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.