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Forgot to mention – the Mountain Farms Four opened approx. January of 1974 a few months after the mall opened. The Hampshire Six across the street opened in June of 1979.
As of early 2007, nothing much has changed. The hallway that enters the mall builting left of EMS is still bare sheetrock – unpainted – they are probably waiting until they get a tenant before doing any more work. The explorable walkway mentioned abofe is not where the theater used to be, it’s the space to the right of that walkway in the back half of the building, right behing EMS – that space should still be intact at this point. The door was locked any time i tried to go in.
For years this was the main theater in Amherst until Hampshire Six opened and shortly after that opened both went to first run movies (finally!). But Mountain Farms Four was really built at the nadir of cinema construction – shoebox theatres, approx 300 seats each, plain red & orange curtains – long and narrow, with really small screens up front. We’d make occasional visits to the Calvin in Northampton or the Amherst Cinema to get a real cinema experience – they were still doing 2nd run then.
The drive-in closed around 1976. Eventually the screen was torn down, and a home & garden center was built on part of the site. That has since turned into a thrift store. Last time I looked, some of the posts that held the portable car speakers were still sitting in the ground in the areas closer to the screen.
The two cinemas added in the mid 80s also were the first in the area to feature dolby stereo. Overall these theatres (although some were smaller) were an improvement over Mountain Farms Four Theatres because the screen covered basically the entire front of the theatre. At Mountain farms they still had the stairway going up to the exit door which took up almost 1/3 of the back wall, leaving a ridiculously small and high screen. Not a great place to see Star Wars, etc. Four auditoria seated about 335 people the other two seated 165 each. Instead of curtains they had some abstract modern decorations on the walls. The lobby/concession area had a color scheme which complemented the Cafe Square’s old-downtown look.
These should be titled Cinemark Theatres. Twelve screens, stadium seating. Big screens. My guess is size ranges from 150 to 300 seats. State of the art projection and sound. The main hallway has photographs of vintage movie palaces. The Cinemark’s auditoriums can’t match these old palaces, but some carefully chosen retro decorations and wall sconces add a nice touch. Certainly better than the Hampshire six theatres they replaced (although those did have a nice lobby) It’s great that the Amherst-Hadley-Northampton area finally has a complex that gives a lot of choices.
Since at least 1969, this was known as Campus Cinemas and it was actually a triplex.
The auditoriums each held just over 500 seats, with golden draperies on the sides (felt like they were made of fiberglass, behind them were cinderblock walls), and steps up to emergency exits on each side of the screen. They were identical in size and layout except Cinema 1 had a separate inner lobby (I don’t know why – perhaps that one had been added later, but from the outside rear of the building it looked like it was all a single construction) They were the main cinemas for Amherst at the time (being approx. 600 feet from the line between Amherst and Hadley) but it was all 2nd run. They opened in 1965, when the rest of Campus Plaza was built.
After the Mountain Farms Four Theatres opened in early 1974, they struggled to compete, eventually dropping to 3rd run and finally porno flicks before closing in 1976.
Zayre’s closed in 1981, and Stop & Shop moved into their space in the spring of 1983. That summer, the Campus Cinemas were demolished. About ten years later, the Stop & Ship expanded west and connected with the new T. J. Maxx store which was built on the site of the cinemas.
The Campus Cinemas were a lot nicer that the Mountain Farms Four theatres – larger and with bigger screens. Too bad they were not able to compete.