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Saving Tioga Theatre: A Piece of History

The Tioga Theatre in Owego is 105 years old. Located on Main St. it has screened films featuring Hollywood Icons like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Natalie Wood.
"They built the building in 1908. At that time it cost $30,000 complete with fixtures and it was originally used for stage productions, vaudville, traveling shows local events," Theatre Owner, Terry Coleman, said.

  "I remember the Saturday night matinees when Jean Aubrey would get into trouble and you thought he was blowing up, you had to come back the next saturday to find out what's going on," John Shafer of Owego said.

But if owner's don't raise more than twenty thousand dollars in ten days the theatre may be forced to go dark.

"The movie industry is in the process of converting 35mm film to digital projection and we along the lines with every other movie theatre in the country must do so or we will be unable to show movies," Shafer said.

The new equipment costs $42,000 which the theatre just simply doesnt have. After repairing damages from tropical storm lee in 2011 it's money in reserves have run out. But people in the community have come together to help using  a fundraising website where people can log on and donate.

"Now if the kickstarter doesn't make it's goal none of the money is taken out of your credit card account or debit card account," Frances Evans, said.

So far people have donated 17.5 thousand dollars but it needs another $24 and a have thousand dollars by november 8th to stay open. And since it's the only theatre in tioga county the people don't want to see it go.

"We bring our children here. We have so many other families in owego who justwant to walk to the theatre and we can't see it gone," Frances Evans said.

  "It's like losing your right hand. It's part of the community."

"Pretty much every mainstream movie that was ever made was screened at this theatre," Coleman said.

"Yeah this is where you took your first day sometimes," Shafer said.

While the theatre still has a lot more money to raise those involved say they are hopeful they will meet the goal and that the theatre wont have to lock it's doors for good.


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