25 Prospect Street,
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Ridgefield had two movie theaters – the Playhouse, and the Cinema. I think they were open simultaneously for a very short time, since the Playhouse closed in, and the Copps Hill Plaza, where the Cinema was located, opened in 1972.
1938 - Plans are announced in April to build “a beautiful, modern air-conditioned motion picture theater” on land to be acquired for $7,500 from the Ridgefield Library. It was the only Colonial Revival style theatre to be designed by architect John Eberson. Seating was provided for around 500 in the orchestra and just over 100 in the balcony.
1940 - Ridgefield Playhouse opens March 26 on Prospect Street and shows first movie, “Broadway Melody of 1940”, starring Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, plus the Disney cartoon, “The Ugly Duckling”. It was built for and operated by Casey & Wheeler, who operated more than 30 theatres.
1970 - Closed.
1974 - The Village Bank and Trust Company, the town’s only locally owned commercial bank, opens in the former Ridgefield Playhouse building on Prospect Street.
2000 - The library buys back the old playhouse, now Webster Bank, and its land, for $1.5 million.
2009 - The library plans to demolished the building, which is on the State Register of Historic Places.
(All of the above information from “Ridgefield (CT) Time Line 1900s” at http://jackfsanders.tripod.com/timeline1900.htm)
Note: There is now a “new” Ridgefield Playhouse, that is again a single screen movie/concert venue. It is in fact the auditorium of the old Ridgefield High School, which has not been a school since the early-1970’s and was rented for a while as corporate headquarters by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.
Anyone ever see a movie in the original Playhouse and recall what the interior was like?
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