Danville's Village Theatre has had more lives than an extremely fortunate cat.
The theater started as a meeting hall when it opened in 1913, but it's also served as a skating rink, movie theater, autopsy room, dance hall, Santa's workshop, church, basketball court, radio broadcast center and more. Town elders intervened in 1987 to save the historic two-story building from becoming a parking lot, ultimately turning the building into its current incarnation as a performing arts theater and art gallery.
The building's colorful history and 100th gala reception, a new art exhibit and a theatrical centennial presentation in the renovated theater. All events are free and open to the public.
"It's been used for so many different things in its history and has been a staple in the town for so long that it warrants a celebration," said David Lam, Danville's performing arts coordinator. "It's lasted this long and become such a vibrant spot for cultural art uses in the town."
Local historian Beverly Lane is "absolutely delighted" that the town will celebrate the theater's historical significance.
"Every time I go in there, I'm reminded of something I remember," Lane said. "It was handy to have movies down there. You didn't have to leave the community to go see a movie. It's not the most handsome building. But when you look at Front Street, it's very significant."
The theater was built in 1913, but its second story dates back to 1874, Lane explained.
"Actually, one of the things that's interesting about that building is that the second floor used to be the 1874 Grange Hall," she said. "Back then, you'd never take down a building. Don't ask me how they did it. They decided they needed a larger hall because the community was growing."
The one-story structure grew to two stories when the existing Grange Hall was relocated and, through architectural magic, became the second floor for the new hall built jointly by the Grange and Oddfellows social and fraternal groups. The building was located on Front Street, the town's original commercial district built along San Ramon Creek.
"It was a good-sized building for Danville," Lane said. "Pretty much everything happened there. They had meetings, they had dances, they had basketball games. One of the first events was the high school graduation in 1914."
The theater's rich and varied history will be highlighted during the centennial presentation the evening of Nov. 16, said Lam, who's organizing the celebration.
"We have some presenters coming in to showcase and highlight certain time periods," Lam said.
"Each presenter is focused on a couple of decades and what the building was used for during that time. ... My goal is to make it as entertaining as possible. It will be an event to be seen," he added.
WHAT: Village Theatre's 100th anniversary
WHEN: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 16
WHERE: Village Theatre, 233 Front St. in Danville
EVENTS: The opening reception for the art exhibit from 5 to 7 p.m. will be followed by the presentation "Barn Dance: Celebrating Our Agrarian Heritage Centennial" from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The Anniversary Celebration Gala from 5 to 7 p.m. will feature hors d'oeuvres and wine. First 200 guests will receive commemorative wine glasses. Please RSVP at vt100years.eventbrite.com.