BARNESVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) — From the acting legends to the King of Rock and Roll, the Barnesville State Theater was around for the salad days of film.
Opening in 1925 before even the first talkies, the Modi as it was known began with live shows before adding movies.
Even a Miss Sunbeam bread contest was part of its community legacy.
But declining receipts and noisy teenagers drove it to shut down in the late ’60s, and then to decades of disrepair.
I just think probably the drive-in movie theaters, and the advent of VCR coming, at a later date of course, just a lack of interest and lack of attendance.Roger Johnson, President, Barnesville State Theater
That was before local interest led to the formation of a 501c to save it from the ravages of time.
Volunteers were greeted with a mess when they started cleaning it up back in July…and in just two months and over a thousand man hours, the theatre is free of debris.
Architects and acoustic engineers will be taking a look soon as it enters the redesign phase.
We had to clean out the facility, a lot of inspections, the roof had received a lot of damage from just weather over the years, and neglect.Roger Johnson, President, Barnesville State Theater
The effort is more than just weekend work.
A committee has been formed to apply for grants with the state, and handle the numerous donations that have already come their way.
When the upkeep is done, they hope its uses will stretch beyond the visual arts to include music and civic events.
And it’s not going to be perfect back to where it was in the ’20s, but it’s going to be a functional facility that will serve the community, and the surrounding communities and benefit everybody.Roger Johnson, President, Barnesville State Theater
Sadly, they haven’t found any pictures yet of what the cinema looked like in its prime.
But the Barnesville State Theater Facebook page has collected the memories of those who sat in its seats.