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21Country: Keeping the Lights On

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ANGOLA, Ind. (WPTA21) -- 90 years and thousands of movies later, the Brokaw Movie House is still in business.

After a tough year with limited movie releases and limited crowd sizes, a new team is working to keep the iconic theater open.

The theater opened its doors in 1931 with a showing of Ernst Lubitsch's The Smiling Lieutenant starring Maurice Chevalier. Notable Northeast Indiana Architect Alvin M. Strauss designed the theater. If that name sounds familiar, it's the same man behind Fort Wayne's Embassy Theatre.

The original owner was Joe Brokaw, who also owned an opera house in downtown Angola. Over the years the Brokaw changed hands a number of times and in late 2020, it was purchased by Joe and Libby Hysong of Angola.

The Hysong's brought Taylor Kerner onboard to manage the theater. Not an easy feat considering the impacts doled out by the pandemic.

"It's scary. How do you make a business when it can't even be to it's full potential right now and make a profit," said Kerner.

"There was a solid three weeks where I pretty much cried every show because it was always something,"

Taylor Kerner - Brokaw Movie House General Manager

So why take on such a difficult task? Kerner tells us the Hysong's and their team wanted to make sure the theater survived and stayed in the community.

But it wasn't easy.

"There was a solid three weeks where I pretty much cried every show because it was always something," said Kerner.

She tells us on her first night, they had to refund all the tickets because they couldn't get the projector working.

Now, three months in, the theater is running a little more smoothly with less tears.

"I like being a part of the community. I love having this open. I like seeing kids. I love seeing kids here and be happy. I love walking the aisles and hearing them laugh. It's a good thing to have."

Ian Hoover

Ian Hoover is the Content Manager of Fort Wayne’s NBC and ABC21. His focus is managerial oversight of content including working with reporters on elements for their stories and with producers for deeper content in newscasts; long-range planning and content development; editorial meeting oversight; and special projects management.

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