News-Sun: Gloria Theater Re-Opening After Major Renovations


Naomi Harward/240-298-8362


The Gloria Theater will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this month with a Grand Re-Opening that will also serve to showcase several major renovations that have been made to the theater.

There will be 7 showings of MARVEL’s “Doctor Strange” on December 23 at 7:30 p.m., and then on Christmas Day and December 26, at 2:00, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

“This is the first show where we'll really be taking advantage of the new equipment,” said Lydia Hess, administrative manager of GrandWorks Foundation, the local group that has been working to preserve and improve the theater. She said GrandWorks is excited to put the new 4k resolution projecting system and 7.1 surround sound system to use with “Doctor Strange”.

The group purchased Gloria Theater and began renovations in 2014, following the theater’s initial closing in 2013. The group has transformed the original two-cinema layout of the theater into one large auditorium, and has expanded the stage. They are also in the process of renovating the lobby and concession stand areas.

Hess credits the community with enabling GrandWorks to make these and other improvements.

“We couldn’t have gotten to where we are now without [their help],” Hess said.

In honor of Warren Grimes, who originally renovated and opened the theater as a movie theater on Christmas Day in 1941, the Grimes Foundation gifted GrandWorks with a matching $50,000 grant. This, combined with matching gifts from the community, funded the purchase of the new systems, an improved lighting rig, and a screen more than double the size of the original theater screen.

GrandWorks also has plans to purchase a small building next-door that served as a hat shop in the 40s, and turn it into a small café and coffee shop as an addition to the theater. They plan to turn the second floor of the theater into a reception area as well.

Hess said the renovations are an opportunity to give back to the community, and provide them an alternative for seeing movies. Prior to Gloria’s re-opening, Urbana residents had to drive to Springfield for the nearest movie theater, where tickets and concessions are significantly more expensive.

The past few events that have been held at the theater have seen good turnouts, Hess said. She said she is expecting a good turnout for the upcoming showings as well, and hopes to have the theater filled to capacity.

“We want to make it a memorable experience for the community,” she said.

Naomi HarwardComment