By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Friday marks the anniversary of a landmark Baltimore building. The Parkway Theatre was built on this date 100 years ago.

Ron Matz reports a major renovation is beginning–a redevelopment aimed at movie lovers and students of film.

Walk up the steps of the old Parkway Theatre, and you can almost touch a piece of Baltimore’s past.

“There aren’t many of these left in the world,” Jed Dietz, director of the Maryland Film Festival, said. “It’s incredible that we found it.”

Built in 1915, signs of the times are still there, but a major redevelopment is on the way. It will become a centerpiece of the Maryland Film Festival.

“The location was perfect. The building was gorgeous and the historic power of this building really struck us,” said Dietz. “We put in our proposal for the city and fortunately we were chosen to develop the building.”

History which will become a teacher to area students and filmmakers.

‘Students from Hopkins and MICA for sure will be able to use this,” he said. “They’ve expanded their film department and moved them across the street. And emerging filmmakers from all over the region can use this as a gathering place, a place to learn about movies and see other people’s movies and meet and interact with filmmakers.”

A $5 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation will change this landmark’s face.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is based in Athens, Greece and New York.’ Dietz added. “The head of Johns Hopkins went to the head of that foundation and proposed they name the building and give us a $5 million grant. It changed everything at that point.”

Construction on the Parkway Theatre will begin next month, with a projected opening in early 2017.

“There will be three screens,” he said. “This theater will be rescued and we’ll put two smaller theaters in the other three buildings. We’ll have seven or eights screens total and about 450 seats.”

Friday night, there’s a celebration of the Parkway’s 100th anniversary in Station North at 8 p.m.

It’s free and will feature entertainment, food and an appearance by Baltimore filmmaker John Waters.

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