Senator Theatre Sold to Current Operators

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The sale of the historic Senator Theatre on York Road to its current operators, James “Buzz” Cusack and Kathleen Lyon, for $500,000 is all but complete. It just needs to be approved by Baltimore’s Board of Estimates today.

Despite the Baltimore Development Corp.’s refusal to disclose the terms of the sale, the Baltimore Sun — working off the Board of Estimates’ agenda — have reported that Cusack and Lyon’s LLC will enter a 40-year mortgage for the full purchase price, at 2 percent.

The historic theater will undergo $3 million in renovations, adding “three auditoriums with stadium-style seating and a cafe to the movie house.” Now, those things might improve the economic viability of the Senator — and maybe I’m just resistant to change — but what I loved about going to movies at the Senator was the old-school, single-theater set-up.

Old movie houses with just one, massive auditorium tend to pull out more stops to promote whatever film is showing. I remember going to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the Senator in 2008. The lobby was overwhelmed by Indiana Jones decorations, including a cardboard cutout of Harrison Ford hanging from a rope. I think there was even a crystal skull.

It would be a shame if the Senator lost its identity in an attempt to compete with the Rotunda or Harborplace.



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  1. Robert, The image you have chosen of The Senator is a gorgeous-eye grabber form the prior ownership. Things at The Senator have degraded precipitously to a truly shameful, blighted exterior appearance beginning the moment the new operators received the keys, with all lights lit and all flags flying so to speak following a full day of free packed screenings of a stunning original 1977 IB technicolor collector’s print of STAR WARS.

    Your musing btw is right on the mark. The trick at this stage is for the theatre to evolve in a warranted manner with the focus on preservation, not the brick wall where they’re headed, despite all the lies, spin and bull crap going on. It’s a nightmare scenario playing out, yet the new operators will in all probability not move forward due to financing issues, despite this handover of the theatre and 3 mil in taxpayer funds.

    The facts are not out, at all. We’re still only in the fourth reel of this tragedy in the making. I still believe in happy endings though, and I think sanity and reason and arithmetic will prevail with the right plan and non profit operation before the landmark Senator Theatre is destroyed beyond redemption.

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