History of The Elks Theatre
The Elks building was constructed in 1911, following a major fire that destroyed much of Middletown
’s central business district. The theater, now known as the Elks Theatre, opened onOctober 24, 1911 as the Realty Theatre. The Elks Lodge purchased the entire building in 1930 and the following year the Realty Theatre was re-named the Elks Theatre. Originally the theater (at times referred to as the Middletown Opera House) contained a full stage which was used for vaudeville and other live performances. The stage was removed during renovations to the theater in 1940.
The Elks Theatre has operated continuously as a movie theater since its opening in 1911. It is important in a historical sense and as a community landmark that has served as an unofficial cultural center and gathering
place for nearly 100 years. The building is also important to Middletown’s Main Street Program in that it is a major structure situated directly in the center of the designated Main Street area. The loss of the theater would deprive the area of one of its primary assets and diminish the Main Street Program’s chances for success. GMEDC determined that if the building was purchased by a private developer, the Elks Theatre would not survive as an operating theater. If purchased by a private developer, the theater likely would be converted to some other, less desirabl
e, use or the entire building could be torn down in order to be replaced by a convenience store, gas station, or surface parking lot. These would all be permissible uses under the borough’s current zoning ordinance but would destroy the historic flavor of the business district and deprive the community of an irreplaceable asset.