Braden Theater readies for pre-Christmas premiere

17 years ago
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – If all goes as planned, moviegoers will be able to celebrate this Christmas by attending the grand re-opening of the Braden Theater on Main Street.

    Owner Chris Dow, along with his father, Arlen Dow, both of Presque Isle, have been working for months to bring the facility back online as the night spot it once was in years past. The two men have put in a great deal of work since purchasing the building earlier this year, basically rebuilding the theater from the floor up.
“We’ve done much of the work ourselves, with help from Shawn Bagley who’s done drywalling and the acoustic matting for us and Mike Turner who’s done the heating and electrical work. PNM did the rough framing for us,” said Chris Dow. “We started at the floor and have worked our way from there up.”
In-floor radiant heat was installed to keep patrons comfortable on cold winter days.
Dow said the theater was just a bare structure when he acquired it. Everything had to be rebuilt to return it to movie theater status.
“The former owner had gutted it for possible use as office space – downstairs and up. We’re nearly finished with the theater section but haven’t decided what we’ll do with the upstairs,” said Dow. “The benefit of having it completely gutted is the ability to do what you want.”
The facility is divided into three theaters, with a total seating capacity of about 500, explained Dow during a recent tour of the building.
“The first theater measures approximately 35 feet by 34 feet, the middle one is about 5 feet narrower and the back measures about the same as the first. We have four projectors – three to use and one for a spare – and all the seating we need, thanks to a deal we worked out with Patti Crooks at the Aroostook Centre Mall. The seats and projectors came from Hoyt’s. The mall had them, we needed them, so we made a deal. We got lucky to pick up Hoyt’s equipment,” said Dow.
Getting the projectors into their new home in an upstairs projection room proved to be no easy task.
“Each unit weighs 700 to 800 pounds. They were hard to get up here but we did it and now they’re in place and ready for use,” said Dow.
The concession area has been expanded from what was originally in place, providing more room for staff and display purposes. Dow said plans are to keep concessions affordable.
“We want to keep prices reasonable, so a couple or a family can enjoy a movie and have something to eat without spending a fortune. It’s our goal to provide an economical form of entertainment – something everyone can enjoy without it costing a lot,” said Dow.
Dow had hoped to have the theater open closer to Thanksgiving, but a sprinkler issue delayed plans.
“We had to dig to Main Street and tap into the water line for our new sprinkler system. That set us back a few weeks. But now we have a state-of-the-art sprinkler system in place. Now it’s just a matter of doing the finishing touches – painting, putting in the carpeting and seats, finishing the bathrooms. All the major work is finished,” said Dow. “We should be past the big hurdles.”
Details on exact show times are still being worked out. The theater will feature primarily first-run movies, with possible other options based on demand and availability.
“As far as the studios are concerned, we’re listed as a first-run theater. But we’re looking into other options – for special occasions such as holidays or school breaks. We’ll be open as often as we can manage, with as many shows as possible, based on the crowd we draw,” said Dow. “We’d definitely like to be open before Christmas. Everything’s coming together quickly, so in all likelihood we’ll be open for the holidays.”
For more information, contact Dow at 227-4423.