The Roanoker September/October 2017 - 82
THEN & NOW
The Grandin Theatre
Times were happy in 1946, when people flocked to see movies on the big screen.
JULIANNE RAINONE / ARCHIVAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES
LITTLE IS KNOWN about this iconic scene
at the Grandin Theatre in 1946, when a
crowd turned out for the release of "Centennial Summer," an Oscar-nominated musical
starring Jeanne Crain and Cornel Wilde. Ian
Fortier, the Grandin's executive director, says
it's the only photo that exists of the theatre
before at least the 1960s.
This photo reflects a happy time in the
community, Fortier says, because World
War II was over. That may explain why
people flocked to watch this film story of
two sisters who fall in love with the same
Frenchman in Philadelphia.
82 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017
The Grandin Theatre remains an icon
in the Roanoke Valley, where it opened in
1932 on Grandin Road for a screening of
"Arrowsmith," an Oscar-nominated film
about a medical researcher sent to handle a
plague outbreak. The Grandin was the first
Roanoke theatre with a talking picture, and
when it opened, tickets were 25 cents for
The theatre was a cinema all but seven
years of its existence. From 1976 to 1983,
Mill Mountain Theatre purchased the space
for stage productions.
Despite financial troubles that forced the
Grandin to close and reopen at two separate
times, in 1985 and 2001, the theatre maintains a lively presence. A "Save the Grandin"
fundraising campaign, spearheaded by Roanoke developer Ed Walker and the Grandin
Theatre Foundation, kept the popular landmark's legacy alive and forged its reopening
It's clear that the Grandin is a community keepsake.
Today, the theatre still is going strong with
showings of new movies and vintage flicks.
Only now, you'll pay $9.75 for a ticket.
-JENNY KINCAID BOONE