Glenwood Springs theater evokes 1970s nostalgia |

Glenwood Springs theater evokes 1970s nostalgia

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Certain songs or aromas, sometimes certain places, evoke certain memories.A single step through the entrance of the Springs Theatre feels like a giant leap back in time, to a decade known as the “Me generation.” The disco era hangs thick upon the theater’s walls like a great piece of American history.”Not a lot has changed since it was built in 1972,” said John Buxman, the theater’s owner.

The theater is a reminder of the aging generation’s onetime youthful exuberance. A generation that’s slowly drifting further from “hipster” and becoming more – each day – the adults they rebelled against in the days of their youth.It’s places like the theater that take people back to childhood with a single smile.”I get the same feeling,” Buxman said. “Sometimes I forget that I own this place, but I would rather watch a movie here than anywhere.”Same goes for theater manager Leonard Dean.”It’s different,” Dean said. “It reminds me of the theaters I grew up going to when I was younger.”At 36, Dean and the theater are nearly the same age.

“It’s neat to be part of something that evokes emotional memories for people,” Buxman said. “There’s not much I can do. The image we project and the sound are as good as anywhere, but other than that, the way it looks now is the way it’s always looked.”Buxman can count on a single hand the things he’s changed or upgraded over the years. He’s had to replace the carpet in the lobby, painted the gold wallpaper a solid-blue hue, and upgraded the two movie projectors and sound system to state-of-the-art equipment.”When I bought it, I would play 6,000-foot movie reels,” Buxman said. “The equipment may still look old, but the image is as clear and bright as anywhere else, and the sound is cutting-edge.”Anyone who’s seen a movie at the theater can attest to that. It’s the red and blue drapery – tattered in spots – covering the walls and the blue fabric-upholstered seats that resonate 1972, the same year Francis Ford Coppola introduced the world to “The Godfather.”Buxman purchased the theater in 1987 from Lloyd Carr, who lived in California. According to Buxman, the theater was idle

Theater: 3Theater: From 1 for about two years at the time of purchase, and Carr had never even seen it.”The building was sitting empty,” Buxman said. “I made an offer that I thought they wouldn’t accept, but they did. So I had to learn how to run a theater.”His first day, there was still popcorn in the machine from the last movie that played two years earlier, Buxman said.”It was like they closed after a movie one night and never opened again,” Buxman said.

But it didn’t take long for the tickets to be issued and the seats to fill. It was in that first year of operation for Buxman that a movie starring Robin Williams, titled “Good Morning Vietnam,” was released and brought the crowds to the 300-seat theater once again.”That was the first big movie that came to the theater,” Buxman said. “It was the first time that we filled the seats. I will always remember that.”Buxman continually meets folks that share memories of the old theater, like that of a first date or a favorite movie.”When it’s full it’s really exciting,” Buxman said. “On a busy night, to watch everyone enjoying it, it’s a neat feeling. I wish we could do that every night.”But as the years roll on, night after night, the crowds come and go. Some nights are better than others, but there’s always an air of excitement. And the customers still enjoy the atmosphere.”There is some sincerity that people could see a movie anywhere, but the community wants to watch them here,” Buxman said. “When the theater is gone, people will realize how much it was used by the community. It will take the entertainment aspect out of downtown.”

Buxman hasn’t any plans of closing or selling the theater, “but the future is uncertain,” he said.”It’s been a long time,” he said. “It’s been 20 years for me, and you are never sure.”The one thing Buxman is certain of is that tonight, just as every night around 7 p.m., the Springs Theatre will come to life. People will buy tickets, grab a soda and some popcorn, and find their way to a suitable seat. The lights will dim and the curtain will magically open. The giant screen will pop into action as a beam of light cuts the room in half. Faces illuminated in the darkness will evoke memories of the “Me generation.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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