KEYSER - The former Keyser Theater will once again be a center of arts and entertainment for the Keyser area when the newly-named Indie on Main Art House opens in June.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
@lizbeavers1
KEYSER - The former Keyser Theater will once again be a center of arts and entertainment for the Keyser area when the newly-named Indie on Main Art House opens in June.
An entrepreneur from Rada, West Virginia, is renovating the former movie theater on Main Street into an arts center featuring small spaces for art studios and exhibits, as well as a theater for movies, plays, and musical programs.
Stephen Settimi is the owner of Flying Squirrel Ranch and Rada Brand Applachian Spirits, near Rada in Hampshire County, where he offers camping and fishing and also crafts his own whiskey, rum, gin and other liquors using locally grown grains, fruits and nuts.
He has long been a theater fan, however, having been a part of a traveling theater show and also writing his own plays.
The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native says he began looking around for old theaters that he could breathe new life into, and found the Keyser Theater.
Opened in 1939, the theater showed movies until it closed in 1977. Since that time it served for a short time as a skating rink and the home of a word processing company, and was therefore pretty much devoid of anything that resembled the old theater - except for the art deco ceiling.
“When the theater closed, everything just apparently went to the four winds,” Settimi said during a recent tour of the building.
His plans for the structure call for a completely different layout, enabling him to offer so much more than just a movie theater.
“This will be a small coffee lounge,” he explained recently, standing just inside the first of three sections that have been created within the theater.
“We will offer popcorn and drinks, and eventually I’ll apply for a wine license,” he said.
Just behind the lounge area will be four artists’ studios, where local artisans may rent space to work on their creations, display their works, and even teach small classes.
“The walls are actually movable, so we can make the spaces larger or smaller,” he said. “I already have a couple of people interested in the space.”
In the rear of the building will be the theater, which will seat approximately 150-200 people.
“We have a stage for live theater or bands, and of course the screen is on the back wall, but can be moved,” he said.
Settimi plans to show movies approximately two to three weeks after they first hit the main theaters.
He is building a small balcony on the side of the theater, with storage space for props and equipment underneath.
“The biggest thing will be getting the seats assembled,” he said, looking over at stacks of newly-reupholstered  seats which he purchased from a former community theater in Pennsylvania.
“Each of them have to be put together by hand,” he said.
Settimi emphasizes that he is not “restoring” the old theater, but reinventing it.
One aspect that will remain the same, however, is the orange and blue art deco ceiling, which he plans to keep. He also plans to try to emulate the original decor on the side walls.
He hopes the public will get excited about the new venture in the downtown and participate in the activities.
“If they have ideas, I want to hear them,” he says.
The Indie on Main will hold its grand opening on the weekend of June 3-4.
A “pre-party” for the grand opening is planned for Friday, June 2, from 6-9 p.m. During that time, Settimi plans to show the black and white film “In Name Only,” which was the first film to be shown in the theater in 1939.
The pre-party is an RSVP event, however, and those interested in attending should contact Settimi via message on Facebook or by email at stephen@theindieonmain.com.
There is a Facebook page for the Indie, the grand opening, and the pre-party.