Berwick Theater Is Dark But Hopes Are Bright

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BERWICK -- Condemned signs are on the doors of a movie theater in Columbia County. A building inspector closed the Berwick Theater because of a leaking roof.

It's a blow to a nonprofit group that just took over management of the facility, but the group is using this to send a positive message.

There are still movies posted on the marquis at the Berwick Theater, but condemned signs are on the doors, signs apologizing to customers, too.

A building inspector determined the place unsafe Friday due to a leaking roof.

"It's really going to be an inconvenience on me and my friends when we want to hang out now, because that's usually where we go," said Dante Howie of Berwick.

"I think it's really fun, because it's not that expensive as the other theaters and it's easy to walk to and not as hard to get to as the other ones," added Paul Miller of Berwick.

Hearing people are sad the theater is closed is actually good news to those who run it.

"We know there's a want, there's a need, so we're feeling very confident."

The theater is no longer a business. Its owner passed away last year and an organization took it over and turned it into a nonprofit, a community asset, and one that needs some help.

"I think the community really wants to help. They were waiting to see how they can and what this would go towards," said theater board president Alison Briggs.

The hope is to have movies on the screen and stage performances at the Berwick Theater and Center for Performing Arts.

Renovations and repairs are still needed. The leak is patched, and now they're waiting for another state inspection to reopen, maybe next week.

"We've kind of inherited this patchwork building. Now it's our time to fix what needs to be fixed and then really renovate it for the larger picture in the next few years," said theater board member Ginny Crake.

Neighbors are thrilled with the plans. Nespoli Jewelers' owner extended his hours to tap into the increasing theater crowd.

"I'm really excited, just as a kid from Berwick. (I) have high hopes they'll get it back where it needs to be," said owner Jonathan Nespoli.

But it needs donations from the community to do that.

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