Avon celebrating 20 years as reopened Decatur movie house

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Avon Theater employee Nikki Nelson says spending time in the century-old movie house is “like being in a history book.”

The (Decatur) Herald and Review reports that Skip Huston is celebrating 20 years since he re-opened the theater in downtown Decatur. He’s since expanded it to a building next door and shows first-run movies too.

The theater is a rarity because it opened as a movie house, but it predated the palatial motion-picture palaces that began appearing in the 1920s.

Its first showing was “The Fall of the Nation.” It’s the 1916 sequel to D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking feature a year earlier, “The Birth of a Nation.”

The Avon and the Lincoln Square Theater are the only downtown theaters among seven a century ago that survive.