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The historic Avon Park Theater reopens after years of neglect 

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The lights are back on at the Avon Park Theater, a local movie house that had been neglected for years before being rediscovered and overhauled by village resident Ann Younger.

The Avon cultural landmark celebrates its 84th birthday on July 30, with a packed, four-day grand reopening that featured a screening of “The Wizard of Oz,” an evening of comedy, “CatVideoFest,” and the premiere of Rush native and jazz guitarist Simon Fletcher’s “Soundtrack to the Seasons: Upstate New York,” a locally-inspired 12-song composition.

“We’re kind of starved for entertainment around here,” Younger said.
click to enlarge Ann Younger brought the Avon Park Theater back from the dead. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Ann Younger brought the Avon Park Theater back from the dead.
The Park Theater first opened in 1938 at 71 Genesee St. as a successor to a silent film-era movie house across the street. The Avon VFW ran it for more than 30 years, beginning in the 1960s. But its last owner had used it as a storage facility for old cars, until Younger bought the theater four years ago.

Younger had the support of the village of Avon, which secured a $400,000 state grant through the Restore New York Communities Initiative to rehabilitate the theater on the condition that Younger put up a 10-percent match. The financing helped pay for a new roof, a new HVAC system, and the stage.

The plan is to host live music, classic movies, and comedy shows. To that end, Younger has booked groups such as The Beatles tribute band Mr. Mustard, and Rochester acts such as Prime Time Funk, John Dady and Friends, and Jeff Riales & The Silvertone Express, are the groups set to perform on Aug. 5, 19, and 26, respectively.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
She is also screening a slate of popular movies in August ranging from classics such as “Back to the Future” on Aug. 18 and 21 to new favorites such as Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story,” Aug. 4 and 7, and the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” on Aug. 25 and 28.

Younger sees the Avon Park Theater, which is licensed to sell beer, wine, and hard cider, as filling a need for cultural events in smaller communities in the Rochester region.

“When I bought it in 2018, I thought, ‘My competition is people's couches, getting them off their couch and out from in front of their TV to do something,’” she said. “And I knew I had to make it more multi-purpose.”

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.
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