The Old Town Theater, on King Street in Alexandria, has been showing “moving pictures” for almost 100 years, along with vaudeville, community theater, puppet shows, and anything else you could put on a stage or screen. But no more.
David Sachs reports in Thursday’s Alexandria Times that the Old Town is closing for good this weekend, the stuff inside auctioned off next weekend, and the great old marquee torn down shortly after that to make way for more retail space in the heart of Old Town.
Roger Fons, the managing partner, told Sachs he was tired of slow business, employee theft and a string of crummy movies. “You’ve got to have a product that is worth something,” Fons said of Hollywood’s recent output. He said the King Street Trolley bypassing the theater and increased parking fees may have contributed to declining income.
Sachs reports that the building has been sold to PMA Properties, which has applied to the city to “restore the original facade,” meaning remove the marquee. The building was built in 1914 for the purpose of “moving pictures, bowling alleys and billiards,” Old Town’s Web site says, and it’s been through various iterations in the ensuing 98 years. After it closed in 1999, Fons bought it in 2003 for $1.1 million, set it up as a non-profit, saw it closed in 2006 after he added a second screen without the city’s permission, and tried to keep it going as a “multi-entertainment center featuring all forms of the performing arts including film, theater, music and children shows.” But the losses were too great.
And so, its final movie? “Mission Impossible (4).”
I’ve left messages for Fons, but in the meantime here is Sachs’s fine story from the Alexandria Times.