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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Sort of Happy Ending

When I moved to my neighborhood, The Macarthur Theater was a major attraction. The neighborhood was quiet, but it had stuff like a library, restaurants and a grocery store. The theater was the thing that put it over the top, and it was great while it lasted. Then, sometime in the middle of a dark slimy night in 1997, a business deal was made. Our neighborhood woke up and found out that not only was the theater closing, but a CVS was going in. If this wasn't bad enough, the deal included a clause which said no other movie theater could be there again for 99 years or some such depressing thing.
My neighborhood was outraged. We collected signatures, made bumper stickers and staged a protest, but the deal was done. We were able to preserve the lobby somewhat so if you drive by it still looks like a theater with a marquee, (now showing: CVS) and there are sad old posters languishing in display boxes.

Thanks a bunch.

The same thing could have happened in Chevy Chase, but people learned from our loss. When The Avalon closed abruptly in 2001, the neighborhood circled their wagons to save the theater. Out of this came a non profit group- The Avalon Theater Project. They fought long and hard, raised the money and won their battle. Today the Avalon, built in 1923, is D.C.'s oldest surviving (emphasis on surviving) movie house and is still run by The Avalon Theater Project. Restoration uncovered many original features. And the sign out front is from 1937.

The theater showcases a variety of movies, hosts film festivals, and even brought back the Saturday matinee for the younger set. This Saturday instead of a movie, The RTTS will be playing live at 10 a.m.-and it's the last gig on their foreseeable future calendar. Come out and support a local band and a local treasure. It's a lot more fun than going to the drugstore.

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