Letter to the Editor: Keeping the Magic Alive in Suffern

Nelson Page brings his unique sense of style and showmanship to the Lafayette Theatre, a 1923 movie palace.

On Nov. 15, 2002, Nelson Page brought his unique sense of style and showmanship to a 1923 movie palace that had been saved from extinction by Robert Benmoche, a resident of Suffern and Chairman of Met Life, at the urging of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence.

Purchasing the Lafayette Theatre property was an important step in saving the building. The critical step in saving the theater was granting a long-term lease to Nelson Page, who was committed to operating the Lafayette Theater as a single screen theater and not a more financially lucrative cineplex, which would have destroyed the historic character of the facility. Immediately Nelson began refurbishing the Lafayette and restoring its charm.

In Jan. 2006, the Lafayette Theatre received national acclaim when it was named one ofthe “Ten Great Places to Revel in Cinematic Grandeur” by USA Today – sharing the list with such notable venues as New York City’s Ziegfeld Theater and Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

When I first met Nelson several years ago I was impressed by his passion, his enthusiasm, his outgoing demeanor, business acumen and desire not to become simply another business in the community, but a contributor to the community.
He has opened his doors and his heart to a large number of charitable, civic, school andcommunity endeavors since ushering in the new era of the Lafayette Theatre

Perhaps the program that has brought the most joy into people’s lives has been the “Big Screen Classics” Saturday morning movie series, or as I call it, “A two hour escape into yesteryear” at Cinema Paradiso.

Since 2003, over 45,000 film enthusiasts have arrived at 11:00 AM to enjoy a pre-show organ concert by Jeff Barker and watched the screenings of over 150 of the greatest films of all time, most being archival 35mm archival prints.

For 10 years Nelson Page has been the Captain of this beautiful ship… surviving the economic perils of operating a single screen theater. Single screen theaters, showing first run movies are an endangered species in this day and age – most of their marquees post one word – CLOSED!

Kudos to Nelson Page for Keeping the Movie Magic Alive for all the film aficionados from Ramapo, Rockland County and the entire metropolitan area.

Phil Tisi


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