’s going to be available to us,” said Hale. “That we have the dressing rooms, we have a dance studio, we have a working space so we can build our sets and our props.”
The actors said they can’t wait for The Jackson Theatre’s opening night.
Right now the town is working on the structure and framework of the building. It’s a long road ahead, but they say this money is going make a big difference to help bring this historic theatre back to life.
January 13, 2017
From the Stamford Advocate: Rather than settling in to a front-row seat, Randy Thomas found a perch in the mezzanine to catch the show going on at the Palace Theatre earlier this week. As he looked out across the expanse to a wooden platform more than 50 feet above the stage, he watched as workers in hard hats and safety vests moved carefully to restore and replace plaster where ceiling meets walls. Drills whirred, buckets were lowered and the work continued apace. “There is some really intricate work up there,” said Thomas, the theater’s director of production and facilities since 2006. He’s not as old as the plaster – which went up when the theater was built 90 years ago – but he’s been working here since 1991. “They don’t build them like this anymore. It would be way too expensive.” The Palace opened its doors on Atlantic Street on June 2, 1927. Designed by Thomas Lamb, a leader in his fieldwhose works include the Palace Theater in Waterbury, the performance venue rose from the wreckage of the Grand Opera House following a devastating fire in 1904. The site was purchased in the mid-1920s by Stamford residents Mary C. Vuono and her husband Charles and in its early days featured vaudeville acts. It then became a movie house, and, later, a stage for repertory work by the Hartman Theater company. Most recently, it has been host to musicians, comedians, dancers and other live acts on tour.
From Fox4KC.com: A historic movie theater in Mission is being given new life.
The new owners of the Mission Theatre at 5909 Johnson Drive in Mission, Kan., are Kip and Kris Unruh. They have gutted the inside of the building to transform this former theater into a wedding event space.
The building first opened in 1938 by Glen Wood Dickinson, founder of the Dickinson Theatre chain. It was the first all-concrete movie theater in the area meant to withstand fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. But over the years, the theater fell into disrepair.
The new owners loved the location and spent many months renovating it.
“It just had so much potential,” Kris Unruh said. “It was just waiting for somebody to come in and get a new life.”
They believe this is a unique place to hold weddings and receptions.
“Venues are something Kansas City needs more of,” Unruh said. “We married our own daughters and realized that there is a demand for venues. You have to sometimes wait 18 months to rent a place.”
They are now booking weddings, receptions and corporate events.
January 11, 2017
From The Day: After making significant investments in Watch Hill and downtown Westerly, Charles “Chuck” Royce is now part of a team focusing on the transformation of the old United Theater into a culture and arts education center where students will be able to learn, artists will display their work or perform and the public will come to be entertained. “Of all my downtown projects, this is real and symbolic. It’s smack in the middle,” Royce said in an interview. The newly named Ocean Community United Theatre at 5 Canal St. was acquired in 2006 by the Westerly Land Trust as part of its urban initiative and is now the centerpiece of the estimated $15 million arts and education center. The onetime vaudeville theater, opened in 1926 and later converted to a single-screen cinema, was closed in 1986 and shuttered for two decades before it was acquired by the land trust. Three years after buying the theater, the land trust bought the former Montgomery Ward building next door, and the two structures will be married together for the project that will include a music school, spaces for rehearsals, workshops and master classes, and studios for teaching and producing film and video, live performances and fine arts. There will also be a performing arts center, cinema and art gallery — all with a focus on educating and entertaining. Royce and others on the United Theatre board, who have been meeting monthly to move the multimillion-dollar project forward, foresee the arts complex as a downtown magnet that will draw artists and performers, students and audiences for the shows, concerts, exhibits and classes. “We believe it will be an epicenter of entertainment,” said Bill McKendree, president of the board. “Our vision is not just that it will be a facility, but that it will be a regional mechanism to facilitate the arts.” McKendree said the group envisions year-round classes, events and activities, and maybe a Spoleto-like festival similar to the famed 17-day event held in Charleston, S.C., each spring. Spoleto packs crowds into performance spaces around the city to see and hear both well-known and lesser-known performers doing everything from dance and opera to symphony and jazz music. “Our picture is bigger than the building itself,” he said. “Like could we have an opera festival or taste of Italy for the month of June?”
December 22, 2016
From WLFI.com: A historical movie theater is being restored back to its original beauty.
Standing for nearly eight decades, the Monon Theatre has served as a hub for local entertainment in the town. The theater was built in 1938, after both of the town’s movie theaters burned down.
After closing its doors more than 10 years ago, the building has since started deteriorating. With hopes of restoring it back to its old glory, the Monon Civic Preservation Society purchased the building in 2013.
“We are very excited, and enthusiastic and appreciative of all the support that we’ve had from former residents and locals and businesses,” preservation secretary Julie Gutwein said.
The group has since raised more than $100,000 through fundraising, which helps pay for much needed upgrades and improvements.
Gutwein said she hopes to see the theater bustling with business once again.
“We have a lot going on in the community but there’s not an entertainment center – nothing for the young people,” said Gutwein.
Recently, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation presented the group with a $42,500 grant to pay for a new exterior marquee, which will be placed at the theater’s entrance.
Preservation president Dave Stimmel said he’s excited to see a piece of the town’s history slowly being brought back to life.
“We hope to be having events here, centered around the theater,” said Stimmel. “We think we can get some live entertainment in since we’ve got a venue to do that with.”
Stimmel said overall, the project will cost around $1.5 million.
As far as a timeline, Stimmel said, “We’d hope in a couple more years, we should be able to be having an open house and open the doors. We’re hoping.”
Stimmel said the marquee is currently being built in Delphi.
If all goes as planned, the sign should be up by next spring.
December 16, 2016
From the Daily Journal:
The longtime theater in downtown Kankakee on North Schuyler Avenue is moving into the next generation of the movie-going experience, swapping out more than 860 seats for 300 power recliners.
“We’re doing a complete refurbishing of the auditorium,” said Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Classic Cinemas. “We’ve had to prep the floor. We’re doing new carpeting. We’re redoing the walls and putting in new aisle lighting.”
The biggest change though will be from going from an 868-seat auditorium to one with 300-plus recliners.
“The math is not great when you go from an 868 seating to 300-plus seating,” Mazrimas said. “At the Paramount with 300 seats, you’re losing 60 percent of your seating. But at 300 seats, it will be the largest venue in Illinois with power recliners. Nobody has an auditorium with as many seats.”
Classic Cinemas, headquartered in Downers Grove, believes the recliners will boost attendance at Paramount. Its main auditorium was its second-largest venue.
“The industry is saying you will see a 50 percent increase in attendance,” Mazrimas said. “We can say from what we’ve seen, we have two locations that made the switch, is a 50 percent increase from the new seating.”
Classic Cinemas also owns and operates Meadowview Theatre in Kankakee.
The new carpeting already is down in the large auditorium, which has been closed for a couple weeks, but the smaller auditoriums at Paramount have been showing movies. The seating is scheduled to arrive this week, and Paramount is planning to reopen the renovated theater in a week.
“We’re really going to shoot for Universal [Pictures] opening of ‘Sing’ for the first movie,” Mazrimas said. “That will be on Tuesday the 20 at 6 p.m., and we’ll show matinees on Wednesday the 21.”
“People seem to like the comfort they’re getting with it,” Mazrimas added. “It creates a whole new world for us.”
This is just the first phase of Classic Cinemas investment in its Kankakee theaters.
“The plan in 2017 is to renovate the rest of Paramount and get Meadowview started with an expansion and the new seating,” Mazrimas said. “Meadowview is a little further off. The plan is to get it to six auditoriums. … That’s down the road.”
Cinemark in Northfield Square mall in Bradley installed recliners in its auditoriums in the past year.
Overall, domestic movie attendance has stayed relatively flat throughout the past several years, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The number of tickets sold in the U.S. slipped 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The decline comes amid growing competition from video-on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and other entertainment options.