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Elks Theatre: Imagine the opportunity

Posted 6/28/16

To paraphrase the late George Bernard Shaw: 

Some people in Middletown see things as they are and say, why?

I imagine things that never were and say, why not?

I imagine all these things and I want to see imagination come to life. …

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Elks Theatre: Imagine the opportunity

Posted

To paraphrase the late George Bernard Shaw: 

Some people in Middletown see things as they are and say, why?

I imagine things that never were and say, why not?

I imagine all these things and I want to see imagination come to life.

The Elks Theatre is a historic anchor building within our community’s downtown, a treasure that must be preserved. This treasure is one of the oldest continually operating neighborhood motion picture theaters in the United States. The Elks opened in October 1911 and originally had 700 seats. It features a full serpentine balcony. 

Throughout the years thousands enjoyed the Elks - escaping from everyday life and simply enjoying being mesmerized by motion picture movies on the big screen. Many Middletown residents’ most sacred and fondest memories were made in the Elks Theatre. 

Sadly, during its 100+ years the theater’s full potential was not realized and proper maintenance of this iconic building was put on a backburner resulting in the now dissolved Greater Middletown Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) taking ownership of the building in 2005 through a collaborative measure with the Borough of Middletown. Many maintenance issues were addressed and our community continued to enjoy a fully operational, first-run movie venue. 

Unfortunately Middletown’s beloved theater closed in April 2015. Upon the Borough’s decision to assume ownership, a promise was made to the community that renovations and improvements would be made and the Elks Theatre would reopen by early 2016. 

Now is the time for the Borough of Middletown to make a decision and invest in our community’s historic treasure. In order for our theater to continue to serve as an economic anchor of our community, it must be given new life so it can fulfill its potential as an entertainment venue. 

Just imagine the new Elks Theatre.

Imagine the theater with an enlarged stage, a premium sound system and a state of the art digital projection system.

Imagine a glittering grand marquee that will welcome visitors to escape the doldrums of life and be entertained not only by movies but also by comedy shows, live concerts and dance as well as speakers’ performances.

Imagine the looks on the faces of children when they stare in complete wonder at events in the theater. 

Imagine older generations attending movies being taken back to their childhoods. 

Imagine cultural events that would expose visitors to wonders about which they may have never dreamed. 

Imagine speakers discussing different philosophies and ideas.

Imagine the Elks Theatre helping our town thrive and come into its own as an entertainment destination point for Central PA.

It’s time for the Borough of Middletown to take responsibility and realize this opportunity. It’s time for the Borough of Middletown to invest and facilitate a collaboration with community groups and external stakeholders who share a common and righteous goal – that of establishing the Elks Theatre as a multifunctional performance facility that preserves and enhances our community’s history so that generations can continue to escape, enjoy and make new memories.

--Diana McGlone is a member of the Middletown Borough Council.

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