Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Cortland/Ithaca

Hope for the Oneonta Theatre

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Hope for the Oneonta Theatre
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A theater owner in Oneonta is trying to keep a landmark afloat, facing a recession and a struggling industry. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, the Oneonta Theatre is closing its doors at the end of the month, but a new push could help it reopen.

ONEONTA, N.Y. -- If you live in Oneonta, chances are you’ve made some memories at one particular theater.

“Everyone’s parents, grandparents walked across the stage to graduate, they’ve grown up seeing movies here, they got their first kiss on the balcony upstairs. Generations of families have come through here,” said Tom Cormier, Oneonta Theatre owner.

The Oneonta Theater was built in 1897. Current owner Tom Cormier says he bought it when it was abandoned three years ago, renovated it and reopened a year later.

“There were animals living in here, it was flooded it was in a dilapidated state,” said Cormier.

But because of the recession, Cormier has been facing a tough decision, closing the theater as of January 1st.

“This building is a big undertaking, 27,000 square feet, this is not a money-making industry as far at the venue goes,” said Cormier.

Despite the economy and the way things are looking right now, there could still be hope for the theater.

“It’s a great place, it’s not going to take a lot to keep it open, but it needs community participation, it needs people that want to get involved,” said Cormier.

On Tuesday night, Friends of the Oneonta Theater told Cormier they want to help preserve the landmark and transition it into a community-run operation. It could possibly reopen by March.

Cormier hopes he and Friends of the Oneonta Theater will be able to keep the theater going for another 115 years. If you’d like to learn more, head to http://oneontatheatre.com/.

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