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November 3, 2021

Doors to the Past

The antique oak doors of the Luna Theater entrance once led into the York Theater in Athol, MA. Like most vintage pieces in and around Mill No. 5, these doors were found by owner Jim Lichoulas, who designed the space. These doors were salvaged years ago when the York was converted into a bowling alley. Jim found these doors from a vendor at the Brimfield Antique Market and brought them back specifically for The Luna Theater. 

The doors are installed in the Luna Theater with the original hardware intact. They have not been refurbished so they are the same as they were when installed in The York nearly 100 years ago. Jim says “The cool thing about these doors is that we know where they came from and we have photos of where they once were.”

The York Theater opened on November 12, 1940 and ran continuously until the 1960s. Since then, it has been a temporary courthouse, a dance studio, a teen center and more recently a bowling alley. The theater stands vacant today with its original exterior architecture and some original architecture and lighting inside. 

The Theater Historical Society of America works towards the preservation and knowledge of those special theaters throughout the country that are still standing. Jim continues, “These (small) theaters were special in what they did for the community but they weren’t inherently special in terms of rarity or uniqueness,” which is one of the reasons why so many town theaters are not saved. Lowell had eight theaters at one point all competing at the same time. “They were single screen theaters all showing something different. Sometimes they would be associated with a particular movie studio, so a Warner theater would show Warner shows. That style of movie experience changed due to a Supreme Court ruling to break up the vertical monopoly of theatre production and theater exhibition. (After that) these theaters became more independent. Today’s multiplex theaters provide lots of content but these were the tv’s of the day. This is where you saw the news reels, it was more of a community event and moviegoers would go potentially more than once a week.” 

One Comment on “Doors to the Past

Julie
November 4, 2021 at 9:15 am

Thanks for this article. I like knowing the history of the pieces in Mill 5.

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