March 26, 2007
ROANOKE, VA — Today, the Grandin Theatre celebrates 75 years of service. Operating as a nonprofit theater since reopening following a restoration five years ago, the Grandin is delighting audiences to this day.
The Grandin Theatre, which turns 75 on Monday, is a relic of Roanoke’s golden age of theaters, when movie palaces such as the American Theater on Jefferson Street were a source of city pride. Roanoke had as many as 11 downtown movie houses in the early decades of the 20th century.
All of them — the American, the Jefferson, the Park, the Rialto, the Roanoke and the rest — have since fallen under the wrecking ball. The Grandin, despite many a twist and turn in its long history, has survived.
For more along with a detailed look at some of the highlights in its 75 years, visit the Roanoke Times.
March 20, 2007
OWOSSO, MI— The Owosso Community Players, owners of the fire-damaged Lebowsky Center are in talks with architectural firms about how the theater can be rebuilt. The architects being consulted are touring the burned out theater and will consult with engineers about which parts of the building can be saved. When the OCP receive the reports listing what parts of the theater can be saved, they can then solicit bids to rebuild the theater.
Meanwhile, an Owosso building inspector has indicated that the Lebowsky Center is in no danger of collapsing so the OCP is no longer under pressure to do something about the building quickly and is giving the OCP time to determine what can be rebuilt. Park Street alongside the Lebowsky Center is now partially open with one northbound lane.
March 16, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Live Nation is still mulling over their options for the vacant Boyd Theatre. Obviously, a return to its former glory as a movie palace would be great, but other options are on the table.
The owners of the Boyd, mothballed since 2002, confirmed last week that they were weighing its conversion into a House of Blues, a pop-music venue.
“The two most likely scenarios are a House of Blues or a sale, and we’re open to other options,” said John Vlautin, a spokesman for concert promoter Live Nation, owner of House of Blues, by phone from Beverly Hills, Calif. In January, Live Nation listed the property with CB Richard Ellis. Neither would discuss the asking price.
For more, go to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
MANCHESTER, UK — I have decided to make available a free WMV version of my Essoldo Cinema Video Tour. You can even download it if you want to! The DVD version (higher quality) is still available to purchase online.
The following links will take you to the movie:–
BEACONSFIELD, UK — The Chiltern Cinema, former Picture House is up for a Grade II listing. This is after a recent scare of developers to demolish the cinema to make way for a new block of flats (haven’t we seen that all before?). The Grade II listing would ensure that the Cinema continues its life as a preserved building of architectural interest.
March 14, 2007
OWOSSO, MI — While test results are still pending, fire investigators believe the fire which destroyed the Lebowsky Center was deliberately set.
Reward posters have been placed on the theater offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction on arson charges.
The Owosso Community Players have 15 days to demolish the portions of the theater deemed unsafe, particularly the sagging east and west walls.
March 13, 2007
BROOKLYN, NY — Not much news on the future of the Loew’s Kings. Proposals have been received for its future but nothing more. However, the article does go in detail into the genesis of the term, “wonder theater.”
Last fall, the New York City Economic Development Corporation asked for suggestions from developers on what to do with the Kings. Andrew Brent, a spokesman for the agency, will say only that more than one proposal has been received and that the city will try to move beyond the initial stage of the project later this spring. In its solicitation, the city noted that the building had suffered “substantial damage and deterioration.” For instance, the roofs over its retail spaces have collapsed.
What distinguished the five wonder theaters from the other Loew’s picture palaces was never really clear. Indeed, a 1930 ad in The New York Times included the Loew’s Pitkin, also in Brooklyn, as one of its “Big 5 Wonder Theaters” although theater-history buffs do not include it on their lists.
To read the full article, go to the New York Times(reg rq'rd)
March 9, 2007
BALTIMORE, MD — With the fight over to prevent an auction, measures are now being taken to ensure the Senator Theatre’s future through landmarking.
Alarmed by The Senator Theatre’s close call with the auction block last month, Baltimore’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) voted unanimously… to recommend to the City Council that the 67-year-old Art Deco building be designated a landmark.
The commission voted also to write a letter to the City Council urging it to support the Senator’s continued existence as a first-run movie theater. The Senator is the last single-screen movie house in Baltimore, which once had more than 175.
The Full Article is available from theBaltimore Sun.
March 8, 2007
OWOSSO, MI — In researching my article about the Capitol Theatre/Lebowski/Lebowsky Center, I found some vintage photos of the theater’s front facade. One is a 1948 photo of the Capitol Theatre, before it was renovated in 1952. The 1952 marquee fabricated by the Long Sign Company of Detroit had horizontal neon letters spelling out “CAPITOL” mounted on top of each side of the marquee.
Another is a 1986 photo taken shortly after a church took over the theater and was given the “Lebowski” name with the “CAPITOL” neon letters removed. After the Lebowsky family foreclosed on the church and the Owosso Community Players took it over, the Lebowsky spelling was changed.
March 6, 2007
Preservation Texas has included Historic Small Town Theaters on its 2007 Most Endangered List. The Austin-based advocacy group included theaters such as the Palace Theater in Brady, McCulloch County, as part of a 12-site list that seeks to focus attention and resources on disappearing and endangered historical assets. And though Houston is not necessarily a small town, the list placed emphasis on the River Oaks and Alabama Theaters, which are endangered by redevelopment.
“Historic theaters deserve an encore as part of Main Street developments that are revitalizing small towns and it is important that they are protected and restored instead of demolished,” stated a February news release from Preservation Texas.
For more information, go to Preservation Texas.