In 1931, Roanoke architect John Zink and his crew began construction on The Grandin Theatre. On March 26, 1932, Roanoke’s top movie palace opened its doors for the first time for a screening of “Arrowsmith.” Tickets were 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids at the time the auditorium and balcony sat 944.
The Grandin Theatre was the first theatre in Roanoke to have “talking pictures.”
It stayed a cinema for over 40 years until it closed in 1976 and was taken over by Mill Mountain Theatre in 1976, who over the next seven years produced shows like The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun. In 1983, Jack Andrews bought the Theatre and screened classics, second run movies, and art films. He also presented Live Shows. During this time, blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles and BB King rocked the house.
Two years later, the Grandin closed its doors once again, this time due to financial issues. However, in 1986, the theatre opened up again under the guidance of manager Julie Hunsaker, who brought in art house, indie and foreign films. She even brought in comedy legend Bill Murray, who in 1990, hosted a benefit to help the Grandin pay its bills. Unfortunately, it was still a challenge to keep the history alive. In November of 2001, The Grandin Theatre was forced to close for the third time.
However, just one month before, under the guidance of community developer Ed Walker, the Grandin Theatre Foundation was formed. Over the next year, the Foundation held the “Save the Grandin” campaign and on October 20, 2002, the theatre was able to reopen after raising the funds to buy and renovate the theatre. It has been keeping the history alive ever since.
It’s not just about the movies. It’s about the community. It’s the history. It’s the people. It’s the Grandin Theatre.
Grandin Theatre History Timeline:
1931 – Construction begins. Architect – John Zink
1932 – March 26th – Theatre opens. First movie is Arrowsmith.
1964 – $40,000 renovation.
1976 – The Grandin closes.
1976 – Mill Mountain Theatre uses the Grandin for stage productions.
1983 – Jack Andrews buys the Grandin; screens classics, second run movies and art films. He also presents live shows. During this time, John Lee Hooker and The Dead Kennedys play the Grandin.
1985 – Closed again. Financial woes cited.
1986 – Julie Hunsaker manages the theatre. Owned by brother, Jim Lindsey.
1989 – Scenes from Dudley Moore’s film, Crazy People, are set at the Grandin.
1990 – In the area to film What About Bob?, Bill Murray hosts a benefit to help the Grandin pay its bills.
1999 – Hunsaker purchases the property from Lindsey.
2001 – October 23rd, Grandin Theatre Foundation forms and is incorporated under guidance of Ed Walker and Warner Dalhouse.
2001 – November 11th – Theatre closes. The last film shown is The Last Picture Show.
2002 – October 20th – After the Grandin Theatre Foundation raised the funds to buy and renovate the theatre, it reopens. The first movie is the French film, Mostly Martha.