Not unlike the Monarch Theatre, my memories of the Towne Theatre are rooted in my childhood and teenage years in the '90's and early 2000's. Because of this, I clearly remember the decline of both downtown theatres as the new Cineplex in the mall became the go-to location.
With only 3 screens, the Towne Theatre struggled to compete with the 10 screens in the mall. As is the story for a lot of older cinemas, the Towne just continued to get a little rougher around the edges before finally closing its doors in 2007.
As I entered the lobby it looked exactly as the employees must have left it before turning out the lights. The signage above the ticket booth still lists Reno 911, Astronaut Farmer, and The Queen. The reference materials are all dated for 2007. The prices are still up at the concession, and the marquees above the theatres still list the films that had been screened there. The lobby isn't derelict by any means, but it all just looks a bit sad covered in a thin layer of dust.
Not all the lights in the theatre work anymore, but the vanity bulbs around the lobby did. I was instantly struck by nostalgia, and the familiar glow had me reminicising about all times I waited for popcorn with friends, with family, with girls. I saw a lot of big movies here growing up like Independence Day and Titanic, but the last time I came here was in 2005 while home from university for the summer. We saw Spielberg's War of the Worlds.
The velvet ropes are now tucked away in a back storage room. Stacks of letters for the front marquee gather dust on shelves. A few kernels of popcorn are left scattered around the popcorn maker. But most fitting was the marquee above the main theatre, which read "March 8, 2007 The Last Picture Show" - a fitting reference for the Towne Theatre's final day in operation. The building is currently for sale and may someday be renovated or repurposed, however it seems unlikely that it will ever operate as a cinema again.
I was buzzing as I wandered further into the abandoned movie theatre. From the lobby it was into the main cinema, projection rooms, and upper cinemas.