SPRINGVALE, Maine — Two men roam the attic of a home filled with treasures. One of them owns the place. The other is the president of the local historical society. The homeowner has invited the president to the house to see if he finds anything there he would like to add to his organization’s trove of local historic artifacts.
He does. Three large medallions stand out from the collection.
The president knows these medallions by heart and is thrilled to see them again after so many years. He was an avid film-goer in his youth, and it is from these medallions that beautiful and elegant chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the old-time movie theater he attended as a boy.
The president enthusiastically accepts the medallions for the local historical museum.
Sounds like a pitch for an intriguing new movie. Or for a new exhibit at the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society.
The homeowner is Steve Shaw. The president of the historical society is Harland Eastman. Shaw called Eastman to the property he owned on Pleasant Avenue and invited him to take that look around in the attic.
That’s when Eastman spotted the medallions. That’s when he got the idea for the historical museum’s new exhibit, which showcases the history of movie theaters in Sanford-Springvale from the earlier years of the 20th century through the 1950s.
The late Ronald Morin, a longtime member of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society, owned the home now owned by Shaw. With an eye toward history, Morin saved the medallions from the old Capitol Theatre on Main Street as it was being demolished in the spring of 1969. He kept them stored in his attic for nearly 50 years.
“Steve Shaw’s gift of these medallions to the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society was the spark that led to this exhibit,” the text that accompanies the new display declares.
The exhibit had its premiere during a special presentation at the Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum at 505 Main St. on Thursday, Sept. 20.
The exhibit’s special attractions include old movie posters, newspaper ads, and pictures of local theaters from yesteryear. Courtesy of City Councilor Fred Smith, one wall of the exhibit even features the wooden sign that greeted moviegoers at the old Sanford Drive-In from 1950 through the late 1970s. The drive-in existed where Breary Farms Apartments on Main Street are now.
According to research on display at the exhibit, the first showing of a film in Sanford is believed to have taken place in a room above Shaw’s Hardware on Main Street at one point in the early 20th century. Films also were known to be shown as early as 1907 on School Street at the Knights of Pythias Hall that eventually burned down in the 70s.