More than a century ago, a small casino with a big future opened its doors in the town of Rosendale, N.Y.
By the early 1920s, the casino had expanded its offerings and begun screening some of the earliest films ever produced. As a result, the venue quickly became a regional entertainment hot spot. A stage was constructed in the 1930s so the theater could host vaudeville and burlesque acts, which headlined there for nearly a decade.
The shows came to a halt in the early 1940s when the casino was appropriated by local government and briefly used to house the town’s fire department. But everything changed on Feb. 18, 1949, when Anthony Cacchio Sr. reopened the facility as the Rosendale Theatre. Ever since the re-opening night screening of Blood on the Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, the movie projector hasn’t stopped rolling.
In 2010, after 60 years of operation, the Cacchios decided to retire from their long-time family-run business and sell the theater. Instead of striking a deal with local real estate developers, they entrusted the historic 272-seat theater to the Rosendale Theatre Collective, a nonprofit organization created to help preserve the facility.
“About three years ago, this community actually bought the theatre,” says Ann Citron, the theater’s managing director. “We’ve been in the process of opening it up a little more since we bought it. For example, we just bought hearing-assist devices.”
According to Citron, the theater remains a vital part of the community and its economic stability.
“It is my belief that art and economic development are completely tied together,” she says. “Rosendale is a very old area. We’re two hours from New York City. We have a lot of people who come here and spend the weekends. It’s a beautiful, old historic town. There used to be a lot more businesses. It’s been really trying to revitalize. But now we’re at a point — in part because of this theater and how many people we bring into town — where we have five or six restaurants on Main Street. We have a few shops. Everybody is starting to do better.”
Citron believes that the Rosendale Theatre is essential to bringing people into town as a destination. “We have quite a lot of seniors. We have a group of kids who go to school not too far from here, and many of them are in wheelchairs,” she says.
To make the venue more accessible, Citron recently turned to Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign.
“We are in the process of raising funds to put a wheelchair lift in — our theater has four steps up — so we can be ADA compliant and so we can serve all our patrons,” she explained in her entry. “We are still in need of more funds to make our wish come true.”
Intuit recently announced that this particular plot would have a happy ending: Citron’s wish is being granted.
“Thank you so much! We are so very appreciative,” she says. “Right now, we put down a wooden plank at the side door to get somebody [in a wheelchair] in. The lift will allow them to go into the lobby and into the bathroom as well as come in the front door. We will be able to have that outreach and make a public statement that we are completely accessible.”
Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign is announcing one winner a day through May 24, 2013. Check out the list of current winners, and find out if yours is one of the wishes we’ve granted!