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Brothers want to bring movies back to Paxton

Brothers want to bring movies back to Paxton

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PAXTON — Hollywood could make a return to Paxton.

The co-owner of Paxton Majestic Theatre would like to see movies again shown at the theater on South Market Street.

Albert Sutton, who with brother Don Sutton operates Edmonton Properties Inc., which owns the building, said a return of films is a real possibility.

Ron Lenington, a broker representing Edmonton Properties, said at least two companies are interested in leasing the building to show movies.

Albert Sutton spoke about the building after Paxton Majestic Theatre Group said it no longer would lease the theater.

The theater group, which presented stage productions there for the past 18 years, will move at the end of the year and is looking for an alternative site.

Sutton said the theater group objected to a change in how building usage was billed. He said he was losing money by charging $450 a month plus the electrical bill.

Sutton planned to reduce the rent to $300 a month but require the group to pay all utilities and half of the water usage. He said the natural gas bill alone exceeded the rent.

The building has been for sale, but the theater group's board opted not to buy it and said "expensive repairs" would need to be made.

In a press release announcing its move, the theater group said the roof leaked, damaging the grand curtain and allowing mold to grow.

Sutton said there is no mold in the building and thinks theater officials probably mistook insulation dust on walls for mold. He said whenever he was told of a building problem, he would fix it. Theater members, however, said they sometimes had to make repeated calls to have repairs done.

Lenington said the theater group's comments have not helped Edmonton Properties' attempts to sell the building. "Their comments are kind of jeopardizing our marketing," he said.

In addition to the theater, the property includes a rented storefront and three upstairs apartments.

Sutton agreed the building needs work. "It's an old building," he said.

Built in 1913, it was originally used for vaudeville acts and concerts as well as movies. It was opened by M.E. Hunt and Charles Sullivan and used to show motion pictures and concerts.

Sutton said the building wouldn't require much retrofitting to get it ready as a movie house. The biggest expenditures would be a big screen and projectors. "The concession (area) is all in nice order," said Lenington.

Lenington said he has no doubt a movie theater could make a go in Paxton, citing Harvest Moon Drive-In in Gibson City and theaters in Onarga and Hoopeston. Watseka also has a movie theater.

With higher driving costs, Lenington thinks a local theater is even more of an attraction.

The theater group first presented stage performances in 1987 when Betty Healey of Loda founded the organization and presented "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." It has presented about five shows annually while pulling patrons from an 80- to 100-mile radius.

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