Globe Theater restoration attracts curious festival goers

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Oatmeal Festival goers got a sneak peak at the Globe Theater in downtown Bertram were restoration is in progress. (Sean Shapiro Photo)

Oatmeal Festival goers got a sneak peak at the Globe Theater in downtown Bertram were restoration is in progress. (Sean Shapiro Photo)

By SEAN SHAPIRO

BERTRAM – Attempting to escape the heat at the Bertram Oatmeal Festival, a family of four sat back, laughed, and enjoyed a classic black and white silent film in which a pair of golfers tear up a golf course with a variety of antics.

Sitting three rows behind the family, Zach Hamilton was getting to witness part of his vision for the historic Globe Theater.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Hamilton said. “Five years we’ve been working, and to finally get it working and showing something is pretty cool.”

Nestled on Vaughn Street in downtown Bertram, the Globe Theater isn’t completed yet, but Hamilton and co-owner Lance Regier had a chance to show off their completed work so far to visitors at the Oatmeal Festival last weekend.

There is still a lot of work to be done. The lobby, bathrooms and air conditioning have yet to be checked off Hamilton and Regier’s list off renovations. However, what has been completed impressed visitors Saturday.

Seats have been installed. So have lights along the walls that are modeled to look like the original décor in the 74-year-old theater. A stage and screen have also been installed, creating a shell of the entertainment options Hamilton and Regier hope to offer when the Globe Theater has its formal grand re-opening.

“At this time last year, we didn’t have seats, we really didn’t have anything,” Regier said. “All we had was this structure. Since we have seats now, it was a perfect time to open it up (with the festival) and show what we’ve done.”

Moviegoers will have to wait a little while before the Globe Theater is fully operational. Regier said they hope to have the restoration completed “within a year.”

However, there isn’t too much pressure from the community to rush. In fact, the Globe Theater turned into one of the de facto main attractions with the Oatmeal Festival taking place on Vaughn Street.

“I remember when I moved here almost 20 years ago, we drove through town and saw that theater all closed down,” Jayme Benziger said after taking a tour. “I always thought it would be great to see what it was like originally, and I think they’re doing a great job of that.”

That’s the goal for Hamilton and Regier. Finish the restoration with some modern conveniences -– in particular, air conditioning -– but still keep that traditional feel for a theater that opened August 20, 1935.

“I want people to walk in and feel like it’s legitimately old,” Hamilton said. “The goal is to restore this to what it was. There are so many people that we’ve talked to that have memories of this place.”

Some new memories were made Saturday for the first time in more than 30 years.

Closed in 1982, the Globe Theater sat and decayed until Hamilton and Regier purchased the property from Tommy Knight in October 2009.

In the past five years, the duo has replaced roof, re-built the balcony, extended the back of the building to accommodate future restrooms, and found and hung the original Globe Theater sign on the front of the building.

Once the renovation is complete, Hamilton and Regier have big plans for the venue.

The theater will show original 35 millimeter films, which limits the selection to anything produced before 2012.

“Everything switched to digital after that, so we’ll be showing older films, both black and white and color, on Friday and Saturday nights,” Hamilton said. “I’m also looking into doing documentaries, possibly on Mondays and Tuesdays.”

The Globe Theater will also be able to host concerts for roughly 300 people, and it will be able to be rented out for private events.

“We’ve actually already had a wedding here,” Hamilton said. “It was one of the people who helped with the seats. We didn’t have too much done at the time, but we had the seats in. So, of course we allowed it.”

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