Temple Theatre Essay Contest 2016

Got a way with words? A passion for the silver screen? Well, those two qualities and $100 may be all you need to change your life this year.

Mike Hurley, owner of the two-screen Temple Theatre in Houlton, Maine, has decided it’s time to move on with his career, and his loss might be your incredible gain. Instead of putting the historic theater on the market, Hurley has decided to hold an essay contest with the winner getting the deed to the movie palace.

According to Hurley, the 250-word essays will be judged on several criteria, including “…writing structure, content, quality of expression (and) creativity.” All essays should explain why the entrant would be the best new owner for the theater.

There are a few catches. First of all, that entry fee may seem pretty steep, but it’s understandable as this is what Hurley will receive in lieu of a sale. But even putting down the dough doesn’t guarantee you a shot; Hurley can’t afford to pay up with the theater without a minimum of 3500 entries. No sweat on missing out because of the minimum, however. Hurley says all entry fees will be returned if the minimum isn’t met.

What can you expect from your new business if you win? According to the owner, the Temple Theatre is a bargain that profitably serves its local community. Speaking to CNN, Hurley claims he did better than breaking even on the theater, and that the owner could afford a “”very comfortable lifestyle” in the nearby area. Moreover, the contest winnings include not only the theater, but the entire building, a large parking lot, and $25,000 in cash to cover your start-up expenses.

The town of Houlton itself boasts over 6400 residents, and a chilly climate (and 83 inches of snow per year) that makes the warm glow of a movie theater sound awfully appealing. It served as a German internment camp during World War II, and was the site of one of the first transatlantic telephone antennas. Sounds like there’s quite a bit of local history to inform your movie selections, Potential New Owner!

Check out the video below for more information:

(Image via YouTube)

But then again, the movies is exactly what this particular contest is for.
Mike Hurley will give his twin-screen Temple Theatre located in Houlton, Maine, to whomever writes the most convincing 250-word-or-less essay on why they should be the next owner of what's billed on its website as "one of the oldest continuously operated movie theatres" in the state.
"The winning entry will be judged on ... writing structure, content, quality of expression (and) creativity," according to the rules Hurley set forth.
There is, of course, a catch -- or perhaps more aptly, a twist: the essay most be accompanied by a $100 entry fee, and there must be a minimum of 3,500 entries. If not, Hurley said all entry fees will be returned.
Hurley said he listed the entire three-story building -- which includes not just the theater, but office space, apartments, the local Masonic lodge and an adjacent parking lot -- for $350,000, but didn't get a buyer.
He told CNN the essay contest was inspired by a similar one held by the owner of the Center Lovell Inn, a centuries-old Maine bed and breakfast. In that contest, owner Janice Sage (who won the inn herself in the same manner decades prior, according to the Boston Globe) called for 7,500 entries at $125 a piece. While Sage ultimately did not 7,500 essays, "she received enough to make retirement possible," according to the Globe.
Hurley said his entries only thus far number "in the several hundreds," but he is hopeful that some national media exposure might give him a much-needed boost before the contest's January 31 deadline.
According to Hurley, "running a movie theater is fun and exciting," and can even be modestly profitable. Hurley, who lives 150 miles away, said that while he "did a little better than breaking even," a live-in owner and operator of the nearly 100-year-old Temple could live a "very comfortable lifestyle."
"This is an opportunity to get into the business debt-free and become the entertainment hub of a wonderfully supportive region," he said.

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