Film buffs know that Fort Lee was the birthplace of the American film industry and a new museum is opening to celebrate that fact.

The Barrymore Film Center had its opening pushed back due to the pandemic, but is scheduled to open soon. According to North, the building is almost done; projectors need to be installed and a few more items need to be completed before the certificate of occupancy can be issued.

It will be more than just a museum: it has a 260-seat theater and will screen films both classic and new, highlighting new filmmakers. Along with exhibitions on Fort Lee and world cinema history, programming at the BFC will include major film retrospectives, an annual silent film event, film festivals, foreign film screenings, and showcases for emerging filmmakers.

The film center is on the same street where the nascent American film started; at least 15 studios were located on Main Street at Park Avenue, including Universal and Fox.

The center is named for the famed Barrymore acting family. Maurice Barrymore lived in the Coytesville section of town and threw a fundraiser where his son, John, made his acting debut. He went to great acclaim as a Broadway actor, and his children, John, Ethel, and Lionel all made their earliest films in Fort Lee.

Tom Meyers, executive director of the Fort Lee Film Commission told that they hope to have the grand opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony in February.

You can follow the construction both inside and out at the center’s website.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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