The plan is to show independent films seven days a week with matinees, evening and late-night showings. Tickets for Princess members in Waterloo are $8 and $12 for nonmembers.

Wendy Tutt said she was impressed with the Cotton Factory, a large repurposed former industrial site with artist studios, workshops and other entrepreneurs, up the street.

The Playhouse will be a welcome addition to the area, says Rachel Braithwaite, executive director of the Barton Village BIA. “It’s a very big tourist attraction … I really see it filling that gap.”

When the Playhouse reopens in midsummer, it won’t be the only old movie house in town. A charitable group has been busy working on the 1930s-era Westdale theatre on the west side of the city near McMaster.

Odette, who is from Kitchener, believes Hamilton has a movie theatre deficit. “There’s room for lots more cinema in this city.”

Locals drive to Waterloo, Guelph and Oakville to catch films that don’t make it to Hamilton’s multiplexes, he says.

For a time, the Playhouse’s staple was pornography.

But it also holds an important place in the history of organized labour in Canada. In 1946, Stelco workers voted to walk off the job there, igniting a strike that saw employees push for better wages, a 40-hour work week and union contributions.

The Playhouse has a tired look from the outside, with its vintage sign hanging over the sidewalk. Inside, it opens up with a splendrous high ceiling ribbed with floral plaster motifs. Originally, there were about 600 seats and a wooden floor. A concrete floor and cast-iron seats were put in during a 1950s renovation.

The Tutts plan to starting pulling out the small, uncomfortable seats in March (there will be a seat giveaway for nostalgic fans) and replace them with about 300 larger, comfier ones.

A new screen will be built across a reduced stage and a new projector will be installed in the upstairs booth. New sound systems will be mounted to the side walls and back.

Wendy Tutt says the Playhouse is of a disappearing vintage. “There’s maybe a handful in Canada that are this old, but ones with this kind of detail, the plaster work intact, it’s so rare.”

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

[email protected]

905-526-3264 | @TeviahMoro

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