May 12, 2006
LANSING, MI — Master-planning will commence this spring, for the transformation of the original Opera House into a historically updated version of what Opera House patrons might have experienced in the 1800s. The owner of The Opera House, Livingston Arts Council (LAC), has chosen The Christman Company of Lansing and the Ann Arbor office of SmithGroup, Inc., as its design/build team to develop a master plan for the restoration.
The project will begin with a review of a 2001 Development Plan Report and a series of quality, cost and modeling workshops to assist LAC in identifying and balancing its needs, priorities and cost constraints. The series of workshops will help determine a detailed project scope and schedule for the building’s eventual restoration.
“This project is especially meaningful because much of our staff, me included, is from Livingston County and call the County home,” said Ron Staley, Director of National Preservation at The Christman Company. “I have personally witnessed the difference made in the community by the preservation of the Livingston County Courthouse and the Carnegie Library (other local Christman projects). This project will provide the community with more than a theater; it will also give us a more complete glimpse into the past.”
April 25, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In Sunday’s edition, the San Francisco Chronicle looked into the recent upswing of theater revivial projects in the Bay area:
Phil Tagami’s parents went on their first date in 1959 to Oakland’s Fox Theater, a gilded movie palace on Telegraph Avenue. In 1965, the venue closed, and for more than four decades it has been largely vacant, crumbling from neglect.
“It’s been shuttered for virtually my entire life,‘’ said Tagami, a 40-year-old developer who owns several buildings nearby and never had the opportunity to attend an event at the theater.
But now Oakland, which hired Tagami as a consultant, is spending millions to resurrect the 1928 vintage Fox, a step the city sees as key to bringing new life to a neighborhood — and city — in need of revitalization.
Oakland is one of a nearly a dozen Bay Area cities committing millions to theater restoration projects. They are dusting off old architectural relics — some dating back to vaudeville days — that closed and sat dormant after being damaged in earthquakes or made redundant by television, cineplexes and other entertainment options. Local officials, like their counterparts in cities across the nation, are betting that their investments will bring cultural capital to rundown neighborhoods, particularly downtowns, and spur economic activity.
(Thanks to CWalczak for this one!)
April 20, 2006
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The reports of our demise (and demolition) have been greatly exaggerated!
Since 1998, the Metropolitan Opera House has been undergoing a slow but steady renovations process. The building is currently in use primarily as a worship center (Holy Ghost Headquarters Revival Center at the Met). This center is led by a former member of the last worship center at the Met, Rev. Mark Hatcher.
HGHRC@The Met established a nonprofit community development center to complete renovations in 1998 and to lead eventual historic renovations. Approximately $4.5 million dollars in basic systems replacement, stabilization and renovations have been completed.
Phase II renovations currently underway include replacing the retail operations previously installed in the ‘40’s that will create earned income for use in the renovation work. The City of Philadelphia has made a financial commitment to support the creation of these spaces. All previous work has been completed without benefit of any public sector or private foundation funding.
March 30, 2006
AMARILLO, TX — Center City of Amarillo, Texas has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Amarillo Historical Preservation Foundation (AHPF) to restore the historic Paramount Theater electrical sign that adorned the Paramount Building in downtown Amarillo from 1932 until the late 1970s.
The AHPF plans to raise at least $80,000 to complete the job and provide long-term maintenance on the sign, which will be placed in its original location on the Paramount Building, Ninth Avenue at Polk Street, when completed. The sign was removed in the late 1970s for use at a disco in the city’s warehouse district northeast of downtown. The AHPF acquired the sign in late 2005.
“We wouldn’t have considered a job so large without Center City’s help,” said Wes Reeves, president of the AHPF. “We can now get started on a dream we’ve had for a number of years.”
Wellborn Sign Company of Amarillo, with a major restoration award under its belt, has been chosen to restore the Paramount sign. Wellborn was the 2005 winner of the Texas Sign Association’s best restoration project for its work on the historic Ritz Theatre in Wellington, Texas, where a 1940s-era sign and marquee were brought back to life after years of neglect.
March 28, 2006
I recently fell upon this wonderful site and became a member.
I was doing a search on a local theater in NJ, the Harwan Theater. I had wanted to revitalize it and was hoping somehow I could re-design the space or buy it. I found out the theater is in the process of renovation and re-opening.
I am an interior designer and have always wanted to open my own club/restaurant. I was wondering if there are any theaters that are closed that can possibly be turned into a venue either for live theater, live music, club or a restaurant.
I am all for saving theater in this country but I didn’t realize the amount of theaters we have, unfortunately most of them are closed. I would like to save the architecture and possibly turn an existing run down space into something new and exciting.
Please if anyone can help me in achieving this I would highly appreciate this. Who do I need to contact? I will look into each theater individually if I have to. I would also be interested in saving the building to us as a theater if I felt that was the best use for the space.
Last thing, on average how much does a theater cost to buy? I live in NJ so anything in surrounding states is fine.
(My email is )
March 22, 2006
JACKSON, MI — Press Release: Theatre Rehabilitation Master Plan Complete for Historic Michigan Theatre in Jackson; Design Team is Led by GunnLevine Architects with Consulting Architects, SmithGroup, Inc.
Detroit-based GunnLevine Architects and consulting architect SmithGroup, Inc., completed rehabilitation master planning services for the Michigan Theatre in Jackson.
Since the theatre’s completion in 1930, the city of Jackson has experienced significant cultural changes, transitioning from a manufacturing base to a community that values itself as a leader in arts and educational programming. The current leadership plans to update the theatre’s programming to include movies, concerts, Community Theatre, children’s film festivals, special events and more.
Edward D. Francis, FAIA, lead architect and Principal for GunnLevine comments, “The interior, while smaller than the fabulous FOX in Detroit, is its equal in terms of decorative plaster, elaborate moldings, decorative tile, wood paneling, and ornamental ironwork. It’s the only theatre of its kind in mid-Michigan.”
The Michigan Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places, the State Historic Register and is located in a designated Historic District of Jackson, MI. The master plan completion is targeted for April of 2006.
March 13, 2006
WHEATON, IL — The Wheaton Grand Theatre on Hale Street in downtown Wheaton has set a date of April 1st for the start of its restoration project, and will also be closed starting that date, which means its frequent rock shows will have to find a new host for the time being, according to this article in the Daily Herald.
The 80 year-old theater will be closed indefinitely while work on the estimated $7 million restoration kicks off. The goal is to bring the Grand back to its original single, 800-seat auditorium configuration. Ray Shepardson, who is the managing director of the restoration project, says, “I did not understand how effective and popular [the theater] was. But if we didn’t close now, the restoration was never going to happen.”
February 28, 2006
February 14, 2006
PORTLAND, OR — Portlanders are invited to join in commemorating the life and times of the historic Academy Theater, a gorgeous Streamline Moderne jewel located on Mt. Tabor, in the Southeast Portland neighborhood of Montavilla. The theater is scheduled to re-open next month for the first time in nearly thirty years.
In celebration of the grand re-opening, theater owners Ty Dupuis — proprietor of Flying Pie Pizzeria, and his business partners — local husband and wife team Heyward and Julie Stewart – who are currently in the process of renovating the landmark theater, are issuing a “call for memories,” inviting those who still remember the Academy Theater fondly to share their recollections. Amusing memories, reminiscences of first dates, old photos, and more are welcome.
February 1, 2006
I am trying to get together a collection of vintage cinema sound equipment. I need BTH, Vitavox, Western Elecric, Gaumount Kalee, British Acoustical Speakers, Horns, Amplifiers, crossovers, Microphones, valves. Any leads will be appriciated. Please reply to