Community Theatre

Elm Street,
Mechanic Falls, ME 04256

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This theater opened in 1946. It was a 1.5 story brick flat roofed building with decent raking of the seats. A center row with two aisles and two side rows. House lights were two-stage with white/yellow full illumination and low-intensity green for showtime. The front row was below grade by five or six steps.

Speakers were Altec-Lansing Voice of the Theater. Projectors were RCA and probably new at the time of opening. Screen was 4x3, but they showed Cinemascope (real Cinemascope lenses) without masking. Projectors had to be aimed higher/lower when changing from Cinemascope to 4x3. Projection booth was spacious and had its own bathroom as well as a separate room for the rectifiers. Rewind bench appeared to be used i.e. older than the projectors. Insufficient reel storage capacity to support a long movie (e.g. “Birdman of Alcatraz”) plus trailers and a cartoon.

Manager’s office was on the second level with a desk, chairs and a couch along with a curtained window to view the show. Lobby had ticket booth between the two double doors, a glass front candy counter with a full popcorn machine. Lobby walls were fitted with display for multiple upcoming attractions. Additional displays on the front of the building. No balcony. Part of the front wall of the theater was glass block to illuminate the lobby.

Theater closed in the early 60’s, re-opened for a year or so under the management of a family from Fort Kent Maine. It did not survive, the floor was leveled and it was converted to an IGA grocery store. This did not survive either and it was purchased and converted to an American Legion – still in operation.

I still have an acetate black and white trailer advertising New Year’s Eve at the theater in the early 50’s.

Historical note: The original Community Theatre was an old wooden building next door that appeared to have been a church at one time. As a teenager, I rescued the projection booth (to use as a playhouse) when the building was slated for demolition. It was all asbestos board in a right-angle metal frame. Very small.

Contributed by Roger kirk
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