On Saturday, Sept. 5, at 3:45 p.m. members of the Lakeview Community Partnership (LCP) will be celebrating the 80th birthday of the Alger Theater with a Facebook live event and cupcakes. After the Facebook event there will be a curbside concession sale from 4 – 7 p.m. and the first 100 people will receive a cupcake.
The Alger Theater celebrated its grand opening in early September 1940. It opened the first weekend of September, on what is now known as Labor Day weekend. The theater was the second theater in Lakeview, after the Marius, which is currently home to Lake County Public Health and other offices.
The Alger family said they built the now named Alger Theater because they could not show all the first run movies that they wanted, and felt that another theater was needed. Some of the original plans called for grandstand seating, with no balcony.
The first movie that was shown at the Alger Theater was the musical comedy “Irene”, a semi-popular hit from 1940s starring Anna Neagle and Ray Milland. The story is a romantic comedy and based on a 1919 stage musical of the same name.
Over the years the Alger and Marius were both showing movies, although the Alger ceased operations in the early 1950s. By the early 1960s the Alger Theater reopened and quickly became the only theater in Lakeview as the Marius was renovated and turned into office space.
Over the years the Alger Theater showed first run movies for a week, except for the movie “Titanic” which was shown for a couple of weeks. As theaters across the country made the transition to digital projectors, the Alger Theater was shut down in the 2000s due to the prohibitive cost of purchasing a new digital projector.
One of the early projects of the LCP was to purchase the Alger Theater and reopen and renovate the building. The LCP currently owns the Alger Theater and before COVID showed movies on the weekends, and hosted musical and theater acts. The LCP managed to acquire grants to go towards the renovation of the theater and has been bequeathed some money as well.
Besides selling popcorn, movie candy, and handing out cupcakes, people will be able to purchase an Alger Theater 80th birthday t-shirt as well. Prices start at $18, and $20 for the larger sizes.
With the Alger Theater currently closed, though the LCP is working on getting it reopened, people who purchase a t-shirt at the event on Saturday, Sept. 5, will receive a free pass for when the Alger reopens to the movie “Irene”. The original plan was to show the movie that was first screened at the Alger Theater on its 80th birthday.
For more information call LCP Exec. Dir. Ginger Casto at 541-944-8176.