Renovations Underway at Berwick Theater

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BERWICK -- One theater in Columbia County is undergoing a major makeover, thanks to some federal grant money.

"Everybody that's been here in the recent years has known its condition and has beared with us through that," said Berwick Theater board member Wade Perry.

But now, this opera house originally built in 1890, turned vaudeville, turned movie theater is reinventing itself again after a $140,000 federal grant cleared the way for a new digital projector, sound system and even a retractable movie screen.

"To show first-run movies, it's critical [to have a digital projector]," said board member Ginny Crake. "We need to make sure we get that opening weekend crowd and get the folks who want to see the movies they want on the big screen."

Theater board members learned part of the reason they received the grant money was to help anchor the downtown nightlife.

"We keep people downtown after 5 p.m.," Crake added. "They're going to come for a movie, they're going to go to dinner, they're going to go for a stroll downtown and we're bringing them here in the evenings when most people go home."

Kelly Rupp works at nearby Harry's Sporting Goods and remembers when she used to walk to the theater for with her friends for wednesday's dollar ticket night.

"We'd go to Nespoli Jewelers and look at the diamonds in the window," said Rupp. "Then afterwards, we'd go for pizza so we always went somewhere before and after the movies and I'm sure kids today will do the same."

Board members hope to have the non-profit Berwick Theater reopened by the beginning of July.

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