The iconic red towered building at the downriver side of the bridge in Kennebunkport was built by antique dealer, Fred B. Tuck in 1901 as the Colonial Inn. The building didn’t have a tower then and it was painted green. It was a combination tearoom and antique shop with a fancy soda fountain.
By 1908 the soda fountain and the antiques had been cleared out to make way for the first movie house in the Kennebunks. The Bijou Theatre was owned by the Acme Amusement Co. The familiar tower was added to the movie house within the first few years. Continuous Moving Pictures and illustrated songs were offered every afternoon and evening from 2 to 5 and 7 to 10 P.M. for 10 cents. Booth Tarkington’s book, ‘Seventeen’ was “picturized” in 1916 starring Louise Huff and Jack Pickford (Mary Pickford’s brother). The Paramount silent film ran at the Bijou Theatre the following year. Charlotte Tufts and Eva Kimball were the official accompanists on the piano while Mrs. Agnes Straw ran the Bijou.
Frank Goodwin purchased the theatre from Mrs. Straw around 1922. He renamed it The Lyric Theatre. Some people still think of the building as The Lyric but in 1976 Ray Schmalo purchased it and broke it into 3 shops.
Here is where you come in. Do you remember what movies you saw at the Lyric Theatre? What was it like to watch a movie there? Did movies run year-round? Do you have Lyric Theatre stories? Please share them with the Kennebunkport Historical Society.