That’s all folks: Curtains close on Springs Theatre in Glenwood after 26 years
October 4, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Time to roll the credits and draw the curtains, as the last picture show has played at the Springs Theatre in downtown Glenwood Springs.
At the same time, a deal was finalized Wednesday to give the historic entertainment venue new life as home to another local institution, the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue variety show.
"It's a done deal, the Vaudeville show will be moving over [from its current space at the Glenwood Masonic Lodge]," Vaudeville Revue owner/manager John Goss confirmed.
"We will be starting construction [Friday], and plan to open up the day after Thanksgiving for the start of our holiday show," Goss said.
The upgrade will provide a bigger and better stage, more seating, roomier bathrooms and ADA accessibility.
Longer-term, Goss said he envisions the theater space being used for a variety of community events, including concert nights and other performances.
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"We want to really make this a local, fine arts venue, where any given night there will be something going on," Goss said.
It was a bittersweet move for longtime Springs Theatre owner John Buxman, who said he's glad the theater will continue as home for the Vaudeville show.
"After 26 great years, the Springs Theatre is closed," announces the telephone answering machine message from Buxman. "We are thankful for your support, and we will miss saying, 'we will see you at the movies.'"
The last movie to play at the iconic downtown movie theater with its old-style curtains framing the single, large movie screen, carpeted floors and upholstered seats, was Monday's showing of "Our Family," starring Robert De Niro.
Instead of a movie title under the "Now Showing" header on the marquee, the sign reads: "Closed. Thank you Glenwood."
"There's really no good way to do something like this," Buxman said Wednesday, as he was busy tending to his family's other business, owning and operating the small Village Markets grocery store chain in Colorado and Utah.
"I would have liked to have had a month of good-byes," said Buxman, who originally planned to keep the theater open through this weekend.
"We hung in there as long as we could, as a single-screen, independently owned, downtown theater in a competitive market," he said. "There's literally only about a dozen of these left in the United States."
Buxman also owns a three-screen theater in Moab, Utah, which is undergoing a required conversion from film to digital projection, as movies are no longer made available in reel-to-reel format.
The $70,000 cost to do the same at the Springs Theatre was definitely a "contributing factor" in Buxman's decision to close down, but not the only reason, he said.
One other locally owned and operated movie house, the Crystal Theatre in Carbondale, was successful in turning to its loyal patrons to help raise the money necessary to do the digital conversion.
"That wasn't something that I considered," Buxman said.
There were other factors that played into the Springs' demise, including the opening of the new seven-screen Brenden Theater in Rifle.
"Easy access to home entertainment options also continued to be a factor for us and other movie theaters," Buxman said.
"This theater has been a big part of my life," he said. "I was just a kid when I bought it, and its operation has helped to raise a little family.
"I've also had a lot of people tell me, 'I had my first date there, or my first job,'" he said. "A lot of people feel the same way I do this morning, and it's hard to let go."
As for the movie theater building's sequel, Buxman said its continued use for entertainment purposes makes sense.
"With its unique sloped floor, it doesn't really work for everybody, but it does work for the Vaudeville show," he said. "The fact that the theater could continue to operate with family entertainment made the decision a little easier."
A shared parking arrangement with the adjacent Bank of Colorado will also continue, he said, allowing for ample parking for evening and weekend matinee performances, Buxman said.