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We Watch Movies At The Braden Theatre In Presque Isle, But Who Was John R Braden?

PresqueIsleHistoricalSociety
PresqueIsleHistoricalSociety

You’ve driven along Main Street, in Presque Isle, and notice different names on buildings as you pass by. But have you wondered who those buildings were named after?

Who was John R. Braden and what did he have to do with the Braden Movie Theatre in downtown Presque Isle?

If you look up, while standing in front of the ticket booth, in front of the Braden Movie Theatre, then you might notice a cornerstone, of sorts, on the building.

The Braden Theatre was erected in 1950 as a tribute to a harness horse by the name of the same name. Back in the day, it was popular to name a harness horse after his sire and his dam.

In the case of this particular harness horse, his sire’s name was John R. Gentry, who was a champion pacing stallion, and his dam’s name was Braden Girl. He was foaled in Tennessee in 1912 and completed his first race on July 4, 1921.

In 1920, the horse was purchased for $4,010 by a club called the Mooseleuk Club. Other clubs in nearby Caribou and Houlton purchased horses also. They were a group of local businessmen, horsemen, and farmers.

Harness Racing consisted of horses racing at a specific gait, or pace and usually pulled what was called a sulky, which is another name for a two-wheeled cart.

Not only was Braden popular in America, but also in Canada. As a matter of fact, in was in Woodstock, New Brunswick when Braden cleaned the clocks of world champion Margaret Dillon and Directum J, in 3 consecutive heats.

Over his stretch of racing, Braden won over $48,000. The folks in Presque Isle even opened a bank account for the horse. The horse earned the nickname “The Iron Horse from Tennessee” and even had a cigar brand named after him.

So, the next time you see a movie at the Braden Theatre, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

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