By Carol Stiffler
Newberry’s famous Tahqua-Land Theatre is for sale with an asking price of $250,000.
The listing includes all equipment, an upstairs apartment, and the attached unit that currently hosts North Coast Realty, said Shannon Dunkeld-Williams, and is essentially turn-key.
The theatre was owned, loved, and operated for decades by Fred Dunkeld, Shannon’s father, who died in March 2021. He was 81.
Selling the theatre is “bittersweet”, Shannon said. Dunkeld had been hopeful that Shannon would take it over, but she is busy with work and family of her own, and has come to terms with the idea that she cannot adopt her father’s passion as her own. She helped him manage the theatre for the past six years, as his health was failing.
The listing is being managed by Enrico Capogrossa, a real estate agent with North Coast Realty, and longtime family friend. It hit the market on Wednesday, July 21.
Working with the family, Capogrossa helped set the price for the listing, which includes the recently purchased digital projector that Shannon says cost about $100,000. The listing comes with a stipulation, drafted by an attorney, that the theatre will still be kept as an operating theatre.
Interested buyers have already surfaced, Capogrossa said.
“A property is never sold till it’s sold,” he said. “However, there have been several inquiries regarding the theatre, with some very qualified prospects.”
The future owner will find the theatre is still operable, Shannon said. It’s been closed for about 18 months now due to COVID, and then Fred’s passing, but it’s ready to go.
“I could still walk in there and open it up,” Shannon said. “Everything is working.”
The theatre could use a new roof, she said, fresh paint on the exterior, and new carpet.
“It needs a good, deep clean,” she said.
Dunkeld started work on the furnace before he died, adding blower vents in the ceiling, but the work is unfinished.
Of the interested buyers, at least four are from this area and know what the theatre means to locals, according to Shannon.
“In this small community, this theatre is one of the very few things people have left to do,” she said.
Not only that, it’s unique on its own. Dunkeld painstakingly restored the theater, filling it with new seats, Greek-themed murals, and 10,000 sheets of gold leaf.
“You don’t find very many small-town, single-screen theatres anymore,” Shannon said.
“If they could put in the work that it needs, Dad would be sitting up in heaven, smiling down, [pleased] that it finally got done.”
The family will be, too. They’ll be available to assist the new buyers with learning the ropes and getting the hang of the place. Acquiring a movie through brokers, Shannon said, and getting a digital movie unlocked and ready to play, is a process most people can’t even fathom.
When the marquee lights up with its first new movie in what feels like ages, the Dunkeld family will be there to see it.
“I’m going to be here,” Shannon said. “The very first night, we will all be here.”