If you have not figured it out from the heat these past few days, June is here in full force! Of course, the heat isn’t the only thing that June brings: it also starts the season of summer blockbusters. Perhaps some of you have already gone to see some, such as Wonder Woman, at the Grand 3 Theatre. However, did you know that in the early 1900s the Grand 3 was not a theatre and that there were actually two different competing theatres in Perry?
Years before it became what we frequent today, the Grand 3 Theatre in Perry was an entirely different form of entertainment. Perhaps you have noticed that the main screen at the Grand 3 has a different feel to it than the other screens. There are balconies on either side of the screen and there used to be an elaborate frame around the screen with busts above it. There even used to be a stage that extended out into the room! What do these lead you to believe the theatre used to be? If you guessed Opera House, you would be right! When it first opened in November 1903, the Grand 3 Theatre was actually the Grand Opera House. We do not have any pictures of the inside of the building when it was an Opera House, but one can assume that the balconies were once functional, with wealthy citizens sitting in them to watch the show. Although, come to think of it, I used to work at the Theatre and I never found a way to access those balconies, so maybe they were always just decorations!
Now, although the Grand 3 Theatre was not always used to show movies, there were two other places in Perry one could go to see the moving pictures. Opening around 1910, these two theatres were the Rex Theatre and the Majestic Theatre. The Rex Theatre, as I understand it, was just down the street from the Grand Opera House on the corner of Second and Lucinda. The Majestic Theatre, on the other hand, was farther down Second Street, closer to the Carnegie Library (in fact it looks like it used to be in the building where the Shoppe of Oddities is now). In fact, according to our collection there used to be a third theatre called “Foxy Theatre”, but I can only find one reference to it so I am unsure if it was an actual third theatre or a rebranding of one of the other two theatres.
Still, with all these other theatres in town it makes me wonder why none of the rest of them survived. Did the Grand 3’s transition to a theatre drive the rest from town? Did the other theatres burn down in one of the numerous fires in Perry? If any of you readers know, tell us in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage Blog!