Historic theater in Tipton closing after nearly a century - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Historic theater in Tipton closing after nearly a century; group working to re-open it

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As Stuart Clark was growing up in Tipton, he loved making trips to the Hardacre Theater.

"I remember walking down with my little sister when we were six or seven years old and watching movies," said Clark.

For 22 years Clark has owned the theater, but Saturday the final film was screened.

"It's sad and a little nerve-wracking," said Clark.

The Hardacre has been running continuously as an opera house, then movie theater, since 1914. The theater hasn't kept up with recent industry changes, still running 35 millimeter film, never switching to digital.

"We currently show 35 millimeter film," said Will Valet, Director of Hardacre Film Festival. "It's almost impossible to find 35 millimeter film anywhere, at least at an affordable price. So really, this is a necessity to be able to upgrade."

The building also needs several facility upgrades. Combined with the digital switch, an update would cost more than two million dollars.

Hope isn't lost for the theater. A group wants to purchase it, turn it into a not-for-profit, renovate it, and then re-open.

"The theater has historical value to the community," said Greg Brown, Hardacre Theater Preservation Association."The theater is kind of an anchor spot for the community as well."

Tipton business owners agree. They say the theater, specifically the annual film festival, draws in new customers.

"We have a lot of people come in from out of town and they usually browse during breaks and many times they come back to our community to shop," said Daisy Winger, Tipton Business Owner. 

"The festival is the longest running film festival in Iowa and it's a part of the legacy of the theater and the legacy of the town, actually," said Valet.

Members of the Hardacre Theater Preservation Association hope the film festival will be back, in its home, next year.

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