Did you know that Millinocket once had theaters called Crown, Keith, and Four-Star? The Crown Theater opened in September 1937 at 75 Penobscot Avenue (most recently bowling alley site). It had 350 seats and was constructed by Milton Glickman. Soon after, the name was changed to Keith Theater. Frank “Binky” LePage was assistant manager. Later the same year, Charles Madden purchased the theater. He reopened it up the street at 151 Penobscot Avenue as the 350 seat Four-Star Theater. The next year, Madden started construction of a new theater (Millinocket Theater) on site of old Keith Theater. The Millinocket Theater’s gala opening took place Sept.9, 1938. There were 702 seats and Frank LePage became general manager. Thus, in 1938, Millinocket had three operating movie theaters, the Opera House (1st talkie, 1929), the Four-Star, and the new Millinocket Theater.
As of 1939, only the Opera House was allowed to show major films. This resulted in the Four-Star closing the following year. In 1943, the Millinocket Theater won a lawsuit and gained the right to show major motion pictures. They went on to add Cinema Scope, a giant wide screen.
Glen Wheaton became an important part of the Millinocket Theater’s history beginning at age eleven passing out programs. In return, he received free movie passes. His first paying job was selling candy.
Through the 1940’s, 50’s and into the 1960’s, the Opera House and Millinocket Theater attracted crowds to view great motion pictures. The Millinocket Theater ended its run in 1962 when it was destroyed by fire. In 1971, the Opera House closed and in 1977, the building was demolished. For a time in the 1970’s and early 80’s, the K Cinema operated at the local shopping center on the hill.
The museum has a variety of posters, programs and other handouts from the Millinocket Theater and the Opera House and one each from the Four-Star and Keith. Penobscot Avenue street scene photos and post cards show the Millinocket Theater and Opera House. In one museum photo, the marquee for Four-Star Theater can be seen as well as a portion of the building. This theater was located where Katahdin Valley Health Center is now.
The Opera House (1912) was the scene of live performances and other town events in the years before silent movies and then “talkies”. The museum has a piece of stationary from the Dream Theater (live performances, not movies). It says: Dream Theater, Cutliffe & Ferland, Owners, Millinocket. No information as to location. Advertisements in 1923 and 1925 show it was on Penobscot Avenue,
***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or email@example.com. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.