There Once Was a ‘Hidden’ Movie Theater Inside the Promenade Mall in Lewiston
As shopping online becomes second nature for almost everyone, it's fun to look back at what used to be when it comes to shopping malls in Maine. One of the most prominent malls in the state through the '70s and '80s was the Promenade in Lewiston. It featured some serious anchor tenants like Bradlees, Service Merchandise, and Shaw's Supermarket, but the real gems of malls at that time was the little things. One of the peculiar elements to the Promenade was the seemingly 'hidden' movie theater that existed inside of it, known as the Lewiston Twin Cinema.
We call it 'hidden' because in a lot of ways, it was. Walking into the Promenade, it looked like how a shopping mall in that era would, with hazy lighting and a corridor with front facing stores that you walked through. But the Lewiston Twin Cinema was off the beaten path. You had to access a staircase next to Bradlees in order to reach the cinema from inside the mall. Or, if you were heading to the Promenade exclusively for a movie, you could drive around the backside of the mall and use a tree-lined parking lot and separate entrance altogether. In fact, if you were going to a late night showing, you had to use that access point.
In a Facebook group dedicated to memories of Lewiston, Michael Kirk shared this photo of the Lewiston Twin Cinema's rear entrance. For many who grew up in the area, visiting the Promenade could be an entire night out. Inside the mall was the extremely popular Bonanza Steakhouse that featured a buffet with plentiful offerings. After that, you could wrap up the evening with a movie in one of two cozy theaters. The movies were also posted on the large Promenade Mall sign, as seen in this photo from the Lewiston Public Library archives.
Movies at the Promenade got a second and much larger life years after the Lewiston Twin Cinema closed. Flagship Cinemas took over the spot vacated by Bradless, and transformed it into a 10-screen multiplex in 2000. It eventually closed in 2015.
If you lived it, remember it fondly. Buffet dinners and a 'hidden' cinema at the Promenade, hardly seems that long ago.