(Published April 24, 2105)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Rob and Shannon Treynor want to bring fun back to downtown London, and they are looking for the community’s support to make it happen.
The London residents aim to reopen the London State Theater at 67 S. Main St. Built in 1936, the one-screen theater is the only movie venue in Madison County.
“It would be good for the town and great for the downtown,” said Shannon, who works in London as an attorney. “We want to make it a destination to bring foot traffic to downtown and a semblance of night life.”
Five years ago, local businessman George Peyton invested in a major renovation of the theater. He operated the venue for two years before technology forced him to close. Movie distribution had shifted from film to digital format, and the cost to buy a digital projector was too high.
While the cost has come down since then, a digital projector remains a major expense. The Treynors are investing their own money into renovations that will transform the lobby into a lounge where patrons can enjoy gourmet meal and snack offerings, beer, wine and the usual movie treats. They plan to remove a few rows of seats in the theater itself to install tables, allowing patrons to eat while watching movies. They’re also sprucing up the exterior.
What will allow the theater to open, though, is a new digital projector. That’s where the Treynors’ fundraising campaign comes in. In early April, they launched a 60-day online crowdfunding effort. In the first two weeks, they raised nearly $6,000. They need $40,000 to buy the projector. The fundraiser runs through June 6.
“So far, the response has been over-whelming,” Rob said. “We’re getting sup-port from people in and out of the area. They’re helping because they don’t like the idea of losing a smalltown movie theater.”
The $40,000 is the couple’s first goal. Because the building suffers from leaks, they hope to raise an additional $30,000 for a new roof. However, the existing roof is structurally sound, which means the theater can safely open without a new roof. If the money comes through for the projector, they estimate they will open for business this summer.
“We’re not in this to make money. We live here and just want to see this town succeed and thrive,” Shannon said. “We cannot underscore enough how important the community’s support is. We want to get the word out that every little bit is going to help.”
For Rob, a journalist and freelance writer, operating a movie theater has been a long-time dream. As a teen and into his college years, he worked most positions at a movie theater in Cleveland. In his 20s, he and his buddies aspired to buy an old single-screen theater and show B movies.
Many years later, he is on the cusp of realizing that dream, with some vari-ations. The London State Theater will show first-run movies and, possibly twice a year, host a local filmmakers’ festival.
“The idea is to put residents’ YouTube videos up on the big screen. We might do it as a competition with an awards ceremony. It’d be kind of fun,” Rob said.
For more about the theater or to donate to the “Bring Back the State” campaign, go to www.londonstatetheater.com.