In keeping with the movie theme generated by Sunday’s Oscars extravaganza, I’m reminded of recently driving past the now shuttered Esquire theater on South McArthur in Springfield and feeling kind of sad that its life is over. Once Spingfield’s best place to see movies it was, in its final years, left to deteriorate having become the “cheap theater” where you could see films for a buck before they left town.
Friday night I saw Walk the Line at the new “cheap theater” – the White Oaks Cinema. It occurred to me that this facility was also once the best place in town to catch a flick. How long before it closes?
All this got me thinking about the migration of the city’s best movie screens. Here’s what I came up with beginning with the Esquire.
Mid 1970’s – The Esquire It, I believe, was Springfield’s first multi-screen facility. I spent countless Saturday Afternoons there as a teen. You could go from one movie to the next without going outside!
Late 1970’s into the 1980s-White Oaks Cinema Even more screens! New theaters opened with the mall in 1977.
1990’s – Parkway Point 8 and Showplace 8 (tie) More and better twin operations.
2003 - Kerasotes ShowPlace West 12 Stadium seating and you can butter your own popcorn!
I’m not sure I can judge the “best” place to see a show before my teen years. In my memory, The Senate, The Fox, The Roxy and the other single screen movie houses of my early youth were all roughly the same, at least from my perspective at the time. I saw my first movie (Mary Poppins) at the Orpheum when I was like 4 but it was torn down a year or so later and I have no real memory of it. I understand it was the place to go back in the day.
Feel free to add to the list if you can.