The Cinema theater has been a neighborhood institution since it opened its doors in 1914. Our research shows it to be one of the oldest continuously running movie theaters in the United States, if not the oldest. The theater began as The Clinton, but due to a circular arrangement of wooden benches with an open area in the middle, it was affectionately referred to as the “flea pit”, a name which stuck for many years — and long after the the original dirt floor was covered and the benches were replaced with seats.
In 1949, The Clinton was fully renovated with its current art-deco façade and renamed “The Cinema”. The Cinema started out as an upscale art theater and, in its day, it had people lined up around the block for premieres and the like.
By the mid 1980s however, it had sunk into disrepair and was in danger of closing. Jo Ann Morreale took over the business in 1985 and succeeded in keeping the doors open by implementing some much-needed renovations. In addition, Jo Ann brought a great sense of community, a love of movies, a unique sense of humor.
By 2012, the Cinema was again in need of repairs and upgrades, and it was purchased by John Trickey. He bought a digital projector, made the bathrooms handicapped-accessible, and implemented numerous other improvements.
As of January, 2018, the current owners are Audrey Kramer and Alex Chernavsky, who are striving to maintain the Cinema in its role as the keystone of the neighborhood. They’ve also used the Cinema to promote various charitable causes, including particularly animal rescue organizations.