One of downtown Manchester’s most iconic buildings has changed hands and the new owners say they couldn’t be more excited. But perhaps “new” isn’t the best way to describe the current deed-holders of the Castle Theater.
Kathy Meisgeier, a member of the Castle Theater’s Board of Directors, said about a year ago they approached the Knights of Pythias about purchasing the building.
“We’ve rented the Castle Theater since, I think, the beginning of time,” Meisgeier said with a laugh.
After some discussion between the two groups, Meisgeier said they agreed on a very reasonable price, one that will allow the theater to keep providing entertainment for the community for generations to come.
“We would just like to recognize (the Knights of Pythias) for their generosity and for basically letting the show go on,” Meisgeier said.
And as a way of saying thank you, the Castle Theater will allow the Knights of Pythias to continue using the upstairs of the theater as a meeting space rent-free, for as long as the organization exists.
According to a history provided by Meisgeier, the theater opened in 1935 and has been an asset to the greater Manchester community ever since. The theater has undergone several renovations, including enlarging the lobby and adding new seats in 1979 and converting the old reel-to-reel system to a digital format.
But in 2009, a group of concerned citizens heard the theater would be closing, prompting them to form a board of directors. After a lot of legwork, the group achieved non-profit status, purchased theater assets, signed several contracts and reopened Oct. 23, 2009.
Now that the building is in their possession, Meisgeier said they are undergoing several structural updates to the structure, including working on the roof, heating and cooling system and replacing old doors.
“As renters, if something would have happened to the building, we would have had nowhere to go,” Meisgeier said. “So we’re very happy to be able to keep this historical building and theater in the same location.”
At the end of the day, the board’s mission is to continue providing the same “first-run” movie service that it has for decades, giving families something to do and saving them a drive to a larger city while keeping those dollars local.
“Families have been going to the Castle Theater to see movies for decades,” Meisgeier said. “I went there as a little kid, so the fact that we can keep this theater going for future generations is very exciting.”