Before The Memories Met The Demolition Crew
Prior to the demolition of the old English Village, RiverScene Magazine was permitted to go into the buildings that had been abandoned. The structure awaited its demise when the photo shoot took place.
It was pitch dark inside the old movie theater; a flashlight was used to light the way.
It was far from the bright vibrant Village buildings of the 1980s and 1990s.
In addition to the theater, during that time, the Village hosted businesses such as the Golden Unicorn, a T-shirt shop, and a shooting gallery.
After the theater closed, Dallas Finch, of Kokomo’s, opened a teen club called “Trance” from 1999 to 2001. The club had laser tag for the kids. In 1985, “Terror at London Bridge,” starring David Hasselhoff, was filmed in and around that building.
As RiverScene Magazine cameras flashed inside the dark theater, the room was lit up to reveal how it might have looked years ago. An orange light was burning in a chandelier. The light had never been replaced, but strangely it had kept burning through the years.
Jan Kassies was also there and watched the old movie theater and shooting gallery as it demolished. He said there was a small group of people that gathered to watch.
“I would say 90 percent of the people watching said ‘it’s about time — it was such an eyesore.’”
Kassies is Director of Visitor Services of the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitors Center. He moved to Lake Havasu in 2003.
“When I moved here, there were trees and grass in the Village, but the Village was already in disrepair,” Kassies said.“In 2004 the irrigation broke and the owner didn’t fix it, so the grass and trees died. The property was sold to another company, and they started charging for parking. The fountain wasn’t working, and in 2010, Rotary and other volunteers went in and cleaned up the area and got part of the fountain working, but the shops were already closed. In 2010, the owners went bankrupt and Virtual Realty Enterprises (VRE) purchased it and immediately began cleaning it up. They fixed the fountain and planted grass.”Kassies said VRE wanted to reopen the English Village buildings, but the buildings were too dilapidated and full of mold. “It looked spooky,” Kassies said.
“To be honest, the buildings taken down are only a small part of the English Village,” Kassies explained. The English Village is also “the Visitor Center, the fountain, and the beautiful gates.
“Even though the English Village is part of a lot of residents’ memories, it was necessary to take it down. The buildings could not be rehabilitated, and “the fronts were only a façade,” Kassies said.
“I think it’s great that we’ll now have a beautiful hotel and restaurants that will draw people to the Village. I understand that people want it to be like it was in the 1980s, but it’s just not possible.”
Kassies said the hotel will provide at least 60 jobs, and “we’ll have life down here.
“When I go back to the town in Holland that I was born in, it doesn’t look the same as I remember, but it happens everywhere. It’s progress.”
Kassies said he doesn’t think VRE will ever take down the remaining building that houses the Visitor Center because it’s part of the English Village. He thinks if anything, they may just make small changes.
“Whatever happens, these people (VRE) have an eye for Havasu.”
“Memories won’t fade away,” Kassies believes, “but we move on to something new. And younger people will make different memories.”
Readers are invited to look at the photo gallery by RiverScene Magazine to see what the English Village buildings looked like before they were torn down.
Photo Gallery By Nathan Adler:
Photo Gallery By Jillian Danielson:
The following two photos are images of the chandeliers so the light can be seen with the camera flash on. The second photo is the camera flash turned off so the small orange glow can be seen through the darkness. This one light remained on in the theater until the buildings were torn down.
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