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Published June 30, 2012, 06:28 PM

Theatre bought for a dollar brings back priceless memories

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- People in Hawley are taking a step back in time, reliving classic childhood memories, all thanks to one man. Those people in town are celebrating the schools 140th anniversary, and at the same time checking out the restored, century old movie theater.

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- People in Hawley are taking a step back in time, reliving classic childhood memories, all thanks to one man. Those people in town are celebrating the schools 140th anniversary, and at the same time checking out the restored, century old movie theater.

It may be hard to believe by looking at the old building of the Garrick Theater, the priceless projectors, and original film still left inside.. that James Bortnem bought all of it for just one dollar.

Jame Bortnem/Restored Theatre: "It was scheduled essentially to be torn down the roof was caving in, it had been sitting empty for about I think at that time about ten, twelve years.

Bortnem bought the theater back in 2002, but restoration started just two years ago.

James: "I was looking for a really fun project, and this turned out to be it."

The building built in the 1900's needed a lot of work, and although the restoration has cost a lot more than just that dollar...Bortnem says it has been worth every penny.

James: "We don't need another parking lot, and it really looked like a fun project, just fun to do and it turned out it's been a lot of fun the whole thing, a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun."

Most of the building has to be restored, but if you're planning on coming to the theater you'll still get to see things just how they were in the past...like these doors that are original to the building.

James: "Our goal was to make it follow the vaudeville theme the best we can."

As classmates, family and friends look at photos of construction from start to almost finish..people are reminded of what used to be.

Charles Gran/Hawley: "Years ago when we were kids we'd, this was our sunday afternoon getaway from our parents, they'd send us down here to the movies, used to be ten cents, then 15 cents for the movie, and cost us a quarter for the whole day."

The theater tour brought more to the residents than just a popcorn treat.. They're reliving fond memories of a night on the town, and in about 6 months to a year, another generation will be able to create their own.

When completed the theater will be used for community and private events.

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