By Carla Charter
With the colder weather settling into New England and the holiday bustle all around a movie might offer a cold weather respite for many. Below are six classic movie houses that might provide a welcome reprieve for New England movie-goers everywhere.
45 Bantam Lake Rd/Route 209
The Bantam Cinema, the oldest continuing operating movie theatre in Connecticut, was opened in 1927 as “The Rivoli”. For its first year or so, the cinema showed silent movies accompanied by a Wurlitzer organ. Live acts occasionally performed on the theater’s stage.
Today the theater along with showing movies, also hosts a Meet the Filmmaker series. Past notables of these series have included Rebecca Miller, Joan Rivers, Daniel Day-Lewis and Dolores Hart. In 2013, the Cinema completely modernized the projection and sound systems, replacing 35mm film projectors, from the 1930s, with a state-of-art digital system.
18 Market Square
Opening in 1919 the Temple Cinema is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in Maine. The theatre was built with a conjured style of grandeur which includes a lobby with terrazzo floors, a ticket booth with a curved glass front and brass railings.
In the 1980’s the single screen theatre was split down the center of the auditorium, with the construction of a wall, in order to provide greater film offerings. It was further modernized in 2002 with new seating, sound systems, carpeting paint and paper. In 2014 the theatre added digital production and digital sound.
The Strand Theatre, Clinton, Ma.
58 High Street
The Strand was built in in 1924 and operated as a vaudeville theater and movie house until the late 1970’s, when it was completely renovated and re-opened in March of 1995. The theatre has 304 seats and a large handicapped accessible section. The theatre not only offers its patrons movies but also the chance to enjoy a light meal and drinks while watching a picture with state-of-the-art sound on one of the largest screens in Worcester County.
Wilton Town Hall Theatre
42 Main Street
Wilton, New Hampshire
The Wilton Town Hall Theatre, built in 1886, was first used as a play house for traveling shows and vaudeville. The original stage that actors used in the late 1800’s is still visible. In 1912, it was converted to a silent film house. Its popularity boomed as sound was introduced, and during World War II hit, it was the only local theater to provide current news reels.
Today it boasts 2000 watts of light for a bright, crisp picture. The “Big House” seats 250 patrons, has a full four channels of digital surround sound and 1000-watt sub-woofer enhancement.
The “screening room” is a small, 63 seat theatre which was converted from the original vaudeville actors changing room. It’s received its nickname as it closely resembles a Hollywood studio screening room.
The theatre also sells freshly popped popcorn with real butter. The movies played at the theatre are typically more intellectual and “artsie” type films only found close to Boston.
Jane Pickens Theater
49 Touro Street
Newport, R.I. 02840
The Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center was first built as the Zion Episcopal Church in 1834. It was one of Newport’s first Greek Revival buildings designed by well-known architect Russell Warren and built by William Weeden, a carpenter-builder. It was a live theater for just a few years in 1918 and finally found its niche in 1922 when it became a movie palace with advent of silent film.
Jane Pickens, for whom the theater was named, was a singer, an actress, star of the stage, radio and television, a politician, a philanthropist, mother and wife. The Jane Pickens Theater was named after her in 1974 when she and sister Patti gave a dedication concert.
The Jane Pickens Theater is the only movie house in downtown Newport. In addition to screening films on a daily basis, the theater also hosts live music, parties and performances. The theater offers 300 seats downstairs and another 172 in the balcony. It boasts a mix of styles with authentic art deco chandeliers, wrought iron railings, a real original ticket booth, a new cherry “conversation” table, counters with bar stools. Original posters from the Misfits of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable from 1961 guide patrons to the ladies and men’s rooms.
The theater sells popcorn with real butter, candy and sodas as well as offering a choice of craft cocktails, wine and beer. Patrons can take their drink into the auditorium and come out during the film for another.
50 Main Street
The Latchis Main Theatre has stood as is since 1938 and is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres. Bedecked with Greek murals by the Hungarian-American painter Louis Jambor, swaddled in velvet curtains, and accented with a panoramic view of the Zodiac on the ceiling, the performance space has welcomed the likes of Rosanne Cash, Collegiate A Capella champions, and the New England Center for Circus Arts. Beginning with Vaudeville and silent films, the stage has provided music, art, and moving pictures to Southern Vermont for over seventy years.