The genesis of this nonprofit moving image archive was film about logging.
In 1985, two television producers had come to Maine from Boston to try to start their own business. It didn’t quite go as they planned, and they decided to spend some time on a fun side project—preserving an old industrial film, From Stump to Ship: A 1930 Logging Film.
When they premiered their restored version, The Bangor Daily News reports, more than 1,100 people wanted to see it—more than they had room for in the theater.
They realized there was a need and an appetite for preserving the films of this region. Today, Northeast Historic Film has 10 million feet of film and 8,000 hours of video, much of it, according to the organization “unique and irreplaceable.”
The archive’s collection includes more industrial films of the Stump to Ship genre, footage from television stations in Maine and Massachusetts, silent films, indie films, student films, amateur work, and home movies. It also has a collection of old technology—projectors, cameras, and more—that’s been used to make films. The archive’s emphasis is on the region of Northeast New England, which it defines as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
Over time, the archive’s collection expanded so much that it built a three-story conservation center to hold all the film. But its home base is in the Alamo Theater.
Built in 1916, by the 1990s, the theater was abandoned. In 1992, the organization acquired the building and spent many years renovating it to make it a functional home. Today, the theater shows movies and is the home of the archive’s study center, which has more than 3,000 reference videos from archives items, along with thousands of books and movie magazines.