Latchis Arts announces the publication of “Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the New ngland Theater Empire They Built,” a fascinating and lively book that combines local history and personal stories with sweeping themes in the news today – immigration, the American Dream, and the importance of family, community and culture.
Author Gordon Hayward, a nationally known garden designer, writer and lecturer, and current president of Latchis Arts, the non-profit organization which oversees the Latchis Memorial Building, spent more than a year conducting scores of interviews with local historians, Latchis staff and board members past and present, many Latchis family members and even the granddaughter of Louis Jambor, the Hungarian immigrant artist
from New York City who painted the murals on the Latchis Theatre walls in 1938.
The result is an engaging and eye-catching 220-page book with 85 color and black-and-white photographs that brings to light the extraordinary Latchis family, their journey from Greece to Brattleboro, the challenges and successes of their assimilation into their new community and American culture, the resilience they showed through changing times, cycles of fortune and loss, and hurricanes and fires, to build a 14-theater empire in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Ultimately, the book is a testament to the hard work of four generations of a remarkable family and the dedicated group of community-minded people who stepped in to save the Latchis Memorial Building and make sure it continues to serve as a cultural hub for future generations.
“Movies and the performing arts are centered in Brattleboro around the nearly eighty-year-old Latchis Memorial Theatre, which, since 2003, has been overseen by what is now Latchis Arts, a non-profit for which I have been board president since October 2014. I have written this book to further this cause: to keep the theater thriving, to maintain and restore this magnificent historic building, and to celebrate its contribution to the culture of southeastern Vermont. All of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go toward the work of the non-profit Latchis Arts organization,” writes Hayward in the Introduction to “Greek Epic.”
Latchis Arts will celebrate the release of “Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the New England Theater Empire They Built” with a special event, reading and booksigning by Hayward during the Brattleboro Literary Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m., at the Latchis Theatre. Hayward will be on hand to chat with readers and sign books, and tours of the Latchis Memorial Building, with insights into its many features, will be offered, as will Breakfast for Brattleboro from 9 to 10 a.m. that will include Greek yogurt, coffee and baklava.
Friends of the Latchis and fans of Brattleboro history will appreciate the story of the now nearly 80-year-old art deco Latchis Memorial Building, which the family built in 1938 to honor the work of their patriarch, Demetrios. He immigrated from Greece in 1901, arrived in Brattleboro and began as a fruit peddler, working his way up to business owner and head of a theater empire. Local readers will also appreciate Hayward’s insights into the history and importance of the arts in Brattleboro and the extraordinary people – Rudyard Kipling, Blanche Moyse, Rudolf Serkin, Robert Flaherty, architect William Rutherford Mead, and the Estey Family among them – who have lived and made their art here.
Readers throughout Vermont and New Hampshire will learn about the importance of historic buildings and cultural centers like the Latchis in maintaining the health of their downtowns and their communities. Furthermore, the book, is testament to the crucial role non-profits organizations and the volunteer spirit play in the health and success of our communities and to the ways the non-profit and for-profit sectors can work together to make common goals happen.
“Greek Epic” also sheds light on the history of southeastern Vermont in the 20th century, as we learn about the Latchis family as they battled shifting cultural and economic forces through the Roaring Twenties, the Depression, World War II and the rapid changes brought in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s
“Greek Epic” lives up to its title in sweep and scope. The story of the Latchis family is a quintessential American immigration story. In the context of our current climate where the role of immigration is debated vigorously on both sides of the aisle, “Greek Epic” puts immigration in a personal light, reminding readers of the multi-faceted contributions made by people who moved here and overcame adversity and cultural obstacles.
“Greek Epic” is also a story of “the American Dream” – what it was for one man and his family, how it came to fruition, how it withstood threats, challenges and tragedies, how it ultimately had to change and how new people with new dreams, but a common core of personal and community values took over. Shifting its focus to home and hearth, “Greek Epic” is also about family – about fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, grandchildren – and how they all came together in a New World to build something that still stands with
their name on it.
Above all, it is a human story, which opens the doors of this four-screen movie theater and 30-room hotel in this massive art deco building to reveal a setting where the loves and labors, triumphs and tragedies, setbacks and rises, and hopes and dreams of a large cast of wonderful characters are revealed, not as the plot of the latest movie seen on the Latchis Theatre screens, but in the real-life story of those who once made and
still make the Latchis happen.
“Greek Epic” was designed and edited by Wind Ridge Books, with additional editorial assistance from John Barstow, Irene Canaris, Castle Freeman and John Carnahan.
For more information and additional copies of the book, visit .