Group hopes to keep 90-year-old movie theater from going dark

Group Hopes To Save 90-Year-Old Movie Theater

HAMBURG, Pa. - The days of watching cowboys and Indians for pennies may have long passed, but a group is trying to make sure an old time movie theater doesn't close its ticket window for good.

"Your theaters have been working with this for the last 60 years," said Bill Rhodes, who still uses an old film projector at the Strand Theater in Hamburg, Berks County.

Some things have changed, but Rhodes said he doesn't want this to change.

"When I was a kid, that was the thing you did," said Rhodes. "You didn't have all the things you have today, the TVs, the video games, texting each other and all that. You went to the movies."

But his efforts to keep Hamburg's Strand Theater in business for four years haven't been working, and he said he has fallen behind in his payments to the bank.

"About seven weeks the guillotine hits," said Rhodes.

That's when the bank could own the theater. Rhodes has thought about selling, but he has conditions.

"This is a theater," said Rhodes. "So, unless you are interested in keeping this a theater, forget it. I'm not selling it to you."

The floors are original; the seats are from the 1940s.

The Strand opened for its first day on Christmas in 1920. The theater is hoping it will still be around this Christmas.

"Christmas Day of this year, she'll be 91 years young. So, I'm trying to find Whistling Devil," said Sarah Doheny. "If all goes well, we'll roll back the prices to 11 cents and 17 cents."

Doheny said "we" because she wants to form a non-profit group.

"Right now, we're 'Save the Strand,'" said Doheny.

"They're the calvary. They're saving me," said Rhodes.

Doheny said she wants to save a piece of community history and have the non-profit buy the theater, but the group hasn't legally formed and realizes there is a tight deadline.

"Things can happen overnight," said Doheny. "There's always an angel out there, and we just need that one angel."

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Allentown, PA 18102


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