The Columbia Theatre in downtown Harlem was the first movie theater in Columbia County, and it ran the newest releases from 1949 until it closed in 1963. Over the years, the building was used as retail space, with the floor being poured flat and the interior divided into booths.
The Theatre was acquired by the City of Harlem in 2005, and the City began an effort to restore the facility. Using grant funding, the City was able to install a new roof, and the façade was restored to its original appearance. A number of individuals and groups have graciously volunteered their time and talents to clean out the inside of the building. Testing for asbestos and lead paint is currently being conducted, and plans call for additional interior demolition to begin soon (dependent, of course, upon the availability of funding).
Future plans call for using the facility as a multi-purpose performing arts venue with the ability to occasionally use it for its original purpose – movies! Those interested in donating to this effort can do so through the non-profit Harlem Foundation. If you’re interested in donating your time, talents or dollars, please contact the City Manager at (706) 556-0043.