The next major
renovation was in November 1929. This construction removed most of
the 1915 renovation, added fixed seating, rug runners, a huge speaker
for sound, a large screen and, believe it or not, air conditioning,
water cooled air pulled up from the basement by fans. A concrete block
projection booth was added and a stair-stepped balcony improved visibility
of the screen from the back of the flat floored auditorium. The advent
of fixed seating ended the variety of community uses, ending one era
and starting a new one.
This new era was a golden one, for it was the Golden Age of Cinema
and The Columbian was one of the premier showcases for the new technology
of sound motion pictures. As the late 1920s gave way to the Great
Depression, the ticket price dropped and a movie at The Columbian
was the only distraction to a tough life for many of the residents
World War II brought an even more important role for The Columbian
in the life of the community. Hollywood threw itself behind the war
effort, making countless films that rallied the populace to support
the long and arduous conflict. And WWII brought the advent of newsreels.
Family members thronged to The Columbian to see the reality of the
battles and to possibly get a glimpse of a loved one.
But alas, the victories in Europe and Japan were harbingers of a drastically
changed world at home. As the industrial might of America shifted
from tanks and Jeeps to tractors and cars, a new era dawned. Returning
GIs had seen the world, and cheap gas and new vehicles put the populace
on the move. The Columbian fell victim to this newly mobile society.
After all, an evening on the town in Manhattan was much more exciting
than an evening at the predictable Columbian.
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