Cameo theater under new ownership; could become movie theater, live music venue

Cameo theater under new ownership

A theater in downtown Bristol may be back in business. The Cameo movie theater first opened its doors in 1925. It closed more than 25 years ago. But now the theater has a new owner.

Brent Buchanan, who manages a local funeral home, posted this picture of the iconic sign on Facebook. Part of his caption reads: "The Cameo will come alive like never before in 2018," promising the venue will "electrify not just Bristol, but the entire region."

That post has social media buzzing with hundreds of likes and shares.

You can find bright lights and Open signs all over State Street, except at the Cameo theater, where doors are locked and windows are boarded up.

Bart Poe, who works in economic development with the city of Bristol, Virginia, is just one of few to step inside the theater in the last couple of decades.

"Last time I was in it was a year a half ago," Poe said. "We were impressed with how the building looked. It had been well kept, weren't any leaks."

Poe said the theater has potential.

"The big doors, you can imagine the velvet ropes the way they used to be," he said.

Now under new ownership, News 5 has learned the space could be restored to a movie theater or a place for live music.

"It would be nice if they'd bring the old style films back," one Bristol resident said.

Just as the Cameo closed, the Paramount made its comeback in 1991, right down the road.

"Some folks in their wisdom were thinking of turning this into a parking lot," Paramount Executive Director Miles Marek said. "And thank goodness they didn't."

Paramount leaders are welcoming some friendly competition.

"If you're a baker, the best thing that can happen is another bakery opens next door because then all of a sudden everybody who wants baked goods is going to come down," he said.

So baked goods.. or music, the people we talked to downtown said it's all about working together.

"The more downtown Bristol becomes a mecca for entertainment and cultural events, the better for everybody," Marek said.

"We're getting a lot more foot traffic downtown," Poe said. "And we need more things for people to do."

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