450 West Housatonic Street,
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The Cinema Center holds the somewhat notorious distinction of being the theatre that drove Pittsfield’s remaining classic movie palaces out of business and eventually succumbed to “progress” itself. A prototypical strip mall cinema, the theatre consisted of eight shoe box auditoriums, later expanded to eleven, that each seated in the 100-200 range. Also strip mall cinema typical, the decor was generic, with a red/white/blue color scheme, and the layout was purely functional in nature.
During it’s 80’s heyday, the Cinema Center had no real competition, as the county’s only other theatres were decaying single screen palaces that had been in decline for decades. Business was such that the Cinema Center briefly opened a sister twin plex in the Berkshire Commons. This downtown satellite proved far less successful, as both the auditoriums were more like screening rooms and the venue was hidden in the complex’s basement. None the less, the primary Cinema Center stood as the sole movie going destination and teenage hangout of choice for a decade.
The Cinema Center’s demise came with the opening of the Berkshire Mall, and it’s Hoyts multiplex, in 1989. While the new theatre was barely a step up from the Cinema Center, it’s mall location and major chain muscle were enough to send the Cinema Center in to a sharp decline. After limping along for another ten years, the Cinema Center closed it’s doors and has stood vacant since 2001.
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