Temple Cinema to celebrate 100th anniversary with special free movie

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — For the past 100 years, Temple Cinemas has brought Hollywood to Houlton. 

To commemorate the businesses’ 100th anniversary, current theatre owner Charlie Fortier has planned a special free screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” on Saturday, Aug. 18, with a morning showing. A donation bucket will be placed, with proceeds going to Aid for Kids.

“Most people probably have never seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’ on the big screen,” Fortier said. “I know I haven’t.”

The movie was selected based on voting on the theatre’s Facebook page.

The historic building, which also serves as home to the Masonic Lodge No. 96, was officially dedicated on Nov. 14, 1919. While the first movies were not shown until 1919, Fortier is celebrating the 100th birthday this year, since it marks the start of construction of the historic building.

From the book, “The Story of Houlton,” written by Cora Carpenter Putnam in 1958, “The cornerstone was laid on Aug. 14, 1918. In the cornerstone was deposited an historical chart of Monument Lodge; the list of charter members; the list of officers up to Aug. 14, 1918; the names of past masters who had served as district deputy grand masters; the locations where the lodge had had quarters; a list of members in the service of the Army and Navy or with our Allies; copies of the last issue of the Houlton Times, the Aroostook Pioneer and the Bangor Daily News; a copy of the by-laws of the lodge; a lambskin apron; a record of the vote to build with the names of the building committee, contractors and architect; the records of the Grand Lodge of Maine; letters from Lt. Roland E. Clark, past master, who at the time was in France serving in the Army; a list of the 1918 Grand Lodge officers; and a copy of the town report of Houlton for 1918.”

Fortier said he also plans to place a time capsule in the basement corner of the building, featuring a collection of items from 2018. Fortier added he has no plans to dig up the time capsule placed during the building’s construction back in 1918.

“It would be a pretty substantial project (to remove), plus we have a pretty good idea of what was placed in the time capsule because it was well documented,” Fortier said.

His new time capsule will be more electronic based.

“I want to recreate this treasure trove of memorabilia for 2018 in a Temple time capsule catty-corner to the cornerstone, against the foundation behind the tall fire escape,” Fortier said. “I will request PDF’s of the Houlton Pioneer Times and the Bangor Daily News. I’m going to ask the town manager for a letter and a town report, a note from the director of the Chamber of Commerce and a list of their members, and missives from other interested dignitaries from surrounding towns.”

Fortier invites anyone with remembrances of the Temple to contact him via email to have their memories included in the time capsule.

“What was your first movie, your most memorable shows, or what were the things that thrilled and delighted you right here in our shared community hometown theater?” he said. “What would you want the folks in the greater Houlton area in (the year) 2118 to know about your experiences at the Temple?”

The deadline for electronic submissions is Aug. 14 via email to: Temple4TA@outlook.com.

From the Temple’s history, nearly 100 people were present for the April 29 (1919) Monday evening grand opening. The first nitrate celluloid hand cranked through the projector at The Temple starred Madge Kennedy in “A Perfect Lady.” The front of the theatre was equipped with an orchestra pit as in the days of yore, the flicks were silent. Bryson’s eight piece orchestra provided the melodic backdrop for cinematic entertainment.

In 2002, after years of neglect, The Temple was leased by Therese Bagnardi and Michael Hurley. Although the theatre had been modernized with new cinema seating, sound systems, carpeting, paint and paper; every opportunity to save original fixtures was taken. This is evident in the lobby lighting fixtures, interior stained glass and wood work. After many months of renovation, the Temple reopened on Nov. 1, 2002, once again rolling film in the style of grandeur for which it was originally intended. In 2004 Hurley purchased the Temple building and the parking lot formerly known as the “Key Bank parking lot.”

The biggest change came in 2014 when the theatre switched from 35mm film to digital projection and state of the art digital sound with all new speakers.

In 2016, current owner Charlie Fortier took over the business and changed the name to Temple Cinemas.