• October 18, 2016

    Dunwoody, GA – When will the historic Brook Run theater in Dunwoody be demolished?


    From The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
    The 102-acre Brook Run Park in Dunwoody includes a dog park, a community garden, a skate park, a playground, a trail and even a zip line course.

    But one thing it soon will not include: a beloved 34,000-square-foot building built in 1966 that served as the “de facto town center for the Georgia Retardation Center for more than 30 years,” according to a July letter to city officials from the nonprofit support group, Brook Run Conservancy.

    Hundreds of people — including Rodney Mims Cook Jr., who is credited with saving the Fox theater in the 1970s — wanted the building to be saved.

  • October 3, 2016

    Robbinsdale, MN – Crews demolish historic movie theater in Minnesota


    From The Des Moines Register: Crews have demolished a historic movie theater in Robbinsdale after preservationists lost a fight to save it.

    Demolition resumed Friday on the Terrace Theatre in the northwest Minneapolis suburb. A bulldozer knocked down most of the old building Saturday.

    Two groups trying to stop the demolition could not come up with the $6 million needed to save it by a Friday deadline. Preservationists had won a temporary reprieve from a Hennepin County judge, but he also required them to post a bond.

    KSTP-TV reports crews say the building should be completely knocked down early this week. Iowa-based Hy-Vee had planned a 91,500-square-foot grocery where the theater stood, but put those plans on hold after a push to save the Terrace.

    The Terrace opened in 1951 and closed in 1999.

  • September 12, 2016

    Missoula, MT – Stockman Bank gets permission to demolish old Cine 3 movie theater


    From The Missoulian:
    A vacant movie theater in Missoula that has become a magnet for crime soon will be torn down to make way for a new bank.

    The Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s Board of Directors has approved a request from Stockman Bank to proceed with demolishing the old Cine 3 movie theater building at 3601 Brooks.

    The bank intends to construct a new two-story bank building and one other commercial or office building at the site. It’s expected to be complete within two years because the ongoing construction of a massive new six-story Stockman Bank building downtown is occupying the company’s resources.

    However, the current movie theater building – which has been vacant for 10 years – has apparently become an immediate problem for both the owners and the Missoula Police Department because it has been frequented recently by people engaging in illegal activity.

    “The owner is regularly cleaning up used syringes and empty alcoholic beverage containers, and the rear of the building has become a dumping ground for abandoned vehicles,” said MRA executive director Ellen Buchanan in a memo. “Neighboring businesses are increasingly expressing concern about vandalism and criminal activity.”

    She added that Missoula Police Chief Mike Brady has requested increased patrols around the building, but there continue to be issues. Brady has also asked that the MRA help expedite the removal of the building and the cleanup of the lot.

    The bank asked to proceed with demolishing the building without prejudicing any future requests they may make for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance, because the site is in an Urban Renewal District.

    Randy Rupert, the regional director of business development for CTA Architects, is working for Stockman Bank on the building. He said that the bank is ready to demolish the current building within four or five weeks.

    “Two weeks ago we got broken into again,” he said. “It’s been blighted long enough for the city of Missoula. People know the building’s empty and they find ways in. It’s probably the only deserted property around there.”

    The bank plans to recycle as much of the materials from the deconstruction as it can.

    The Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s board also approved a request from the Missoula Housing Authority to proceed without prejudice on moving forward with prepping the site at 110 N. California St. for a new six-unit affordable housing complex. The MHA has been awarded a $700,000 state grant for the project, but they need to get going in order to not jeopardize the funding. Each unit will be one-bedroom.

    The board also approved a $79,720 TIF request from the North Missoula Community Development Corp. to deconstruct the existing house at 503 E. Front St. to build seven affordable housing units. The NMCDC will own the land, and sell two-bedroom units for around $130,000, and four-bedroom units for around $150,000, well below market value. However, the resale value of each unit is capped so that they remain affordable for future buyers while still rewarding homeowners for the equity they’ve put in as good caretakers.

    “It’s really exciting for us to get some permanent affordable homeownership downtown, which is an extremely rare commodity,” said Jerry Petasek of the NMCDC.

    Finally, the board approved a TIF request of $22,216 from the owners of the 16-unit apartment building at 534 E. Front St., on the corner of Madison Street, for sidewalk improvements. The owners are renovating the entire building, and the taxpayer money will go to fund right-of-way improvements.

  • August 4, 2016

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


    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.


    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


    From 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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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.