January 13, 2017
From the Stamford Advocate: Rather than settling in to a front-row seat, Randy Thomas found a perch in the mezzanine to catch the show going on at the Palace Theatre earlier this week. As he looked out across the expanse to a wooden platform more than 50 feet above the stage, he watched as workers in hard hats and safety vests moved carefully to restore and replace plaster where ceiling meets walls. Drills whirred, buckets were lowered and the work continued apace. “There is some really intricate work up there,” said Thomas, the theater’s director of production and facilities since 2006. He’s not as old as the plaster – which went up when the theater was built 90 years ago – but he’s been working here since 1991. “They don’t build them like this anymore. It would be way too expensive.” The Palace opened its doors on Atlantic Street on June 2, 1927. Designed by Thomas Lamb, a leader in his fieldwhose works include the Palace Theater in Waterbury, the performance venue rose from the wreckage of the Grand Opera House following a devastating fire in 1904. The site was purchased in the mid-1920s by Stamford residents Mary C. Vuono and her husband Charles and in its early days featured vaudeville acts. It then became a movie house, and, later, a stage for repertory work by the Hartman Theater company. Most recently, it has been host to musicians, comedians, dancers and other live acts on tour.
From Fox4KC.com: A historic movie theater in Mission is being given new life.
The new owners of the Mission Theatre at 5909 Johnson Drive in Mission, Kan., are Kip and Kris Unruh. They have gutted the inside of the building to transform this former theater into a wedding event space.
The building first opened in 1938 by Glen Wood Dickinson, founder of the Dickinson Theatre chain. It was the first all-concrete movie theater in the area meant to withstand fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. But over the years, the theater fell into disrepair.
The new owners loved the location and spent many months renovating it.
“It just had so much potential,” Kris Unruh said. “It was just waiting for somebody to come in and get a new life.”
They believe this is a unique place to hold weddings and receptions.
“Venues are something Kansas City needs more of,” Unruh said. “We married our own daughters and realized that there is a demand for venues. You have to sometimes wait 18 months to rent a place.”
They are now booking weddings, receptions and corporate events.
January 11, 2017
From The Day: After making significant investments in Watch Hill and downtown Westerly, Charles “Chuck” Royce is now part of a team focusing on the transformation of the old United Theater into a culture and arts education center where students will be able to learn, artists will display their work or perform and the public will come to be entertained. “Of all my downtown projects, this is real and symbolic. It’s smack in the middle,” Royce said in an interview. The newly named Ocean Community United Theatre at 5 Canal St. was acquired in 2006 by the Westerly Land Trust as part of its urban initiative and is now the centerpiece of the estimated $15 million arts and education center. The onetime vaudeville theater, opened in 1926 and later converted to a single-screen cinema, was closed in 1986 and shuttered for two decades before it was acquired by the land trust. Three years after buying the theater, the land trust bought the former Montgomery Ward building next door, and the two structures will be married together for the project that will include a music school, spaces for rehearsals, workshops and master classes, and studios for teaching and producing film and video, live performances and fine arts. There will also be a performing arts center, cinema and art gallery — all with a focus on educating and entertaining. Royce and others on the United Theatre board, who have been meeting monthly to move the multimillion-dollar project forward, foresee the arts complex as a downtown magnet that will draw artists and performers, students and audiences for the shows, concerts, exhibits and classes. “We believe it will be an epicenter of entertainment,” said Bill McKendree, president of the board. “Our vision is not just that it will be a facility, but that it will be a regional mechanism to facilitate the arts.” McKendree said the group envisions year-round classes, events and activities, and maybe a Spoleto-like festival similar to the famed 17-day event held in Charleston, S.C., each spring. Spoleto packs crowds into performance spaces around the city to see and hear both well-known and lesser-known performers doing everything from dance and opera to symphony and jazz music. “Our picture is bigger than the building itself,” he said. “Like could we have an opera festival or taste of Italy for the month of June?”
December 22, 2016
From WLFI.com: A historical movie theater is being restored back to its original beauty.
Standing for nearly eight decades, the Monon Theatre has served as a hub for local entertainment in the town. The theater was built in 1938, after both of the town’s movie theaters burned down.
After closing its doors more than 10 years ago, the building has since started deteriorating. With hopes of restoring it back to its old glory, the Monon Civic Preservation Society purchased the building in 2013.
“We are very excited, and enthusiastic and appreciative of all the support that we’ve had from former residents and locals and businesses,” preservation secretary Julie Gutwein said.
The group has since raised more than $100,000 through fundraising, which helps pay for much needed upgrades and improvements.
Gutwein said she hopes to see the theater bustling with business once again.
“We have a lot going on in the community but there’s not an entertainment center – nothing for the young people,” said Gutwein.
Recently, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation presented the group with a $42,500 grant to pay for a new exterior marquee, which will be placed at the theater’s entrance.
Preservation president Dave Stimmel said he’s excited to see a piece of the town’s history slowly being brought back to life.
“We hope to be having events here, centered around the theater,” said Stimmel. “We think we can get some live entertainment in since we’ve got a venue to do that with.”
Stimmel said overall, the project will cost around $1.5 million.
As far as a timeline, Stimmel said, “We’d hope in a couple more years, we should be able to be having an open house and open the doors. We’re hoping.”
Stimmel said the marquee is currently being built in Delphi.
If all goes as planned, the sign should be up by next spring.
December 16, 2016
From the Daily Journal:
The longtime theater in downtown Kankakee on North Schuyler Avenue is moving into the next generation of the movie-going experience, swapping out more than 860 seats for 300 power recliners.
“We’re doing a complete refurbishing of the auditorium,” said Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Classic Cinemas. “We’ve had to prep the floor. We’re doing new carpeting. We’re redoing the walls and putting in new aisle lighting.”
The biggest change though will be from going from an 868-seat auditorium to one with 300-plus recliners.
“The math is not great when you go from an 868 seating to 300-plus seating,” Mazrimas said. “At the Paramount with 300 seats, you’re losing 60 percent of your seating. But at 300 seats, it will be the largest venue in Illinois with power recliners. Nobody has an auditorium with as many seats.”
Classic Cinemas, headquartered in Downers Grove, believes the recliners will boost attendance at Paramount. Its main auditorium was its second-largest venue.
“The industry is saying you will see a 50 percent increase in attendance,” Mazrimas said. “We can say from what we’ve seen, we have two locations that made the switch, is a 50 percent increase from the new seating.”
Classic Cinemas also owns and operates Meadowview Theatre in Kankakee.
The new carpeting already is down in the large auditorium, which has been closed for a couple weeks, but the smaller auditoriums at Paramount have been showing movies. The seating is scheduled to arrive this week, and Paramount is planning to reopen the renovated theater in a week.
“We’re really going to shoot for Universal [Pictures] opening of ‘Sing’ for the first movie,” Mazrimas said. “That will be on Tuesday the 20 at 6 p.m., and we’ll show matinees on Wednesday the 21.”
“People seem to like the comfort they’re getting with it,” Mazrimas added. “It creates a whole new world for us.”
This is just the first phase of Classic Cinemas investment in its Kankakee theaters.
“The plan in 2017 is to renovate the rest of Paramount and get Meadowview started with an expansion and the new seating,” Mazrimas said. “Meadowview is a little further off. The plan is to get it to six auditoriums. … That’s down the road.”
Cinemark in Northfield Square mall in Bradley installed recliners in its auditoriums in the past year.
Overall, domestic movie attendance has stayed relatively flat throughout the past several years, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The number of tickets sold in the U.S. slipped 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The decline comes amid growing competition from video-on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and other entertainment options.
From Curbed Chicago: Built in 1918, Lincoln Square’s old Davis Theatre is preparing to open its doors this week after an extensive $5 million overhaul. Originally known as the Pershing Theater, the 98-year-old building at 4614 N. Lincoln Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The remodeled Davis brings back numerous cues from its Art Deco past such as red curtains and detailed moldings and shows off newly-uncovered original organ pipes in its main theater.
The renovation work was a collaborative effort between Kennedy Mann Architecture and Analogous Design and saw the building’s two rear theaters combined into a single 300-seat venue with stadium seating. Two smaller 150-seat theaters have also be restored and upgraded with new bathrooms and state-of-the-art projection equipment.
The revamped Davis—along with an adjacent 3,500-square-foot dining and cocktail establishment known as Carbon Arc Bar & Board—will open for business this Thursday. The theater’s grand opening coincides with its screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
From the Cape Cod Times: The historic Cape Cinema is planning some restorations, and the job will start with what most affects audience comfort: the seats.
Cinema managers and the Cape Cod Center for the Arts Inc., which owns the building, recently launched a campaign to raise more than $165,000 to restore the 277 original art deco chairs that were built back in 1930 specifically for the movie theater space – and specifically to match its massive, celestially themed ceiling mural.
While a small portion of the chairs have been previously patched, covered, reupholstered or replaced, this will be the first time in the intervening 86 years that the seats have been rebuilt to the original vision.
Synthomas Upholstery in Hyannis is due to take each chair apart and, by hand, rebuild and reupholster it in tangerine suede to match the original plan, according to Eric Hart, who operates the theater. While the covers will be fire-proof and stain- and rub-resistant, there will also be padding and support added. Contemporary patrons will likely welcome those additions, Hart notes, especially for the multi-hour simulcasts of live opera, theater and ballet the cinema has offered in recent years.
About half of the money (so close to $80,000) needs to be raised by the end of the year for the project to go forward, says general manager Hugh Hart. Once repairs begin, 15 chairs are scheduled to be restored by hand per week, with the project taking more than five months while the cinema remains open.
The moviehouse will likely shut down for a couple of weeks in spring, Eric Hart says, to finish up the work and make other changes (including new carpeting, sealing the floors and rebuilding the lobby concession stand in an art deco style) before the 2017 summer season begins.
Although all donations are welcome, the campaign urges patrons to donate $600 for the cost of restoring one chair (which includes the floor work). Those who do will have their name engraved on a plaque on the chair, get free admission to movies there for a year and, according to a fundraising letter from Hart and center president Leslie A. Gardner, “become a part of the ongoing legacy of this historic building.”
Pretty much every part of the cinema has an art-related history – including those chairs. Raymond Moore, founder of the 90-year-old Cape Playhouse next door, opened the summer movie theater in 1930, with New York architect Alfred Easton Poor designing the facade using Centerville’s Congregational Church as a model.
The auditorium was created in art deco style and the arm chairs designed by Vienna-born Paul T. Frankl – considered one of the most influential artists of the American art deco period, according to cinema lore – through his New York City gallery. The chairs were produced by the Johnson Furniture Company with black lacquer frames and tangerine suede, meant to complement the cinema’s 6,400-square-foot ceiling mural of the heavens designed by American painter, printer and illustrator Rockwell Kent.
The chairs, according to Eric Hart, were individually cut for a specific space in the theater, with legs different sizes because of the sloped seating. The three dozen or so chairs in the balcony were replaced sometime in the 1970s – before Hart was involved – with flip-down movie-theater chairs and those are not part of the current restoration plan. But the extra originals from that balcony replacement have, over the years, been used to fill in for broken chairs downstairs. Chair legs have had to be trimmed, though, so the replacement chairs would fit specific spaces, Hart notes.
Regular patrons know the current chairs have white seat-covers, which Hugh Hart believes may have been originally used to protect the seats when the summer-only theater was shuttered. More recently, the covers have obscured rips and wear as the year-round use of the theater over the past decade has accelerated deterioration. Some of the chairs were also damaged decades ago, Eric Hart says, when the sprinkler system was tripped during the winter and poured 2 feet of water into the theater.
Restoring the seats has been under discussion for a decade and multiple companies were consulted and explored. Acknowledging such a large fundraiser is “a risk,” Eric Hart says he hopes the major community effort needed to restore the seats will also be the start of a wider push to raise money to restore the Rockwell Kent mural, too.
There could be “a whole movement to restore the theater rather than just maintain it,” he says. “We could make it as beautiful as it was when it opened in 1930.”
But, the Harts hope, with the comfort level desired by 21st-century patrons.
December 14, 2016
From ibj.com: Supporters of the historic Rivoli Theatre on East 10th Street have hit an important milestone for stabilizing the fragile structure.
The building’s owner, the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, announced Monday that it thinks the group has raised enough money to finish installing a new roof.
The not-for-profit received $300,000 through a community development block grant, pushing the total raised to more than $500,000.
Jim Kelly, the group’s president, told Property Lines in an e-mail that members “have fingers crossed hoping this will be enough.”
They plan soon to release the bid package to get estimates from contractors. If all goes well, they hope the entire roof project will be finished by next fall.
It’s been a monumental undertaking to get a roof installed—the first step in saving the building that opened in 1927 as Universal Studios’ first Indiana theater.
The Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts put a new roof over the auditorium portion of the building in May 2014 and will spend a total of nearly $1 million to complete the roof repairs.
December 2, 2016
The roof on the historic Schubert Theatre is leaking, damaging nearly 100-year-old hand-painted canvasses and interior molding.
The theater, built by Frank Gooding — elected Idaho governor in 1904 and a U.S. senator in 1920 — is an iconic building along the small town’s Main Street. Community leaders hope to restore it to its former glory.
Two years after it was formed, nonprofit organization GREAT Inc. — Gooding Restoration for Entertainment, Arts & Theater — is about halfway to its $63,000 fundraising goal to replace the roof.
“It’s a real landmark here in Gooding,” Mayor Walt Nelson said. “I’d like to see it back to where it’s being used.”
So far, the nonprofit has about $30,000 to replace the roof and is waiting to hear back about a few grants.
“We can’t do anything inside until we get the roof on,” building owner and Gooding resident Charmy LeaVell said.
The nonprofit — which has a seven-member board and a core group of volunteers — wants to replace the roof this spring. Its efforts to raise money include bake sales and writing grant proposals.
From WTOV-9: The Grand Theatre in downtown Steubenville has seen a massive amount of reconstruction during the past several years.
And a crucial piece of the historical building – it’s stage – was worked on Monday, free of charge, thanks to the folks at Byers Concrete.
“If this place can get rolling, the sky is the limit on what they can do with it,” said Jonathan Byers, owner of the concrete business.
Byers said when he came down and saw what it entailed, he immediately knew he was in.
“This is exciting to me,” he said. “Because the atmosphere walking into this building, the history behind it, and just walking in here, it kind of gives you a different, weird kind of energy."
The theatre has seen a number of volunteers and businesses donate in some fashion during the past 6 years.
“I think without that, we wouldn’t get it done,” said Scott Dressel, president, Grand Theatre Restoration Project. “Especially in a community that has been struggling as hard as Steubenville.”
“Anybody that is interested in putting up about 10,000 square foot of drywall on a ceiling that’s 5/8th thick, we need someone to do that,” Dressel said with a laugh.
Byers hopes, like has, that others will follow suit.
“There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t realize how big of a deal this is,” Byers said. “If this place could get kickin again, it might open up something big down here.
“Little positive things like this, hopefully it’ll boost something bigger, and then it’ll overcast all that negativity that goes on around this area."
If you would like to lend a hand and volunteer at the Grand Theatre, you can contact Dressel at 740-632-2899.