Many in Selkirk thought the credits had rolled for the Garry Theatre, but it appears there’s a sequel.
Landmark Cinemas decided to close it in May and on Wednesday, the City of Selkirk announced it had purchased the theatre for $350,000, plus closing costs.
"What we’ve heard so far is people are very excited and very happy that the city has been able to secure the property," said Selkirk CAO Duane Nicol.
Nicol said the city will reach out to the community to determine how best to use the building. The city hopes it will become a centre for arts and culture, he said.
"We have a lack of live venue space in Selkirk, outside of a bar. This is a great opportunity, and it’s something that the community has asked for," he said.
While the city plans to explore options, Nicol said the city is considering modelling the centre after Winnipeg’s Park Theatre, which can support everything from live music and events to independent film screenings.
It will likely be some time before the building is ready to reopen.
"We know of at least $250,000 of reno work that we would want to see happen to the building, and that doesn’t include improving the accessibility and making some of those other improvements you’d want to see in a more modern facility."
Elan Levine, who grew up in Selkirk and whose parents live on the outskirts of the city, was relieved.
"Selkirk has been really missing the Garry, and it needs something similar," he said. When it closed, Levine said he felt the loss.
"It just made me feel slightly defeated. Here’s this very important part of not only my childhood, but also a treasured part of the community," he said.
The theatre was the only cinema in the city. Levine called it a "cultural touchstone" for the residents.
The theatre plays a central part in a story about his brother Ariel, who went to see Aladdin when he was three.
"He spent the entire time running up and down the concrete steps and telling people that he was seeing a movie for the first time," said Levine.
Life-long resident Nicol also looks back fondly on the theatre.
"I remember going to Saturday matinees to see Batman with Michael Keaton and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One of my earliest memories is going to see The Goonies," he said. "It brings up happy memories."
The Garry opened on Nov. 29, 1948, and changed ownership multiple times. Landmark Cinemas said the theatre had stopped being economically viable even before the pandemic.