Grand Theater

316 W. Third Street,
Grand Island, NE 68801

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Showing 1 - 25 of 29 comments

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on August 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Described in this 1937 trade article: Boxoffice

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on June 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Today’s news reveals, what I feel, is ‘true showmanship’ and I hope your patrons fill the house. And P.S… I really like the old facade -it really needs to be restored to it’s art-deco appearance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 3, 2011 at 10:59 am

The Grand Theatre built in 1936 replaced an earlier house of the same name. Here’s the news from the September 30, 1936, issue of The Film Daily:

“Omaha, Neb. — Western Theater Supply Co., will let contracts for erection of a new Grand theater at Grand Island, Neb., and install equipment. Harry Schiller, Grand’s owner, closes his house Oct. 1. Razing of the 450-seat structure and another store building next door begins immediately to make room for the new 850-seat Grand, which will cost an estimated $85,000.”

DonLewis
DonLewis on August 6, 2010 at 3:32 am

From the 1930s a picture postcard view of the Grand Theater in Grand Island.

DonLewis
DonLewis on August 4, 2010 at 2:58 am

From 2010 in Grand Island a close up of the Grand Theater Sign and a view of the Grand Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 20, 2009 at 3:47 am

This is a 1987 photo. Closed for restoration.

rajojon
rajojon on January 13, 2009 at 4:01 am

Garrett Coble is a sophomore at Grand Island Central Catholic.He is a volunteer at the GRAND THEATRE. He wrote the following article for the Grand Island Independent.
Movie ‘Grand’
By Garrett Coble
Published: Monday January 12, 2009

Do you see that? Do you see that off in the distance? Is that a moon? That’s no moon, that’s a space station! Wait, no, that’s a movie theater! You may have guessed that it was a theater from the Star Wars reference, but just as “Star Wars” wasn’t “just some movie,” this theater isn’t “just some movie theater.” This particular theater is the Grand, one of the historic venues of our town. Today we’ll speed back through time to look at this movie colossus with the help of some memorable movies, so strap in in case of turbulence. Just a precaution, but did you really expect more from the Grand or this DeLorean?

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die! â€" from “Goldfinger”

Safe to say, this is one theater that beats the expectations. After witnessing everything from a world war to social reform, did you really expect this staple of Grand Island to go silently into the night? Absolutely not. Rather, over time the “little” Grand expanded to take its current shape. Originally the theater was sandwiched between two storefronts, eventually commandeering them in the late 1930s to make room for new restrooms and an all-important concession stand. “How could a theater survive without the staple snacks of a concession stand,” you ask? Nightly skits involving the crew of this movie house more than made up for said lack of treats, though a small pop machine did eventually make a debut. This debut came to the applause of many, an applause which has yet to abandon the Grand.

While this is far from an “Amityville Horror,” more than a few happy customers seem to have returned to their favorite theater from beyond the grave. From voices to white figures, these benevolent spirits paint the Grand for what it is: a historic and wondrous site. Yes, when you come to enjoy the movies, there’s always someone to watch over both you and your film. But facing steep competition, how much longer could this history last?

Momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ â€" from “Forrest Gump”

Indeed, very few people knew what the fate of the Grand would be when it was scheduled to close its wondrous doors. Luckily a small group of businesses, now known as the Grand Foundation, came to the aid of this ailing giant. But did they know what they were going to get, or did the Grand know what it was going to get? No, but the foundation found itself a worthy cause, and the Grand found itself a wacky crew to work its doors. These volunteers pour their time, soul and occasionally their sanity (as is occasionally evident) into a fine establishment worthy of more than a “Closed” sign and some plywood. This does not do justice to the time commitment put in by these proud people. After all, they’re truly bringing the past into the future! All of that and no salary? Surely there is something amiss in this big-screen worthy storyline, some evil villain to dash these people’s good intentions.

You want answers?

I want the truth!

You can’t handle the truth! â€" from “A Few Good Men”

Problem is how few youth know about the Grand. That is the fly in the ointment, as stated so well in the movie “A Few Good Men,” courtesy Col. Nathan Jessup.

Men, we live in a world with movie theaters and those theaters must depend on someone for survival. Who’s going to support them? You? You snuff the Grand for newer cinemas because we have that luxury! You have the luxury of feigning ignorance to the Grand’s existence. You don’t want the truth, because deep down inside in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want this theater to stick around. You need it to stick around!

Amazing how well that fit in!

Well, that’s a wrap. Today we’ve gone toe to toe with some of the finest films in history while taking a peek at this classic piece of our town. Remember well what you’ve learned on our trip, and stop by the Grand for a screening. There is definitely history here, history to be treasured for years to come

Here’s to looking at you, Grand.

Garrett Coble is a sophomore at Grand Island Central Catholic.

rajojon
rajojon on July 17, 2008 at 5:01 am

Lost Memory, We’re glad you posted the recent photo of the Grand, while we were showing “Across the Universe”. Did you take the photo? Do you live nearby?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 26, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Kings Go Forth with Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood was released in June of 1958.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 18, 2007 at 12:39 am

This is a recent night view of the Grand Theater.

spectrum
spectrum on September 28, 2007 at 3:44 am

Sorry for the second post – No seating capacity listed but from their webpage photos, it looks like at least 800.

spectrum
spectrum on September 28, 2007 at 3:43 am

According to their webpage’s history section (link above), the new Grand opened in 1937, and was indeed a replacement for the one destroyed while under construction (the final result was somewhat bigger). Style is a simple, but pleasant and colorful art deco.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 23, 2007 at 2:12 am

A Grand Island theater being built in December 1936 almost died before it was born. The theater isn’t identified, but the Grand is a good bet:

GRAND ISLAND FIRE CAUSES $40,000 LOSS
Nearly New Theater Building and Two Stores Set Ablaze
by Heat Pots

GRAND ISLAND – Fire which broke out in the partially completed theater building shortly before 6 o'clock Tuesday morning, did damage estimated in the neighborhood of $40,000 to the theater and to adjoining business houses. While the fire was confined to the theater, the O'Loughlin furniture company, located to the west side of the theater, suffered heavy smoke and some water damage. The Kaufman store, on the east side, escaped with little smoke damage.

Harry Schiller, manager of the theater, estimated the actual fire loss in the neighborhood of $20,000 and while officials of the O'Loughlin company declined to make an estimate of damage to their store and stock, it was believed it would run to a considerable figure. All loss, it was understood, was covered by insurance.

Fire started on the east side, midway in the theatre, from an overheated open “heat pot.” Several of the pots had been placed in the theater for the night to keep freshly poured cement from freezing. Mr. Schiller said a watchman was supposed to have been on duty just to watch these heat pots. By the time firemen arrived, the flames were spreading to scaffolding. Firemen laid 12 lines of hose and poured water into the building from all angles for nearly four hours before the flames could be extinguished.

Deadlantern
Deadlantern on September 24, 2006 at 4:35 am

The Grand Horror World Premiere
Saturday, October 28th
MIDNIGHT
The Grand Theatre
Grand Island, Ne
$3.00

This is the indie horror film that was shot at the theatre last summer. For more info, check out

http://www.myspace.com/thegrandhorror
http://www.myspace.com/deadlantern
http://www.deadlantern.com

rlvjr
rlvjr on September 8, 2006 at 2:03 am

The GRAND was playing Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest — a current new movie —– open 3 days a week (Sept 2006). Too bad I was in Grand Island only on a Tuesday. The theatre looks alive and well from the exterior. Wish I could have seen the inside.

They ought to try a Henry Fonda Series sometime during the busy summer season. Fonda was born in Grand Island, as everyone there knows; but many young folks there haven’t seen his movies.

rajojon
rajojon on August 8, 2006 at 2:35 am

“Never underestimate the power of a small group
of committed individuals to make a difference.
Indeed, that’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

I would like to report that the 1st annual Grand Car Show was an outstanding success ! One block, in
downtown GI, played host to over 700 people, Saturday night. The Grand Theatre got word, Monday
afternoon, that we would be getting the Disney / Pixar movie, ‘Cars’, for the upcoming weekend. We
immediately sprang into action at the suggestion to “see if we could get a small car show organized
for Saturday ”.
It all came together so smoothly (with only one temporary hitch, which turned out to be
no hitch, at all). We took all the correct steps to make it happen. A call to City Hall, where Joani Kuzma
connected me with Danelle who got us started in the correct direction. Danelle instructed me to get verbal
permission from all the businesses on 3rd Street between Wheeler and Walnut (a one block space).
Everyone was extremely positive in their OK. They understand what a positive impact even a small event
can have for the Downtown.
With a return phone call to Danelle, along with an email stating that we had gotten our verbal blessings
from the business people affected, she informed me that the barricades would be delivered Friday.
One of the cars, to be on display, was a nitro fueled dragster (rail). The owners of the rail suggested to Rocky Finlayson,
one of our greatest supporters, that it wouldn’t make any sense to just show the car without lighting it up!! Rocky,
out of his own pocket, paid the owners no small amount to “make it happen” !! The slang, “light it up”, means to
start it. When one of these machines is “lit up”, it’s absolutely deafening !! With that in mind, and wanting to take all
the necessary steps to keep all entities happy, I called the GI Police Dept., where I was connected with Sgt. Edwards.
I told him what we were doing, with the car show, and thought we should see if it was legal to start this bellowing
monster on a public street, he said “COOL !!” Then he asked if he could show his motorcycle, which recently had
a special paint job done on it, in Sturgis. The answer, of course, was “yes”.
An afterthought suggestion, by Jenna Leeper (at age 19, the youngest member on the board of the board if directors
for the Grand Foundation) , was to serve hot dogs and pop to those bringing vehicles to the car show. Also, anyone who
bought a ticket to the movie would be entitled to the same.
Again, of course, wanting to do everything “by the book” I called the Health Department to find out what we needed to
do to make this OK with them. We were given their permission along with directions on how to keep within their standard
guidelines for making it a healthy, as well as fun, event.
The word went out to several local car clubs and individuals about the show and they responded with “GRAND”
enthusiasm. With the help of the local media, the public was made aware of the event one day in advance. That’s all it took!
We filled the street AND we filled the Theatre !! Since the Grand Foundation took over operations at the Grand Theatre, we
have had two sold out shows. The first was for the Johnny Cash movie ‘ Walk the Line’. Now the people of Grand Island and
surrounding communities can boast that we have “packed the house” a second time for ‘CARS’. The hardest part of this being,
making the announcement to a hundred or more people, waiting in line to buy tickets to the movie, that the show
was sold out. The Grand Theatre seats 487 people.
About twenty “GRAND” volunteers came together to make a very enjoyable and memorable event ! Our “GRAND” thanks go out to all
of them. So much praise and congratulations was heard from those who attended the car show and the movie. One of the volunteers,
for the evening, was Dianne Kelly. She is the former Director for the Downtown Improvement District. She was amazed at how
cohesive the people of the GRAND work together. At one point, she pulled me aside and asked “Who is that beautiful young lady keeping everyone organized?” Of course, she was talking about Jenna (remember, the 19 year old board member). Dianne was full of praise the
entire evening, marveling at what a great event we had pulled off in such a short period of time. I told her “A GRAND idea can’t wait on
bureaucracy” !
We want to thank the people of Grand Island, as well as those who come from far and wide, for supporting the GRAND THEATRE. We have
found that history, sentiment, loyalty, and a vision for the future make a community “GRAND”. We have much to be proud of, here in Grand Island, and our most valuable resource is the “common man”. “Never underestimate the power of GRAND people"
Submitted by
Ray Evans
board member
The Grand Foundation
www.grandmovietheatre.com

curmudgeon99
curmudgeon99 on July 22, 2006 at 10:00 pm

I am one of the persons who tried to save the Indian Hills theater in Omaha. Although our efforts came to naught, I am gratified that Mr. Jim Fields made such a moving and transcendent film about the efforts of our group and of other preservationists like us. I urge everyone to view his movie. It is excellent.

Here is an article about the Indian Hills theater that I wrote:

Saving The Indian Hills

The bells of the troika jingled all around me as I rode with Yuri to Varikino. I was a young lad of 5 and had never before been to Russia. I was with my brother Ron at the Indian Hills Theater watching “Dr. Zhivago” on the 110-feet-wide screen that wrapped around nearly 150-degrees, making it feel as if I was, actually, in Russia riding behind the horses in the snow. Such was the magic of that now departed movie theater, the largest indoor movie screen until its lamented conversion into a parking lot in the Summer of 2001.
Anyone who lived in Omaha from the sixties through 2001 knows what I mean. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the subdivision called “Indian Hills” and my brothers and I were able to walk down the street to our favorite movie theater on earth. My brother Ron always described the Indian Hills as his “temple”.
To someone who has only viewed a movie on a postage-stamp-sized screenâ€"standard for today’s multiplexesâ€"the effect of watching a movie in Cinemascope on a screen that wrapped in a semicircle around you cannot be explained. The immense screen in the Indian Hills extended beyone one’s peripheral vision, thereby evoking the feeling of actually being there. When a young boy like myself grows up two blocks from such a movie theater, it tends to affect one forever. Since then, I have lived in Iowa, Phoenix, Cincinatti, Houston, Salt Lake City and St. Petersburg, Russia. In each of these places I have found myself longing for a movie-going experience such as I had as a child. These longings have gone unfulfilled. When I have attempted to explain this desire to friends around the world, they invariably mention the word “IMAX” with their eyebrows raised, expecting that to strike me like a revelation. When I consider the many flat, square screens on all the IMAX theaters I have encountered, it does not compare. To date, there has never been an IMAX theater made in either the size or configuration of the Indian Hills theater, which was designed in the format called Cinerama, which whithered on the vine because of technical challenges. However, Cinemascopeâ€"the successor to Cineramaâ€"is nearly as powerful. Seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on “the big screen” (as all afficianados call the Indian Hill’s screen.), with Peter O’Toole’s brilliant blue eyes shining their radiance twenty-feet high, is a sight like no other. Seeing Luke Skywalker fly his X-wing fighter down on the Deathstar on “the big screen” was miraculous. Movie going has never been as pleasurable to me since “the big screen” was no more.
In the Summer of 2001, my brothers and I joined with many other locals to attempt to save the Indian Hills, after we realised it was in danger. We rallied and organized, meeting in a Village Inn just East of the theater on West Dodge road, for a month. In the end, as anyone in Omaha can confirm, we failed in our quest. Monied interests exercised the perogatives that go with ownership. Those arguments are long past and are not germane to this appreciation. Knowing in hindsight that the events of September 11th, 2001 would shortly unfold might seem to cast the efforts of the Indian Hills Preservation Society, our group, as being trivial. But in this world where nothing anymore seems sacred, we still find ourselves reaching out to proclaim the beauty of Botticelli’s “Venus”. Though millions died in the trenches of World War I, we embrace Hemingway’s novel of the period, “A Farewell to Arms”. Though we know they were built upon the backs of slave labor, we admire and treasure the Great Pyramid of Cheops. All through our shared history on this planet, we humans have endured the challenges and cherished the creations of our species. The greatness of that round red departed landmark on West Dodge Road is not diminished by its death. Those of us who were fortunate enough to sit in its purple velvet seats will forever be affected by the experience of seeing films on “the big screen.” To those who have not ever had the experience, we might as well try to convey the flavor of chocolate to the uninitiated, or the joy of lovemaking, or of the feeling of love. If you didn’t see it, I can’t make you see it.
There exists a documentary movie by Jim Fields about the efforts of the Indian Hills Preservation Society to save the theater. This movie, heartbreaking as seeing a loved one murdered, contains glimpses of the theater in its heyday. It also contains scenes that will plunge daggers into your heart.
Though it is only a memory, to this day I carry a love for the Indian Hills theater. Seeing Omar Sharif in “Dr Zhivago”, living in Russia, affected me for the rest of my life. I credit that movie, seen in its glory on “the big screen”, with inspiring me to learn Russian in college. The strength of of my feelings for “Dr. Zhivago” led me to live in St. Petersburg, Russia for all of 1997. As I walked around St. Petersburg in the cold Winter chill, I remembered the jingling bells of the troika and of the neighborhood where I grew up, next to the Indian Hills theater, the greatest movie theater ever made.
Saving The Indian Hills

The bells of the troika jingled all around me as I rode with Yuri to Varikino. I was a young lad of 5 and had never before been to Russia. I was with my brother Ron at the Indian Hills Theater watching “Dr. Zhivago” on the 110-feet-wide screen that wrapped around nearly 150-degrees, making it feel as if I was, actually, in Russia riding behind the horses in the snow. Such was the magic of that now departed movie theater, the largest indoor movie screen until its lamented conversion into a parking lot in the Summer of 2001.
Anyone who lived in Omaha from the sixties through 2001 knows what I mean. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the subdivision called “Indian Hills” and my brothers and I were able to walk down the street to our favorite movie theater on earth. My brother Ron always described the Indian Hills as his “temple”.
To someone who has only viewed a movie on a postage-stamp-sized screenâ€"standard for today’s multiplexesâ€"the effect of watching a movie in Cinemascope on a screen that wrapped in a semicircle around you cannot be explained. The immense screen in the Indian Hills extended beyone one’s peripheral vision, thereby evoking the feeling of actually being there. When a young boy like myself grows up two blocks from such a movie theater, it tends to affect one forever. Since then, I have lived in Iowa, Phoenix, Cincinatti, Houston, Salt Lake City and St. Petersburg, Russia. In each of these places I have found myself longing for a movie-going experience such as I had as a child. These longings have gone unfulfilled. When I have attempted to explain this desire to friends around the world, they invariably mention the word “IMAX” with their eyebrows raised, expecting that to strike me like a revelation. When I consider the many flat, square screens on all the IMAX theaters I have encountered, it does not compare. To date, there has never been an IMAX theater made in either the size or configuration of the Indian Hills theater, which was designed in the format called Cinerama, which whithered on the vine because of technical challenges. However, Cinemascopeâ€"the successor to Cineramaâ€"is nearly as powerful. Seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on “the big screen” (as all afficianados call the Indian Hill’s screen.), with Peter O’Toole’s brilliant blue eyes shining their radiance twenty-feet high, is a sight like no other. Seeing Luke Skywalker fly his X-wing fighter down on the Deathstar on “the big screen” was miraculous. Movie going has never been as pleasurable to me since “the big screen” was no more.
In the Summer of 2001, my brothers and I joined with many other locals to attempt to save the Indian Hills, after we realised it was in danger. We rallied and organized, meeting in a Village Inn just East of the theater on West Dodge road, for a month. In the end, as anyone in Omaha can confirm, we failed in our quest. Monied interests exercised the perogatives that go with ownership. Those arguments are long past and are not germane to this appreciation. Knowing in hindsight that the events of September 11th, 2001 would shortly unfold might seem to cast the efforts of the Indian Hills Preservation Society, our group, as being trivial. But in this world where nothing anymore seems sacred, we still find ourselves reaching out to proclaim the beauty of Botticelli’s “Venus”. Though millions died in the trenches of World War I, we embrace Hemingway’s novel of the period, “A Farewell to Arms”. Though we know they were built upon the backs of slave labor, we admire and treasure the Great Pyramid of Cheops. All through our shared history on this planet, we humans have endured the challenges and cherished the creations of our species. The greatness of that round red departed landmark on West Dodge Road is not diminished by its death. Those of us who were fortunate enough to sit in its purple velvet seats will forever be affected by the experience of seeing films on “the big screen.” To those who have not ever had the experience, we might as well try to convey the flavor of chocolate to the uninitiated, or the joy of lovemaking, or of the feeling of love. If you didn’t see it, I can’t make you see it.
There exists a documentary movie by Jim Fields about the efforts of the Indian Hills Preservation Society to save the theater. This movie, heartbreaking as seeing a loved one murdered, contains glimpses of the theater in its heyday. It also contains scenes that will plunge daggers into your heart.
Though it is only a memory, to this day I carry a love for the Indian Hills theater. Seeing Omar Sharif in “Dr Zhivago”, living in Russia, affected me for the rest of my life. I credit that movie, seen in its glory on “the big screen”, with inspiring me to learn Russian in college. The strength of of my feelings for “Dr. Zhivago” led me to live in St. Petersburg, Russia for all of 1997. As I walked around St. Petersburg in the cold Winter chill, I remembered the jingling bells of the troika and of the neighborhood where I grew up, next to the Indian Hills theater, the greatest movie theater ever made.

jim
jim on July 20, 2006 at 7:46 pm

Here’s another article that appears in today’s (Thursday, June 20th) Omaha World Herald. You’ll have to register to read the entire article, but registration is free.
Jim

View link

jim
jim on July 18, 2006 at 7:58 pm

I’m excited that my new documentary, “Preserve Me a Seat” will premiere at The Grand Theatre next week – Wednesday, July 26th at 7:30 p.m. We don’t remember a lot about our distant past, but we do remember our favorite movie theatre. “Preserve Me a Seat” is a documentary about these theaters and the ongoing fight to protect and preserve them for future generations. Featuring efforts to preserve theaters in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Sat Lake City, and Omaha, “Preserve Me a Seat” will appeal to anyone interested in saving our classic theatres for future generations.

Here’s a link to a news article about the premiere here:

http://omahacityweekly.com/article.php?id=1269

and a local news station report here:

http://www.nebraska.tv/news/local/3338361.html

I hope all of the local Cinema Treasures members will attend! See you next week.
Jim Fields
Writer/Director, “Preserve Me a Seat"
www.apartment101films.com

jim
jim on July 18, 2006 at 7:55 pm

I’m excited that my new documentary, “Preserve Me a Seat” will premiere at The Grand Theatre next week – Wednesday, July 26th at 7:30 p.m. We don’t remember a lot about our distant past, but we do remember our favorite movie theatre. “Preserve Me a Seat” is a documentary about these theaters and the ongoing fight to protect and preserve them for future generations. Featuring efforts to preserve theaters in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Sat Lake City, and Omaha, “Preserve Me a Seat” will appeal to anyone interested in saving our classic theatres for future generations.

Here’s a link to a news article about the premiere here:

http://omahacityweekly.com/article.php?id=1269

and a local news station report here:

http://www.nebraska.tv/news/local/3338361.html

I hope all of the local Cinema Treasures members will attend! See you next week.
Jim Fields
Writer/Director, “Preserve Me a Seat"
www.apartment101films.com

rajojon
rajojon on November 1, 2005 at 10:11 pm

We are having lots of fun owning and operating the Grand Theatre. Mike Bockhoven, entertainment writer with the Grand Island Independent, is one of our biggest fans. He and his crew recently produced a section for the Independent on “Ghosts of the Grand”. Be sure to click on the video link to experience their exploration of the non-public areas.

View link

Ghosthunting at the Grand
By Mike “What the hell was that??” Bockoven

Over the years, Iâ€\d had people tell me there were strange things that happened in the Grand Theater once the marquee darkened, the curtain closed and the lights in the snack bar stopped illuminating M&Ms and Hersheyâ€\s Bars.

Hereâ€\s what Iâ€\d heard:

• Every now and then, a janitor-looking guy could be seen out of the corner of your eye, only to vanish when you turn your head.

• Doors would sometimes open and shut, items such as posters and napkins would be strewn about and an overall uneasy feeling sometimes gripped you if you were in the wrong part of the building, alone.

• Strange banging sounds and the occasional sighting of a specter dressed in a white gown are part of The Grandâ€\s history. Some employees report becoming almost comfortable with the spirit.

So, a bunch of us from IndyKnow decided to shut off all the lights and take a walk through with a flashlight, a video camera and a digital tape recorder. At the very least, weâ€\d have some fun. If things went well, weâ€\d have a hell of a Halloween story for yâ€\all.

What we found was something in the middle.

Here was the plan: Take on the theater part first, move behind to the boiler room/storage area, hit the downstairs, then, if we were all still up for it, pick a spot, shut off all the lights and wait for something to happen.

The theater is a lot less inviting in the dark, but not that bad. What started to get spooky was the projection room. There are little windows that are just the perfect size to catch some sort of movement. If I were stuck between the earthly and the ethereal plane, itâ€\s where Iâ€\d go.

As far as that uneasy feeling you get when you go down in the basement by yourself and suddenly canâ€\t get up the stairs fast enough (letâ€\s call it the AHHHH feeling), nada. Itâ€\s as comfortable in the dark as it is in the dark with a movie playing. Behind the curtain is a different story.

Thereâ€\s an exit that leads to a wrought-iron gate. Inside the gate is a set of cement stairs and at the bottom is some storage and a boiler room. Inside the boiler room is an even smaller room that we all figure was where they used to shovel coal into the boiler. Now itâ€\s used as a way to make people feel constrained and like theyâ€\re 500 feet underground.

AHHHH factor is still pretty low, but itâ€\s creepy. Real creepy.

Downstairs is next. Now, if youâ€\ve never been downstairs at the Grand, itâ€\s basically unlike anywhere youâ€\ve ever been. Itâ€\s labyrinthine, with stone walls and low ceilings lined with pipes, but thatâ€\s not what sets it apart. What makes it special is whatâ€\s lying around.

Once you get past the main rooms to your right, the first room you come to was clearly once a dressing room. Lights line the mirrors, pink paint pokes out from protruding stone and everywhere is theater junk. There are promotional mobiles and old seats and popcorn buckets and whatever else. In the light, it would be a charming reminder of a bygone era. In the dark itâ€\s something out of the video game “Silent Hill.”

The air is thicker down here, colder. Thereâ€\s a draft but you donâ€\t know where itâ€\s coming from (and, thanks to years of video game playing, I half-way expected to be attacked by ghoulish little people with blades slashing at my knees). The flashlight doesnâ€\t give you enough light to give you any sort of context. The AHHHH factor starts to rise.

Down one corridor to the right is a friendly enough stretch leading to a place that is honest-to-God called “The Void.” Iâ€\ve seen the schematics, and itâ€\s called “The Void.” Whatâ€\s in “The Void?” We donâ€\t know, itâ€\s a void. As in “null and” and is empty. Fortunately, “The Void,” is bricked up and we can only speculate whatâ€\s in there. I say little ghoulish people with blades just waiting to slash your knees. Tonya says chocolate.

Where things really start to get strange is in the room to the left, the last room on the left, as it were.

Most of us sit on a giant roll of carpet in the center of the room, and immediately notice itâ€\s feeling a little colder than the rest of the basement. The room is mostly empty with a few scraps here and there, but mostly just a big empty room. I sit, facing east and suddenly do really really not want to turn my head in a northerly direction.

Others feel it too. Itâ€\s not a sense that somethingâ€\s in the room with us, exactly. Itâ€\s the sense that if we were here by ourselves, weâ€\d want to get out of Dodge as fast as we could. Heart rates go up. So does the AHHH factor. The mind starts to go fast – whereâ€\s the exit, how do I get out of here, oh God, thereâ€\s no light! We start telling jokes. Heart rates go down. The room gets warmer â€" not noticeably, but thereâ€\s a change.

No one really talks about it, but if thereâ€\s something down in the basement, it was in that room. With us. Right then.

That was our last stop, so we pack it up. Weâ€\re not scared, exactly, and Iâ€\m not sure we ever were. Iâ€\m not sure anyone thought weâ€\d do anything but have a few cheap laughs (we did) and shoot some video. This was more of an experiment than anything, but there was a point where things were getting a little serious.

Thatâ€\s kind of what Halloween is about, really. Itâ€\s about having fun, getting scared with friends, and hoping things donâ€\t get serious. Itâ€\s a thing young people do, and old people are so jealous of being able to do they try to recapture it. Sometimes it works. Sometimes you run into a really cold room and only your friends can help you maintain composure.

Then, there are times when youâ€\re really scared. Sometimes itâ€\s a dream and youâ€\re all alone. Sometimes itâ€\s when things are uncertain. I think thatâ€\s what we ran into, something uncertain, which is truly all thatâ€\s ever scary to us. We fear what we donâ€\t know, and thereâ€\s a whole lot most of us donâ€\t know about.

Is the Grand haunted? I donâ€\t know. Iâ€\m not sure how much I believe in “ghosts,” so much as I do that some places are inherently unfriendly. The Grand isnâ€\t one of them. Itâ€\s a friendly place, minus that one room.

I wish I had a ghost story for you. I really do. I wish an orb had floated by and we caught it on film, or we heard a door slam or nasty little ghoulies had slashed at our knees and we narrowly lived to tell the tale. Instead, Iâ€\ve got some video and some audio to show you what we did. Donâ€\t laugh at us too much and happy Halloween.

Oh, and during the “what the hell was that” clip, donâ€\t let my tone fool you. I wasnâ€\t scared. Not at all.

rajojon
rajojon on October 1, 2005 at 12:44 am

Be sure to check out www.grandmovietheatre.com to see what we’ve been doing with the Grand!!!!!!!! Check out the links page and scroll down to The Grand Horror, for news about an independent movie filmed at the Grand.

tadrian
tadrian on April 19, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Ray et al,

I remember going to summer movies at the Grand as a child and even brought my own children there when the summer movie program was still available. Once a week during the summer, we would pile into the family station wagon and get to see a movie just for kids. We bought punch cards – good for all 8 movies. We’d even get a kid-sized snack-pack because they were fairly inexpensive. The daycares in town also enjoyed this program as well. I would really love to see some version of that program re-activated.