The Grand Theatre to present '100 Years of Memories'
by Marie Nesmith
Oct 27, 2010 | 1951 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the editing studio of the Booth Western Art Museum, Terri Cox, left, and Cheryl Kennedy edit videos and still photos to create “100 Years of Memories.”  SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
In the editing studio of the Booth Western Art Museum, Terri Cox, left, and Cheryl Kennedy edit videos and still photos to create “100 Years of Memories.” SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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On Saturday, The Grand Theatre will cap off a year of celebrating its centennial with the video presentation "100 Years of Memories."

"It just really lets you see throughout all those generations how the theater has been the center for culture for our community," said Terri Cox, program coordinator for The Grand Theatre. "Even though it's changed throughout the years, it's always been a place where people have come to enjoy the arts and also come together as a community.

"With it being the centennial, we thought this was the perfect time to really document some of the history of The Grand for future generations and to show what it has been throughout all those years. In the last part there's a section where we're all talking about what we hope for the future. I think it's really important to know what the past is in order to make the future even better."

In addition to photographs and videos of past performances, the 7 p.m. video presentation also will provide the audience a snapshot of The Grand's history through oral interviews conducted with about 40 people, ranging from patrons and performers to theater personnel. Opened in 1910 as The Greenwood Theatre, it started as a performing arts venue and then presented movies from the late 1920s until 1977. After a "Save the Grand" campaign was launched by The Pumphouse Players and The Cartersville Opera Company, The Grand Theatre was purchased by a local resident and underwent two renovations, the latest one in 2005.

According to a news release from The Grand, "Included in the film are patrons from the 1930s through the 1970s who tell of coming to the 'picture show' with family and friends. You'll hear about Western movie stars who made appearances at the theater and the exciting event when Officer Don Kennedy of 'The Popeye Club' came to entertain the kids. Many employees of the theater reminisce about taking up tickets, running the carbon film projectors, making up newsreels during World War II. Many patrons recall fond memories of paying a quarter for an all-day movie pass with enough left over for a Coca-Cola, popcorn and a Chilly Dilly.

"After the movie theater's closing in 1977, the theater continued to operate with participation from The Pumphouse Players. You'll hear from the PHP members who produced amazingly professional plays on a stage only 8 feet wide -- shows like 'Oklahoma,' 'Mame' and 'Once Upon a Mattress.' You'll hear from those who watched the grand 1988 renovation as the theater was transformed into a live-performance venue giving way to more elaborate plays and the formation of The Grand Theatre Opera Company."

For Martha Wellsandt, who was interviewed for "100 Years of Memories" with her sister Mona Lewis, The Grand Theatre is a one-of-a-kind venue that has been a part of her life since the early 1960s.

"My first memory is just walking to The Grand and spending all day on Saturdays at the movies and being with my friends," Wellsandt said about her elementary school years. "My favorite thing was after the Kiddie Day Parade you would get a free Coca-Cola and a free donut ... and then [we would attend] the movie.

"We used to call it 'the show.' We didn't call it The Grand we'd say, 'Are you going to the show?' And the show was free all day long. So you would go and stay all day long at the show and it didn't matter what was on," she said, adding she later acted in several Pumphouse Players productions at The Grand in the late '70s and early '80s.

Due to her ties to The Grand, Wellsandt said she wanted to be interviewed for the video presentation to highlight the venue and the community of her childhood.

"It is something that will never be experienced again because of the special place that Cartersville was during the '50s and '60s," she said. "Everything centered around downtown and that was just how your life was day to day. [It was] centered around downtown. And the show, as we called it, was such a huge part of that and that will never be captured again. But you can get a feel of it and I still -- when I walk in [The Grand] I get excited."

To be held at The Grand Theatre, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville, Saturday's 7 p.m. presentation will be free to the public. Interested individuals also will be able to order copies of the DVD for $20. For more information, call The Grand at 770-386-7343.