86 E. 8th Street,
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The Knickerbocker was built, along with much of the rest of the surrounding block, for Tieman Slagh, who wanted to bring vaudeville to Holland. His theater was named for a popular early 20th century New York City playhouse.
Construction began in 1910, after four earlier attempts by Slagh to get a construction permit were rebuffed by the city fathers.
Slagh himself was killed before the Knickerbocker opened—as he was putting lightbulbs in the marquee, he fell off a ladder and broke his neck.
A new owner was eventually found, and the theater opened in 1911 as a vaudeville house, though it soon began to screen movies as well.
Some years later, the Knickerbocker received a new name, the Holland, which it was known as for much of its time as a movie house.
In the 60s, the Holland received a well-meaning modernization, which covered up its neo-classical facade and much of its interior decor.
In 1988, the theater was purchased by Hope College. Two years later, the theater received a renovation, including the removal of several rows of seats to make more legroom, an updated lobby, with a new concession stand and larger restrooms, new lighting, heating, air-conditioning, and projection and sound equipment. The old facade was uncovered and restored to its original appearance. At the time of the renovation, the theater’s original name was also brought back after decades.
The college uses the Knickerbocker for concerts, poetry readings, and live performances, as well as for screening art and foreign films.
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