AVON — An old film reel plays on a loop showcasing the eager children of the era as the grand theater opened 80 years ago.
Ann Younger of Avon is the new owner of The Park Theater. She plans on breathing new life into the place that brought so much joy to generations of people. On Aug. 11 during the Avon Corn Festival, she had a community welcome open house.
It has been 15 years since the theater was used, so the community has been looking forward to its revival.
Younger wanted to see Genesee Street come back to life after being inspired by the renovation of The Avon Inn.
“When this place closed down there was no one around to save the old downtown,” she said. “Now everything is starting to change for the good.”
Younger wanted to do an historical project on her own terms, so she saw potential in an old movie theater.
“The village has really supported me on this,” she said. “They applied for the Restore New York grant for the movie theater. People are getting really sentimental talking about the theater. Lots of them had their first dates here, and some took their kids here.”
Much of the old theater has been gutted over the long years, but there are some things that remain. The old screen, some old chairs, the original Air Conditioned sign, the ticket booth, and the old wooden doors.
The Avon VFW took over the theater in the 1960s. It was their community movie theater until the early 1990s. The Park Theater was built in 1938 to accommodate the change in technology. The old theater had been operating across the street since the 1920s when silent films were a hit.
Younger said that people started abandoning movie theaters in the 1960s due to the television.
Now all the major movie theaters are pushing digital, so the small town theaters are having to pay the big price.
Younger said that she wanted to have an open house, so that the community could get a chance to see what the future holds for the beloved theater.
“We have done a lot of cleaning in the last couple weeks, and the screen will need to be replaced in time,” she said. “I am going to try to renovate the seats, because they are still comfortable.”
Basically they would like to bring classic, independent, and documentary films to the theater with a community center vibe in the back.
Younger would also like to get the community involved as much as possible with sponsoring movies, and having speakers before the educational films.
“I don’t want to compete with the other small town theaters,” she said. “I just want Avon to have this back. I want to bring history back to the town.”
There is no projected completion date at this time, and there are still a lot of things in place to make the theater come back. However, in time the magic of small town theaters do have the power to bring a community together.
The Park Theater is located at 71 Genesee Street.