Midland Theatre

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A photo of the Midland Theater
The Midland Theater in the 1930's
The original Midland Theater first opened on the Square in Newark on December 20, 1928 after about one year of construction. This was the same year that outside electric lighting was installed downtown. The opening included a welcome by Newark's Mayor Robbins Hunter, a band concert, a vaudeville act, and a pre-release showing of "The Shopworn Angel," which Paramount allowed the Midland to play before its January 15 national release. One of the young actors in the film was Gary Cooper.

Almost every business around the Square published welcoming ads in the Newark Advocate and American Tribune newspaper. Telegrams of congratulations were received from such people as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Lon Chaey, Buster Keaton, Ronald Colman, John Barrymore, Gloria Swanson and Douglas Fairbanks.

The theater regularly featured movies, Vaudeville acts and live music and was a popular spot in Newark until the blizzard of 1978, which caused the boilers to freeze and crack. In time, the ceiling leaked, and the lower seating flooded. No one had the resources to repair the facility until the farsightedness of Dave Longaberger saved the day. He bought the theater in 1992 for just $15,000 because it was in such disrepair and immediately began to restore it to its original beauty. He died in 1999, but his company continued to follow his wishes, spending about $8.5 million on the project. It was then donated to the Newark Midland Theatre Association.

The second grand opening occurred on September 14, 2002 under the name The Midland Theatre (note the spelling change). The starting lineup that fall was Bill Cosby on opening night, Hal Holbrook portraying Mark Twain on November 2, and The Nutcracker on November 30 and December 1.