November 29, 2005

Harper Court’s loss

With the recent opening of the Checkerboard Lounge and news of soon-to-come fine-dining establishments, the idea of a revitalized Hyde Park has been a topic on University and community members’ tongues. It is then with the sadness that comes with a missed chance, that the Maroon reports the University’s decision to abandon its search for a new operator of the defunct Meridian Theater.

Perhaps this was inevitable. With 37 potential operators but no success, the University cannot be blamed for lack of trying. It also cannot be blamed for the administration’s unwillingness to spend vast sums on a venture that, like many other small neighborhood theaters—including the original Meridian itself—is perhaps destined to fail.

It is truly a shame that a venerable cultural institution has been lost to the past and that movie-lovers in Hyde Park will still need to hop on a bus downtown to catch the latest big-screen releases. This keeps business away from a neighborhood that both needs and deserves it. But there’s still Doc, and now the Checkerboard, among many other sources, for nearby entertainment. And Harper Court can’t be beaten in Hyde Park for food, socializing, and shopping: from the open farmers’ market in the summer to the coziness of art shops and nearby coffee shops in winter. Perhaps the façade of the theater can even be saved and complement the space’s future use while maintaining the site’s historical presence.

We only suggest that the University bear in mind the former Meridian site’s potential for further community revitalization. As a movie theater, it benefited University and community members alike. Whatever the site becomes, the Maroon hopes that it is equally welcoming.