Lighthouse Charter School finalizes purchase of Harwich Cinema

School should be in its new home for the 2012-13 school year

The closing today of the Regal Cinema 6 on Route 137 in Harwich marks the end of an era for Lower Cape movie goers. Walter Brooks photo.

Curtain Drops at Harwich Cinema
       Regal Closes only cinema
       between Dennis and Wellfleet

This week's sale of the Regal Cinema 6 in Harwich marks the end of an era for Lower Cape movie goers. Constructed in 1987 by Interstate Theatres, the "Harwich Cinema 6" was a state of the art movie house of that era. At the theatre's opening, patrons marveled at the free-standing concession stand and the cup holders in the arm rests. The LED strips running on either side of the aisle were a novelty at the time, as well.
      For Cape Codders who took their children and grandchildren to the Harwich cinema it was sadly noted that Regal Cinemas' web site listed no show times for Harwich following Thursday evening.
      When Interstate built the multiplex in 1987 the Lower Cape lost a bit of "home town identity" because Interstate Theatres used the East Harwich location to consolidate all of their cinemas in the area. Gone were the twin screens at Orleans and Dennisport as well as the historic old movie houses in Harwich and Chatham.
      Many of us cursed Interstate for taking away our downtown cinema but we had to agree the Harwich 6 was a step ahead in technology, sound and ambiance.
      Interstate was subsequently acquired by Hoyts Cinemas and then Regal acquired Hoyts' properties on the Cape. Theatre attendance continued to drop through the past decade to a point where a piece of real estate like Harwich was far more valuable to Regal than was a 24 year old multiplex in a highly seasonal economy.
      With the closing of Regal Harwich the Lower Cape is left with the Entertainment Cinema multiplex at Patriot Square in Dennis and the Wellfleet Cinema as the nearest venue for first run movies.
      We are told that the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School will keep one of the six auditoriums intact as an all-school assembly area.
      When the school starts to hold public functions at their new facility perhaps we will still smell the popcorn in the untouched part of the theatre.
      Thanks for the memories!

Route 137 East Harwich property to undergo $2 million reconstruction

The Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School successfully completed its quest for a facility of its own by finalizing its purchase of the Regal Theater complex and 9 acre property in East Harwich earlier today.

"The purchase of this property is a major milestone and a wonderful opportunity for our school," said Paul M. Niles, Executive Director. "We have learned to thrive at our current location, but the larger building and expansive property in East Harwich will enable us to enhance our programs in ways that are not possible at our current site," Mr. Niles said.

The new building, located on Route 137 a few yards north of the intersection with Route 39 at the Stop 'n Shop complex and near the Mid Cape Highway Exit 11 interchange, consists of approximately 19,531-square feet on nine acres of land. Construction and renovations on the building will begin in December, and the first classes are expected to be held in the new school in September 2012.

The $1.9 million purchase price and $2 million renovation is being financed by a combination of public and private lenders. "The economics of this purchase and renovation are very sound," said Norman Michaud, Chair of the Board of Trustees." Being an owner rather than a renter is critical to the school's long term financial well-being," Mr. Michaud added.

The Lighthouse School is in its 17th year of operation as the only public charter middle school on Cape Cod, serving 228 students in grades 6-8. While the school community is excited about trading the blacktop at the "Underground Mall" in Orleans for the open space at the new site, there are no plans to change the size of the student body. The smaller size of the school is a unique feature of the educational experience at the Lighthouse School. Teachers really get to know their students' strengths and areas of need, and can work to celebrate strengths and remediate weaknesses. With innovative programs like Nature's Classroom, the math benchmarking system, the extensive seminar program and an 8th grade community-building hiking trip to the White Mountains, teachers and students develop strong, life-long bonds.

The Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School has been in its current location at the Underground Mall in Orleans since it opened its doors in 1994. "Saying 'goodbye to the underground' will be bittersweet," Mr. Niles said, adding that the school community is excited to explore ways to integrate itself into its new neighborhood. Some ideas under consideration include the development of community-accessible fields and meeting spaces.

"We look forward to working with our new neighbors in Harwich," Paul Niles said. "Over the coming months we will be continuing to reach out to groups throughout Harwich to explore ways we can work together," Niles said.

Anyone with ideas for potential partnerships should feel free to contact Paul Niles at 508-240-2800.
Information through the courtesy of:
Paul Niles, Executive Director
Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School
Office phone: 508-240-2800
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