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Movie theater for sale in U.P. small town

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Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 19:55:06-04

The Tivoli Theater in Stephenson, Mich., was a spot where teenage memories were made.

"...[M]ore than just to see the movie, you went to see your friends," said Carolyn Ebsch, now in her 70s, of the time she spent as a teenager at the theater.

But in this city of about 800 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, those kinds of experiences are on hold.

Tivoli Theater
Chairs and the movie screen are pictured inside the Tivoli Theater in Stephenson, Mich.

The Tivoli Theater is closed and up for sale; the last movie at the theater was shown in the fall of 2020, said Ann Younk, the theater's owner.

"It's time to let go of this and go onto new adventures," said Younk.

The theater property is listed for $110,000, and the property includes an ice cream shop and hair salon.

Tivoli exterior
The Tivoli Theater in Stephenson, Mich., is for sale.

"I am selling because my husband had passed away a year-and-a-half ago, and I have four other businesses... so I'm pretty swamped," Younk said.

Other than the purchase price, about $15,000 would be required before a new owner could show the first movie at the theater, Younk's family said.

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If someone reopens the Tivoli, live performances could be staged, too.

"We did 'Peter Pan'" at the Tivoli, said Erinn Parker, who used to lead the drama club at Stephenson Area Public Schools.

But there has not been a drama club at the school for two years as interest has waned, Parker said.

The prospect of performing at the Tivoli could re-ignite an interest in the drama club, Parker said, as the school does not have a stage of its own.

"I definitely think it's a different kind of performance having it [at the Tivoli Theater], versus having it [at the school]," Parker said.

Parker hopes the Tivoli reopens, as does Nancy Douglas, who worked to grow the economy in Menominee County, where Stephenson is located.

Asked if the theater reopening could help with Stephenson's economic development, Douglas said that "[p]eople looking to relocate, or come and work in a new place, are looking for those sorts of opportunities for recreation."

The Tivoli has been part of family stories in Stephenson.

After Carolyn Ebsch went to the theater as a teen, she later brought her own children to the cinema.

Whether current and and future families will have the same chance, is an ending that is yet to be written in this city.