Demolitions

  • August 4, 2016

    Laurel, MD – Laurel Theater: From movies to theater, comedy to wrecking ball

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    From The Baltimore Sun: Lloyd Wineland was the head of Wineland Theaters, which eventually controlled 13 theaters, including most of the drive-ins in Prince George’s County, according to Robert Headley in his book “Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

    After buying the Laurel Theater, the Wineland era lasted for 36 years. In all that time, only two managers were employed. The first was Albert Pohl, who had already been on the Wineland payroll for 10 years as the company’s secretary-treasurer. He ran the Laurel Theater at night from 1934 to 1959, while continuing his other duties with Wineland during the day. Pohl told the News Leader in 1976 that “We used to run three shows a week except when the races were in town. There were so many people who worked at the track and had rooms in Laurel. They had nothing to do in the evenings so we ran a different show every night for them.”

    In an oral history in the collection of the Laurel Historical Society, Pohl recalled that theaters first offered concessions in 1929. He also talked about the role of ushers keeping order in the old days. “They were in charge,” he said.

    The theater was embroiled in controversy in 1935, when it asked the City Council for permission to show movies on Sundays. The uproar was led by the Federated Council of Church Women and the Ministers of Laurel, who started a petition drive to show “their disapproval of further desecration of the Lord’s Day.” According to the Washington Post, the delegation told the City Council that Sunday movies “would be a great catastrophe to the town.” But in a special city-wide election, Laurel citizens voted 299 to 254 to allow Sunday movies. Sunday shows started at 3 p.m.

    The first full-color movie shown at the Laurel Theater was “Three Women,” in 1936.

    During the Wineland era, the theater was frequently involved in community affairs. During World War II, war bond and stamps were sold in the lobby by the Women’s Club of Laurel.

    Segregation

    Until the mid-1950s, Laurel was a segregated town, like the rest of Maryland. But the Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education had broad implications beyond educational issues.

    According to Mildred Awkward, 92, who has lived most of her life in the Grove, Laurel’s historically black community, blacks were not allowed to attend movies at the Laurel Theater until things loosened up after the Brown decision. Even then, though, there were unwritten rules, she said.

    Black patrons had to enter the theater at a side door, where an usher was stationed to take their ticket money. They were not allowed to stand in line on Main Street with white patrons, she said. The side door led directly to the stairs leading to the balcony, where the black patrons were required to sit.

    This continued until Civil Rights legislation was passed in 1964 outlawing any “discrimination in public accommodations.” Cynthia Whitfield, who grew up in the Grove during the 1960s and witnessed the Jim Crow laws personally, remembers when “they eventually let us come downstairs.”

    Passing the baton

    Pohl retired from managing the theater in 1959, but continued as a corporate officer with Wineland until his full retirement seven years later.

    Ray Prior replaced Pohl as manager in 1959. Like Pohl, Prior lived in Old Town Laurel and was a big part of the community. Back in those days, newspaper ads and lobby posters for the theater prominently displayed the manager’s name.

  • July 23, 2016

    Medina, OH – Medina’s first movie theater gets its final close-up

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    From Cleveland.com: There won’t be a happy Hollywood ending for the home of Medina’s first movie theater.

    The former Medina Theater at 139 W. Liberty St. has a date with the wrecking ball, as the city prepares to demolish the Masonic Temple that houses the twin screen auditoriums, concession stand and iconic long ramp up from where the marquee once spelled out the classic films of the 1930s through the 1990s.

    Generations of Medina families swarmed the city’s theater during its glory days in the middle of the last century, sharing popcorn and penny candy as they gathered with friends and neighbors on date night Fridays and matinee Saturdays.

    The long-neglected theater – which closed in 2000, then twice attempted a comeback as a concert club before a community theater group gave up the ghost in 2014 – has clearly seen better days.

    Like its surrounding building, it is dotted with asbestos and mold. The walls are pockmarked with holes and the edges of the floors are crumbling.

    Movie posters no longer grace the long hallway leading up to the concession stand, which looks diminished without the popcorn and soda machines and the brightly colored candy wrappers.

    The original sturdy, velveteen-covered theater seats still stand in stately rows, pointed toward the ripped screen in the main auditorium. The second auditorium has been stripped of furnishings, leaving an empty stage in the shadows at the front of the room.

  • June 28, 2016

    Baltimore, MD – Baltimore City considering plans to tear down the back of the Mayfair Theatre

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    From Virtual Heritage: In mid June, Baltimore City posted a emergency condemnation and demolition notice on the front of the Mayfair Theater at 506 North Howard Street. The city, which owns the ornately-detailed 1903 building, is considering a plan to tear down the back portion of the theater where the auditorium was located and retain the front facade and front house. In 1998, the auditorium roof collapsed into the basement and the back portion of the building has remained unsecured and exposed to the elements for nearly two decades since. In contrast, the Mayfair’s front house is about thirty-five feet deep and city engineers have concluded that its roof is tight and it is structurally solid.

  • June 7, 2016

    Quincy, MA – One last look inside Quincy’s historic Wollaston Theatre

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    From The Patriot Ledger: City natives have been dropping by the Wollaston Theatre this past week to get one last glimpse of a building that still evokes memories of dollar movie nights, first dates and simpler times.

  • May 17, 2016

    Hillsboro, OH – Colony Theater Likely to be Demolished

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    From the Times Gazette: Unlike its leaky roof, the Colony Theatre’s fate seems sealed.

    The historic theater’s future as a mere memory seemed almost certain Wednesday after construction experts, city officials and a representative of the historical society toured the dilapidated facility.

    Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin led visitors through the North High Street building, with everyone dodging water that was pouring from the ceiling even though skies were clear outside.

    The Times-Gazette toured the building in December 2014 when Mayor Drew Hastings led visitors through the facility, and the damage, disrepair and noticeable moldy atmosphere that was evident then was even more accentuated on Wednesday.

  • January 26, 2016

    Judge issues order putting Chautauqua Amphitheater demolition on hold

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    A State Supreme Court judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday blocking Chautauqua Institution from taking actions leading to the demolition of the 1893 Amphitheater.

    The Chautauqua Institution board voted in December to accept bids to knock down the Amphitheater and build a modern replica in its place.

    “This gives us some small hope that one of America’s national treasures, and a Chautauqua National Historic Landmark, might be saved and improved for future generations,” said Brian Berg, president of the Committee to Preserve the Historic Chautauqua Amphitheater.

  • August 31, 2015

    Board vote paves way for Chautauqua Amphitheater demolition

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    The historic Chautauqua Amphitheater outlasted two world wars, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

    But the National Historic Landmark – the nation’s highest preservation designation – may have met its match at Saturday’s vote by Chautauqua Institution’s board of trustees.

  • August 18, 2015

    The Chautauqua Amphitheatre, One of the Nation’s Most Significant Historic Theatres and a National Historic Landmark, is Threatened With Demolition

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    The Chautauqua Institution’s plan to rehabilitate ‘The Amp’ calls for the demolition of every defining element of the Amphitheatre’s character and architectural significance. Theatre Historical Society of America joins with other national organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in urging the Chautauqua Institution’s board of directors to reconsider the demolition plan and instead vote for rehabilitation of the historic structure when they meet on 29 August.

  • September 15, 2014

    Missoula movie theater meets the wrecking ball

    MISSOULA, MT — The 30+ year-old Village 6 came down last week after closing late last year. The plan is to use the space for further retail in the South Crossing development.

    Check out a video and more at KPAX.

  • May 13, 2014

    Scottsdale Six demolished

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ — After three dark years, the Scottsdale Six is really gone for good. It was demolished last week with future plans for some type of commercial development. It was open for over 30 years.

    Read the full story in the Phoenix Business Journal.

    (Thanks to Scott Neff for providing the photo.)