Anchorage Alaska’s historic 4th Avenue Theater once again threatened

posted by philbertgray on December 7, 2007 at 5:53 am

ANCHORAGE, AK — The historic 4th Avenue Theater is once again facing an uncertain future. The theater was strong enough to withstand a 9.2 earthquake unscathed in 1964 but may not survive plans to convert the theater to commercial interests.

Attempts have been made to protect and preserve the theater since 1985 but none have proved successful. Two companies are now mulling over deals to buy the 60-year-old building from owner Robert Gottstein who is said to be negotiating a sale to the national Hard Rock Cafe. If those negotiations are successful it would convert the theater to one of it restaurants. Meanwhile retired contractor Les Sheppard and a local non-profit group are launching a fund-raising campaign to buy and preserve the theater. The cost to purchase it is almost $3 million dollars and time is running short for proponents of preservation. A foreclosure sale has been postponed for several months but owner Robert Gottstein continues negotiations with commercial interests.

The opulent streamline moderne theater, though showing the effects of time, remains relatively intact since its opening sixty years ago. The theater ceased operation in July of 1985. The twinkling big dipper lights embedded in the ceiling no longer work. The monolithic side panels are now covered with basic black and the chandeliers are in storage.

An article on the current attempts to save the 4th Avenue along with a video and a couple of small photos can be found at 2 NEWS KTUU.

A selection photographs of the interior can be found at the Alaska Digital Archives.

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