Reg Lenna Civic Center
116 E. Third Street,
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The Reg Lenna Civic Center was first opened on February 5, 1923 as the Palace Theatre, a “High Class Vaudeville” house. Films, usually a short comedy plus a feature, were shown before and after the twice-a-day vaudeville performances. Three years later Nikitas Dipson bought the facility and continued with film and vaudeville shows. In 1930 Dipson leased the Palace Theatre to Warner Brothers for 20 years.
For a short time the format of films and vaudeville was continued, but live performances were slowly downplayed to emphasize the cinema. By 1934 films were the only entertainment available on a regular basis. In 1950 Warner Bros. terminated their lease and Dipson Theatres, still the owners, once again took over management.
The Palace Theatre was remodelled to the plans of architect Michael J. DeAngelis, by modernising the front & marquee plus the lobby, redecorating the auditorium, installing new heating and cooling systems, carpeting, wall coverings and new seats. At the reopening Dipson reaffirmed his intention to feature not only first run films of the best quality, but also stage shows, orchestras and vaudeville. In 1956, “Forever Darling”, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, had it’s world premiere at the Palace Theatre (Jamestown being Ball’s hometown). With the passing years, fewer and fewer people attended the theater, equipment was wearing out, and the building needed repairs. On September 10, 1981, the last movie was shown: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”.
At that time, many of us in the Jamestown area assumed that the Palace Theatre would be left to decay, as was the other vintage cinema in town (the Winter Garden Theatre). However, the community gathered in force to save the Palace Theatre.
In 1990, it was renamed the Reg Lenna Civic Center, in honor of the principal donor for its restoration, and has been completely and lovingly restored; with the addition of new and/or refurbished seating, air conditioning, stage and sound equipment, and projection units. The Reg Lenna Civic Center is now a state of the art performance space; which retains all of the unique design qualities it originally had.
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