By Chris Kessinger (The Film Freak)
The year was 1989.
The place was the Lyn Theater. A one screen movie theater in Akron’s eastside.
I was four years old on the lap of my father trying to see over a seat that was clearly taller than i was. This aging memory is one i have kept with me nearly 26 years later, as it is the site of my first theater experience of my life. I was seeing “Prancer”, a film that was magical for children, but anything but for the adults who accompanied them. While the movie served as a magical remedy for anyone struggling with insomnia, the real treasure was in the experience of a theater whose days were sadly numbered.
The Lyn opened in 1947, and serviced many memories for Akronites, as it was one of the first indoor theaters in the area during the post war era. The design of this monument is something that is only viewable by checking out still standing theaters like “The Highland or The Lynda Theaters”, today. The curved marquee, the indoor structure of Art Deco in colorless picture times, and the marble tile floors that stretched through the lobby and into the powder rooms. The theater only had one screen, but it’s audience was never lacking, as many opening night presentations always sold out. The theater had a solid reputation during a time when many people were staying at home due to the birth of color televisions. You could purchase tickets at the snack bar, while ordering a delicious scoop of butter melting popcorn that you could only get at such a magical place. A look to the right showcased a set of stairs where you could view the movie in an almost opera setting with a balcony that peered over the viewing patrons below. Complete with restaurant style seating where you could enjoy your purchases and watch the film without worrying about talking over the movie.
I saw many movies here, but for some reason, i only ever remember my first. It was on that day in 1989 that i fell in love with the bright lights, the folding plush seats whose comforts i only felt in my living room at that point, and the dimming darkness of a massive auditorium with the only light coming from the screen. The theater has always been a place that commands attention (Pre cell phone era anyway), and that presentation is something that always gives me chills to this day. That is why the Lyn was so special to me; it was really the first time where i knew that movies were going to be a huge part of my life. It opened my eyes for the first time as a child, in the same way a kid watches Michael Jordan and wants to play basektball because of it.
All was well until the 90’s when many key contributing factors led to the closing of the theater in 1991. Ticket prices leapt overnight from $2 to $7 to compete with new multiplexes that were being freshly built in the area. The wear and tear on a theater whose best days were behind it were viewable in vandalization that was a reflection of the times. Many people didn’t know that the Lyn Theater was a real diamond in a city that was slowly getting rough. To add insult to injury, the theater was torn down to make way for a new Blockbuster Video store. If video didn’t kill the radio star, it certainly killed the place where many Akronites went to get their culture. The building of that structure still stands to this day, and serves as a Buybacks trading business.
Even though the Lyn has been gone for almost 25 years now, i will continue to owe that institution a debt of gratitude for instilling many dreams in a four year old who gained a lot of knowledge in a 90 minute sitting.
Thank you Dad
Got any memories of the Lyn Theater? Leave them below. I would love to hear them.