December 14, 2007
ST. KILDA, MELBOURNE, VICTORIA — The venerable Astor Theatre opened on Friday, April 13, 1936. It is one of Australia’s last remaining single screen movie palaces still in operation. The theatre has seen very few alterations and has survived mostly intact. The interior has been repainted and a new wall to wall screen was added in 1998.
In was saved from demolation in 1967 when the owners converted it to a Greek-language theater. It was also used for occasional concerts. After a brief closure from February to September of 1982 it returned to film presentation and currently runs classic double features along with occasional blockbusters.
The theatre was recently put up on the auction block and received one bid for $2.5 million dollars, a bid which was passed on by the owners. One of Victoria'a top private grammer schools, St. Michael’s, saw an opportunity to expand its current 150 seat studio and offered $3.8 million for the theatre 20 minutes after the previous offer was declined. That offer was accepted by the owners. The theatre, conveniently located across the street from the school, will be used for school concerts and speech nights.
The great news for cineastes is that when not in use by the school it will maintain its program of classic and independant films. Additionally St. Michael’s head Simon Gipson said the school would clean and repaint inside and out, while protecting heritage-listed features. Mr Gipson said: “We are honoured to have become the custodians of a building that holds such architectural and emotional significance for St Kilda.”
An article on the purchase can be found at Theage.com website.
December 13, 2007
CHARLESTON, SC — Longtime Cinema Treasures member Michael Furlinger brings a superior moviegoing experience to Charleston with the Terrace Theater.
Exuding a mix of charisma, panache and insouciance, Michael Furlinger stands in the foyer of the Terrace Theater, with tiny twinkling lights overhead, greeting theatergoers before a concession stand that includes a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne.
Furlinger’s Long Island, N.Y., accent, tinged with a bit of a Brooklyn patois, can be heard clearly across the lobby as he welcomes film aficionados to the Lowcountry’s only art-house theater, and the largest in the state.
The Terrace is where genres appealing to serious film addicts are shown, and Furlinger says he isn’t afraid to show controversial celluloid fare not usually screened in multiplex chains. Since Furlinger bought the theater five months ago, he has continued the tradition of foreign-language films, such as “La Vie En Rose” about French singer Edith Piaf and the global-warming documentary “Eleventh Hour.”
Read the full article in the Post and Courier.
December 12, 2007
SPRINGFIELD, OH — C. Howard Crane, also the architect of the Detroit Orchestra Hall, designed the Regent Theatre which opened on August 16, 1920. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Regent is described as a light neo-classical or Adam style, which is evident by the decorative details on the facade, and the proscenium, balcony and mezzanine decorations of the interior.
The Regent was built as a legitimate theater, but was later adapted to show moving pictures. Springfield’s famed booking agent, Gus Sun, utilized the Regent for his various productions and vaudeville acts. Sun’s booking agency, which was located on the second floor of the theater, was nationally known, and he is credited with giving many young acts, including the likes of Bob Hope, their start in the business.
December 10, 2007
OWOSSO, MI — In a formal ceremony held at the newly dubbed Lebowsky Center Complex on December 4, the Owosso Community Players, received the title to the 9,000 square foot Miner Building from Chemical Bank which had occupied it. The donation was announced last August. Chemical Bank also donated $5,000 to the OCP’s fundraising campaign.
The adjacent Miner building was the location of Chemical Bank’s loan office and storage space before the fire last February which gutted the adjacent Lebowsky Center. The OCP is calling this building the West Annex. Before the bank occupied it, it had housed Kline’s department store. The second floor, with renovations nearly finished, will continue to be leased out to tenants. The first floor is being used as a reception area and rehearsal space. Dinner theater is planned for that space. The basement is currently costume storage. Renovations to the first floor and basement will take place over the next few months.
December 7, 2007
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.
December 5, 2007
LOS ANGELES, CA — A story chronicles the history of theater ownership in the Los Angeles Delijani Family along with some plans for the future.
Like most property owners along the corridor, the Delijanis prefer to keep a low profile. Nonetheless, their controversial story is tightly woven into the fabric of Broadway and its hoped-for rebound. Since his father acquired the Los Angeles Theatre 20 years ago, Michael Delijani has continued the preservation effort and purchased three other theaters: the State at 703 S. Broadway, the Palace at 630 S. Broadway and the Tower at 802 S. Broadway.
Delijani’s Delson Investment Company has spent millions to acquire the theaters, though the lion’s share of his attention when it comes to renovations has centered on the Los Angeles Theatre, arguably Downtown’s most lavish.
Read the full article in the L.A. Downtown News.
December 3, 2007
GRAND PRAIRIE, TX — To ring in the holidays, the Uptown Theater is selling an ornament to benefit the continued renovations on the theatre.
Grand Prairie has created a Grand Prairie holiday ornament that commemorates the city’s historic Uptown Theater, which is in the process of being restored.
This fourth in a series of annual ornaments celebrates the completion of the exterior renovation of the Uptown Theater in downtown Grand Prairie. The interior renovation will be complete by 2009, when the former movie theater will reopen as an arts center after having been restored to its former glory.
A full article along with a picture of the facade prior to restoration can be found at the Pegasus News.
November 30, 2007
Buffalo lays claim to the air conditioner, grain elevator, windshield wiper and pacemaker. It may be time to add another: The first motion picture theater.
Mitchell Mark and his younger brother, Moe, opened Vitascope Hall in the basement of Ellicott Square in October 1896. Moviegoers entered through the Marks' first-floor Edisonia Phonograph Parlor, an early penny arcade using inventions of Thomas Alva Edison’s factory.
“This is one of those very hazy areas of theater history. Really, no one can say with any certainty what was the very first purpose-built movie theater,” said Karen Colizzi Noonan, president of the Theatre Historical Society in Elmhurst, Ill., which records and preserves the history of America’s theaters.
November 26, 2007
MONTEREY, CA — The Golden State Theatre opened in 1926. At the time the ornate Moorish themed 1600 seat theatre was the biggest between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It featured modern miracles that were cutting-edge for 1926: hidden lighting that imitated a colorful sunset; an electric seat annunciator system that helped the uniformed ushers seat patrons quickly and efficiently; an emergency generator; an electric central vacuum; and an internal/external telephone system. Plush carpet led the way past dramatically oversized furniture in the Grand Lobby. Reaching the inner lobby, you were torn between visiting the elegant ladies' lounge or men’s smoker, (passing the “crying windows” installed for the viewing convenience of those with small children,) or proceeding directly to the velvet portieres guarded by the ubiquitous ushers.
As theatre attendance started to drop in the 1950s the theatre suffered the ravages affecting many theatres. The entire theatre was painted two shades of gray which obliterated its ornamentation and intricate painting scheme. In 1972 it was further altered by the addition of two additional screens in the balcony and extensive “draping” of the interior.
November 21, 2007
MENLO PARK, CA — After a year of negotiations, the Menlo Park City Council subcommittee has rejected an unpopular plan to buy and renovate the Park Theater with city money, a move that sends a would-be restorer back to the drawing board and leaves the fate of the 60-year-old landmark in question.
The Guild is the only remaining operating theater on the historic 47 mile section of El Camino Real Drive between San Francisco and San Jose. At one time there were twenty plus theaters along the scenic drive either on El Camino or within a block or two of the drive. The other theaters have either been converted to other uses or demolished.