Tonight, the faithful Senator Theater patrons of Baltimore and beyond said a tearful good night to their beloved theater, wondering when they will meet again.
The City of Baltimore, owners of the theater, ordered the Friends of the Senator and previous owner/current operator Tom Kiefaber to vacate the property by July 21, leaving the iconic theater in the dark for an indeterminant period while a transfer plan is hammered out.
From the Senator Theater website:
The Friends of The Senator (FOTS) theatre advocacy group announced todaythat Wednesday 7/21 marks the final day of operation for Baltimore’s historic Senator Theatre. The shutdown date was designated by Baltimore’s City Hall. Instructions are to cease operations, and for the theatre’s ex-owner to remove all personal items. Baltimore City took ownership of the renowned, single screen Art Deco landmark at a foreclosure auction in July of 2009.
For the final evening of operation, the FOTS are encouraging patrons to join us for a gathering of The Senator’s extended family, including long time manager Gayle Grove and The Senator’s popular border collie staff, Natty Boh and Nipper.
The evening will feature two free celebratory screenings of a rare 1977 British I.B. Technicolor print of “Star Wars: A New Hope” from a private collection. Free screenings of the two hour feature will be at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Doors open at 4:00 pm for the 4:30 show.
“We wanted to do something really special for the last film to be shown at The Senator, to honor Tom Kiefaber and his family, as well as The Senator’s long term staff,” said FOTS President Tom Harris, who has camped on the sidewalk at The Senator for past Star Wars midnight openings with his family. “A film collector approached us about this rare original release print of Star Wars, and the film is such a touchstone for so many of us, we went for it.”
“This is where I came in,” said Tom Kiefaber, in reference to Star Wars in 1977. “I grew up in The Senator, and I officially joined the family business in 1977, just as Star Wars was about to change the film industry forever. The saying ‘this is where I came in’ comes from my youth, when the theatres ran short subjects, newsreels, and features continuously. We would often arrive in the middle of a show and stay until it was starting the repeat, noting this is where I came in.” Also popular in those days were the weekly “cliffhanger” serials where a
young George Lucas found inspiration for “Star Wars.”
“With The Senator going dark for an indefinite time, we all feel a great
disturbance in the Force,” said FOTS Managing Director Laura Perkins.
“Kathleen Cusack from the new management team predicts The Senator may only stay dark a few days, and we hope the Cusack team understands the importance of the theatre to this community and reopens The Senator as quickly as possible.”
“We have many concerns about what’s in store for The Senator, particularly plans to demolish original features that define the character of the building’s interior,” noted Kiefaber, “but we have no choice but to accept as graciously as possible that the force is with them.”
Indeed. Tonight we say thank you to Tom K and the steadfast Friends of the Senator as they close the doors one final time.