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Old theater, Sr. Center taken down on Main Street; “Do you have a memory to share?”

Before - True Dakotan/Duke Wenzel (January-2012)

 

THE PESI-COLA company painted a sign on the side of the El Rancho Theatre for Fred Knight Construction.

 

EILEEN WOODRUFF, pictured above, seemed to be in good humor as the old theater building came crashing down next to her Jerauld County Abstract building pictured on the left. Tires covered by plywood placed on her roof protected the building and it received no damage. Jerauld County Abstract --located in several different buildings over the years-- is the oldest continuous service business in Wessington Springs. Meanwhile across the lots, Dennis Mettler and crew of Mettler’s Locker planned to work as usual as the buildings to the west came down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go ahead, tell us your story about going to movies in the old Springs theater, or having a cheeseburger at Aggie’s Cafe — write it in the “comments” box.

Two landmark buildings on Main Street in Wessington Springs were leveled by the wrecker’s crane last Wednesday, December 28 and Thursday, December 29, 2011.

The old theater building and the building most recently used as the Senior Center came down by the Aberdeen-based company, Dahme Construction. The City and County cooperated with the cleanup of the lots this week.

Buildings on both sides, one housing Jerauld County Abstract, and the other owned by Mettler’s Lockers, were unharmed.

Cost of the demolition was shared by Jerauld County, City of Wessington Springs and the Wessington Springs Area Development Corporation.

The Majestic Theater brick building was built by TF “True” Vessey in 1916. It served as a movie house for 66 years. The last movies were shown from 1976-1982 by owners Fred and Cecile Knight. Marlene Grieve ran the last business in the building after she purchased it to run an insurance business. Several owners operated the theater under different names. In 1921, E.E. Theuer operated the Majestic. F.A. Thompson purchased it in 1926 and renamed it the “Rialto.” In 1933, the theater closed when hard times came to the area.

But a month later, Mr. and Mrs. S.M. Burton opened for business. The Burtons ran the business until 1949 when Dewey and Marian Grabinski purchased it and renamed it the “Dewmar.”

They sold to Fred and Cecile Knight in 1976 and called it the “El Rancho” closing in 1982. It was the late 1930s before Sunday movies were allowed in the city.

The site of the former Senior Citizens Center was made up of two early day buildings going back 100 years or more. By 1923 a city map owned by Eileen Woodruff shows the east building description as the Rocket (if anyone knows what that means let us know).

The building was used as a furniture store in the 1950s operated by Myron Winter after the death of his father, Leland. Agnes Anderson Gruber operated Aggie’s Café in both buildings from 1961 until 1975. The Springs Senior Citizens were the last to occupy the building before moving to their new location in 2011.

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