308 N. Main Street,
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The original Howard Theatre was originally built in 1924 by Howard Bland. This theatre, however, is not the original Howard Theatre. The original Howard Theatre was directly across the street from this ‘New’ Howard Theatre.
Originally, the name of this theatre was the Rita Theatre when it opened September 14, 1940. It showed all the B-run movies in town. It originally had 582 seats. The original Howard Theatre was the first run theatre.
In the 1950’s, the Blands' removed the sign off of the original Howard Theatre and closed that theatre. They moved the sign over to the newly refurbished Rita Theatre which reopened May 8, 1959 as the New Howard Theatre. By 1950 both the New Howard Theatre and the ‘old’ Howard Theatre were sold to the Robb & Rowley-United division, later a division of United Artists Theatres.
In 1972, the theatre was twinned into its present configuration by adding a stage and wall at the end of the balcony creating an upstairs and downstairs auditorium.
In 1990, United Artists sold the theatre back to F. Rhea Cromwell, a descendant of Howard Bland. In turn, the Cromwells' have leased the theatre out to several different individuals until 1999, when the current owner purchased the building outright from the Cromwells'.
Information courtesy of William T. Parr.
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