Colony Theatre transforming into new club


The Colony Theatre originally showed its first movie in 1937. It seated nearly 600 people and featured three shows every day with a fourth on Thanksgiving.

GALLIPOLIS — The Colony Theater building is expecting a newly anticipated business to open in the fall, The Colony Club.

“The idea of the business is that it’s a restaurant and bar that features classic movies and we’ll have live music,” David McCarty, Colony Club proprietor, said.

McCarty said it was possible the theater would show movies like “Casablanca,” “Gone with the Wind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Shawshank Redemption” to name a few. He and his family came up with the idea for the Colony Club during the spring.

McCarty wants to publicly share the majority of his business model at a later date. Randy Breech, owner of the Colony Theatre building, said at previous Gallipolis City Commission meetings that the reconstruction of its interior was coming quickly and was estimated to be finished by late August. A digital projection system is being installed. According to Breech, viewers should be able to watch movies upon one of the original screens installed in the theatre before its renovation. The original Colony sign will also be restored. Dining seating capacity should be approximately 50 and bar seating is expected to be around a dozen.

“Hopefully, it’ll do well and attract more people. But being an attraction to bring people to town, this comes back to one of the biggest issues we’ve talked about: Parking in the area,” Breech said.

Breech said he hopes the city will help accommodate the traffic for the business.

The Colony Theatre was originally a 600-seat cinema, according to information gathered from a former Gallipolis newspaper correspondent, James Sands. The inside was measured 85 feet by 45 feet and split into three sections with upholstered aisles.

According to Sands, in 1938 the Colony hosted a “Hollywood Premiere” in which locals dressed up as celebrities and were chauffeured about in motor cars.

The theatre was originally built in 1937 but work started in 1936. A flood delayed the construction. W.O. Atkinson and Mrs. Cora Withers originally suggested the Colony Theatre name. Both were winners of a naming contest. The winners won six-month passes to the movies. Some of the suggested names were Wheelereel, O.O. McIntyre, New Deal, French Colony, Roosevelt, Oscar Eagle (after a Gallipolis actor) and the Palace.

Nov. 24, 1937 marked the date of the first movie to be shown in the Colony. “Vogues of 1938” entertained the first patrons of the cinema.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.

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