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For immediate release: May 31, 2001

Princeton University reopens Princeton Garden Theatre

Princeton, N.J. -- The Princeton Garden Theatre will reopen to the public Friday, June 1 after being closed for extensive renovations since August 2000, according to Princeton University, the owner of the property, and Theater Management Corporation, which leases and operates the movie theater.

The facility underwent major structural refurbishment costing more than a million dollars, including repairs to the roof, a new heating and air conditioning system, a fire suppression system, total sound-proofing, and upgraded electrical and plumbing systems. The project dramatically has improved the movie-going experience with the installation of plush, rocker seats with cup holders and some stadium seating, state-of-the art projection and sound equipment, and new bathrooms and concession facilities.

"The Garden is an important facility for the University and the broader Princeton community," said Robert Durkee, Princeton University's vice president for public affairs. "Theater Management Corporation did an excellent job in selecting movies and responding to the interests and special requests of students and student organizations, alumni and local residents. But anyone who was a patron of the Garden knew the theater sorely needed upgrading."

The renovation was overseen by Princeton architect George Fett, who has experience on several local residential, historic and commercial projects, and New York architect Robert Strada, who is internationally renowned for designing interior retail facilities. The general contractor was Princeton-based The Yedlin Co., known throughout the state for residential and commercial projects.

Together, they worked to preserve a charming, two-screen downtown theater that offers movie-goers an alternative to the mall-based, multiplex experience.

Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed noted that having a theater downtown is critical to those who live in Princeton Borough. "The residents and the students need a facility within walking and biking distance from their homes, so they are not trapped in a situation where they have to drive several miles to get to a theater," he said. "The theater at that location also makes an important contribution to the after-hours liveliness of the town."

During the past few years, the theater has played an integral role in community life by hosting fund-raisers, movie premieres, and special programs for community groups such as the Arts Council of Princeton and the Eden Institute, and for University groups such as alumni and student classes.

The Garden Theatre opened its doors on Sept. 20, 1920, with a showing of "Civilian Clothes," starring Thomas Meighan. The event also featured a live orchestra and palms and ferns arranged on the stage. Sameric Corporation ran the theater from 1975 through 1988, turning the facility into a twin theater in 1981. United Artists then operated the facility for four years before Theater Management Corporation, which operates neighborhood theaters throughout the northeast, began leasing and managing it in 1993.