February 20, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — We’ve received a number of emails over the past 24 hours about the Villa and we are very excited to bring you some good news:
This came in from Grant Smith last night:
According to a news story on Fox 13 on 19 February 2003, Harmons, a local grocery store chain, bought the Villa Theatre in order to block a possible purchase by Wal-Mart, which may have wanted to demolish the theater and build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.
Harmons currently operates a grocery store at the Brickyard Plaza, very near the Villa property, and has expressed a desire to work with the Utah Heritage Foundation on possible reuse plans for the theater. Apparently Harmons offered to let Carmike Cinemas continue to operate the Villa, but Carmike declined and closed the theater.
Reid Sondrup adds that KSL also ran that story and adds:
… the Harmon group purchased it as an investment and is open to discussion of future use of the property. Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation will discuss any part the Villa might play in future development. It was stated that demolition is not imminent.
Sean Means, who has been covering the developments for the Salt Lake Tribune published this story today:
Salt Lake Tribune article
And finally, Kirk Huffaker, Assistant Director of the Utah Heritage Foundation, released this statement via email yesterday:
I am pleased to report the following information obtained and confirmed today. You may see it in various news reports also.
The new owner of the property, which we believe was recorded today, is the corporation that owns Harmon’s grocery stores. They bought the property as an investment property. The new owner offered Carmike Cinemas the opportunity to continue to operate the theater but they declined.
The theater is not in immediate danger of being demolished by the new owner. In our conversation today, they have expressed willingness to discuss possibilities for the theater with Utah Heritage Foundation.
Thank you to all our supporters near and far for their lobbying and rallying efforts.
We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this effort in getting the word out about the Villa and its closure. Special thanks go to Grant Smith, Reid Sondrup, Howard Haas, Bryan Krefft, Sean Means, and everyone else who notified us about these developments.
Of course, a special thanks goes to the Utah Heritage Foundation and, of course, Harmon’s Grocery Stores. Let’s hope this has a happy ending.
(See below for more of today’s news and events.)
Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts to Hold Benefit Gala
CHICAGO, IL — This just in from the UTCA:
The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA) is pleased to announce “Bring Back the Brilliance,” a gala benefit, Friday, March 21, at 7 pm at Thorne Auditorium. Proceeds from the event will support programming and operational expenses during the year.
For more information, visit the UTCA website and go to ‘events’.
See “Glory” at the Lafayette Theatre This Weekend!
SUFFERN, NY — “Glory” (1989), the civil war epic starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, and Denzel Washington, will be shown this Saturday, February 22nd, at 12 noon at the Lafayette Theatre as part of the Big Screen Classics series. Tickets are $6.00.
Doors open at 11:30 with Jeff Barker playing the Ben Hall Memorial Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ before the film starts!
For more information, visit the Big Screen Classics website.
Thanks to Pete Apruzzese of Galaxy Theatres for the update!
Help Wanted at the St. George Theatre
STATEN ISLAND, NY — With renovations continuing at the St. George Theatre, Stephanie Gilmore, who is helping to restore the 75-year-old, 2,800 seat movie palace, is looking for photos and blueprints. Gilmore is looking for interior and exterior images to enable workers to more accurately and quickly restore the St. George.
More information on the theater
Email Stephanie Gilmore at
Thanks to Jean Siegel for the continued St. George Theatre updates!
February 18, 2003
For more information on the closing of the historic Salt Lake City movie house, please see Grant Smith’s Villa Theater site, which contains a number of new stories.
Over the weekend a protest was held to save the theater and efforts are underway to try and convince the new owner to save the Villa.
Thank you to Grant Smith for keeping up the vigil.
February 17, 2003
Cinema Treasures is closed for the American President’s Day holiday, but we’ll return tomorrow with more movie theater news.
February 12, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News have confirmed KSL-TV’s story of the imminent demise of the 54-year-old Villa Theatre.
We’d like to implore the new owners of the Villa to consider preserving this theater, wholly or at least its signature facade, marquee, and sign, for the city of Salt Lake. Preserving cultural landmarks is a tremendous goodwill gesture and a hallmark of community service.
The Villa, which has delighted area audiences for over five decades, is a part of the city. Please make it part of the city’s future as well.
Thanks to Grant Smith and Bryan Krefft for the updates.
February 10, 2003
PASADENA, CA — The Friends of the Raymond Theatre will appear in court tomorrow in an attempt to block the Raymond’s owners from gutting the old movie house and converting it into apartments and commercial space.
This was just sent in from Gina Zamparelli:
Our long-awaited court date is this Tuesday, February 11th. We hope you will consider attending. We need to show the Judge just how many people support this project. So please see if you can make an exception, rearrange your day and spend an hour with us to lend your support.
PLEASE ATTEND OUR COURT DATE AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:
Where: Los Angeles Superior Court
Address: 111 N. Hill Street
Time: 9:30 am
Judge: Dzintra Janavs
Parking: Public parking is available near the courthouse.
February 3, 2003
This has been sent in from Jean Siegel who is working on the restoration of the St. George Theatre in Staten Island, NY:
We are asking the public to email Ms. Stephanie Gilmore at if they have any photos of the St. George Theatre available.
The theater needs those who may have outside photos or inside photos. These photos will enable the volunteers to do research with regard to the theater’s restoration.
We are located on the North shore of Staten Island at:
31 Hyatt Street
Staten Island, N.Y. 10301
Preservation Alert Cinema Theatre Threatened With Demolition
BERKELEY, CA — This is from the SaveTheCinema.com website:
ALERT!! Landmark Hearing scheduled for this Monday, February 3rd at 7:30 PM, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, corner Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Hearst Street. The public is urgently needed to attend. Please speak out about preserving Berkeley’s cultural landmarks! If we don’t get a good turn-out, we WILL lose this precious Cinema Treasure!
As you are reading this, the Cinema Theatre, currently called The Fine Arts, is in grave danger of being demolished, not for being derilict ( the building is sound and well-maintained ), but for being in the way of a planned development.
If you are anywhere near the area, we urge you to attend and lend your support for the Cinema.
January 29, 2003
The Big Screen Classics series, which took place last year at the Galaxy Theatre in New Jersey, will unspool at the historic Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, New York with 35mm prints of such classic films as Sunset Boulevard, The Quiet Man, and many more, as well as contemporary classics like Glory and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
According to the website: “Just over the border from northern New Jersey, the Lafayette is a fully-functional vintage 1920’s movie palace,” which is now operated by the Galaxy Theatre Corporation. “The Lafayette features a huge capacity of 1250 seats, state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment and the Ben Hall Memorial Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ.”
“With plenty of free parking and an easy-to-access location, the Lafayette will be the premiere venue for classic cinema in the tri-state area. For more information about the Lafayette, visit the official website.”
Thanks to Pete Apruzzese for the news!
DETROIT, MI — The historic 5,000-seat Fox Theatre has been voted #1 by Pollstar, the leading concert trade publication. According to an Olympia Entertainment press release, the company which operates the theater:
This is the first No. 1 nod given to the Fox by Pollstar who ranked Detroit’s fabulous Fox Theatre No. 1 in 2002 ticket sales among the Top 50 Theatre Venues with 642,162 tickets sold.
The Fox claimed the top spot by beating out a list of the who