Mr.Vanni believed in diversification. In addition to operating the fruit store and the theatre, he raised chickens in a building behind the theatre and was well known for his vintage wine, which was made in his basement. Many people who lived in Jaffrey at that time recall the aroma of fermenting grapes when they attended a movie.
The theatre was sold in the early 1970s and operated under new ownership until the mid 70s. At that time, it was closed and has not operated as a theatre since. Much of the theatre has been left untouched for the past 25 years. Original curtains, projectors, and seats are still intact. The theatre also contains murals, titled "The Four Seasons of Mount Monadnock," painted in 1941 by a WPA artist. The property is presently the location for Roy's Bike Shop and was owned by Roy and Nancy Stone.
by Roy Stone
(From deeds - Mrs. Vanni, Marty Dedo, June King, and others)
1915: Romolo Vanni purchased the Durrant House.
1929: Vanni turned the barn into a theatre. The projection booth was on the second floor rear of the house.
1935: The Durrant house was raised up to become the second and third floor with Mr. Vanni's fruit and vegetable store in the space beneath. The theatre lobby was extended out to the street and the theatre was expanded and a balcony added bringing the capacity to 560. A new projection booth was built on the second story between the house and the theatre.
1939/41: The theatre was extended to its current footprint, and the balcony was removed. The New Park Theatre had a ¾ Broadway stage and an electric curtain and had added 160 seats, even with the removal of the balcony, bringing the seating capacity to 720 (36 rows of 20 seats, 10 on each side). The New Park Theatre reopened on April 20th, 1941. The electrical work was done by Ed Shields and Noel Jalbert. The murals were done by a W.P.A. artist at a cost of $80.00 each for materials with the W.P.A. paying for the labor. They are watercolor on canvas glued to the wall, probably with rabbit hide glue. The new projectors cost $2500.00 each, a huge sum for the year l941.
At some point 100 seats were removed, 80 to give more space between the seats and the stage and 20 to allow wheelchair spaces about in the middle of the theatre, leaving the present configuration of 620 seats, all on the main floor. 80 could easily be replaced.
1959: (Approximately). The theatre was purchased by Marty Dedo. Vanni's store was split in two and became a restaurant on the East, (Pauline's), and Coastal Loans office on the West.
1962: (Approximately). The theatre was leased to the Kings, who installed CinemaScope lenses (used), at a cost of $1500.00 each. The screen was replaced to accommodate the wider CinemaScope movies.
2/2/67: The theatre was purchased by David and Betty Sawyer. They changed the name to "Jaffrey Cinema." Pauline's and Coastal moved out, the partition was removed, and Vanni's old store became Kachadorian's Flower Shop.
10/12/72: David Sawyer passed away, and the theatre was closed that fall.
4/21/76: The theatre was purchased by Nancy and Roy Stone (after having been closed for 3 ½ years). The partitions between the store and the lobby and the store and the theatre were removed, making the current store. 16 rows of seats were removed to provide space for two work areas, a photo studio, and storage.
All of the seats, as well as the projectors, curtain, murals, screen, candy counter, lobby entrance doors, ticket booth and popcorn machine are still on the premises and intact. During the time the theatre was closed the roof leaked and the drains plugged, causing minor water damage which is visible on the ceiling, walls, and murals.
It is our hope that, through the generosity and support of the Monadnock Community, the Park Theatre will live once again to offer movie-goers and live performance audiences an authentic and beautiful Art Deco Period venue.
The Restoration Project:
1.Determine which types of activities people would be interested in attending.
2. Determine if the identified market will travel to Jaffrey for an activity.
3.Determine the financial ranges of what people would be willing to spend on activities.
4. Determine which demographic groups would be likely to attend activities at the facility.
Data was collected from March 26 through April 9, 2002.
Click HERE to download a PowerPoint presentation of the results.
(May take some time with slower connections - please be patient).
(You can download a free Microsoft PowerPoint viewer HERE).
At the August 15th, 2002 Board of Directors meeting for TEAM Jaffrey the following resolutions were made:
The TEAM Jaffrey Board resolves to accept and supports the concept of purchasing and redeveloping the Park Theatre, and authorizes the Executive Committee to establish a Fundraising Feasibility Committee of not less than five nor more than 13 members for the purpose of studying and developing a Financial Funding Plan for the project.
The TEAM Jaffrey Board of Directors authorizes the organization to execute the purchase option agreement previously discussed for the property at 19 Main Street, at a cost of $2,000 for a period of two years.
On Friday night, May 28, 2004, the first event in over 30 years was held at The Park Theatre. The occasion was a concert held for the opening of The Park Theatre Restoration Project. 130 guests attended an informational reception at the Jaffrey Civic Center and walked, clutching original Park Theatre tickets, across the street to the theatre where they exchanged their tickets for entry to the theatre and bags of popcorn (fresh, not 30 years old).
They attended a concert performed by internationally-renowned pianist Virginia Eskin, whose electric keyboard performance included music ranging from Chopin to Tin Pan Alley, including novelties like "Kitten on the Keys" and ragtime tunes like "Fluffy-Ruffle Girls." Her performance verified the great acoustics of the old theatre where Jaffrey once held Town Meetings.
The Park Theatre Restoration Committee and the volunteers of TEAM Jaffrey would like to see the theatre opened again as a mixed-use arts facility. We believe that it could be a powerful engine to drive the economy of the downtown and the social life of the community.
In February 2006, after raising $80,000 toward the restoration project as well as securing a grant from the Bean Foundation, TEAM Jaffrey turned over the to the Park Theatre Corporation, ownership of the Park Theater. During the first quarter of 2007, the corporation developed and adopted a three-year strategic plan. In May 2007, they received 501c3 status from the IRS and in June, Southwest Regional Planning designated the Theatre one of its priority projects for its Comprhensive Economic Development Strategy for the Monadnock Region.
If you want to make a tax-deductible contribution,
make checks payable to "The Park Theatre Fund" and send to:
The Park Theatre Fund
PO Box 278
Jaffrey, NH 03452.