LOGANSPORT — A simple Facebook invitation drew about a dozen people concerned about the possible loss of a historic downtown theater.
Mollie Graybeal, whose family owns the Gray Mill, said she posted the status update on Sunday after reading in the Pharos-Tribune that The State Theater might be forced to close.
“Honestly, with the status, I was really just trying to start the conversation,” Graybeal said.
City officials have proposed issuing a $225,000 revenue bond as an incentive for developers for a new multiplex theater.
Billy Alger, president of the board for the company that owns the old theater, said last week that the planned multiplex would result in the closing of his theater.
Graybeal said she believed the theater’s closing would hurt the city.
“It’s a poor business decision on the city’s part,” Graybeal said.
Graybeal noted that generations of her family had seen movies at the 72-year-old theater.
“We need to preserve our city’s history, especially in the downtown,” Graybeal said.
Graybeal said her original Facebook post had been picked up by a couple people and then translated into groups such as the “I support the Historic State Theater” group, which had 632 “likes” as of Wednesday.
Kado Downs, who started that Facebook group, said it had gained 500 “likes” in the first 24 hours. Based on responses via social media, he expected between 30 and 50 people to show up Wednesday night.
About a dozen turned out. They were most of the 14 moviegoers who had bought tickets for the 7 p.m. showings of “The Bourne Legacy” and “Paranorman.”
“In the end, we all know that the new theater is going to happen whether we like it or not, so at this point, all we can do as a community is support the local businesses that are here, to make sure they survive,” Downs said.
He said a few minutes before the movie showing that he’d be satisfied if just two people showed up because “it has to start somewhere.”
Downs added that his group was not opposed to the multiplex.
“We’re not opposed to new development,” he said. “We’re opposed to tax dollars funding new development. That’s supposed to go for infrastructure.”
He was referring to city officials’ proposal to use tax increment financing dollars to fund the $225,000 incentive.
Alger said he had hoped the community would support his business, but he said he had not realistically expected the response he had received. Since Sunday, he said, he had received more than 250 emails and other messages and more phone calls than he could count.
“There’s no doubt people have wonderful memories,” he said.
Graybeal said she was not a regular movie-goer herself, but she said she made an exception for the movie Wednesday night in order to support the theater.
“We have to be here at the State Theater saying, ‘We want this here,’” Graybeal said.