Vogue Theatre to celebrate 80 years

Moviegoers experience 3D during a film at the Vogue Theatre. (Courtesy photo)

Moviegoers experience 3D during a film at the Vogue Theatre. (Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE — When the Vogue Theatre opened on Jan. 12, 1938, it was highly regarded in the community and with its notable marquee, remains a “beacon” in downtown Manistee 80 years later.

“It is difficult to imagine downtown Manistee without the Vogue Theatre,” said Tyler Leppanen, DDA executive and economic development director. “Since the Vogue reopened its doors, the economic impact on downtown has been significant. It draws people downtown, not only to go see a movie, but also to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants.”

This week, the community and the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee will celebrate 80 years with five days of events.

CELEBRATION

Find more on the Vogue Theatre's history and 80th anniversary celebration in a special section in Wednesday's News Advocate.

Find more on the Vogue Theatre’s history and 80th anniversary celebration in a special section in Wednesday’s News Advocate.

Services manager Sara Herberger has been helping to organize these events, which will celebrate the theater’s long history in the community.

The celebration will kick off with the weekly Wednesday Morning Classic at 10 a.m., showing the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

There will be a special celebration from 4 to 11 p.m. on Thursday at the North Channel Brewing Company, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Vogue.

“We wanted to combine ideas of ‘old and new,’ so we wanted to collaborate with one of the newest businesses in Manistee,” said Herberger. “This will be the birthday party for the Vogue, and all are welcome to attend on a first come, first served basis.”

The celebration will be followed by a free 7:30 p.m. showing of “The Blues Brothers” at the Vogue Theatre. There will also be free movies all day on Friday, for viewers who are 80 years old and older.

The Vogue Theatre plans to recognize the restoration efforts and hard-working volunteers through a time capsule ceremony on Saturday.

“The time capsule will include memorabilia and notes from current volunteers that will be locked away until our 100th birthday,” said Herberger.

While the capsule will primarily include notes and letters from volunteers describing their experiences at the theater, Herberger said that they are hoping to also reach members of the community who have worked at the theater in years past.

“There have been so many people that have come to us saying they used to work at the Vogue as high school students, but there is no record of those kinds of experiences,” she said. “We are hoping that anyone who has worked at the Vogue in the past could send a note or a letter talking about their experiences to include in the capsule.”

Since the Vogue reopened in 2013, volunteers have been the backbone of the now nonprofit theater. (Courtesy photo)

Since the Vogue reopened in 2013, volunteers have been the backbone of the now nonprofit theater. (Courtesy photo)

Volunteers can submit a letter to a “Volunteer of the Future” for the Vogue’s time capsule. Volunteers should write about why they do it, what makes them tick, why they have been part of the restoration and revival process, and what their hopes are for the future of Manistee.

Submit by email at info@voguetheatremanistee.org or hardcopy to Herberger by Jan. 10.

DOWNTOWN IMPACT

“One of the things about the Vogue that we kind of all cherish — and I know that sounds hokey, but we do — is the fact that it’s just a happy place to be,” said Mary Russell, Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee board president. “And that’s what we want to maintain. It makes you feel good when you come in. You feel good when you go out.”

Russell said the theater has had more good times than bad in its long history, and even though the theater wasn’t in the greatest condition before its reopening, it still drew people.

“We joke about before the last closing, when it was open and when you went to the movies, you would take a blanket. It was freezing in there — holes in the seats,” she said. “We didn’t care. Sound system sucked. It was a movie theater, and it was just something that draws people no matter what the condition.

“It really is the beacon of downtown, when you think of it, literally — not just figuratively — when you’re driving down

The Vogue Theatre opened on Jan. 12, 1938. This week, the Vogue and the community are celebrating its 80th anniversary. (Manistee County Historical Museum/Courtesy photo)

The Vogue Theatre opened on Jan. 12, 1938. This week, the Vogue and the community are celebrating its 80th anniversary. (Manistee County Historical Museum/Courtesy photo)

River Street it’s hard not to notice the marquee. For a town our size to have an active theater, it was a good thing to start happening again. It has so much history.”

In 2017, students from Baker College performed a study on the Vogue’s impact on the downtown area.

“(The study found) 20 percent and above feel that 43 percent of their sales increase has been since the reopening,” said Russell.

Leppanen said more than 20 new businesses have opened downtown since the Vogue reopened in 2013.

“It was a catalytic project, recognized as the top public economic development project over $1 million in the state by the Michigan Downtown Association this year, and I applaud Travis Alden, the DDA Board and everyone else in the community for putting it together,” he said.

Russell said the past 80 years has taught the Vogue board and volunteers a lot about the theater.

“When we looked back at all the stuff that happened in that theater when we were going through all the (history) as we were cleaning it out and finding jewel after jewel after jewel in that place when we started emptying it back in 2011 — there’s a lot of history there that makes a lot of us love it even more,” she said.

VOGUE 80TH ANNIVERSARY SCHEDULE

Jan. 10

• 10 a.m. “The Wizard of Oz” (filmed in 1938) the $2 Wednesday Classic

Jan. 11

• 4-11 p.m. Birthday Party at North Channel Brewing Co., 10 percent of the proceeds from sales will be donated back to the Vogue; complimentary cupcakes; drink and food specials; give-aways

• 7:30 p.m. Free movie at the Vogue; guests invited back to the NCB to continue the party after the movie

Jan. 12

• Free admission to all movies for patrons more than 80 years old

Jan. 13

• 9:30 a.m. 80th year photo under the marquee (like we have done in the past, with the big number “80”)

•  9:45 a.m. Time capsule dedication (volunteers are encouraged to write a statement for the time capsule)

• 10 a.m. “The Wizard of Oz” (all tickets 25-cents)

Jan. 14

• Free gifts for patrons with each ticket admission

 

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Posted by Michelle Graves

Michelle is the managing editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3106 or mgraves@pioneergroup.com.

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