Saturday, May 23, 2015

Washington Gems: Lake Chelan’s ‘Ruby’


While we are in a state of transition between life in the cruise ship and The Stone House on the Hill in Greece we are without Wi-Fi so I am going to tell you about a gem of a place back in Central Washington State. . .(I wrote this one before we left, just in case this happened)

If you’ve ever visited Lake Chelan in Central Washington State, you’ve probably walked right past Ruby - you may not have given the old girl a second glance.

It is easy to take priceless parts of a place for granted when you’re en route to somewhere else. Here, in the heart of wine country, it is easy to be distracted by the 55-mile long glacier fed Lake Chelan on which this small town is located.

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That’s the way it has been with us for decades when it comes to Chelan’s Ruby Theatre, located on the Main Drag in The Scout’s hometown. Our visits, like those of so many tourists, are focused on sunshine and the lake and in our case, visiting family and friends.

Frankly, the thought of going to a movie while in town hadn’t even crossed our minds until our last visit. I was there researching an article for The Seattle Times.  I planned to include a mention of the theatre, so we toured the Grand Old Lady with its owner. . .

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Taken from under the balcony section
The theatre opened in the summer of 1914 at its present location, 135 E. Woodin Ave., and is believed to be the oldest continuously running theatre in the State of Washington.  Named after  Ruby Potter, the daughter of the first manager, the theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991. Over the years a series of managers and owners have been a part of Ruby's history.

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From top left: Concessions, foyer, front row seats and from the back of the theatre
Larry Hibbard, who along with his wife Mary Murphy, bought The Ruby in 2006, took over management of it in 2013.  Hibbard explained that the interior of the theatre is essentially the same as it was when built a century ago. The original pressed tin ceilings, plaster proscenium arch (framing the screen), its horseshoe-shaped balcony and fireproof projection room maintain its historic integrity.

In 2013 a new new concession area was completed, along with a bathroom renovation and installation of new digital projection and sound equipment.  With all that new though, they’ve still kept the old touches in the projection room as well:

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From top left: computerized projection roon, film canisters, projector and Hibbard holding a film reel
We climbed up the stairs and crowded into the tiny projection room as Hibbard showed us both the new digital equipment as well as the film reels, vaults and projector of yesteryear.

Ruby cast her charms during that tour and we vowed, taking in a movie at The Ruby is going to be high on the ‘must do list our next visit The movies shown in this single-screen charmer aren’t first run, but they are pretty darn close.  And the admission is certainly right, as evidenced by the prices posted on the ticket booth window.  And do you like that ticket machine? It was made by a Chelan High School student as a shop class project many decades ago.  But as with all things Ruby, it is also a historical gem!

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Ticket booth at The Ruby Theatre
If You Go:

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Chelan is a 3.5 – 4-hour drive from Seattle. The nearest airport is 30 miles away in Wenatchee (commuter flights from Seattle fly to Wenatchee).
For tourist information and accommodations:  www.golakechelan.com
For Ruby Theatre hours and movie times (as well as a bit of history) www.rubytheatre.com

Thanks for being with us today.  We hope you’ll come back again soon and appreciate having you part of our travels.  Have you been to The Ruby? Any historical theatres near you? Tell us about them if you have the time. Use the comments below or sent an email.

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11 comments:

  1. I have never been outside Europe so it's very interesting to discover things around the world thanks to you dear Jackie and Joel. When will you be in Greece?
    Olympia

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    1. Wish you could visit Washington State one day Olympia - we would show you some of the places that make our hearts sing! (Of course Greece where we are now also makes our heart sing!)

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  2. What a fantastic place! I do so love old theaters. :-)

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    1. The Ruby is a special lady! Thanks for the visit - sorry I took so long to respond!

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  9. For those visiting the blog for the first time, the above series of comment removals show what happens when spammers choose to leave comments - they are removed and reported. And for some reason this particular post drew an unprecedented number of such nonsense.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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