4 Favorite Restored Small-Town Cinemas | Midwest Living
More
Close

4 Favorite Restored Small-Town Cinemas

Hollywood’s Golden Era glows again in four of our favorite restored Midwest small-town cinemas. Plan a weekend road trip to a time when nights at the movies were an experience, not a download on your iPad.
Amery Classic Theatre.
+ enlarge
The Historic Artcraft Theatre.
+ enlarge
Vogue Theatre.
+ enlarge

Amery, Wisconsin

Amery Classic Theatre A woman’s smile brightens when Cory Regnier hands her a ticket to The Long, Long Trailer starring Lucille Ball. It’s been more than 50 years since she saw the film here on a first date with her future husband. Cory’s parents, Mary Lynn and Chris Regnier, hoped to produce such scenes when they purchased this 1936 theater (about 60 miles northeast of Minneapolis) in 2012. By July 4, 2013, they had transformed the rotting auditorium into an Art Deco masterpiece lit by rainbow-color sconces. The marquee glows in the original red-and-yellow neon, allowing the Amery to light up this small town in more ways than one. (715) 268-7070; ameryclassictheatre.com

Date night Dinner Ribs and walleye at Wolter’s Shoreview Supper Club. (715) 268-8774; shoreviewsupperclub.com Stay Canyon Road Inn in Turtle Lake. From $150. (715) 986-2121; canyonroadinn.com

Franklin, Indiana

The Historic Artcraft Theatre Straight out of a black-and-white picture show, ushers deliver popcorn and boxed candy to the audience as the evening’s emcee draws names for gag gifts. Local volunteers reenact scenes from classics like Gone with the Wind, then the old-time films roll at this ongoing restoration in Franklin (25 miles south of Indianapolis). The lobby is a bit threadbare, and the seat cushions are thin, but we frankly don’t give a damn because the 1922 building still rocks the original Deco-style floral wall paintings and black-and-white mosaic tile flooring. (317) 736-6823; historicartcrafttheatre.org

Date night Dinner Share Margherita pizzas and sip microbrews at The Willard restaurant. (317) 738-9668;  thewillard.com Stay The Flying Frog Bed and Breakfast has four themed rooms (Provence, Sweden, Tuscany and Paris) inspired by the owners’ travels to Europe. From $115. (317) 697-3212;  theflyingfrogbedandbreakfast.com

Manistee, Michigan

Vogue Theatre Before the opening credits roll, a five-minute video montage shows this theater’s $2.5 million transformation from its gutted state in 2009 to its 2013 Art Deco comeback here, an hour south of Traverse City. Vintage details in the larger of two auditoriums include walls painted in the original shade of blue to echo nearby Lake Michigan and 187 seats patterned after the driver’s seats of early-1980s Ford Mustangs. On Saturday mornings, popular kid-friendly matinees cost 35 cents, the same price the Vogue charged when it opened in 1938. (231) 508-8005; voguetheatremanistee.org

Date night Dinner Great Lakes whitefish and perch are blackened and pan seared at Bluefish Kitchen and Bar; vino lovers have plenty to choose from. (231) 887-4188; bluefishkitchenbar.com Stay Ramsdell Inn contains 10 Victorian-style guest rooms in a turreted 19th-century building within walking distance of the theater. From $79. (231) 398-7901; ramsdellinn.net

Ottawa, Kansas

Plaza Cinema Open since 1905, the Plaza is billed as the world’s oldest continuously operating cinema. Need proof? There’s photo and newspaper evidence scattered throughout the lobby. The autumn-gold building also houses a small but fascinating Movie Memorabilia Museum. For $6.75, visitors peruse an eclectic collection of props, costumes and scripts from films like the 1933 King Kong and the recent Hunger Games series. This double billing of blockbuster movie and museum makes it worth the hour drive from Kansas City. (785) 242-0777; plazacinemagicexperience.com

Date night Dinner Indulge in homemade pasta at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. (785) 242-2988 Stay Located 15 miles from Ottawa, the 1903 Three Sisters Inn has five rooms. From $99. (785) 594-3244; threesistersinn.com 

Check out our photo gallery of more retro Midwest movie houses. 

Add Your Comment