The wait is over for one of the most anticipated Main Street openings - the Beacon Theater at 445 Main Street is now open, the marquee lights are on, the popcorn is popping, and the movies are playing.
The building that houses the theater, down on Beacon’s east end near Joe’s Irish Pub and La Mère Clothing and Goods, has been home to many businesses. According to the book Historic Beacon (pick up a copy in neighboring Beacon Bath & Bubble!), Warren S. Dibble, who purchased the hotel across the street (see our article on its major renovation a few years ago) in 1877, built a roller rink in this spot in 1884. When roller skating didn’t catch on as he had hoped, he built the Dibble Opera House by 1886. In it, he built a 1,300-seat hall, and according to the book, made “a high-class of entertainment to an appreciative public.” After that, according to Historic Beacon, the Beacon Theater was later constructed on the site. A well-known jazz bar, the Wonder Bar, also opened on the second floor of the theater.
The theater avoided being bulldozed during Urban Renewal, when many of what would have been historic buildings were demolished in Beacon and other nearby areas.
During that time, before the theater closed for good, the walls were painted purple by a church group who rented the space, then it was occupied by a storage company, and finally by a theater company, before moving into the hands of four partners who combined talents to rebuild the Beacon Theater, and open it to the public for movies and popcorn - with real butter. (!!)
Tickets… Get Your Tickets…
Behind the operation and curation of movies shown at the Beacon Theater is Story Screen, Beacon’s original traveling, pop-up movie theater experience. Story Screen shows already-run films. Originally, they set up the projector in local establishments like Oak Vino and More Good. Tapped as a partner in this project, Story Screen now has a permanent home in the Beacon Theater.
Hankering to see an old favorite on the big screen? Send them a request! Maybe they will play it. I’m going to ask for Working Girl. A first-run showing of a locally produced documentary from Ana Sofia Joanes, Wrestling With Ghosts, is playing now, and has already sold out some screenings.
Movie tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for kids, and for now, are sold in person at the box office only. Online sales are coming soon. Movie times run all day from Thursday to Sunday. “As we get further along in our operation,” said Story Screen’s Brendan McAlpine, “we will also show first-run and indie films.” Movies currently in the lineup are already-run films, and include classics like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Moonlight, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Good Burger, Wrestling with Ghosts, Heathers, Cruel Intentions and Wall-E.
Check out which movies are playing on which weekends, see the Story Screen website and click on the row of dates above the listings.
Let’s Go To The Movies!
My little assistants and I happened to come at just the right time in between shows during the theater’s soft opening last weekend, so we were able to buy a tub of popcorn and Skittles (extra sour in the green bag) and get a tour.
Let’s go inside and look around!
The theater is modernized with “incredible” sound, said Jason Schuler of Drink More Good, who is one of the Beacon Theater partners spearheading the food and drink experience. Some design elements were chosen to honor the time period of the original theater. Note the light sconces on the wall of the theater. According to Jason, the original sconces (pictured on the purple wall in a photo toward the bottom) were too far gone to completely restore, so they sought out a light that complemented the decor. The direction of the screen remains the same. People in the theater decades ago sat in the same direction to watch what was on the stage. Today, the building has two movie theaters that have stadium seating, and a third theater will be available for private rentals for various types of events.
Pictured below is the theater after it was painted purple, with gold detail, decades ago by the church. Who could blame them for using this irresistible hue - I have painted a few rooms purple in my house!
Photo Credit: The picture of the theater on the left is a screenshot from a photo published on AfterTheFinalCurtain.com.
Impressively designed bathrooms have become a big deal nationwide, and Beacon is proving no exception. You have the Japanese-inspired wallpaper for the ladies at Quinn’s, the super-comfortable setting in the Roundhouse and Melzingah Tap House, the Beacon Public Library recently renovated theirs, and the bathroom at Billy Joe’s in Newburgh is impressive. There are others, but those are the first that come to mind. Add to the collection this beautiful wallpaper and experience for the ladies (see below) at the Beacon Theater. The lit sign for “Ladies Lounge” that hangs above the bathroom door is an original piece to the theater.
When Can We Eat?
An eatery is slated to open in the adjoining space. The partners are calling it The Wonder Bar, inspired by the original jazz bar that operated from the second floor of this theater starting in the 1930s and had a good run. Pictured to the right is the original brick wall, with freshly painted lettering. The eatery will be on the other side of that wall, and a take-out window will be open for people who want to order from a special movie menu, to bring food into the theater.
At the concession stand, you will find commercial candy, as well as real buttered popcorn and soda from Drink More Good. Spearheading this whole project is Brendan McAlpine of McAlpine Development (formerly known as High View Development Corp.), who also owns Hudson Valley Marshmallow on the other end of Main Street (see our write-up here), who bakes the marshmallows in More Good’s commissary kitchen (located behind More Good’s tea shop).
Movie munchie options are looking good - either eat a tub of popcorn, or a bag of marshmallows. Or regular candy. And finish off with some of the best, most natural root beer (or other soda flavors) around.
To learn more about all of the partners, click here for our feature story covering the start of this in 2017.
See you at the movies!
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