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Elsberry, MO: Senate Theatre Damaged by Fire, Community Rallies to Support Rebuilding Efforts

Posted on Monday, February 14th, 2011 5:47 PM and updated on Monday, February 14th, 2011 7:23 PM

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The Senate Theatre in Elsberry, Missouri suffered extensive damage on January 5, 2011 when a heating unit in an adjacent store caught fire. The St. Louis Dispatch is reporting that the community is rallying support to help re-open the theater, organizing fund-raisers and posting messages about the theater on Facebook and Twitter:

"People have told us we've got to come back because the theater is the heart of the town," said Sandra Sinnett, 70. "I don't think we realized it meant so much to people until now."

Josh Burbridge, who used to work as an usher when he was a teenager, isn't surprised by the support. He said that in a town like Elsberry, which has about 2,500 residents, few places allow people to have a shared experience as they did at the Senate Theatre.

Click the Read link below to view the full article.

There is a web site devoted to the effort, called Save the Senate Theatre. The Facebook page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/SaveTheSenateTheatre

A news story by KSDK News Channel 5 in St. Louis (which is about 57 miles to the Southeast) says that the theater opened in 1912 as the Orpheum. That story also contains some video.

The "History" page on the Save the Senate Theatre site states that there was a theater named the "Gem" in/around 1911-1912, and a 1914 newspaper ad mentions the Gem as well. The theater is mentioned again in 1930 in a local paper, this time as "The Orpheum" which was heavily damaged in a fire in January of that year. They rebuilt, only to suffer another fire in 1937. The theater was re-opened, and then was sold in the 1950's and renamed the Senate Theatre by the new owner. In 1974, the theater was sold to Bob and Sandra Sinnett, who are the current owners.

Like many small theaters with a long history, the Senate Theatre seems to have earned the love of many in the community. Until it can re-open, the next closest movie theater is the Troy Moviehouse in Troy, about 15 miles away.

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