Restoring Movies: Montana Theatre in Miles City
Having been born and raised in Miles City, good ol' Eastern Montana, I will admit we did not have many options for entertainment. Fishing, hunting, a few parks, a questionable "lake" and water hole... but the one thing that has been around since 1936 is the historic Montana Theatre.
An Eastern Montana legend
Just a month after the Montana Theatre was completed, the first film premiered. "Adventure in Manhattan" was shown on the big screen two days before the national release. (Photo from Facebook above is at the opening in 1936)
My Childhood Memory
Being a 90's kid, I remember going to the theatre every time they offered a movie my dad wanted to watch (and occasionally one I wanted to watch, he would just enjoy the popcorn). From the Montana Theatre Facebook, the above image is my last memory of the theatre and how it stood all those years. Dated? Yes. Damaged? Yes. Full of memories from myself and the thousands of people over the years who enjoyed a movie there? Yes.
COVID tried to kill it
When the pandemic hit, the theatre was in a rough spot. Being without funding for most repairs for years, the caretakers did their best to simply keep it going. Unfortunately, around the time of the pandemic, the boiler broke in the theatre... and that was the final straw. The historic, legendary, and always there for you Montana Theatre shut its doors.
Enter the Goffs, stage left
John and Jennifer Goff, who share the memories of many at the Montana Theatre, simply could not stand by and watch the legend die. After some discussion with the owners at the time, they struck a deal and purchased the Montana Theatre in early 2021. A shell of its former self, but still filled with memories of the past, the Goffs knew they had jumped off the deep end... all for the love of that theatre.
After more than a year and a half, the Goffs (with the help of many amazing local businesses, families, and friends) have brought the Montana Theatre back to life... and made sure to fix a few things along the way. Mainly, the original theatre had one screen. Certainly fine for the 1930s, but for a theatre to be successful, you need multiple screens! Now, 3 screens sit inside the same space.
The original theatre was shrunk to add two, smaller but ultra-modern, theatres in the mix. A rework of the main entrance down to the rest areas, the addition of an accessible restroom (before it was a nightmare to get a friend in a wheelchair down those stairs), and a much-needed revamp of the concession stand.
The Goffs even added live-show sound and lights to the original theatre, to allow for local concerts and performances. I can't forget... the biggest thing that makes me smile. The Montana Theatre Marquee in the gloriously bright and colorful neon was restored, modernized... and sealed so birds quit making it their home. #evictionofpigeons
Want to take a tour? Recently, a Google Street View-styled tour was shared with the locals, and you can take a quick poke around the revamped Montana Theatre from your own home.
But, the best way to experience it... is the way we all do. Take a drive over to Miles City for the weekend. Stop into Forsyth on the way, grab some great Barbecue from my buddies at Outlaw Bar-B-Que, and enjoy a movie (with popcorn... and candy) at the Montana Theatre.
It'll be a night you'll remember for quite some time.