History does not change but the present does.
The STAR Theatre resurrected a small-town movie house in 1977 after a decade of decline and a year of dark screen. Today, after nearly 2000 films, the STAR is still shining bright.
The brick theater, on a main corner in Berkeley Springs, showed its first movie in 1928.
Some things haven’t changed since 1949, including the Manley hot oil popcorn machine, striped silk wall coverings, 325 red leather seats and friendly faces welcoming all guests. In the ’50s, there were three theaters in town; today, the STAR is the only one within 40 miles.
Improvements have been made — a stereo sound system, air conditioning, an upgraded projector (the Star went digital in 2013) and the former telephone exchange transformed into a living room-style concession stand. There are star shirts and gifts, dancing star stained glass windows by local artist, ragtime and an art kiosk out front created by local metalsmith, Glen Horr and erected by the Morgan Arts Council to advertise local art activities.
[The red leather seats were original to the theater. They were replaced soon after this posting. The water-damaged silk wall coverings were replaced by BJD Customs in 2022. The reference to a stereo sound system is quite a stretch. When the digital projector was installed, a stereo sound board came with it. However, the Star's movie sound was still broadcast by a single speaker. Cardinal Sound provided a new surround sound system in 2023.]
On 4/4/19, Jack and Jeanne retired. They sold the iconic Star Theatre to Sean and Jackie Forney who plan to accept the mantle of operating the famous mom and pop neighborhood movie house as the ideal place for family and community entertainment.
[The following is from the website that served the Star until their retirement.]
Husband and wife team, Jeanne Mozier and Jack Soronen, take their “mom and pop” status seriously. Jack greets all comers, sells tickets and shows the films. Jeanne dishes out popcorn and candy, and keeps order with simply a look. She is also a font of information about what to see in do in Berkeley Springs. The couple, and their vintage movie theater, provide dinner conversations and childhood recollections for countless visitors to Berkeley Springs. Generations of local folks make a movie at the Star their favorite night out.
The movies, which change each week, are a few weeks past first-run and selected by Jeanne with an eye to the STAR’s status as the only family entertainment in town.
The historic spa town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia has been named one of America’s 100 best small art towns — and the STAR Theatre played a part in that honor. Visit Berkeley Springs for a one-of-a-kind experience, year ’round.
Real butter on real popcorn is one of the favorite attractions at the STAR Theatre in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, supporting the local claim that it’s the best popcorn in four states! When reports surfaced in 1994 revealing the high fat dangers of theater popcorn, we rebelled and did our own study.
Since 1977, STAR popcorn had been popped in 100% peanut oil in the six- foot tall, glowing red, 1949 Manley machine. Crunching the numbers, we found that our 85oz. box of plain popcorn — a bargain at $1 — had only 179 calories and 16% fat. Because the oil used is “good” peanut oil, those 20 grams of fat in each box included only 3.42 grams of saturated (bad) fat.
The conclusion made by Tari Hampe, famed founder of the eponymous cafe next door and fat expert, was: “The STAR’s popcorn is a good looking food and the best snack for kids to eat at the movies.”
Heat up the steel-tub in the Manley machine for approximately 1/2 hour.
When it’s smokin’ add …….
2 tbls. 100% peanut oil
1 and 1/2 cups raw popcorn.
(We buy both oil and raw popcorn from Sams’ Club. )
Turn on the rotor, close the steel lid and let it pop.
Sprinkle the popped corn with finer grain popcorn salt.
Makes enough for about four folks with big orders.
popcorn into cardboard
As naturally as talking or breathing.
In your hands,
this noisy, golden stuff
becomes a fountain of abundance
increase and plenty
The bleakness of the world
has less hold on me
because of how
you lavish popcorn
into a super tub
Cel for Jeanne 2/26/82