February 18, 2007
OWOSSO, MI — On Saturday, February 17, I took pictures of the fire damaged Joseph H. Lebowsky Center to view the extent of the damage myself. The fire began on stage and quickly spread to the theater itself, causing the roofs of the stage and the theater to cave in. The front part of the theater building escaped major damage. The walls of the stage seem intact, but the west wall of the theater facing Park Street shows the reason why the temporary wall was erected.
Park Street was still closed alongside the theater. A web site devoted to Shiawassee County, Michigan history has an updated page about the Capitol Theatre/Lebowsky Center which has an aerial photo showing the extent of the theater’s damage.
It is interesting to note that the Capitol Theatre was renamed to honor the Owosso businessman who built it. His legal surname was “Lebowsky” and he was Jewish. His Yahrzeit (Memorial) plaque is at Temple Beth El in Flint, MI where he was a member. But in Owosso, he spelled his name “Lebowski” apparently to make him seem more Polish than Jewish. If you look at the “Joseph H. Lebowsky Center” letters on the facade, you may notice that the “Y” is a different shade of gold. That’s because it replaced the “I”.
February 17, 2007
BALTIMORE, MD — As reported yesterday, the Senator Theatre is just days away from going up for auction. Its lender is now making them provide $109K by this Wednesday, February 21st at 1:30PM. As of 6:32 EST, today, $68.4K has been collected.
Please donate via paypal on their website and pass this message along to others.
We’ll update you with the latest on the fight to keep this movie palace alive.
KANSAS CITY, MO — The Waldo Astoria Theater, which opened in 1924 as the Westmoreland Theater, was destroyed by fire Friday, February 16. It is a complete loss.
Five firefighters were injured and hospitalized fighting the two-alarm blaze during freezing temperatures and inclement weather. Five remain hospitalized; three with burns. Their efforts could not prevent loss of the building, but adjoining retail structures were spared.
The historic building burned for several hours and the roof collapsed. Problems with water pressure from hydrants hampered efforts.
Local media have reported that the fire appears to have started in the French bistro Cafe Apanaire. The cause of the fire is undetermined and is under investigation.
February 16, 2007
OWOSSO , MI — Fire investigators sift through the rubble of the destroyed Lebowsky Center to determine the cause of the fire. Considered “suspicious, it may take a week to determine the cause of the blaze. The unstable west wall of the theater has been braced and an outside wall was built barricading it.
Meanwhile, the Owosso Players have found a temporary home and will perform the musical “Beauty and the Beast” at the Owosso Middle School auditorium as scheduled.
The official web site has finally been updated and include photos of the fire damage, both interior and exterior.
February 15, 2007
TRAVERSE CITY, MI — Recent news on the State Theater is the Board of Directors of the Traverse City Film Festival, Michael Moore, John Robert Williams, and Doug Statton are in meeting with the Traverse City Rotary Charities (who owns the State) about the possibility of the Historic State Theater becoming the permanent home of the TC Film Festival and reopening the long closed movie house on a year round basis.
This would be a huge event should it happen; a boost not only to Downtown Traverse City, but to movie lovers both far and wide. The word on the street is that Carmike Cinemas has a contract against showing first and second run movies there for 25 years from when it was sold back in the late eighties. We’ve got are fingers crossed here in Traverse City hoping and praying Carmike will do the right thing and void the contract.
(The Letter Guy)
BEACH, ND — On the recommendation of an astrologer, a couple moved to North Dakota and bought the closed Bijou Theatre.
The Bijou Theater in Beach will reopen next month and the new owners, with roots in England and the Chicago area, have dramatic plans for the vintage venue.
Emanuel Culman and his wife, Cheryl Planert, purchased the retro ‘40s movie hall, still decked in maroon and gold, from Margaret Walz, who lowered the curtain on the family enterprise in June due to lack of business.
Culman said the astrologer who told him the 48th parallel was a good zone for him narrowed the best opportunity for success and literary artistry to somewhere between Fort Peck, Mont., and Velva. There, roughly in the middle, is Beach, and their inquiries into the community were based on the chance purchase of a newspaper with a story of the Bijou Theater being for sale.
To read more, go to the Bismarck Tribune.
February 14, 2007
OWOSSO, MI — The Joseph H. Lebowsky Center, formerly the Capitol Theatre, was gutted by a fire late Tuesday, February 13.
A historic theater in Owosso is gutted by fire. Firefighters from 12 departments are still on the scene battling that fire. It’s burning the Joseph H. Lebowsky Center. Fire officials say it started Tuesday night just before 11.
Community members who were on the scene say, if the fire destroy’s the historic center, it’ll be a huge loss for the area.
SALIDA, CO — Here is an article about the Unique Theater which is now in immediate danger of collapse:
Under the threat of “imminent danger” that Unique Theater may collapse, Salida Fire Chief Don Taylor Thursday recommended a number of F Street and First Street businesses not allow people inside until it can be stabilized.
The 118-year-old building at 129 W. First St. has been under scrutiny by Salida officials since August when a routine fire inspection and subsequent building inspection exposed problems with structural integrity of the building.
For the full piece, go to the Mountain Mail.
February 13, 2007
POMONA, CA — A 1931 Clifford Balch-designed art deco palace, the Pomona Fox Theater, has been sold by the City of Pomona to a partnership of local developers who have renovated other buildings in the city’s old downtown. The city council voted unanimously to sell the theatre to Gerald Investments Incorporated for $1.6 million.
Company representative Jerry Tessier says that work on the theater will begin within three months, and will take about nine months to complete. He hopes to have the theater opened by the end of January, 2008, so it can host the Smogdance Film Festival, a local event which left Pomona for nearby Claremont last year.
February 7, 2007
HULL, ENGLAND — The former National Picture Theatre in Hull has just been listed as a building of special historic importance by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The theatre has remained as a ruin since it was bombed in March 1941, destroying all but the facade of the 1914 bult cinema on Beverley Road. Ironically, the film being shown on that night was Charlin Chaplin in The Great Dictator.
It is hoped that the ruin will now be conserved and the former site of the auditorium opened up as a public space, it has been boarded up and unused since 1941.
For more, go to the BBC News.