ORLEANS – A fire ripped through the movie theater in Orleans Wednesday afternoon, decimating the historic theater that had anchored the town square since the late 19th century.
The fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. About an hour later, flames had taken over the building as firefighters from Orleans, Orange County, French Lick and Mitchell tried to get it under control. An excavator came to break through the building’s east wall, giving crews a direct view of the flames. By 2:45 p.m., the building was a smoldering pile of rubble and the fire was out.
The theater was originally built in the 1890s, when it housed a dry good store. It became a theater in the 1930s. For several years, it was the only theater in the area. According to town officials, the theater survived two previous fires on both sides—one in 1985 and another in 2000.
The theater was under renovation and was expected to be part of an upcoming festival. The owners planned to turn it into a dinner theater.
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