On June 4, the Star Theatre will celebrate its 90th birthday with a cake, music from the Dansville High School band, and “behind the scenes” tours of the historic single screen movie house
She doesn’t look bad for 90. As a matter of fact, she’s downright pretty. On June 4, the Star Theatre will celebrate its 90th birthday with a cake, music from the Dansville High School band, and “behind the scenes” tours of the historic single screen movie house.
The Saturday celebration will begin at noon. Regular showings of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” will commence at 3 and 7 p.m.
Father-son duo Edgar and Chuck Schmidt have owned the historic Main Street theater since 1994. When asked why they decided to enter the movie theater business, Edgar replied, “because it was so sad to see it closed for eight years.”
The Schmidt family sold some properties and invested money into the building, “and we saved it.” Edgar said looking back, “I seriously don’t think it would have been saved [otherwise].”
The theater originated in 1921 to serve as both a silent movie and vaudeville theater, and was operated by The Dansville Protectives Fire Company. Two years later, the theater was sold to James Martina and was operated by his family until 1987.
When the Schmidt family bought the theater, they revamped the electric, plumbing, seating, screen, projection and sound equipment as well as created the theater’s first snack bar. It was opened on Oct. 28, 1994, and nearly 20 years later, is one of 300 single screen theaters left operating in the country.
As is natural for a 90-year-old building, “she” (as Edgar affectionately refers to the theatre) needs ongoing maintenance, commenting that every once in a while, it “rains” inside.
The Schmidts are looking at a renovation project to help patch the theater’s roof, plus mortar, paint and gutter work and some door replacement. The theater was one of 14 businesses recently accepted for a New York Main Street restoration grant. Its portion came in at $23,500 – but more money is needed to complete the work. To help with restoration funds, the Schmidts are selling authentic movie posters for $5 apiece.
In addition to the theatre’s maintenance, facade sprucing has already begun in the form of newly acquired paintings of movie stars by Dansville resident David Shera. So far, three paintings have hung outside the theatre since April – Marlon Brando, Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe – and more are expected to come.
Schmidt said he intends to change the paintings every few months, and has a list of suggestions of what other movie stars to include, which has come from “a multitude of people.”
And speaking of stars, the historic theater has not only had a host of stars on its screen, but boasts having had many stars on its stage throughout the years during its vaudeville days. Among them are Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and George Burns. Then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt also graced the stage to give a speech for a Red Cross celebration.