The historic Princess Theatre in Becky Buller’s hometown of St. James, Minnesota is one of those nostalgic main-street icons It has been a downtown landmark in the small farming community since it was built in 1915 but it is about to experience some changes. Like everything else these days movie companies are headed down the digital highway.
What that means for the Princess and thousands of other hometown theatres from Hollywood’s golden era is a costly upgrade to new digital equipment or they’ll never again be able to show a new movie.
Becky has taken on a role to help her hometown theatre and you might say it is a family project, her mother, Linda Buller is the theatre manager and is heading up the “Save The Princess” fundraising project .
According to Linda Buller, it’s going to take seventy to seventy five thousand dollars or more to upgrade the Princess’ projection and computer equipment in order to receive movies in the new digital format and then show them on the huge screen. And it’s not just the cost of the equipment itself but installation charges and upgrades to other necessities like electricity will be necessary.
So far the community’s efforts have gotten the project to just past the half-way mark on their goal. Linda Buller said among other things, the theatre will be holding a concert with local musician’s on September 29th. The Dick Kimmel Band (Dick has performed with many great bluegrass and old-time musicians including Del McCoury, and Hazel Dickens) and her daughter, Becky Buller will definitely be a part of the performance. Mrs. Buller said of her daughter, “We are so proud of Becky and her musical accomplishments and honored that she is still willing to help us save our small town theatre.”
Tickets for the show will be $15.
If you can’t attend the show, tax deductible donations can be sent to the St. James Foundation with “Save The Princess” written on the check’s MEMO LINE. Mail checks to: Save The Princess, Box 70, St. James, MN, 56081.
Another effort by Becky to help the cause is posted on her website. For a limited time, brown, 100% Cotton T-Shirts with Teal printing that say: “Be a Knight-Save The Princess” are being sold for $15. The shirt was designed by Rick Vella of the CrossPoint String Band. Purchasers can choose to have the shirt shipped to them or arrange for a special pickup at the concert. All proceeds will go to the Save The Princess Fund.
The Princess Theatre has been more than just a movie house to the Minnesota community. Over the years, it’s been a gathering spot and a place where community businesses still sponsor children’s matinees during the Christmas and Winter Carnival times. It’s been a playhouse and a concert house. It’s still a place where folks from neighboring towns will drive the distance because the theater’s ticket price is still $4.00 for an adult.
Linda Buller also told us that plans are already underway for a special centennial celebration for the theatre and one of the things she’s discovered is the amazing stories people have to tell about the things they remember connected to the theatre. She said she may compile all of the stories into a book for the centennial.