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Ely’s Historic State Theater comes back to life, Greenstone Cinema added

Lead Summary

Rebuild. Restore. Renovate. Renew. Refresh. Re-open.
In recent months, all of these terms have been true for Ely’s Historic State Theater.
After a 12-year hiatus, the State Theater opened its doors for movies last June, but that was only the beginning.
A new pop-up cafe has opened in the theater’s concessions area, and soon to follow was the Greenstone Cinema, a second movie screening room being built in the adjacent building that once housed Salerno Land Sales.
Over Memorial Day weekend, from May 28-31, the second screening room will open with a variety of activities, tours and events still to be determined
New seats went in last week, with the screen, new projector and sound system to follow.
“It is truly a beautiful theater and all thanks to the community stepping up and saying with their dollars and their support that they want an open theater in town,” said David Wigdahl, who chairs the EHST Board of Directors.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday May 19, at 10 a.m., the EHST will be unveiling the bronze plaque on the exterior of the State Theater marking the placement of the theater in the National Register of Historic Places.
These are the latest developments in what has been a whirlwind two years for the EHST board, which has worked feverishly to bring the complex back to life.
Working under the state-mandated COVID-19 guidelines, which limited capacity of 25 percent occupancy, the EHST staff have used this first year to test a wide-range of movie genres, including recent blockbusters, repertory classics, and themed movie series.
With over 100 films shown since re-opening, Ely’s Historic State Theater has been a hub of activity all year around.
Not limited only to films, Ely’s Historic State Theater is fully equipped for live theatrical productions.
It started with ‘The Quiltmaker’s Gift,’ which played to packed houses in January, 2020 and showcased local talent.
With live events cancelled across the country due to COVID-19, the EHST hosted the COVID-19 adapted opera, ‘The Medium,’ with the Northern Lights Music Festival, and more recently Molly Olson’s Reflections Dance Company’s mixed media event.
And, while live music has not been widely available, the State Theater hosted a live concert recording of Stevie Nicks.
As contracts were signed with the movie industry behemoths such as Warner Brothers, Universal, and Disney, it became apparent that in order to meet their stringent guidelines and remain fiscally viable, the EHSTD would need a second screen.
The concept of the Greenstone Cinema in the former Salerno Land Office building adjoining the State Theater was subsequently born.
The Greenstone will allow for booking first-run newly released movies along with recently released sub-run films.
To show a film on opening day, distributors require exclusive, continuous use of the screen for a minimum of two-to-four weeks. Having a second screen provides space to meet these requirements while also freeing up the larger State Theater for live performances and special events.
The smaller 50-seat Greenstone Cinema construction is winding down.
EHST officials say fans will love the large, comfortable, rocker-type theater seats.
“The cupholder arms even tilt up and away for date night comfort,” said Wigdahl.
Movie tickets will remain at $5 per person, but Ely’s Historic State Theater does need support to finish this project.
EHST is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Visit for details.
Careful selection and creative experimentation have gone into the options available in the new concessions area located adjacent to the State.
Beverages such as wine, beer and hard cider on tap, soda and the newly added Bubly water - first on fountain in the Arrowhead - are available.
All pair with the freshly popped popcorn, Belgian snack waffles, and candy. Mix and match with $10 combos, and you can enjoy a movie, beverage, and snacks at an affordable price.
Brought back to life by the community, for the community, Ely’s Historic State Theater wants to thank the local talent and laborers that have restored this historic venue, including: Alley A Realty and the Ott family, H & B Construction, Burntside Electric, and Custom Theaters of Ely.
The second screening room is all part of larger plan to turn the theater into a venue not only for movies, but concerts, shows and other events.
The cafe is open before, during and after theater events, and not just to those attending a theater event. The general public may come in and sample the fare.

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