Now the Picture House in Campbeltown looks set to win funding to ensure its remarkable story continues.
The community-led business that owns the cinema has been awarded £51,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and passed the first hurdle to securing a further £804,900 of lottery money to conserve the building.
If the final funding is secured, the Centenary Project will conserve the interior and bring the annex back into use by joining the two buildings together.
There will be a new kiosk and cafe bar, and an interpretative exhibition will be created using the celebrated MacGrory Photographic collection, which portrays the social history of Campbeltown and Kintyre during the 1890s and early 1900s.
The final project has been provisionally costed at more than £2.3 million.
Historic Scotland, Creative Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and other trusts and foundations have already pledged support.
Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "The Picture House has provided Campbeltown with a centre for entertainment for the last 100 years.
"The Heritage Lottery Fund is delighted to give its initial support to a project which will not only conserve this well-loved building but will expand its cultural role in the community through activities, interpretation and events."
The town has already been boosted this summer with a new thrice-weekly ferry service to Ardrossan. Locals say recent visitors to The Picture House have made the trip on the ferry from Ayrshire especially to see a film in the historic cinema.
It was the oldest purpose- built cinema still fully functioning in Scotland until the Hippodrome in Bo'ness reopened in 2009.
Even on the international stage, the Picture House has record matched by few. The oldest cinema, The Lumiere in Pisa, opened just seven years earlier, in 1905.