Three cheers for State Theater renovation

Most people who live around Tupper Lake have a story to tell about the Adirondack State Theater. We’re glad to see that moviegoers will be able to continue to make memories there, with the theater’s own story now entering a new chapter.

The State Theater — both the physical building and the business — is now officially owned by Tupper Arts, an exciting development as the nonprofit continues its effort to restore the 110-year-old building and keep this institution alive.

The Tri-Lakes region is unique in that both the State Theater and Lake Placid’s Palace Theatre have bucked a nationwide trend of movie theaters going under following the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, theaters across the country were forced to shut down for a lengthy period of time, stifling profits. Theaters then faced expensive barriers to reopening in 2021, including state-mandated upgrades to its air handling systems and required limitations on theater capacity. Since then, the uphill battle for theaters has continued. Audiences have been slow to return to seeing movies in person. Last year, despite the explosive popularity of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” box office sales in the U.S. and Canada totaled close to $9 billion, still below the average $11 billion in ticket sales before the pandemic, The New York Times reported in March.

The State Theater is a symbol of North Country resiliency: The building has survived not only the pandemic, but at least three large-scale fires, multiple financial challenges, a difficult conversion from film to digital movies and a closure in 1975 after it sustained water damage.

The owner for the past 20 years, Sally Strasser, told Enterprise Intern Galen Halasz for a story in Wednesday’s Enterprise that it was hard to keep the theater open, but she managed it, even when it took “a feat” to stay in business.

Major credit to Strasser for ushering this theater through some tumultuous times.

The challenges aren’t over. Let’s be clear: Tri-Lakes residents will need to come together to safeguard this theater’s future. Though $1 million has already been raised through grants and donations, Tupper Arts will need to raise another $2 million to fully restore the theater. They’ll also need some physical assistance: Tupper Arts is inviting volunteers to help clear out old equipment and other items from behind the main movie screen. The first help-out day is today. (Visit www.tupperarts.org/state-theater-update or email info@tupperarts.org for more information.)

The State Theater is a Tupper Lake mainstay — a venue to be proud of and an institution worth protecting. Three cheers to Tupper Arts and the future of the Adirondack State Theater.


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