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April 9, 2011 5:02 PM   Subscribe

75 Abandoned Theaters From Around The US
posted by flapjax at midnite (55 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder where #58 precisely is located. "Upstate, New York" indeed.
posted by knile at 5:10 PM on April 9, 2011


Some of those would make splendid Alamo Drafthouses.
posted by birdherder at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


#44 (listed as Ogden, Utah) is actually in Garland, Utah. Pretty much the whole town looks like that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:19 PM on April 9, 2011


Looking at #62 reminds me... I think everywhere I have ever lived has had an abandoned theater called The Fox.
posted by joechip at 5:26 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except that number one, according to the thread (see comment by "RockCimma"), may not be abandoned?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:34 PM on April 9, 2011


The Scott (#44, in Odessa, TX) was where I saw my very first movie. For me as a kid, it was huge, mysterious and magical. The incredible memories every single one of these joints must hold!
posted by theperfectcrime at 5:36 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Abandoned buildings always bring up mixed emotions in me. I'm fascinated by the decay and the abandonment and the history that's left untouched (and unpreserved) but I'm always sad that the buildings aren't being put to better use. I've gone to concerts and bought books in old restored movie theaters as well as seeing movies. I'd rather see the buildings survive than be demolished the way the one that used to be a bookstore is about to be.
posted by immlass at 5:45 PM on April 9, 2011


Our local movie house, Fairborn Theater, has been closed since the year 2000. It's a local landmark. It was the site of the merger ceremony between the towns of Fairfield and Osborn, and it was the first business to use the name Fairborn, with an impressive 48 foot high sign out front.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 5:48 PM on April 9, 2011


No love for The Boyd? The only Philadelphia pic is actually a school auditorium. I wish I could find a pic of the current interior.
posted by SansPoint at 5:53 PM on April 9, 2011


Where in Boston was the second picture in the series taken? Anyone have any more info about that theater?
posted by killdevil at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2011


'Pictures', fine - but 'addresses, or it didn't happen.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:11 PM on April 9, 2011


The possibility of abandoned movie houses in Brooklyn, today, never crossed my mind. I'm curious as to where, exactly, that one is.

Also, I'm surprised the one in Forks hasn't gotten in on the town's all-Twilight-all-the-time boom...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:16 PM on April 9, 2011


Number 39 is in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, not in San Francisco.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:26 PM on April 9, 2011


THE MOVIES
posted by jeremy b at 6:26 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Brooklyn, New York theatre (#49) is the Loew's Kings Theatre. I'm happy to report that it's slated to reopen in 2014 after a $70 million dollar renovation. Check out here for more photo goodness. (Disclaimer: I was part of the consulting group that redesigned the lighting and multimedia systems)
posted by Isosceles at 6:28 PM on April 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Loew's Kings Theatre is on Flatbush Ave a few blocks south of Prospect Park
posted by plastic_animals at 6:30 PM on April 9, 2011


Where in Boston was the second picture in the series taken? Anyone have any more info about that theater?

St. Alphonsus, Mission Hill, I believe, but it doesn't look like that anymore.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:39 PM on April 9, 2011


Abandoned buildings always bring up mixed emotions in me. I'm fascinated by the decay and the abandonment and the history that's left untouched (and unpreserved) but I'm always sad that the buildings aren't being put to better use. I've gone to concerts and bought books in old restored movie theaters as well as seeing movies. I'd rather see the buildings survive than be demolished the way the one that used to be a bookstore is about to be.

In my hometown the shell of an abandoned cinema was for a long time inhabited by a discount store. The interior was long gone, and though the facade was hidden beneath many layers of peeling paint its original form was still discernible. It was a modest but reasonable art deco with good strong lines that stood out as quite unique among the street's jumbled accretion of 20th century workaday architecture. Nobody in the know would have ever judged it a great example of its style, but for the people that used it I'm sure it hinted at the fashion and modernity taking place elsewhere. For an industrial town, it relieved the monotone environment even before you got to the real treasures inside.

I never knew that cinema's original name, but its old competitor was still open on the other side of town as the grand sounding "Majestic". The style was quite different and even less exemplary, but still quite noticeable given its surroundings. I could describe the architecture as Byzantine, but only because it had several large round arches and a heavy form, otherwise I'm at a loss. However, as the only cinema left it saw several decades of kids through their early film experiences and gave adults some retreat; and it was good enough for that.

They are both gone now though, and quite recently. The art deco cinema was demolished for a redevelopment which replaced buildings with boxes made barely human by tacked on facades. The quality and interest in the development's architecture is so shallow that it hurts to think about losing the only art deco building in town for this replacement. However little the cost of saving the cinema's facade for a shop front it was obviously too much, even though they needed some kind of facade for their boxes. Worse still was the incorporation of a new multiplex cinema with multistorey parking - two huge and uninspiring sheds. The Majestic died in short order and was soon replaced by rubble; the site still empty today except for weeds.

I used to think that people who loved old cinema theaters were a little odd, especially as I was never that keen on film and couldn't muster an appreciation of them inside or out. But losing two cinema buildings I knew growing up has made me realize that they're some of the best buildings the 20th century has to offer. The variety of theaters we have left from that time is still a joy, but we're best off not losing any more.
posted by Jehan at 6:48 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lots of Texas represented there -- I try to spot these old theaters when I can, but the only ones I've shot aren't abandoned, but have been repurposed as junk stores and rejuvenated as live stage venues.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:53 PM on April 9, 2011



Some of those would make splendid Alamo Drafthouses.


In my dream universe, where I have unlimited money, I buy up the old Metro on 100th street and turn it into a 24-hour continuous vaudeville palace with added movie nights and marathons.

In my dream world I also wear a top hat ALL THE TIME.
posted by The Whelk at 6:56 PM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wonder where #58 precisely is located. "Upstate, New York" indeed.

Not Upstate, New York at all, it's the Proctor Palace Roof Theatre in Newark, New Jersey.

(via After the Final Curtain, an abandoned theatre site curated by photographer Matt Lambros)
posted by Isosceles at 6:57 PM on April 9, 2011


This looks like material for a coffee table book. And the funds generated ought to repurpose those buildings. It's easy to see that many of those theaters had once hosted live performances. No one builds them like that anymore.

I hope that 98% of them are on a historic register.
posted by vhsiv at 6:58 PM on April 9, 2011


east st. louis isn't in missouri.
posted by readyfreddy at 7:04 PM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Interesting (to me at least) that three of them are within 15 miles of each other (East St. Louis, Alton, IL, and St. Louis, MO).
posted by readyfreddy at 7:06 PM on April 9, 2011


Both my hometown and the city I currently call home have avoided having abandoned theaters, and thank goodness for that.

Las Cruces, NM finally restored the old vaudeville house which was then a movie theater, the Rio Grande Theater. I have such fond memories of that place, including sitting front row center in the balcony for the 10am showing of Return Of The Jedi on opening day. The speeder bike chase through the forest on Endor was outstanding.

And Spokane, WA poured a GIANT amount of money into the Fox Theater (one of the ones which isn't abandoned), tearing out years of horrible changes to the property which turned it into a multi-screen bargain movie house and back into the glorious palace of art that it formerly was. (The decorations which come from the cusp between Art Nouveau and Art Deco are fascinating to me.)

And I can never forget that Vanya On 42nd Street takes place in an abandoned theater, which had to have nets hung over the seating area to keep plaster from the ceiling from falling on the crew while filming took place.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on April 9, 2011


I'm not sure I understand (or appreciate) the romanticism for old theaters.

Here in DC, whenever an old theatre is slated for (re)development, a long an protracted zoning battle is almost certain to ensue. Often times, this results in the city or some angel investor swooping in at the last minute to save the building.

This is all well and good, except that we've saved some structures that frankly kind of suck. We saved theaters in far-flung areas that originally failed because they were poorly located in communities that were too small (and often too poor) to economically support a performing arts scene. These conditions remain today, and in many cases are even worse. The Washington of 1950 is unlikely to ever exist again -- today, the city has 200,00 fewer people, a vastly different age/income/racial distribution, vast sprawling suburbs, and (very importantly) an extensive and efficient rapid transit system.

What I'm saying is --- restoring a lot of these theatres is simply setting them up to fail again in the near future. Before waging a war to restore an old theatre, it's important to consider why the theatre failed originally, and whether or not the community today could support a new theatre.

Don't get me wrong; restoring a historically or architecturally significant theatre in a neighborhood that lacks a performing arts venue can be awesome. The Atlas Theatre, in fact, led a bit of renaissance in my neighborhood, despite the fact that it was built largely in absence of any demand. It was a carefully-calculated gamble that paid off big time. (Hell. We f--ing renamed the neighborhood to The Atlas District because of how important it was).

I also support constructing new venues in areas where that makes sense. Arlington, VA's Artisphere is awesome – Arlington supports community theatre like no other locality that I've ever seen. It's truly fantastic. Similarly, these spaces are much more modern, and better adapted to the groups using them. I've done a fair amount of theatre tech work, and cannot emphasize strongly enough just how much nicer and safer it is to work in a venue that was built according to modern construction codes. (The Northern Virginia Community College has the best damn theater space that I've ever seen)

Jumping back on track. Many theatre restoration pushes are incredibly misguided, as they're often targeted at communities that cannot support a theatre, cannot support that theatre (and thus robbing them of an opportunity to build a modern facility better suited to their needs), already has enough theaters, or are trying to support a theatre that is neither architecturally or historically significant.

The one that takes the cake in DC is the Howard Theatre. It's got a great historic legacy, and almost nothing else going for it. It's within spitting distance of about half a dozen similarly sized auditoriums that sit dark 95% of the time, is butt ugly (to the extent that they're actually building a new, historically-inaccurate facade), and will be gutted to its frame during the course of construction. I believe they want to use it as a jazz dinner theatre. Good luck making that economically viable (not to mention that this configuration will almost certainly restrict the ways in which the auditorium can be used).

Meanwhile, our only big rock clubs sell out most nights, and have to turn acts away because they're so tightly booked, and other communities lack any performing arts venue. Similarly, we've got one (fairly crappy) venue that's bigger than the 3,000 seat 9:30 club, but smaller than the 20,000 seat Verizon Center, further restricting the sort of performances that can be held in the city. (Which, to be fair, can only support a finite number of performing arts spaces).

This is not a problem unique to DC. New York's only medium-sized venue is the much-loathed Terminal 5. This famously became a debacle during LCD Soundsystem's farewell tour. How do you please your fans, when demand for tickets is equal to 1.5x the capacity of Madison Square Garden? You'll lose money if you perform 2 nights at MSG with a quarter of the seats empty, and you'll piss off your fans (and lose potential revenue) if you perform a farewell tour that 10,000 eager fans are categorically excluded from.

All of these 75 photos are pretty cool, and it breaks my heart to see them sit empty, abandoned, and unloved. However...be careful about what you wish for. It may be best to take photos, admire them for what they were, and reuse the land/buildings for something more applicable to today's society.

Apologies if that was ramble-y.
posted by schmod at 7:13 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having never heard of the Sun Theater in St. Louis (#75), despite living here for most of my life, I had to do a little digging. Apparently it's had about 27 names in its long and varied existence. It's reported as structurally sound but the interior has taken some hits. Someone is currently footing the bill to light the marquis and there is rumor of restoration or relocation of the facade (but that's true of a lot of old buildings).
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:28 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


#54 is marked as being in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which surprised me since I thought that I knew every theater in the 'burgh and I had never seen that one. But clicking on the source link clearly says that it's in Pittsburg, CA which explains why I'd never seen it. This list looks like something that someone at buzfeed threw together in about fifteen minutes by doing an image search on "abandoned theaters".
posted by octothorpe at 7:45 PM on April 9, 2011


DREAM
For Lease


It's the story of modern-day America, summed up on the marquee of a single abandoned small-town movie theatre.
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:57 PM on April 9, 2011


#4, from Detroit, is the Eastown Theater on Harper Ave. Still has an amazing exterior.
posted by ofthestrait at 8:09 PM on April 9, 2011


Some of the photos show some pretty incredible interiors! A damn shame.

Almost all of Denver's abandoned theaters (the ones that weren't torn down in the early 70's) have been reconfigured as small concert venues. (And more than one - The Bug - as multipurpose venues.) This parallels the direction of the music industry: bands making more money from touring than from selling CDs.
posted by kozad at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2011


All of these pictures remind me of the Theatre mission from the game No One Lives Forever 2.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:52 PM on April 9, 2011


Nice. Reminded me of this.
posted by TheShadowKnows at 9:53 PM on April 9, 2011


Ah yes, old theaters. That was a weird time in my life.

For about 9 months, it was my job to seek out old theaters. Specifically ones that dated back to the late 30s into the 40s. That was around the time that cinema sound was (more or less) invented by Western Electric and it was the audio equipment my company was after.

Turns out, there was a huge market in China for vintage Western Electric and RCA audio components. A functioning or reparable WE receiver would fetch 10s of thousands of dollars. Of course, how to find them?

Here's how. First, you go to cinematreasures.org. That's where you will find a pretty comprehensive listing of theaters old and new, small and large. You'll want to start by narrowing down a geographic region. If you're just starting out, you might be attracted to the Northeast US, because of the dense groupings. You're wasting your time. Those have been picked over time and time again, twice by me and twice by another company who's name has changed so many times I'm not sure what it is now.

Just finding the theaters isn't enough though, obviously. You see, you're looking for the perfect storm; a theater that was built 70-80 years ago, was not liquidated or burned in a fire, acetate or otherwise. A theater that upon being converted into a porn house or a church in the 50s (as many of them were) retained the projection booth that the new proprietors just shoved everything into.

The projection booth is your bread and butter. They are weirdly designed little rooms, so theres a good chance that they are still intact. If not, chances are you are wasting your time.

So lets say you've found a theater. Now its time to figure out how to get in there. If its been renovated or re-purposed, cinematreasures might have a number for you. If not, call the tax offices or chamber of commerce. Get a number. Ask to be shown the theater, and ask about any old equipment. Sound disinterested. Use a company or organizational name that is easy to forget. Something like "Southeastern Historic Cinema Preservation Group".

Spin yourself as an enthusiast looking to preserve old equipment. That's important.

You may be picking up on it, but this job operated on a moral ground that was somewhat questionable. The essence boils down to being able to value something on site, not react, and casually offer a couple hundred bucks, cash. Let them see the cash. The southeast responds especially well to green.

While you're there, feel free to look around for other valuable stuff. Old brains can still field 30 bucks or so in mint. Old projectors are going to be mostly useless, but if they still happen to have a nice lens on them that might be worth something. When copper was high, they were worth more as scrap.

In the end, the success rate is very small. We generally would hit about 4 states in a trip. We'd make a list of as many leads as possible, ranked in order. We'd cold call all of them, sorting again. Then we'd hit as many as possible, because its a numbers game. 1 in 10 you will remove equipment. 1 in 30 you will remove valuable equipment. 1 in 75 you will remove valuable RCA gear. And 1 in 150 or so you just might snag a piece of Western Electric stuff, and then you just made payroll for the rest of the year.

Crawling into old theaters is GROSS though. Be prepared. Behind the screens? Nasty. In the booth? Nasty. Oh, and you'll be crawling over the blacks-only shitty balcony bench seats to get to the booth, so enjoy that guilt too. Oh, and be smarter than me. Have a boss that is more than 5'5 150lbs. Those old-ass RCA cabinet speakers are about 10 feet wide, 5 feet tall, 4 feet deep, and are put up on scaffolding about 25 feet off the ground. Heavy.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:09 PM on April 9, 2011 [21 favorites]


Oh, and if you've just driven a Penske truck from Flint, Michigan laden with a few thousand pounds of gear back to North Carolina, through an epic ice storm in Ohio, and you get sleepy in the mountains of Tennessee, and its February, hold your hand out of the window and see if you can beat your frostbite-pain record. Works wonders for staying awake.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2011


It looks like sumo wrestling went out of style in Latham, NY (#11).
posted by GIFtheory at 10:15 PM on April 9, 2011


This theater was the place where I learned to love music, had my first kiss and perfected my black eye-liner...it was closed completely last time I was in Flint but maybe it's being or going to be restored with the new downtown rebuilding. It's an awesome old theater and super scary when you stay there at night...
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:40 PM on April 9, 2011



It looks like sumo wrestling went out of style in Latham, NY (#11).

When I visited the place, it was called The Starlight. It was 'in the round'. The stage rotated. It made for some interesting moments.
posted by mikelieman at 10:59 PM on April 9, 2011


I remember quite a few Brooklyn movie theaters back in the late 70s which easily could have rivaled the Ziegfield.
posted by cazoo at 11:11 PM on April 9, 2011


DREAM
For Lease


You know who should buy that place? These dudes.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:44 PM on April 9, 2011


^schmod, thanks for thee DC love. For me, the alarming thing here is the number of theaters that have become CVS drugstores. The MacArthur theater,, that artsy theater on M St. in Georgetown. Hell, even the multi-screen art-theater it competed with it just a few blocks away on Wisconsin Ave. has become a Restoration Hardware. Midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Georgetown are just the stuff of history.

I guess those Georgetown residents finally got the bland shopping mecca that they'd dreamed of throughout the'70s and '80s -- there's hardly a record store, theater or bookstore to be found anywhere on that side of town.

Somehow, theaters just became dying prospects. There are now no theaters near Dupont Circle and none on Capitol Hill. Theaters were once retail anchors in shopping malls. Now, even the malls are dying.

Then again, from my understanding of the movie theater revenue stream, exhibitors only made make money if movies play longer than 3 weeks. If theater-owners are only making their bones off of $10 popcorn and $6.00 drinks, that alone is enough to make you reconsider that night out at the movies ($30+ for 2 people). Apparently, it was also the awful kids that killed the Union Station theater...
posted by vhsiv at 2:29 AM on April 10, 2011


Beautiful . . . well, they would've been if I hadn't thought zombie was going to jump out at me from every photo.
posted by davidjohnfox at 2:45 AM on April 10, 2011


I used to live on the cliffs over the beach in San Clemente, just about 100 meters from the beautiful Miramar Theatre (1938, the same as it looked when I saw Schindler's List there in '93, and shuttered today). There is a campaign to save it from radical redevelopment by new buyers. I was married on the patio of the beach club just behind it.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:44 AM on April 10, 2011


These places are sort of beautiful and sad, and they reinforce my delight in the old Star Theater in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, which is still the hottest ticket in town. It was never a grand theater, with ornamental icing spread in glorious sweeping vistas, or a big theater, either, but Berkeley Springs isn't a big town, unless you're visiting from my adopted second hometown of Orleans Crossroads. It's just a basic neighborhood house, simple in structure, with silk wallpaper as its only concession to majesty, and it shows pretty unadventurous fare, but the ticket's less than four dollars. I always buy the biggest popcorn, to put a little more cash in the pot, because I want it to be there forever.

After another long day of fighting the unwinnable battle to stave off the collapse of my swiftly tilting cabin, I'll dust off my overalls, lay a decent fire in the woodstove, get the dog settled in, and head out on the twenty-five minute drive over the ridges and through the hollows to Berkeley Springs. I arrive at the old Roman Baths stinking of woodsmoke and sweat, plunk down my cash at the old Roman Bathhouse, and wallow in the steaming mineral waters with a cool breeze coming through the window. After a while the attendant gives me a knock, saying "Hon, it's time, but no one's here, so I'll give you another ten, okay?"

Toweled off, scrubbed, and combed, I fold up my overalls, get into my presentable clothes, and leave my bath bag in the car. Dinner's at Tari's, and a solitary affair where I eat with a book that's just there as a cover so I can watch the room and eavesdrop on the neighboring tables, then I'm out, at the Star, grinning like a little idiot because I am a little kid when I'm there. Every teen within twenty miles shows up, but as loud as they are, they all settle down when the theater goes dim. I dig into my popcorn in the shameful way people in my family do it, stuffing a full handful into my mouth each time, and the spray of blue-white light sets the swirling motes of dust in the air off like sparkling stars. The previews begin and I'm enraptured, for no real reason beyond the light and the noise and the being there.

I've watched a lot of awful movies at the Star over the last twenty-five years, but it doesn't matter. It's just a thing from another realm, an island from another time cut off by the changing flow of the world, and its continuing survival makes me happy.

As a kid, my grandmother would round up my siblings and me, get everyone piled into her souped-up turquoise Barracuda with a giant hood scoop and a gloss-white vinyl interior protected from harm by nubbly clear plastic seat covers that stuck to you like duct tape, and drive down to the old Hippodrome. In its day, it was a glorious, regal thing, and it is again, thanks to a lot of love, money, and attention, but in my day, it was a grim, dark, ominous place, stained to a dreary sepia by a million cigarettes.

Naturally, I loved it. It was a monstrous cathedral, something a little kid from a little town could hardly comprehend, but it was magic, just pure magic.

At a matinee, we sat there, just my brother and me and my grandmother in her best catseyes, and waited. The din of voices was muted, but forceful, then the lights dimmed and the previews started. People shouted back at the screen in the downtown theaters, a thing that was also alien, but almost unbearably wonderful, to me. Someone on screen would be creeping down a hallway and someone would shout, helpfully, "Don't you go down there, lady—there's a MONSTER there!" People didn't shout at the screen in the General Cinemas twin in Columbia, our usual theater, and it was a real loss, I think, for a certain type of film.

"Why don't you holler something, Joe-B?" my grandmother asked, giving me a nudge.

"I can't yell in a theater," I said, looking around furtively, "I'll get in trouble!"

"Not from me, you won't."

But I was too restrained, so we mostly sat. Once in a while, you'd see people start jumping up on the other side of the auditorium. Like a haphazard version of The Wave, the jumpers would snake across the theater almost at random, and my grandmother would give me and my brother a poke.

"Pick your feet up, the rat's comin' our way!"

We'd all prop our feet up until the rat or rats passed by beneath us, then settle back down. People laughed, they shouted, they talked back to the screen, they talked about the movie. Once in a while, we'd all lurch back in our seats, a theater full of people all pulling at the air in a collective gasp as something wild or violent happened.

"Go get 'em, Coffy!" my grandmother suddenly hollered, egging Pam Grier on as she whipped a piece of broken glass out of her 'fro and slashed a bad guy. She leaned back in her seat and whispered, "Don't you tell your mother about this movie, Joe-B. I didn't know this movie was going to be so mean."

"It's cool, though."

"It sure is. I'm gonna start keeping razor blades in my hair, too!"

"You are not."

"Yeah I am. In case of mashers!"

In the end, the lights come up, either at the Star or the filthy, rat-infested Hippodrome of the seventies, or in some little theater in a little town on the verge of nowhere. The lights come up and you step out, blinking, into unexpected sunlight or the jittery mercury glare of an overlit parking light, and you're still high on that moment, still strung out on the buzz of dreaming a collective dream. The technicolor drains away from your bloodstream like Oz giving way to Kansas, and it's just life again.

These days, everything's available everywhere. I watched Firefly on my phone on the train home from work the other day, and that's a miracle, in its way, but it's just such a lesser thing. The days proceed apace, we all get increasingly sick of each other, and in the end, the adventurous among us get together to explore the temples of the old empires, wondering how we let them all get like this, but it's just the way the time goes.

It's twenty-five minutes back to the astonishing darkness of the hillside, with a single light burning, and my dog is at the window as I'm pulling in, barking at me. I step in, let her lick the popcorn salt and the sheen of butter off my fingertips, pull up a chair by the woodstove, and open up the door so I can sit for another hour, poking the fire and watching the flames dancing as they consume the logs I'd cut in the morning.

"That was a good movie, Daisy," I say to my dog, and she tips her head, then settles back down.
posted by sonascope at 6:42 AM on April 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


A little searching and I found that a Scooby Doo gang of ghosthunters broke in and took some pictures of the Miramar. Can't believe that beautiful Spanish Colonial building got so rundown in 20 years. Oooo, they got pictures of "orbs!"
posted by planetkyoto at 7:32 AM on April 10, 2011


Speaking of Denver, one of our recent success stories is the Bonfils / Lowenstein Theater. Almost demolished in 2004, before being repurposed as a Tattered Cover location (our independent bookstore) and an appropriately named restaurant, Encore. The site is helping anchor a redevelopment along Colfax Ave.
posted by gruchall at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2011


the last picture show.
posted by rainperimeter at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


the last picture show

Actually, this is what became of the last picture show.
posted by tamitang at 2:14 PM on April 10, 2011


Sonascope, that was probably the best response to anything I have ever seen. Thank you, sir.
posted by cerulgalactus at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The turn of the century downtown theatre on the small town in west Texas I grew up in couldn't compete with a slightly newer facility in the more suburban part of town, but was hanging on until the late 1970's. The "mall" multiplex that went in killed both of them though.

Good news, the local community theater arts folks managed to restore the old downtown venue, and today it's a clean, well used and loved for-real theater. The town is juuuuust large enough to support it, and really, it's the best venue in town. The only one for larger productions.

(yeah the street isn't ordinarily that dingy, it must have rained or something)

A theater that sits abandoned is an especially sad and lonely place. There is nothing like the bustle of a theater just before a show starts - it's alive with music, noise and anticipation. You can still hear the faint echoes of life as you look at those photographs.
posted by Xoebe at 3:59 PM on April 10, 2011


That's a fascinating story, lazaruslong. Do you have any idea why the vintage audio equipment was so valuable?
posted by dd42 at 7:52 PM on April 10, 2011


My best guess is that there is a cultural value attached to the equipment used to produce the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Our buyer was a really sweet chinese man in Chicago whose English wasn't great, but he had the retail store in Hong Kong and would wax on about the films of that era. Who knew?
posted by lazaruslong at 10:51 PM on April 10, 2011


Huh, interesting. Thanks!
posted by dd42 at 4:05 PM on April 11, 2011


"There are now no theaters near Dupont Circle ...

The old Inner Circle has reopened as the West End Cinema - it's far from grand, but a great place to see a movie.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:47 AM on April 12, 2011


And every once in a while, a theater is saved, like the Ridglea in Fort Worth. It had become a hard rock venue with disinterested ownership. Bank of America entered a contract to buy the theater with plans to level it all except the theater facade on the front. Through some local activism, BofA decided to back out and a new buyer was found that is currently renovating the theater back to its "original design specifications" and will reopen in September 2011.

You can read all the twists and turns of the saga on Fort Worth Architecture Forum.
posted by Doohickie at 6:36 PM on April 12, 2011


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