The Brookline Public Library will feature an exhibit of photography and memorabilia to celebrate the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation’s 30th anniversary as a nonprofit organization and to honor the leaders who rallied to rescue the Theatre from demolition and envisioned a future for the Theatre as vibrant as its past.
The path to saving the Theatre was as fraught as The Perils of Pauline and teetered on the brink of failure multiple times. The Theatre passed through three different owners along the way. A grassroots “Campaign to Save the Coolidge,” all the more remarkable in an age before the internet or social media, was modeled after political campaigns and included door-to-door distribution of leaflets, phone calls, actual soapbox speeches, and a human ‘hug around the building’.
Finally a one-year stay on development issued by the Brookline Historical Commission, in recognition of the Theatre’s significant art deco architecture, provided the needed opening to create a plan for moving forward. The Campaign leaders’ relentlessness was driven by their passion for independent cinema, preserving the art deco Theatre, and the Theatre’s history as a beloved community institution. It was that perseverance and support which enabled the nonprofit Foundation to be established and succeed.
Today the “Coolidge,” as it lovingly referred to, is recognized as a premiere American nonprofit cinema and a leader in preserving and advancing film culture. Considered a national treasure by many independent filmmakers, actors, directors, and art house film fans, the Coolidge is renowned not only for its curated feature film programming, but also the organization’s innovative signature educational, cultural, and entertainment programs. The Coolidge is considered a leader among an organization of more than 150 art house cinemas across the country, many of which are expanding.
The Library Exhibit, which opens on September 12, 2019 will include more than 50 individual photographs and pieces of memorabilia from the years before and since the Foundation’s establishment. These include vintage advertisements from the very early years of the Theatre, “Save the Coolidge” campaign memorabilia, and photographs and posters for milestone films and the Coolidge Award, which has honored such film artists as Meryl Streep, Viggo Mortensen, Werner Herzog, Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, and Julianne Moore. The Exhibit will remain at the Library through November 6, 2019.
Says Katherine Tallman, Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation Executive Director and CEO, “This Exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to look back at the long history of the Theatre and thank all those who fought to save it and gave the Theatre the chance to succeed and grow -- as it has, perhaps beyond anyone’s imagination.” She adds, “Today, the more than 250,000 diverse patrons who come to the Theatre each year expect the wide array of entertaining, educational, and cultural experiences our programs offer, and they are excited to witness the Coolidge’s next chapter.”
The Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation will mark the 30th Anniversary with a special event on Thursday, September 18, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. that will include a new documentary about the Theatre. There will also be a special reception at the Brookline Public Library to celebrate the Exhibit from 6-8 p.m. on October 3, 2019.