Saugerties’ Orpheum Theatre sold

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Saugerties’ historic Orpheum Theatre has been sold to Upstate Films, according to a post on the theatre’s social media page.

The announcement reads:

As Judy Garland’s Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home.”

From Vaudeville theatre to silent films, from adult features to family fare, from daytime matinees to Saturday night blockbusters, it has been our pleasure to serve the village and community of Saugerties for over 100 years. While we will miss the dimming of the lights, serving popcorn and the new pictures featured on the marquee, what we will miss most of all is you, the patrons, who have made the Orpheum a truly special place. We appreciate and thank you for the support you have shown the Orpheum Theater and our family all these years.
We wish the new owners, Upstate Films, the best of luck on their new adventure.

Sincerely,
Thomas, Jade, Rebecca, Mike and Peter

The deal was not a surprise. The theatre has been for sale since 2019 and in May, we reported that the duo who recently purchased Upstate Films was in talks to purchase the Orpheum.

The three-screen theatre on Main Street, Saugerties was built in 1908 by the Davis family. It started its life as a vaudeville theater, a popular stop on the circuit between the Collingwood Opera House (now the Bardavon) in Poughkeepsie and similar venues in Albany. Burns and Allen, Gypsy Rose Lee and Cary Grant, when his name was still Archibald Leach, were among the showbiz luminaries on record as having performed live at the Orpheum. The original floor was flat, suitable to be cleared of seats for dances and even roller-skating.

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Byron S. Thornton, patriarch of the family who were the most recent owners of the 6,480-square-foot building, acquired it in 1919, renovated it and installed a sloping floor more suitable for film projection. With the advent of “talkies,” speakers were installed in the 1930s, and the space acquired a reputation for excellent acoustics. By the turn of the millennium the single-screen auditorium was divided up into a triplex, with two of the theater spaces seating 138 viewers and the third seating 145. The 35 mm reel-to-reel film projectors were converted to digital systems in 2012, with a 3-D-capable projection and screen installed in one theater.

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