By Jack Mattern
We have all seen the Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion, and we have all wondered if it would ever bring the movie-going experience back to a city desperate for entertainment.
Thanks to numerous grants and donations, the theatre is scheduled to reopen in December 2014, which would coincide with the 85th anniversary of its founding in 1929. It was closed in 2008, due to financial troubles that eventually led to deterioration of the venue.
According to Elizabeth Schultheiss, executive director of the Albion Community Foundation, the theatre will be restored to its original state. This means that there will be only one screen, as opposed to the three screens present when the Bohm shut its doors more than five years ago.
“It is a central location that is within walking distance for much of the community, and there was a lot of interest for entertainment downtown,” Schultheiss said.
The historic building is currently being renovated. Over the summer, workers removed seats and tore out electrical wiring and plumbing in order for up-to-date replacements to be installed within the coming year. Among the modern aspects of the theatre, there will be a new bathroom on the first floor, as well as renovated second floor bathrooms and a new concession area. Another new feature is that movies will be shown in a completely digital format, which will make it possible to show major sporting events on the screen.
Although there is no contract in place, the plan is for two movies to show on any given day at alternating times. For instance, one film may be shown early in the evening, while the other one would be later that same evening. The hope is for there to be first-run movies, generating more revenue for the theatre.
“The plan is for Union Board to put a survey together that will help us determine what kind of movies students want to see,” Schultheiss said. She also hopes to establish a programming reference board in the city, so all ages are represented.
Schultheiss hopes that the reopening of the Bohm will bring much needed traffic back to the downtown area. “We hope that it will help support and spur the community,” she said.
Other businesses in the area will hopefully see an increase in traffic thanks to masses of people letting out of a movie at one time. This could help many businesses by generating much needed revenue in an economically depressed town.
Jobs will also be brought to the area, which is huge, being that there aren’t many jobs to be had around town. Students will hopefully be able to work there as well, which makes paying those pesky loans just a bit easier. And, just as students can watch movies for free at the Bogar, so too will they be able to at the Bohm, thanks to a commitment from the college.
“We really want students to think of the Bohm as a place where they can come for many forms of entertainment,” Schultheiss said.
The theatre has a stage in front of the screen that can be used for things such as small plays or live bands, which greatly increases potential forms of entertainment in the theatre.
“We have already had people calling to see if they can have their wedding here,” Schultheiss said.
Hopefully, a restored movie theatre will bring excitement and quality entertainment year-round, while injecting the downtown area with a bit more life.