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I was reminded today that a year has passed since the Ro-Na’s grand re-opening. The people of Ironton, Ohio are to be commended for their support of the theater’s restoration and return as a shining center for the arts in that city. While it has been long since I’ve visited there, I still feel connected to the town where I grew up and the places that made it special.
I worked at the Ro-Na in ‘69-'70 and while it had lost much of the gleam of its glory days, it retained a hint of grudging deco class. Murals of bridge and riverfront factory scenes flanked the screen and gave identity to the movie house as being part of a once-thriving steel town.
Only two blocks from the better known Plaza Theater, the Hilan held its share of devotees during my time as a nearby Poncey-Highlands resident in the early ‘70s. I recall that after its closing, the building was home for a non-denominational church before its ultimate conversion to multiple commercial spaces. Along with adjacent Atkins Park Deli, Fleeman’s Pharmacy & Fountain and the public library, the Hilan was part and parcel of an eclectic neighborhood that would eventually give way to the gentrification trend of the late'70s thru '80s.