History of the New Angola Theater
An early 20th century landmark, “The Theatre Angola” opened on November 25, 1924 as a silent movie house. Considered a credit to the progressive spirit of Angola, the up-to-date modern movie house constructed by Mr. & Mrs. Frank Wiatrowski offered moderate cost movies as well as 3-act vaudeville shows along with local entertainment.
The theater was converted to sound in 1929 in the early days of “talkies”. The management was leased in the early months of 1930 and operated as “The New Regent” Theater. When the lease terminated, the owners returned to management, re-opening on April 24, 1930 using the original name “The Theatre Angola”.
To remain competitive with movie houses of surrounding communities, a group of local businessmen leased the theater, made improvements in the sound system and opened on November 11, 1930 under the name “The New Angola Theater” featuring the movie “Good News”, a prophetic title as it turned out. The theater contributed to the cultural and economic stability of the community as it became an entertainment center, frequently used for a variety of public functions such as local theatricals, home-town talent shows, minstrel shows, essay contests, Christmas parties, musicals and graduation ceremonies, all of which contributed to the well being of the community.
Following previous management of Sylvester J. Graff, the property was transferred in 1948 to Mr. Richard Geitner who operated the “New Angola Theater” until his retirement in 1995, at which time the building was put up for sale.
Being closed for nearly seven years contributed to a negative impact on the business community and quality of life of the residents of this small community.
The desire of Claddagh Commission Inc. to give something back to the community which embraces them, and at the same time provide meaningful work opportunities for the individuals they serve, resulted in their decision to purchase, re-store and re-open the vacant theater.
Significant to this reality is the fact that under Claddagh's positive and sensitive leadership, the theater, as the cornerstone of the business district will survive, providing not only needed employment, but wholesome entertainment once again thus enriching the lives of all in the community. Claddagh re-opened the New Angola Theater with a grand opening on the evening of May 17, 2002 featuring dinner and a movie.