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This just in – tomorrow June 5 begins the first in a series of silent films being shown at the historic Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, ME. Got this information straight from their Facebook page – how handy!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME

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Thanks to a link from Paul Sherman (of Big Screen Boston fame) for letting me know that the movie The Friends of Eddie Coyle – filmed in and around Boston in the early 1970’s and starring Robert Mitchum – will be shown this weekend at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the weekend of March 11 at the Somerville Theatre (run on sentence much?!)
Friends of Eddie Coyle, Dedham SquareAs you may remember, I wrote about the local locations in Eddie Coyle a while back, and had a great response from folks who worked and lived in and around the area at the time (check out the sweet comments from the P.J. Pastry thread!)

Here are the links to the previous posts, so you can see the locations:

This is a great opportunity to see “The best movie made in Boston” according to Paul Sherman, on the big screen, with an archival print, no less.

Here are the links to both of the showings:

And a theatrical trailer so you know what you’re in for:

Enjoy this rare glimpse into Boston as seen in 1973!

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I think I’m still a little sad about yesterday’s post regarding old theatres that don’t make it, so here’s some holiday cheer coming from my local historic movie theater The Colonial Theatre in downtown Phoenixville, PA. Christmas movies and holiday music – live and on the big screen!

The Colonial Christmas

Here are some of the holiday films and events coming up at The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA  this December!

City Rhythm Orchestra Holiday Style –  Sun Dec 5th 7:30pm

The 15-piece City Rhythm Orchestra presents Holiday Style, a big band concert that’s a perfect way to start the yuletide season!

City Rhythm Orchestra

A Christmas Story – Sat, Dec 11, 2:00 pm
A Christmas Story grasps the full scope of childhood injustice and obsession. A BB Gun! A Leg Lamp! You name it, they want it!

A Christmas Story Colonial Theatre Phoenixville PA

The Theatre Organ Society of the Delaware Valley Holiday Musical Extravaganza -Sun, Dec 12, 2:00 pmJoin TOSDV on the second of four shakedown cruises of the Colonial’s Wurlitzer 3/24 Opus 585. The concert will feature members of the TOSDV family performing holiday and seasonal favorites, along with a special holiday silent movie.

TOSDV Organ Concert Colonial Theatre Phoenixville PA

It’s a Wonderful Life Sun, Dec 19, 2:00 pm
Not a big success at the time of its release, it’s gone on to become one of the most popular movies ever made. One of Mod Betty’s favorite Phoenixville holiday traditions is seeing this on the big screen!

White Christmas Sun, Dec 26, 2:00 pm
“White Christmas” is a cracking musical….warm, sweet, and perfect for wasting a winter afternoon.”

Now that’s better! Fun stuff to look forward to!

The Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge St
Phoenixville, PA 19460
610-917-0223

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I’m posting about the Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit ME out of chronological order, because it closes for the season soon after the summer is over and I want you all to have enough time to visit this swell seaside movie house!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME

The Leavitt Theatre is in the town of Ogunquit Maine, which is an easy exit off of the Maine Turnpike / 95, soon after you cross over from New Hampshire. I’ve got a bit of an “in” at the Leavitt as my uncle Kevin has been a projectionist there since 1974, and is still up in the booth one night a week. (Here’s a photo of Kevin I happened to find on the Leavitt’s Facebook Page!)

kevin-hickey-leavitt-theatre-ogunquit-maine-1991“1991 photo of Kevin Hickey in the Leavitt Theatre projection booth. Kevin has been a projectionist here since 1974! He still keeps the equipment running smoothly. He completely overhauled the booth with newer projectors in 2003.”


When I let him know that I’d be in the area he was happy to bring my friend Jeannie and me on a behind the scenes tour of the theatre. Lucky us!
leavitt-theatre-front-ogunquit-me-retro-roadmap

(Kevin says they rue the day that someone planted these trees in front- they were supposed to remain tiny, but they’ve grown to obscure the front of the theatre. While the tree hugger in me says let’em be, the photographer in me says- cut’em down, they’re getting in the way of a good picture!)

In chatting with owner Peter Clayton, who has owned the theatre since 1976, he says that the theatre, built in 1923, is thought to be the oldest continually running business in the town of Ogunquit, and I’m glad to hear that it had never closed down or had to turn towards “other sorts of programming” to stay afloat. Indeed I’m also glad to learn that because the Leavitt is a seasonal theatre they are able to get first run movies and play them for a few days at a time, so vacationers staying for a week can see a number of movies during their short stay.

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Ticket Booth

Peter’s family all have worked at the theatre in one capacity or another, from selling tickets from the booth (and needing a step stool to reach the ticket window) to selling popcorn with real melted butter atop. I myself spent a short bit of my early teen days here at the Leavitt when I was staying with family up here one summer. I remember seeing Airplane for the first time (this is dumb) and the second time (hey this is kinda funny) and the third time (OMG this movie is HYSTERICAL!) at the Leavitt.
Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Vintage Poster 1939
In walking (or limping in my case) down the incline towards the stage Kevin points out that all of the 600 seats are original but many have been reupholstered to add more padding for the comfort of us modern folks. One of the things that I’m thrilled to see they didn’t tamper with were the wire hat racks attached below many of the seats, so gentlemen would have a place to stow his hat during the show, for the comfort of the folks back in the hat wearing days.

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Seat with Hat Rack

The auditorium itself is not opulent, but has clean simple lines, something you’d expect to see in Maine. While the look may still be old fashioned, the sound system has been upgraded to Dolby Surround Sound, and we learned from Kevin about the Cinemascope and regular type movies, which they’re equipped to play both. I very much enjoyed the unusual vantage point looking out on Route 1 from the window of the projection booth!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME From Projection Booth

In reading some of the articles Peter was kind enough to lend me, I was dismayed to read that they don’t seem to get a lot of locals coming to the cinema, and instead it’s mainly (MAINE-LY!) tourists and vacationers. C’mon local folks, you don’t realize how good it is to have a movie house on your main street until it’s gone! Don’t take it for granted! Everyone one and all, make sure to support this independently owned, family run, continually operating 85+ year old theatre. And if you don’t live near the Leavitt, make sure you support your closest independently owned theatre- these days we’re all on a shoestring, but the family run businesses get hit harder than the big corporate multiplexes. Wouldn’t you want to see your money go into helping the Clayton family keep this movie cinema going, and not just lining the coffers of some giant conglomerate? I don’t like to get all preachy, but you know what I mean.

OK, I’m off the soap box I promise, and on to the “hey check this out” department:

As I turned the page of a York County Coast Star article about the Leavitt from 7/8/2004 (that is not online though I was ready to link to it), I recognized a movie title even though it was a film I’ve never even seen. Does that ring a bell with any regular Retro Roadmap Readers?

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME Trapped In A Submarine

In a moment of kismet, I realized that was the same film that I had seen a poster from and snapped a photo of further down the east coast in Barnegat NJ! Cool stuff, huh? Neat when stuff comes together like that!
Trapped In a Submarine

So please- if you’re on Route 95 in Maine, driving past, or staying nearby for the week- maybe you’re on a first date in Portsmouth NH and you want to do something totally wacky and memorable- get yourself over to the Leavitt Theatre on Main Street in Ogunquit and help continue the tradition of this being the oldest continually running business in town!

The Leavitt Theatre
259 Main Street / Route 1
Ogunquit, ME 03907
(207) 646-3123

Like The Leavitt Theatre on Facebook!

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What to do when you want to preserve and renovate your downtown movie theatre but the building is too far gone? Do what Ephrata PA did, and save as much of the vintage neon, chandeliers and vintage charm as you can, before the place falls apart, then display them for all to enjoy!

Main Street Theater Ephrata PA

While the building that now contains the Main Street Theatre is “vintage 1993”, I have to hand it to the folks of Ephrata for preserving as much of the old theatre’s pieces to incorporate into this new structure that sits on the site of the old theatre.

Main Theatre Ephrata PA - Before

Like this cool brushed steel ticket booth for example!

Ticket Booth Main Theatre Ephrata PA

And this swell art deco chandelier:

IMG_2048

And cool curved glass blocks and etched mirror:

Main Theatre Art Deco Glass Block

I know from first hand experience living in a town with a downtown movie house how a place like this can become a central part of a community, and think it is cool that the builders of the Brossman building even considered putting a theatre into this space. With a covered parking garage in the back and a great restaurant on the 3rd floor (Lily’s on Main) it’s a great place to go for dinner and a movie!

Main Theatre Tickets

And if the wonderful artifacts saved from Ephrata’s old movie houses inspires new film goers to check out some of the wonderful vintage theatres still in existence (and keeps ’em out of the mega screen boxes ) well wouldn’t that be nice?

Ephrata Main Theatres
124 East Main Street
Ephrata, PA 17522
(717) 733-9098‎

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This post- on a restaurant I’ve never been to, on the total opposite side of the country- began with a less than satisfying visit to a diner (I won’t get into it but will just say it wasn’t Retro Roadmap-worthy). As I drove away with a weight in my tummy, I began to question myself, “What IS Retro Roadmap worthy? Exterior? Interior? Food? Ambiance? Why do some places make the cut, and others don’t cut it?”

As I was trying to articulate this in my head, to myself, a story came on the radio about Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood California. The restaurant has just had its 90th birthday and is going stronger than ever (you can listen to the story yourself, on NPR right here )

(thanks to daisylind  on flickr for the use of her fabulous photo!)

Suddenly I was hearing phrases like:

Musso’s has thrived by remaining faithful to its traditions.

Step into this red leather and mahogany interior, and you step into another world, another era.

You walk into Musso’s, and it embraces you. Musso’s is historical serenity.

It was then I realized that I was hearing some of the definitions of Retro Roadmap worthiness coming out of my very own car radio, as if a voice from another sphere knew what I wanted to hear!

I  knew at that moment I had to get on the Retro Roadmap hotline to our West Coast Correspondent Anna B, who has been a fan of “Musso’s” since she has lived in L.A. From her new digs in San Fran she was kind enough to articulate in her own way what makes this place so wonderful: (more…)

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The jewel in the crown of the downtown revitalization efforts of Phoenixville PA, the Colonial Theatre is truly a gem. Built in 1903 it has been a movie theater, a live theater and now shows a combination of independent films, classic movies and childrens programs, live music and more.

colonial theatre

Probably one of the most notable things about the Colonial is the decision made during the 1999 restoration process to not go back to the original 1903 version of the theatre facade, but instead replicate the striking 1950’s era yellow and black design. This facade is probably the most famous thing about the Colonial, as it features prominently in the 1958 horror/sci-fi/ kitschfest movie The Blob, where the frightened moviegoers stream hysterically out of the theatre with The Blob right behind them!

running of the blob colonal theatre phoenixville PA

A recreation of this pivotal scene (dubbed by me the Running of the Blob)  has now become one of the highlights of Blobfest, a celebration of said movie now in its 10th year (soon to have its own writeup!)

I am biased in my love for The Colonial Theatre, as it is within walking distance of our house and is a major reason why we live here. Much like my dedication to this blog/website, moving to this small town was a statement of support- not only for places like the Colonial but for towns like this that are trying to bring back that walkable, shop downtown, community vibe.

We aren’t the only ones to benefit from the Colonial Theatre, as  it also allows folks from the surrounding ‘burbs, to watch independent movies and classics on the big screen without having to make the traffic choked trek into Philadelphia. Nothing more exciting than being part of the line that wrapped down the sidewalk when “Slumdog” played here, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than nestled down in the dark catching up on a classic movie as it was meant to be seen – ON THE BIG SCREEN!

The facade is striking in its yellow and black contrasts, the marquee sets the street aglow at night, and the interior is charming movie theatre romantique- burgundy curtain, balcony and all. As I type this a pipe organ is even being installed!

colonial theatre phoenxville pa interior

Supported by members and volunteers, the Colonial Theatre is the star attraction in the Chester County PA area. Do yourself a favor and run don’t walk to the Colonial – Blob or not!

The Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge St
Phoenixville, PA 19460
610-917-0223

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