125th Keystone Theatre Anniversary

125th Keystone Anniversary

Towanda (WENY) -- Last year's flooding put the future of a Northern Tier theatre that's been in business for the last 125 years in jeopardy, but thanks to a Towanda community rallying together, the Keystone Theatre has raised enough money to keep the doors open and celebrate its historic anniversary this month.

"I think that there's things that are worth saving in our, in any community, and this is one of those things," said Louisa Decker-Crebar, who grew up around the theatre.

Decker-Crebar's grandfather ran the projectors at Keystone -- the oldest theatre in northeast PA -- for decades. She moved to Philadelphia and hasn't been to the theatre since the 1960s, but came back for the 125th anniversary. 

"It was fun," she said. "I would come, and I always felt special because I was able to go up to the booth, and I would help grandpa with the books he would read during the time there."

Theatre-goers say the Keystone has a rich history that ties the community together. Dozens of people came to the anniversary reception to see mementos from the past, tour the facility and reminisce.

"This ticket booth was where I met my husband," said Marilyn Young, from Towanda. "In 1946 he was taking tickets right here in this place and my parents always came in on Sunday afternoon."

"I think the history is important, but I also think the future is important, and I'm so glad the facility is still here," added Ruth Tonachel, whose great great grandfather built the theatre.

The Bradford County Regional Arts Council now owns, restores and operates the three remaining historic theatres in the county. Keystone sustained $170,000 in damage from last years floods, but through loans and community donations, the doors have stayed open and restoration always in progress.

"I think the historic theatres have a connection to the early culture that a mall theatre does not," said Brooks Eldredge-Martin, director emeritus of the Bradford County Regional Arts Council. "So we're very proud that the communities have pulled together to save these theatres."

Right now the Keystone Theatre is on 35 millimeter film, but it's raising money to go digital. If you would like to donate, go to http://www.bcrac.org/ for more information.