In its heyday from the late 1930s into the 1960s a line of people halfway down the block or more would line up to see first-run movies at the Diana Theater. By the 1980s the development of mall theaters and the advent of movie channels on cable TV though meant the era of the small town movie theaters had past.
For a time, the Diana was re-purposed as a restaurant (Four Fathoms) and then for a brief period as a night club (Slow Club) with live bands, but for over a decade now the marquee and lights at the former focal point of entertainment on Main Street have been dark.
However, an effort that started four years ago is now nearing completion to get the marquee and the lights turned back on and the curtain raised for a new multi-purpose community entertainment center usage for the historic Diana theater building.
“There is a lot of history and a lot of memories in this building and we’re working hard to get it back where the community can use and enjoy it,” said Joe Cardone whose family has been renovating the building that his father, Vincent Cardone, purchased some four decades ago.
“It’s a family thing. It’s a community thing,” Joe Cardone said. “I’m committed to this for the community because this building is a big part of the community.”
First opened as the Allen Theater, the building was purchased in the 1930’s by Warner Bros. which completely rebuilt and expanded into the building size it is today and later purchased by the Dipson Company.
In fact the opening of the New Diana Theater in 1938 was such a huge community event that there was a parade on Main Street on opening day and the entire Aug. 8 edition of The Journal-Register was devoted to the theater.