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1983 Auditorium Remodel

Our first order of business upon buying the theatre in 1979 was upgrading the projection booth. While that was a significant change, it was a behind-the-scenes change, so the public never really knew what had happened. Our next major project was a bit more visible -- we replaced the original theatre seats from 1930, added acoustic coverings to the auditorium walls, and recarpeted. We had redecorated the lobby and enlarged the concession area the previous year, but this project gave the Roxy its biggest facelift ever and proved to the community of Forsyth that we were in the movie business to stay.


March 1983: It's easy to see that our seats were way overdue for replacement. The pink-colored seats in the foreground were slide-back models which had been installed in the 1950s or 1960s. The other seats, including the ones in the balcony, were original to the Roxy. The front ten rows had been rescued from the old Star Theatre, so they were at least 70 years old!

Sections of seats await disassembly.

Tom Clifford carries an end standard and an armrest/leg assembly to the pile. The ornate end standards were cast iron and weighed about 30 pounds each.

The ceiling was painted dark brown, and the framework for the acoustic wall coverings can be seen.

This photo also shows the small 'Spanish balconies' which were part of the theatre's original decor. Some people expressed displeasure that we did away with those balconies, and they do look kind of nice, but they were nothing special...the cast-iron-like grilles on each balcony were really made of thick cardboard. (That's show biz!)

The well-worn wood floor was covered with a new layer of 3/4" plywood.

The beginning of the Roxy's new sound system can be seen right here: The walls were covered with insulation to absorb echoes.

We also put up a decorative apron on the stage. Carpentry and painting was done by Forsyth contractor, David Hulman whose parents had owned our major competition in town, the Starlite Drive-In, until it was closed in 1980.

We ran one last weekend with just 40 seats, before removing the rest of the chairs. We were closed a total of four days for the completion of the project.

Mike Hekkel and Ray Deering helped with the removal of the last group of chairs.

These chairs were loaded on a trailer and were just about to be hauled to the dump, when representatives from a church in Hardin spotted them and asked if we'd like to donate them. Of course, we did. As far as we know, they're still in use today.

All seats have been removed, and we're now ready for the rest of the plywood floor to be laid. The balcony rail was also painted dark brown (it's about half finished in this picture).

It took two days for the flooring people to lay the linoleum floor, and then the seating contractors showed up along with 165 boxes of seats. We didn't take any more pictures until the job was finished...probably too busy planning the grand opening, which was held on May 6, 1983 with the movie "Tootsie."


As a cost-saving measure, we had decided not to replace the balcony seats at this point. People would go to the balcony, find the old chairs, and come right back down to sit in the comfy new seats. After a few weeks, we closed the balcony, and it remained closed until 1992.

The Roxy had seating for 425 people when we started this project. When we finished, we had 255 seats and twice as much legroom as before.

Our aisles were fitted with the very latest thing: Floor lights, which were a fairly new item in the early '80s. They weren't too refined: If one bulb burned out, a six foot strip of the bulbs would quit working. So we were plagued almost from the beginning with sections of lights that did not work.

We had to replace about half-a-dozen of the strips over the first two years. Then, the lighting company went out of business, and lights continued to burn out, so we finally turned the lights off altogether.

The screen lights were provided by six fresnel spots aimed up at the screen. They burned out frequently too, and bulbs were over $30 each to replace, so we eventually swapped the fresnels for different, lower-maintenance lights which we still use today.

In 1991, after almost ten years of requests, we decided to reopen the balcony. The project was done by local carpenter Ron Mogen, and electrician Bob Hecht.

Since buying a very small quantity of new seats is prohibitively expensive, we removed two rows of seats from the front of the auditorium, and one row from the back, and relocated those chairs to the balcony.