The Drexel Theatre, 2254 E. Main St., has capped 2017 with the unveiling of a historical marker and will ring in 2018 by continuing its "America's Greatest Films" series.

On Nov. 7, the Drexel unveiled a newly installed Ohio Historical Marker from the Ohio History Connection. The Ohio Historical Marker program began in the 1950s and has placed more than 1,600 markers that tell the state's history. The marker recognizes the Drexel's architectural significance of an example of an early 20th-century, Art Deco-style, neighborhood movie theater.

"We couldn't prouder of the marker, and we couldn't be more appreciative of the community's support," said Richard Stoff, chairman emeritus of the Friends of the Drexel, the nonprofit organization that oversees the theater's operations.

"The Drexel is such an asset to this community. The community has been wonderful in its support," Stoff said.

The Drexel reopened to the public in July 2016 after completing a $2.5-million renovation that included a refurbished marquee; new men's and women's restrooms; replacement of the barrel roof over the three theaters; replacement of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units; conversion of all three theaters to state-of-the-art digital projection and sound; and installation of a high-tech, closed-captioning system for hearing-impaired patrons.

"We restored this Art Deco jewel, which is a beautiful gateway to our city of Bexley. Now we have this marker in front of the theater," Stoff said.

"In some sense, this marker is symbolic. We are the guardians of this theater now. We now have an oath that we're going to transmit this theatre greater, more beautiful than what it was transmitted to us. That's the significance of this marker," Stoff said.

Following the theater's reopening, the Drexel launched "America's Greatest Films" as a gesture of appreciation to the community for its support during the 2016 renovation, Stoff said.

"My wife, Carol, came up with this idea. We were talking about what could we do to thank the community," he said. "It was Carol's thought that, 'Well, we're in the business of film. Why don't we say thank you by showing a wonderful movie on the first Tuesday of each month free of charge to the public?' "

The movies have been selected from the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest films and have played to capacity crowds each month, Stoff said.

"We've been astonished at the turnout month after month," he said. "Virtually every seat is taken, including the front row. The community has really turned out for this."

The movies include a pre-screening introduction and post-film question-and-answer session.

The 2018 series kicks off Jan. 2 with "Singin' in the Rain" and concludes with a bonus screening Dec. 8 of "It's a Wonderful Life."

Selections in between include: "The French Connection," Feb. 6; bonus screening of "Lawrence of Arabia," Feb. 11; Hitchcock's "Vertigo," March 6; "On the Waterfront," April 3; "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," May 1; "To Kill a Mockingbird," June 5; "Yankee Doodle Dandy," July 3; "American Graffiti," Aug. 7; "Sunset Boulevard," Sept. 4; "Easy Rider," Oct. 2; "Dr. Strangelove," Nov. 6; and "Chinatown," Dec. 4.

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