By Julie Wiessner
The Winslow Movie Theater, known as the Rialto when it first opened in 1929, held a grand opening on March 29. Operators LuAnne and Stephen Hancock of Joseph City are excited about the new business. “This has been a fun project in a fun atmosphere,” relayed LuAnne.
The Hancocks have plans to further improve the theater. Even though they have painted the inside, reconfigured the concession stands and installed new speakers that feature surround sound, they also plan to open an ice cream shop to enhance their current offerings.
At present, the concession stands provide popcorn, barbecued pulled pork, nachos, hot dogs, cotton candy and pretzels.
LuAnne said, “The theater is also available for birthday parties, graduations and business meetings with the availability of a projector for PowerPoint presentations.”
To come up with a logo for the theater, the Hancock’s held an art contest. The winner, Joseph City High School art student Sam Setella won, and was rewarded with 10 free movie passes and concession stand coupons. Setella, who plans to become an artist, was ecstatic and thanked the Hancocks for holding the contest. LuAnne noted, “He said it would look good on his resume.”
There are no grants available at this time to continue the restoration of this historic building and purchase a new digital projector, so the Hancocks plan to hold a number of fundraisers. Soon they will be selling donation tiles, with the donor’s name printed on a tile to be used for reflooring. Another idea in the works is to hold a triathlon in the very near future.
Because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, whatever repairs or renovation are completed must be the same or nearly the same as the original setup.
The theater used to house vaudeville acts and performing arts with downstairs dressing rooms until its conversion to cinema. It closed down in 1966 and was abandoned for several decades.
When the cost share grant money from the National Parks Service was made available, parts of the building were restored. The roof, front, entryway, and structural and interior repairs were made, allowing for the building’s safe use.
New cushiony theater chairs were installed, replacing the old metal chairs to make it more comfortable for movie viewing.
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By Julie Wiessner