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Brownwood Town Square Opens in The Villages, Florida

By KATIE SARTORIS, DAILY SUNThe Villages Daily Sun

THE VILLAGES — When the highly anticipated Brownwood Town Square opened Friday morning, Villagers roamed the new downtown area snapping photos of Paddock Square, peering into the windows of future restaurants and awaiting the opening of the appropriately named Barnstorm Theater.

From the outside, the barn-inspired theater looks like a throwback to Florida’s cattle town days, complete with a weather vane topping it. Standing to the side of the theater is a weathered-looking grain silo with a wrap-around marquee, advertising the movies showing.

As the box office opened at 9:30 a.m., residents formed a line that stretched almost to the street. Leading the line were Village of Duval residents Paddy and Al Brancaleone.

“We’ve been looking forward to this every day watching to see when it would open,” Paddy said, adding that the two often drove by the Brownwood Town square to check on its progress.

As moviegoers like the Brancaleones entered the theater, they were awestruck by the attention to detail.

Vintage farm equipment, antique appliances, historical advertising pieces and even primitive bottles of spices adorned shelves and lofts in the theater. From the ceiling hung a three-tiered wagon wheel chandelier lit by hanging camp lanterns.

“I just love it — all the different things that are up on the walls and sitting around,” said Diane Campbell, a visitor from Iowa. “We’re from Iowa so it just sort of makes you feel like you’re back home again.”

Campbell accompanied her friend Marcia Michaelson to the theater on Friday.

“It’s such a Western theme and my husband is going to love this John Deere tractor in here,” Michaelson of the Village Tamarind Grove said.

After the first wave of movies let out, moviegoers weren’t just talking about the atmosphere anymore.

“The theater is beautiful,” Rob Leahy of the Village of Summerhill said. “The sound was great, there are plenty of seats and the screens are big.”

Though the Barnstorm Theater and the rest of Brownwood was busy during the day, the evening brought an even bigger crowd to the newest of the downtown areas.

By 5:30 p.m. Paddock Square was alive with the sounds of Garrett Miles as residents danced on the old Western-themed square. Along with live music, the Village Cheerleaders and The Villages Twirlers performed for the first time at the new square.

Residents and guests packed the new square for opening night including Village of Santo Domingo residents Jim and Ann McDermott.

“It’s so exciting to see a new town center and see what all they’re going to have and how it compares to the others,” Ann said.

Brownwood has a different feel to it than the other downtown areas, she said.

Jackie Schmitt said she loved the theme and said it had an old Florida feel. Jackie said she was excited about Brownwood for many reasons.

“There will be more movie choices and more dancing,” the Village of Hadley resident said.

As Brownwood Town Square opens more restaurants and shops, it will accommodate the growing number of new Villagers like Roger and Rosemary Beales, who moved into their Village of Sanibel home about two weeks ago. Rosemary said the square would be part of a new beginning in their lives.

“This is an exciting new town center and we’re new, too,” Rosemary said. “(We look forward to) sharing a lot of good times with friends and family when they come.”

Katie Sartoris is a reporter with the Daily Sun. She can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9069, or katie.sartoris@thevillagesmedia.com.

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