EXETER, N.H. (AP) – The Ioka Theater in Exeter, N.H., one of New England’s oldest independently owned, privately operated theaters, has closed its doors after 93 years.

The theater closed on Christmas Eve. In announcing the closing last month, co-owner and President Roger Detzler said the need for a sprinkler system, increased utility and insurance costs and a “hostile” business environment were to blame.

This isn’t the first time the theater has closed, but it has always bounced back. Efforts are under way for a community group to save the Ioka as a community-run theater.

The theater opened in 1915 with the epic, “The Birth of a Nation.” It showed “Miracle on 34th Street” on Tuesday.

Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com

AP-ES-12-25-08 0800EST

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