A contractor is scheduled to be in the Village of Woodville this week to inspect a building on Main Street for asbestos – the first step in demolishing the building.
Mayor Richard Harman last week confirmed the village is completing the acquisition of the building and property at 129 Main and said officials have begun discussing plans for the site, including constructing a walk-way between Main and a village-owned parking area that sits behind the building.
“Hopefully, we can proceed with demolition sometime soon,” the mayor said. “We will be discussing plans with council and the Woodville Business Association, which has money left over from the Downtown Streetscape Project from a few years ago.”
He said the village has set aside funds for the demolition of the building and estimated the WBA has about $17,000 to help with the project.
Although the building has housed several businesses over the years, its claim to local fame is that of a popular movie theatre.
According to a history of the village compiled by the Woodville Historical Society, Paul Pontius constructed the theatre, which opened Nov. 15, 1939 with the name “The Limelite of Movieland.”
A capacity crowd on opening night watched a film called “The Under Pup,” starring Gloria Jean, who wasn’t even yet a teenager when the film was made.
The 450-seat theatre was open seven nights a week and offered Saturday and Sunday matinees.
“We couldn’t wait for it to open,” Doris Hoesman, a volunteer with the Woodville Historical Society, said of the theatre. “We would come home from school and run over to see how it was coming along.”
The names and colors of area sports teams were featured in the theatre’s décor.
Mike O’Connor, president of the historical society, can recall one of the first movies he saw at the Limelite as a youth.
“It was an evening movie, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and it scared the heebie-jeebies out of me,” he said. “Then I had to walk home and it was after dark. Something was behind every tree all the way home.”
The historical society last year used a photo of the Limelite from the 1940s for its annual Christmas ornament that it produces as a fundraiser.
Several businesses have occupied space in the theatre, including Fern’s’ Beauty Shoppe, The Beaute Mirror, Nationwide Insurance, The Spotlite Soda Grill, the Woodville News, and the Temple of Light Ministry, which was also a furniture store.
George Wakely bought the theater in the 1950s and began offering Spanish-language films twice a week to appeal to migrant workers.
Al Tolento and later Marciano Guerrero, Jr. took over the theatre, offering more Spanish films.
The last film was shown in the early 1980s.
Records in the Sandusky County auditor’s office indicate the property was sold to the Temple of Light Ministries for $37,000 in July 2005. The seller is listed as “unknown.”
Despite the building’s ties to the village’s earlier years, even a history buff like O’Connor isn’t too sentimental about the pending demolition.
“It’s in such terrible shape,” he said. “It almost looks like it is going to fall down.”
O’Connor will represent the historical society, which operates a museum on Main Street, when the business association meets with village officials to complete plans for the site.