Saskatoon’s historic Roxy Theatre is on the market. The classic venue has been a hub for entertainment in the Riversdale neighbourhood for nearly a century, and it’s one of the last remaining atmospheric cinemas in Canada.
Many people hope it will remain for many years to come.
The theatre was built in 1930 during the Great Depression. The interior was decorated in a Spanish villa style with balconies, windows, and towers decorating the walls. The ceiling was painted dark blue and had small lights built-in, creating the atmosphere of a night sky.
Rokemay Theatres owned the Roxy from between 1974 and 2005. The building was closed in 1995 and eventually began to deteriorate. The theatre went through two basement floods, and had a leaky roof.
In 2005 Rainbow Cinemas and Magic Lantern Theatres came into the picture and bought the building. Tom Hutchinson, president of Rainbow Cinemas and Magic Lantern Theatres said they couldn’t let the building go.
“I realized the importance of the building to Riversdale and Saskatoon,” he wrote in an e-mail to Global News.
“It had not been maintained for a lengthy period of time and the roof required replacement; without such replacement, the interior plaster would have been ruined.”
Rainbow Cinemas and Magic Lantern Theatres restored the theatre to its 1930s glory and spent 20 years looking after and running the theatre. The Roxy currently plays art and alternative movies, as well as some concerts and live entertainment.
However, the current owner has been hoping to sell.
“Tom’s been very clear, he’s wanting to move on and retire,” said Randy Pshebylo with the Riversdale Business Improvement District.
“He’s had the baton, he’s done a few laps and he’s ready to hand that baton to the new generation.”
Hutchinson and Pshebylo are not alone in wanting a bright future for the Roxy.
“There’s a magicalness that happens when you come into a place and space like this,” says Lenore Swystun with the Saskatoon Heritage Society.
She said the Roxy has a different feel compared to other theatres, and she wants to see that preserved. She also thinks it is an important part of Saskatoon’s history.
“We gotta do better when it comes to honouring the history of our community and then by extension respecting and honouring building like this”, Swystun said.
For now, the building remains up for sale, with an asking price of $995,000.
Hutchison believes it is an affordable price for a potential new owner. He and many others hope the building can continue to be used for movies, music and live entertainment — just like it’s been doing for nearly a century.