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Previous Names: Gem Theatre
In December of 1926, Harry P. Johnson leased the Lyman Community Building and turned it into a silent movie theatre. The problem was that the floor wasn’t sloped and because he had only one projector, the waits between reels were not meeting with favorable reviews. A second theatre, the Ideal was created just months later. New operator Ted Umphries took on the Gem Theatre who both installed a sloped floor and two new projectors.
The theatre relaunched September 3, 1927 with Buck Jones in “Chain Lightning.” And the price of admission was free because “it was the cashier’s night off.” The competing Ideal Theatre turned Lyman Theatre equipped for sound in 1929 and the Gem Theatre dropped out of the movie business. Though still called the Gem Theatre from 1929 to 1938, the venue returned to its Community Building fare of live dances and related events.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Goodall took on the venue wiring it for sound and relaunching as the Plaza Theatre. The Plaza Theatre launched October 27, 1939 with Frederic March in “Trade Winds” and Loyd Nolan in “Magnificent Fraud.” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind” also played the Plaza Theatre.
The Plaza Theatre vanquished the Lyman Theatre. But the Plaza Theatre’s final day of operation was May 23, 1943 when Bob Hope & Bing Crosby in “The Road to Morocco” was being played for 50-75 patrons. The theatre got stuck in the projector causing a fire and then a first explosion. Everyone got out safely but by the time fire departments from Torrington and Morrill arrived, a second explosion of film totaled the building. The Plaza’s remains were removed. Goodall would equip the Lyman Theatre bringing it back to service in 1943 and lasting all the way to 1969.
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