Movies Go Digital, Downtown Moves Forward

by | Jan 22, 2014 | Downtown - Reinvest, Renaissance Reflections | 0 comments

The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts is the premier theater in Jamestown, NY. The theater originally opened in 1923 and has been a gem of Chautauqua County ever since.

Next month, almost 91 years to the day after opening as Jamestown’s grandest movie house, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will be showing its last film. Not its last movie, but its last movie on actual film, as it makes the conversion to the Digital Age.

Over the next few weeks, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is proud to support the “last films on film” at the Reg, every Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., ending with “About Time” on Feb. 8. Admission is $5.

The JRC is sponsoring these movies because they’re an important part of downtown’s growing mix of entertainment options. But the change from film to digital also serves as a metaphor for the wider transformation happening in Jamestown, in which people from diverse walks of life are reinterpreting the city’s historical assets. Rather than lamenting what is lost, they are adapting and reinventing what remains.

Of course, the theater itself is an amazing example of evolution and adaptation. When it opened in 1923 as the Palace, it featured vaudeville acts and silent films. Over the years, as technology and culture changed, it began showing “talkies” and transitioned from vaudeville to other types of live performance.

In the 1950s, as television, drive-ins, multiplexes and other forms of entertainment began drawing audiences away from downtown movies, the Palace began a long decline. By the 1980s, it was rundown and nearly ready for the wrecking ball.

But the Renaissance Revival-style theater was reborn thanks to a communitywide effort to save it and the generosity of the Lenna family. After a careful restoration and modernization of the ornate interior, the curtains were raised, once again, in October 1990, with movie titles frequenting the flashing marquee.

In the nearly quarter-century since the reopening, the theater has been the lynchpin to an arts district that is becoming more diverse and creative with each passing year. With programming at the Reg Studio Theater, 3rd on 3rd Gallery, and WRFA-LP supplementing movies and other events in the main theater, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts and its new leader, Kathleen Eads, are poised to keep the momentum going. Alongside the Reg, other downtown performance spots, private galleries, and a growing number of businesses that support the arts, are steadily bolstering Jamestown’s status as Chautauqua County’s year-round cultural hub.

Be sure to catch one or all of the last films on film to celebrate this historic transition and to partake in one of downtown Jamestown’s oldest traditions. Before or after the films, be sure to visit a downtown restaurant or bar to complete the experience

To learn more about the movies and other upcoming events at the Reg, visit And for a chance to win free tickets, check out the JRC’s Facebook page at

–Peter Lombardi

This post originally appeared in The Post-Journal on January 20, 2014, as JRC’s biweekly Renaissance Reflections feature.

Recent Posts

Host your event in Winter Garden Plaza

Vibrant downtowns have a range of events, big and small, that draw visitors and local residents to enjoy community assets, patronize local businesses, and add vitality to public spaces. To stimulate new and better events in downtown Jamestown, the Jamestown...

ArtScape Jamestown Opens Its Call for Artists

ArtScape Jamestown is inviting local artists to submit their work for a new public art program between now and April 7, 2023.  The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is partnering with Chautauqua Art Gallery and the City of Jamestown Park's Department to create an...

Historic Tax Credit Workshop: February 15th via Zoom

Do you have a property in one of Jamestown's Historic Districts or looking to purchase property in one of them? This tax credit zoom workshop is for you. Earn tax credits for property improvements. Feb. 15th 6:00 p.m. Join Preservation Buffalo Niagara, the...

2023 Grants for Building and Business Owners Now Open!

Are you looking to adapt or improve your business?Is the downtown building you own not living up to all of its potential?The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s Building and Business Improvement Program(BBIP) may have the necessary resources. The program is a 50/50...

What kind of “winter place” should Jamestown be?

We recently hosted "Jaime the Storefront Guy" for a workshop for downtown business owners and community stakeholders. Jaime shared some wonderful insights, and the attendees had great takeaways. There was a dynamic conversation around several subjects, but one was...

Holiday Business Window Decorating Contest

The Jamestown Community Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce this years Holiday Window Decorating Contest!  This year’s contest is open to any local business in the 14701 zip code.  The contest itself will run from November 18th – December 4th. ...

2022 Jamestown Holiday Parade Information Announced

Collaborative Children's Solutions will once again be leading the efforts in collaboration with the City of Jamestown in hosting the 2022 Jamestown NY Holiday Parade!! This year's parade will be held on Saturday, December 3rd 2022 in Downtown Jamestown beginning at...

Storefront Mastery Program Comes to Downtown

Church St in Montclair, New Jersey. Photo by Jaime Izurieta The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce are excited to host Jaime Izurieta of Storefront Mastery next month. Jaime and the JRC will host a workshop designed to inspire...

Post-Journal spotlights JRC Work

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Timothy Frudd of the Jamestown Post-Journal to share recent news and our vision of our community. Below are links to the stories produced as a result of this conversation. Jamestown Renaissance Corp. Discusses...

2022 Downtown Building and Business Grant Pre-Application Now Open

Are you looking to adapt or improve your business?Is the downtown building you own not living up to all of its potential?The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation's Building and Business Improvement Program(BBIP) may have the resources you need. The program is a 50/50...