Latchis history on exhibit in gallery

“The Latchis Memorial Building: Through the Decades,” an exhibit of historic photographs and other ephemera and artifacts from the Latchis Memorial Building’s 80-year history, is on view in the Latchis Arts Gallery at the Latchis through October.

The exhibit is part of the commemoration of  the Latchis’ 80th birthday, which was celebrated on Saturday, Sept. 22. A reception for the exhibit will be held during Gallery Walk on October 5 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The exhibit is on view during regular movie and event times at the Latchis and by appointment. Please e-mail jon@0je.22e.myftpupload.com to make an appointment.

 

Vt. Arts Council supports Latchis accessibility efforts

The Latchis Theatre now has available new equipment to help patrons with visual and auditory needs get the most out of their movie experience at the historic, downtown Brattleboro movie and arts venue.

The new assistive devices include goggles and individual pop-up screens that allow patrons to view closed captions. Also included are headphones which amplify and clarify sound and provide the option for patrons with visual needs to hear descriptions of the action taking place on screen.

The new equipment is part of a $26,000 technical upgrade to the theater that was funded in part by a $13,000 grant to Latchis Arts by the Vermont Arts Council through its Cultural Facilities Grant program. Latchis Arts is the non-profit organization whose mission is to take care of the Latchis Memorial Building and make it a hub of cultural and cinematic activity.

“We could not have done this without the Vermont Arts Council, and we are so grateful. We hope that this equipment makes the excitement of a night at the movies available and enjoyable for more people in our community,” said Jon Potter, executive director of Latchis Arts. “Speaking personally, my brother lost his sight, and he and his wife were able to have their first movie date in many, many years because this equipment was available in their community. I expect that experiences like that will happen here, and I look forward to hearing those stories.”

The equipment is available to movie patrons by asking Latchis Theatre staff at the concessions counter for assistance. Theatre staff have been trained in its use and are happy to assist patrons in becoming familiar with it. There is no charge to use the equipment.

The new equipment works on virtually all first-run major studio commercial movies and select offerings from smaller and independent studios.

“This new equipment is a significant improvement over what we’ve had and represents the best technology available to us right now. We anticipate that more advancements will be made in the coming years,” said Potter.

Theatre manager Darren Goldsmith said early reviews of the equipment have generally been positive.

“As with anything new, it takes some adjustment, but people who’ve used it have told me it really helps,” said Goldsmith. “It means a lot to us to have this equipment ready for our patrons.”

For more information, visit latchisarts.org or latchistheater.com. For movie listings, call 802-246-1500.

 

Gordon Hayward’s ‘Greek Epic’ reviewed

 “Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the New England Theater Empire They Built
By Gordon Hayward

Reviewed by Charles Fish in the Summer/Fall 2017 issue of Vermont History, The Journal of the Vermont Historical Society

 

Hope and ambition can arise anywhere. For Demetrios Peter Latsis, it was in his hometown of Kastanitsa, a Greek village so small and remote it was untouched by the Germans in World War II. Demetrios, whose family name was changed to Latchis at Ellis Island, emigrated to America in 1901 at the age of thirty-seven.

What followed was both a classic American story of immigrant enterprise and an intensely local one. Greek Epic’s first chapter describes the construction of the Latchis Memorial Theater in Brattleboro, 1936-1938, built by Demetrios’ sons in his memory. The last chapter is an account of the rescue of the Latchis building by the Brattleboro Arts Initiative and its preservation as an arts and performance center and a business enterprise through the extraordinary efforts of local volunteers, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and a complex mix of grants and loans. The outcome was a two-fold arrangement, with arts events under the wing of the non-profit Latchis Arts, Inc., and the theaters, hotel office, and retail spaces under the management of the for-profit Latchis Corporation.

In between these two chapters, Gordon Hayward tells the story of the tumultuous rise and fall of the Latchis family businesses with evident admiration and in fascinating detail. From humble beginnings the family “over thirty years went on to build five thousand-seat movie theaters, and own or lease a further ten in three states” (p. ix). We meet some interesting characters, starting with Demetrios himself, who, after a brief spell in Lowell, Massachusetts, working in the mills, came to Keene, New Hampshire, where he had a half-brother, then to Hinsdale, N.H., and eventually to Brattleboro. He sold fruit from his pushcart, first literally pushed or pulled, later horse-drawn and motorized. Demetrios and his sons expanded the fruit business and opened a confectionery shop. In 1919, son Peter took the family savings – without permission – to buy projection equipment to show movies at the Town Hall. His older brother, Spero, recalled that the family “was about to kill him,” but after drawing a packed house, “the family let Peter do whatever he wanted. He seized the throne and for the rest of his life he never looked back” (p. 50).  But this businessman was also, in Hayward’s words, “the artist, the renaissance man, the self-taught entrepreneur who went home at night to read Plato and Aristotle or to play his saxophone” (p. 73).

Spero, the oldest son, was known as the “organizer, the businessman and controller, the brother who kept everything in line” (p. 57). The youngest son, John, worked in the business, but his achievements and interests might have taken him in a different direction. The only son to be college educated, he graduated from Dartmouth College, where he had studied Greek philosophy. His nephew recalled hours together spent discussing philosophy and theology. His daughter, Joan Latchis Amory, remembered that her father was a great reader of classical Greek, and liked the playwright Aristophanes. His Kastanitsa Greek (family-learned, for he was born in America) was considered by his Dartmouth professors to be close to the ancient pronunciation: in reading the New Testament in Greek he would explain how differences in translated would affect the liturgy. “He would have made a wonderful professor, or a doctor,” she went on to say, “but he had been brought up to be part of the family business” (p. 140). This is a hint of another aspect of immigrant experience: the difficulties that can arise when the opportunities of America threaten to draw one away from family.

And of course there are many other characters and events to lead the reader on. Necessary to mention, however, is the splendid sixth chapter, “Evoking Greece in 1937-1938: The Art in the Main Theater.” There were earlier Latchis theaters in Brattleboro, but the one built in these years is the one that survives today, and although its exterior is Art deco in design, one of just three such public buildings remaining in Vermont, its interior is given over to classical Greek imagery in honor of the family origins. The chapter features a number of striking color photographs by Jeff Woodward of the restored iconography of the theater. Here we see, among others, Chiron with Achilles on His Back, Cupid Presenting Psyche to Zeus and Hera, Bacchus and Revelers, and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, Courage, Inspiration and Arts.

Two prominent features of the book are the memories of the family members Hayward so helpfully interviewed and the heavy emphasis on context. Much of the personal detail of the story comes from the family itself. Hayward tells us what was going on in Brattleboro, the state, and the country at the various stages of the Latchis story. While occasionally the information may seem familiar and unnecessary, in general it repeatedly reminds us that the Latchis experience, like nearly all sustained human effort, has been dependent on circumstances beyond one’s control. This is evident in Hayward’s account of the economic and social conditions that favored the rise of the Latchis enterprise and the forces that destroyed it. The theater business was hit hard, for example, by the growth of television, the rise of multiplex theaters, the difficulties of the movie distribution system, indebtedness, and the burden of aging, hard-to-maintain buildings.

This book is a new venture for Hayward, a distinguished garden designer and author, and a personal one as well, for he is the board president of Latchis Arts and has a keen appreciation, warmly expressed, of the efforts of the many people who transformed the building and the business, Challenges didn’t disappear when the painful, eighteen-year struggle of Demetrios’ great-grandson Spero and his wife, Elizabeth, to keep things going ended with the 2003 sale to the Brattleboro Arts Initiative. A spectacular example was the 2011 floodwater damage of Tropical Storm Irene, costing $600,000 to repair with additional loss of $200,000 of business income. Hayward movingly describes the efforts of Executive Director Gail Nunziata and others to restore the building and the business.

Hayward writes in a clear, engaging manner; one senses the person behind the words. His presence is felt most obviously in the Introduction, in which he describes trips to Greece with his wife, Mary, and in the various acknowledgments of the Latchis staff and volunteers. The immigrant story and the regional theater history should find readers everywhere. The local details will be of most interest to readers in this area of Vermont and New Hampshire. Perhaps only a reviewer would miss an index.
– CHARLES FISH

Charles Fish is the author of In the Land of the Wild Onion: Travels Along Vermont’s Winooski River (2006) and other works about Vermont.

 

Latchis Profiles: Joey Morgan is happy to be volunteering on Latchis Arts Board

By Gordon Hayward
Latchis Arts Board President

This article first appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on May 25, 2017

Joey Morgan knew she had done the right thing in volunteering to join The Latchis Arts (LA) Board. One Sunday afternoon this past winter proved it. She drove to The Latchis for a screening of an opera simulcast but found the Flat Street parking lot, due west of the building, was completely full. She parked in the multi-story car park across the street and started walking east to the theater just as upwards to ninety young parents and their children were walking in the opposite direction to their parked cars. They were coming out, having just seen an 11 a.m. screening of a Roald Dahl animated film.

At the same time the children were leaving, Joey and an audience of around 100 older opera enthusiasts were walking toward the theatre to see a 1:00 PM simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Three hours later, as the opera simulcast ended, that audience left the theater only to find nearly 100 people were milling about in the foyer waiting for the 4 p.m. doors to open for the Exhibition on Screen program on Claude Monet’s life and art. As Morgan told me, “There was just so much life coming and going on that afternoon by people from five to ninety years of age. This is one alive corner of town.”

All three screenings, and hundreds of others over the last few years, are a direct result of ideas developed and put up on the four screens by the nine-member Latchis Arts Board (LA). Since 2003, this board, originally the Brattleboro Arts Initiative, has owned and overseen the 62,500 sq. ft. building in Brattleboro on behalf of the community. As a board member, Joey and her colleagues, I being one of them, attend monthly meetings to generate and see through programming to complement the regularly scheduled films that Darren Goldsmith (subject of an earlier Reformer profile) screens to support the work of the for-profit Latchis Corporation Board (LC).

Morgan was drawn to join the board just over a year ago by Anne Latchis, a long-standing member of the LA board. (and granddaughter of Spero Latchis who, with his three brothers and sisters, built the theater and hotel in the late 1930s as a memorial to their patriarch, Demetrios Latchis.) Whereas the LC board oversees the profitability of the four-screen theater, 30 room hotel and five storefronts, the LA board generates ideas for additional programming and fund-raising to support new programming as well as provide funds for the upkeep and improvements to the 78 year old building.

Morgan brings a great deal to the table, in large part because she has lived a very rich, varied life within the arts. She was born in Bronxville, just north of Manhattan. Her father, Al Morgan, was a novelist and Broadway playwright as well as being the producer for The Today Show on NBC “from Kennedy to Nixon.” Her mother, Martha Falconer, was a Shakespearean actor on Broadway. “At one point in my mother’s career, she was the understudy for the legendary actress Uta Hagen who, one night, was injured. My mother played Desdemona opposite Paul Robeson’s Othello.” Joey’s birth was announced in Variety Magazine along with the announcement of the birth of Jimmy Stewart’s twins.

In the 1970s, Joey “bounced around Bard”, went to Rhode Island School of Design for a while and continued studying at The School of Visual Arts in New York City. After graduating, she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia where she developed her practice as an artist. Her parents moved to Dummerston “while on their way to the Outer Hebrides” but decided to stay on in Vermont. Joey continued developing her work: large scale video and audio installations shown in Canadian and European museums. Having moved in the mid-seventies to Vancouver, British Columbia, she supported her practice with commissions, grants and part-time work at The Vancouver Province newspaper as well as working on local film-sets. In 1989, the Canada Council awarded her a studio and stipend in Paris for a year to further develop her video, text and audio installations.

She returned to the US, working in New York and, two years after her daughter Isabel was born in 1992 New York City, mother and daughter moved to Los Angeles. In 1998 they moved to Vermont and rented artist Gib Taylor’s house in Westminster West for eight years. She enrolled Isabel in the Westminster West two-room school where Claire Oglesby and this writer’s wife, Mary Hayward, were her teachers for grades one through four. Isabel is now studying neuro-psychology at Concordia University in Montreal.

Joey moved to Brattleboro in 2006 and has been living here ever since. She works on long-distance commissions and graphic design with local clients including Bensonwood, Ruggles and Hunt and Marlboro Productions.

Film, video and the moving visual image have been a big part of her life as well as her studio practice, all of which informs her participation on the LA board. When she was in Paris, for example, in 1989, she often attended morning screenings hosted by small cinemas throughout Paris that were hosting mini-retrospectives of different film directors’ work. Peter Greenaway, a famous British filmmaker and artist, was one of those directors whose work was featured. When living in Los Angeles a few years later, she and Isabel went to small movie theaters with couches as seating; mother and daughter curled up and watch movies for hours.

Based on this rich life gathered around movies, Morgan loves being at the LA board meetings: “We develop programming, rethink it, take new ideas like the series for children and then screen it, often by donation, for people to come together and share the experience. LA is light on its feet. It’s responsive to the community. As our programming responds to what we hear people are looking for, The Latchis becomes a place of affection. It feels permeable, welcoming, collaborative. We develop ideas based on the enthusiasms and suggestions of our community as well as cultural organizations.”

“The Latchis is our window, our lens on a larger world. I especially value the simulcasts from The National Theater in London. A quick drive to town and there is a performance from The National Theater on a screen. What could be better than that?”

Gordon Hayward may be reached at gordonhayward@comcast.net

Friends, neighbors, stewards of the Latchis

By Gordon Hayward

Latchis Arts Board President

Note: This blog post first appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on March 8, 2017

BRATTLEBORO —The Children’s Film Series on Sundays; the a capella performance in support of the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center; Monet’s paintings on the big screen; the recent New England Center for Circus Arts extravaganza; simulcasts of the British National Theater, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera; a brand new web site; and a 220-page book about the history of four generations of the Latchis Family in Brattleboro a great deal is going on at Latchis Arts (LA), and that’s by design.

September 23, 2018 will be the 80th anniversary of the opening of The Latchis Hotel and Theatre. Jon Potter, Executive Director, and the board that manages the non-profit LA, have been expanding programming to draw new audiences into the four theaters in this historic building.

Mondomedia, Luke Stafford’s Cotton Mill Hill-based website-design and marketing company, has led a complete redesign of Latchis websites. A web search for either LA, Latchis Theatre or Latchis Hotel will display links to the other two.

Through these handsome new websites, the two boards are hoping to draw tourists and guests from near and far to all that Brattleboro has to offer. In fact, the Latchis Hotel website establishes that its key amenity on offer, beside a movie and a room for the night, is Brattleboro itself with its a wide range of restaurants, shops, cafes, and galleries as well as high-level jazz and classical music, bookstores and an art museum.

In order to tell the remarkable story of the four-generation Latchis family, I published his 220 page “GREEK EPIC: The Latchis Family and the New England Theater Empire They Built” and introduced it last October. All sales benefit Latchis Arts. Books are available at Everyone’s Books as well as the front desk at The Latchis Hotel.

LA is also addressing a variety of problems related to the building itself. For example, Jon Potter has been working with Travis Stout, Facilities Manager, and Darren Goldsmith, Theater Manager, to address the problem of “sound bleed.” Movies have been getting louder and louder, with low-frequency sound waves from the Main Theater reaching into Theater Three and vice-versa. LA is working with an acoustical engineer to explore options.

In the lobby, visitors and movie-goers can see photos of all the people who keep The Latchis humming in the lobby display of 40 slightly larger-than- life portraits taken and arranged by Putney-based Christopher Irion, a self-described photographer of communities. And if you go to the new LA website, you’ll be able to see all of Christopher Irion’s portraits.

The LA Board hired Irion to photograph their ten board members as well as the ten members of The Latchis Corporation Board. Irion also photographed the 27 employees who work in the 30-room hotel and the four-screen movie theater.

Everyone is there — from Sue Nadeau, who has been looking after the hotel rooms for nineteen years to Jon Potter, executive director, to the treasurer for the corporation board: Dan Yates, President of Brattleboro Savings and Loan. In these portraits, movie-goers are discovering that it is their friends and neighbors who are looking after The Latchis. In future columns, I will profile some of these employees and board members who are the stewards of The Latchis on behalf of our whole community.

Latchis Profiles: For the Love of Film with Darren Goldsmith

Darren Goldsmith manages the four-screen theater at Latchis

By Gordon Hayward
Latchis Arts Board President
Note: This blog post first appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on April 17, 2017

Darren Goldsmith, manager of The Latchis Theatre, can date his love of films and his three decades of work in movie theaters to May 25, 1977. That was the day his parents, Carolyn and Hugh Goldsmith, both local teachers, drove their eight year old son from their home in Dummerston to The First Cinema in Brattleboro to see the very first screening of “Star Wars.” Forty years have passed since that day and Goldsmith is still in a movie theater.

Having worked part-time starting at age 14 in The First Cinema, Goldsmith graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 1987. He attended UVM as a political science major, during which he worked part time at the Nickelodeon Theater in Burlington, but he knew he wanted to be a theater manager. Halfway through his third year at UVM, he saw an ad in a trade magazine for just such a position in Easton, Penn. He applied and was hired as one of six managers in a 75-employee multiplex. When the chain was sold, he took a similar position within the new company, but this time at their historic three-screen Colony Theatre in Livingston, N.J. not far from Newark.

In 1997, twenty years after seeing his first “Star Wars,” Goldsmith returned to Brattleboro. First he took a job managing the six-screen Kipling Theatre on Putney Road. In 2004 he returned to The Latchis and has been there ever since.

Spero Latchis and his wife Elizabeth had sold the Latchis in 2003 to the Brattleboro Arts Initiative and both had agreed to stay on for one year to help with the transition. Spero had known Goldsmith for years, given he had worked part time at the Latchis between 1990 and 1995, so Spero and his father Jim coached and guided him. Of Jim, Goldsmith said, “He was my mentor. He was grooming me for this position. He was my coach, even a bit of a father figure. And was he ever meticulous!”

Goldsmith was quick to point out that he grew up “pre-internet” and thus had only watched films on the big screen, a fact central to his love of movies.

“People are coming to see movies on the big screen predisposed to having a good time,” he said. “I love helping people enjoy themselves, and I guess that’s why I love managing this theater and greeting people as they step up to the ticket booth.”

While it’s difficult for Goldsmith to see all the movies he chooses – in large part because five nights a week he is managing the theater and staff, greeting moviegoers, selling tickets and keeping records of the evening’s sales — he does get to see movies, “but I gotta have my popcorn and Goobers.” (And he’s not alone. On the opening weekend of a blockbuster movie, the concession stand typically pops between 100-150 pounds of popcorn seed to satisfy moviegoers.)

As the manager of the four-screen Latchis Theatre, Goldsmith chooses roughly eighty films a year for screening out of the 400-500 films released yearly. “I have to keep the major studios happy by screening first-run films and blockbusters the day they open and they have to stay up on the screen, sometimes for as much as four weeks,” he noted.

Goldsmith is quick to point out that it is to the advantage of The Latchis as well as the studios. “A few years back studios shifted from 35 mm film to a digital format,” he recalled. The Latchis Corporation, the board that oversees the management of the theater and hotel, had to borrow $280,000 to install state-of-the-art digital projectors in all four projection booths.

“Knowing small theaters might not be able to afford that steep cost, distributors set up a system. If small theaters screened new major movies on opening night, the distributors would pay a $750 reimbursement fee for each film screened. With that fee, the nearly $300,000 debt will be paid off in three years.”

Goldsmith is keenly aware of the historical “art house” slant that an important segment of the moviegoers look for, but, he pointed out, “We simply can’t screen movies the way they do in Amherst. We have a population of 43,000 in Windham County whereas nearby Hampshire County, Mass. has a population of 161,000 plus 30,000 students at UMass at Amherst along with 1,300 in their instructional staff.”

Every week Goldsmith performs a balancing act to bring art-house films to Brattleboro. His “Off the Beaten Path” series is part of that along with special 4 p.m. screenings on weekends as well as simulcasts.

“The Latchis Arts Movies for Kids Series screens film for kids attracting 75 to 90 viewers, well over half being children, on Sunday mornings,” he said. “We’re also screening films for teenagers and well as families.” For several years now, Goldsmith’s choices have resulted in the purchase of around 62,000 movie tickets annually.

“For the last twenty years The Latchis Theatres have shown a mix of commercial, art-house, and independent films,” Goldsmith explained. “During the summer months and holiday periods we adjust the mix of films to lean more heavily on mainstream commercial movies. As fall rolls around, we shift as heavily as we can to art-house offerings and films we expect to garner awards during the winter awards season. We rely on summer blockbusters and holiday fare to subsidize less lucrative independent films that don’t have massive advertising campaigns behind them. We may show somewhat less arthouse offerings during these periods but never abandon them totally. We welcome our whole diverse community through our doors.”

Executive Director Jon Potter adds, “In addition to our contractual commitments to the film studios, and to make money so The Latchis Corporation can pay their bills, we need to factor in our mission, to make our theaters available for special community events, including those sponsored by our local arts community.”

Seven evenings a week, 365 days a year, Goldsmith sees to the screening of four movies on four screens twice a night. That takes a lot of planning, and Goldsmith loves every minute of it. He also has one very long-term goal: “I want to keep everyone happy for the next twenty years and then retire on the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Latchis — that is, late September, 2038.”

National Theatre Live:

National Theatre Live in HD’s “No Man’s Land” will be aired at the Latchis Theatre, 50 Main St., on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 1 p.m.

Following their hit run on Broadway, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart return to the West End stage in Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land, broadcast live to cinemas from Wyndham’s Theatre, London.

One summer’s evening, two aging writers, Hirst and Spooner, meet in a Hampstead pub and continue their drinking into the night at Hirst’s stately house nearby.  As the pair become increasingly inebriated, and their stories increasingly unbelievable, the lively conversation soon turns into a revealing power game, further complicated by the return home of two sinister younger men.

Also starring Owen Teale and Damien Molony, don’t miss this glorious revival of Pinter’s comic classic. The broadcast will be followed by an exclusive Q&A with the cast and director Sean Mathias. Running time is approximately 150 minutes.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $10 for students. Please contact Sharry Manning at 802-257-5717 or sjmpr@comcast.net for questions and/or advance credit card purchase.

 

The Latchis PhotoBooth Installation

This post was reposted from The Latchis Hotel blog. See the original

If you’ve stepped foot in The Latchis Theatre lately, you’ve probably noticed the enormous array of faces that have consumed the wall opposite the concession stand. This colossal collage is more than just something to stare at while you wait in line for popcorn — it’s an homage to the dedicated leaders of The Latchis, and part of a wider mission in Brattleboro. They’re not just Latchis leaders; they’re pieces of the local community.

The Latchis Photo Booth Project: Photo Wall

The wall consists of 39 black-and-white portraits, each individual being connected to The Latchis in some way. They’re board members, dedicated employees, and even a Latchis descendant — anyone who plays a part in helping The Latchis grow and thrive.

Each photograph is captioned with the name, role, and a special quote or fact about the community member. If you passed them on the street, would you know that one individual is an experienced juggler and another is a recreational gamer? The members also include parents, culinary lovers, and even an independent filmmaker.

Bringing The Latchis to Life

latchis photo booth creatorsIt’s easy to understand what the project is, but why? Jon Potter, Executive Director of Latchis Arts, hopes for the wall to accomplish three goals:

1. Put a human face to The Latchis, allowing the opportunity to see who is helping to keep The Latchis alive and well.

2. Show the public that The Latchis is being maintained by their friends, neighbors, and community members — some of them can be surprisingly-familiar faces!

3. Allow Latchis staff and board members to become more familiar with each other through a linked display of portraits.

Enhancing the Community Through the Arts

To tackle this project, we reached out to Christopher Irion, a professional portrait photographer who has worked with around 26 communities nationwide. His work ranges from businesses to schools, including University of California Berkeley and HBO Creative in New York.

The Latchis community was the perfect fit for the project’s next installment. Irion built his national PhotoBooth Project to “enhance community through photography,” overlapping with the main mission of Latchis Arts, which is to enhance the community through the arts.

The Latchis Photo wall from afar

However, the scope of the project stems beyond The Latchis community itself. We aim to piece together parts of the community that may be seen as distanced or disparate, and show how each and every person in the town contributes to the town’s identity. The faces on the wall may operate The Latchis, but more than that, they’re our friends and neighbors. They’re Brattleboro community members like everyone else, whose quirkiness and individualism contribute to what we know Brattleboro to be — a town with a big heart and character like none other.

One thing’s for sure: the photo wall is a real showstopper. Be sure to take a swing by the theatre to see some familiar or not-as-familiar faces — and if you see them “off the wall” as you explore Brattleboro, don’t be afraid to say hi!

Great gift idea: Met opera, simulcast gift certificates

Looking for a gift idea for someone very special? How about a gift certificate for any of the great simulcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet at the Latchis Theatre.

“This is one of our most popular programs. The quality of these prmet-2016-17-bw-scheduleesentations is sky-high,” said Latchis Executive Director Jon Potter. “Gift certificates are a great way to introduce them to someone new or do something special for a loyal fan.”

Upcoming offerings include the Met Operas Nabucco (Jan. 7) and “Romeo et Juliette” (Jan. 21), as well as many more after that.

Gift certificates are for sale at the Latchis Hotel front desk. For more information, you can contact me at jon@0je.22e.myftpupload.com or 802-254-1109, ext. 3. You can also contact simulcast coordinator Sharry Manning at 802-257-5717 or sjmpr@comcast.net.

Latchis Arts publishes ‘Greek Epic: The Latchis Family and the New England Theater Empire They Built’

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 Lagreek-epic-covertchis 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.

Copies of the book are available at the Latchis Hotel front desk or by e-mailing jon@0je.22e.myftpupload.com.

“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.”

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 latchisarts.org.