ALTAVISTA, Va. (WFXR) — Glenn Miller fondly remembers the days of his youth, buying 15 cent popcorn and watching Lash LaRue westerns at the Vista Theatre, which has been closed for nearly 31 years.
“When it was gone, it was like a hole in the town,” said Miller.
The Vista Theatre in Altavista has been empty since 1989 when a fire destroyed the interior. However, the Town Council has now bought the property and is developing plans to restore and reopen the venue.
“I am tickled to death that we finally are going to have a theater,” said Miller
Miller was born and raised in Altavista and cherishes his memories of the theatre.
“It’s where you carried your girlfriend on Saturday afternoon and when you weren’t even old enough to have a girlfriend.”
The theatre opened in the 1930s and was a piece of Old Hollywood glamour in town.
“It had a beautiful balcony and curtains and burgundy velvet kind of seats that wrapped around,” said Miller. “It was really nice.”
Miller still remembers the day in 1989, watching it burn.
“Christmas Eve. In fact, while the fire was going on, I was down here, and it was the coldest night I ever remember.”
A cold night in the history of a town that still yearns for the theatre after 30 years.
“It was a terrible loss for the town.”
However, the town’s purchase of the venue promises a reopening, possibly for both movies and live theater.
“We’ve had a main street program now for about ten years and lots of surveys and studies done,” said Tim George, a member of the Town Council. “A lot of it depends on, hinging on this theater being up and operating again.”
Miller owns a jewelry store two doors down and shares that belief that the reopened theatre will draw in visitors and have a ripple effect on the local economy.
“The theatre itself is going to be a centerpiece for the town, in my opinion.”
The town purchased the building for $265,000 and will take possession in about nine months. George says town leaders hope to obtain grants to pay for restoring the building.
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