243 E. Main Street,
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The Vining Theater opened in 1914, named after its owners, Irving E. and Robert L. Vining. Opening night of the Vining Theater was a glittering occasion. The “beautiful little theater”, as it was described, with its brick and cement exterior, cost $35,000 and had a seating capacity of 570. The ornate, chandeliered interior comprised orchestral stalls and balcony, with five boxes (each with six seats) on either side of the stage. Centered at the back of the balcony was the projection box for the photoplays (then, the word for movies).
Comfort and convenience were the hallmarks of the retiring room for the ladies and smoking room for gentlemen. The theater was said to be entirely fireproof, the five exits by builder A.D. Helms, the well-known orchard owner and capitalist, assuring the emptying of the theater in two minutes.
The Vining Theatre was considered a “combination house” because it offered movies, vaudeville, touring and stock shows, and local amateur entertainment through the 1920’s. In January 1921, its facilities were enhanced by the installation of a 2/4 Style 75 Robert Morton organ at a cost of $15,000. This attracted a packed house at the first performance, with hundreds being turned away.
In December 1932, the Vining Theater was sold to Walter H. Leverette who owned an independent chain of cinemas and the Vining Theater became the Lithia Theatre.
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