Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Theater, The Mansion...and The Delays.....

I happened to read a note today from some theater owners, shared by a friend on Facebook.  Not just any theater, mind you.  This is THE theater.  The theater in my hometown where we used to watch movies when we were kids.  One screen.  One.  I know, right?  If you're under the age of forty, you're asking, "What did they do with only one screen?"  Showed one movie.  I realize that is the simple answer, but these (dare I say it?) were the good old days.  The movies came to town on a weekly run - usually Wednesday through the following Tuesday.  If it was a blockbuster, they'd hold it over for an additional week...or more depending on ticket sales.  This theater opened as the State Theater in 1928 in our hometown of Hanover, PA and, after a renovation in 1961, was renamed the Hanover Theater.  Just so you have an idea of the 'look' of the theater, take a glance at these two shots:

Here's the real beauty of this landmark - the interior decorator was a man named Arthur Brounet.  Brounet, so the story goes, often worked with one of the most prolific theater architects of their time, Thomas Lamb.  Not a big deal in and of itself, however Brounet also did the Victoria Theater in New York (just down the street from The Apollo), and the Byrd Theater in Richmond, VA.  Having lived in Richmond for many years, I can tell you it is a beautiful theater and considered to be the best-preserved movie theater in the US.  These three theaters are the ONLY Brounet theaters known to exist in the US and, it is feared, the Victoria will be lost to redevelopment.  This theater is important and needs to be saved.  Fortunately, there is a couple trying to do just that, however it was going to be accomplished along with revitalizing the downtown area of our town.  Needless to say, it isn't happening.  The revitalization, as far as I've seen on my return trips home from Alabama, is stalled...if it ever began.  Actually, it did begin, though I believe apathy has taken hold.  One block down sits the Sheppard Mansion, one of two 'mansions' built by the owners of Hanover Shoe - Sheppard, being one and Myers, the other.  These similar mansions are still in use today and, as far as the downtown renovation goes, the Sheppard Mansion was what I considered to be an incredible first step.  The Mansion is now a Bed & Breakfast with a dining room, so I've heard, that is beyond compare.  The Mansion is elegantly appointed and I would be remiss if I didn't say the food there has garnered rave reviews.  The chef, Andrew Little, has been widely recognized and honored.  I promised I would stop in the next time I was in town, however I never seem to have the proper attire, and it's hard for anyone that grew up there to believe this would have ever happened - an incredible chef preparing magnificent food in Hanover.  Wow, who knew?  Andy is a cousin, though he's the famous one.  I'm the notorious one.  Seriously, I have read and heard his food is nothing but stunning and amazing.

The theater MUST survive and be restored.  Why?  Personally, there are WAY too many memories there for me that I relive every time I look at the place.  I had three or four friends that worked there when we were in high school.  I remember showing up and talking to them at the ticket booth, then walking inside as another took tickets.  When you finally walked inside, this was a theater the way it was meant to be.  There was an outer room to the bathrooms, somewhat like a lounge area, where the women could powder their noses.  The lighting is as you'd imagine and the walls were ornate.  When you entered the 3rd lobby, as it is know, the concession stand was directly in front of you and the entrances to the seats were on either side of that.  There was a little curtain behind the concessions where the workers could watch the movies and keep an eye on the crowds.  It was something we took for granted then...and long for now.  I remember other memories, too.  In the winter, after a heavy snow, we'd go through the projection booth that was occupied by two immense projectors.  If we climbed outside, we'd be on the roof overlooking the marquee.  Plenty of snow that packed perfectly, teenagers, traffic driving into town.  Hmm....what do YOU think we did?  Many a good car was pelted with snowballs and drivers, hurriedly opening their doors and yelling, were completely unaware they had been attacked from above.  Our best?  Why, hello, Officer.  Yep, even police cars weren't off the radar.  Memories of youth - ah, how they make us smile.  Take a look check out their site.

This restoration needs to move forward.  The apathetic feelings toward the downtown area need to be replaced with action.  If you build it, they will come.  Seems I've heard that before...and they did.

Until next time......

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I am interested in learning more about the preservation of the Hanover Theater.