WARE, Mass. (WWLP) - People with tears in their eyes watched as the Casino Theater in Ware, the oldest movie house in America, was torn down Tuesday morning.
You could see the emotion on the faces of people in whose lives the Casino Theater played such a nostalgic role."It's all the memories you had as kids," Diane Miller of Ware said.
"My mother always wanted to get us out of the house, and when she could afford to, she would send us all down to the movies," Ware Police Officer Tom Kularski said.
But even as the Casino Theater was being demolished, 22News encountered sharp disagreements about whether the building, which was built in 1909 and closed in 1999, could have been saved.
"This is truly not a good day for the town, for the people who value history. But, we unfortunately came to this point. The building is not structurally safe, we've waited for the owner to fix it," Town Manager Mary Tzambazakis said.
When 22News contacted the owner, Fred McLennan of Holyoke, however, he claimed that there is a faction in town which wanted the theater demolished, and that Ronald D'Amato of Palmer had asked for a reprieve in hopes of renovating the theater."Probably was to make it like the old Jerry Lewis theaters back in Agawam, maybe 30-35 years ago," D'Amato said.
Some of those who witnessed the demolition told 22News that they don't know who to blame. All they know is that their beloved Casino Theater is no more.