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Tuesday June 30, 2015
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Historic Halls



Eventually all three towns got their own modern movie theaters. Old schedules show that they changed offerings three times a week. All showings included a newsreel and cartoon, and sometimes there was also a sports reel.

In 1938, the Saline Theatre opened in a building at 111 W. Michigan, now Benny's Bakery. The owners, Dearborn schoolteachers Wesley Gilpin and Lewis Lash, a specialist in visual education, first did extensive remodeling. Everything was au courant with the newest type of screen, air conditioning, fireproof construction, and a reinforced floor that held 270 people.

Local historian Wayne Clements remembers seeing movies on Saturday nights while his parents attended Masonic and Eastern Star meetings held upstairs in the same building.

In 1939, former teachers Dillon and Geraldine Wolverton from Middleville, near Grand Rapids, moved to Chelsea to open the Sylvan, a modern theater at 218 South Main, across from the Princess. It had 450 spring-edge seats, air conditioning, excellent acoustics, and a crying room with a big picture window so mothers with fussy infants could still watch the movie. The Princess couldn't compete and closed the same year.

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