- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

CENTRAL CITY, Neb. (AP) - A 100-year-old theater in Central City is set to reopen after two years of not operating.

The Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/1ruiISd ) reports that the State Theater is scheduled to reopen Friday with the movie “Zootopia” as its first feature presentation.

The theater was originally opened as an opera house in 1916 and known then as the Martha Ellen Auditorium, named after the daughter of Col. William Shelton. It was later renamed the State Theater and showed movies until 2014, when it shuttered because of the costs of converting to digital film.

A year ago, a group of local volunteers took it upon themselves to save the theater by organizing and securing grants and donations. An estimated $100,000 was spent to reopen the theater.

“It was literally a group of people who came together interested in saving this building and not having another empty building sit empty in downtown Central City,” said Natalie Foulk, president of the State Theater Foundation.

An event held for the community Wednesday night featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special-invitation showing at the theater, which will now operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights as well as special occasions.

Volunteers will operate the theater and a newly refurbished concession stand. It can seat about 200 people.

The theater holds many memories for people in the community, Foulk said.

“You hear the stories from people in town who have a memory or connection to it,” she said. “I have a 21-year-old and 18-year-old, and we went to the movies there. They remember it.”

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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