December 10, 2002
MILLVILLE, NJ — According to this inspiring story from Bridgeton News, teenager Samantha White has become a junior board member of the Levoy Theatre Preservation society, a group which is working to restore Millville’s classic Levoy Theatre.
White began working with the society last year, as part of her volunteer duties as a member of the Key Club at the Millville Senior High School. She was so well-recieved that the society recently made her a junior board member of their organization.
The irony of all of this is that the Levoy closed in 1974, so Samantha White never enjoyed the theater while it was still operating. However, according to the article, she’s learned a lot about the theater from conversations with her uncle.
(Thanks to Gregg Anderson for both of today’s stories.)
PORTLAND, OREGON — According to a recent article in the Oregonian, the 76 year-old Hollywood Theatre has experienced two fires in the past month, both occuring on the theater’s emergency-exit staircase, which is located at the rear of the building.
As theater manager Shannon Donaldson put it:
“Unfortunately, it’s a wonderfully perfect spot for homeless people to sleep or for kids to drink beer or for people to shoot up drugs.”
Thankfully, the fires did not seriously damage the Hollywood. Current plans call for the theater to improve lighting and security around the stairs at a cost of $25,000, which the theater expects to raise from local supporters.
December 9, 2002
MYMENSINGH, BANGLADESH — According to this BBC News report, a series of bomb blasts rocked a movie Bangladeshi theater complex on Saturday, killing 15 people and injuring over 200 others.
The blasts happened at a four-screen movie theater located in Mymensingh, a large town in northern Bangladesh. At the time of the explosion, the theater was packed with over 2000 people.
Although the cause of the blasts has not officially been determined, it is suspected that pro-Taliban radicals are most likely to blame. In the past year, nearly 100 other Bangladeshis have been killed in similar bombings.
(Thanks to UAGirl for sending in this tragic story.)
December 6, 2002
HARTFORD, CT — According to an article in the Hartford Courant, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the site of the former Colonial Theater this upcoming Wednesday, December 11.
The ceremony comes at the end of a tortured 5-year effort to find a productive use for the site. After several efforts to preserve the theater as a performing arts center, the theater was ultimately raised in 2000, athough its Greek Revival facade, which is a city landmark, was preserved.
As part of a $5 million grant to redevelop the site and nearby properties (which are part of Hartford’s West End neighborhood), a new building will be built on the Colonial’s site and will incorporate the theater’s facade.
(Thanks to Gregg Anderson for this story.)
December 5, 2002
GENEVA, IL — According to a recent article in Wednesday’s edition of the Chicaco Tribune, the Geneva Theatre, which closed in 2000, is bringing new interest in Geneva’s downtown area since its owner decided to carve the theater’s space into storefronts.
“The city was very concerned about what would happen to that location when the theater closed in 2000,” said Chris Aiston, Geneva’s economic development director. “At first, we tried to reintroduce a theater there, but we couldn’t make that work. We’re happy about how this project is turning out.”
Thankfully, unlike other theater-to-storefront alterations, the Geneva’s owners are concerned with preserving the theater’s character. $30,000 was spent on restoring the theater’s marquee, and many of the retailers have incorporated a movie motif into their interiors.
Note: registration required to view article.
STREAMWOOD, IL — In other Chicago-area theater news, the former Loews Cineplex Theatre in Streamwood, IL will be sold at auction on Dec. 19, according to an article in Tuesday’s Daily Herald.
Since the opening of a megaplex in nearby South Barrington that features stadium-style seating and enhanced sound, the Loews Cineplex has faced stiff competition for moviegoers' interest. So much so, in fact, that parent company Loews Cineplex now wishes to rid itself of the theater completely.
According to auctioneer Alan Krevts, the opening bid for the Loews Cineplex is set at $2.2 million, although it is unknown at this time how many potential buyers are interested in the property.
(Thanks to Bryan Krefft for both of today’s stories!)
December 4, 2002
SAN DIEGO, CA — As a followup to a previous story about the Balboa Theatre, Monday’s issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune took an in-depth look at both the Balboa and the California, two classic movie theaters in downtown San Diego that await restoration.
The article includes a rare photo of the California’s interior, as well as descriptions of the current state of both theaters.
(Thanks again to Gregg Anderson sending us another story!)
MENLO PARK, CA — Donald John Long is seeking classic theater lovers and preservationists in the San Francisco Bay Area who are interested in saving the Park Theater in Menlo Park.
Recently, within the past year, the Park Theater, on El Camino Real in Menlo Park, California, closed down and the property was put up for sale.
I contacted Gary Parks, and he said a developer interested in the property hired someone to destroy the theater marquee at 5 AM one morning so the theater would lose its value as a cinema showplace, thus making it easier for the developer to acquire the property to demolish or remodel the building.
Similar things have happened elsewhere many times, unfortunately. Perhaps the most famous incident was the Art Deco Pan Pacific Auditorium on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles, which had achieved historical preservation status with the city and county, but the developer hired someone under the table to torch the structure and an arsonist burnt the building down in April 1989.
Please join with me and Gary Parks, and let’s do something to save and restore this cinema treasure before it is history.
If you’re concerned about the status of the Park Theater and would like to help out on this project, you can contact Donald at .
December 3, 2002
OAKLAND, CA — The Fox Theater in Oakland, CA is about to get a huge facelift — with $750,000 allocated for the restoration of the theater’s facade — according to a new report from the Oakland Tribune.
Thanks to a $375,000 grant from the State Historical Resources Commission, along with matching Central District Redevelopment funds, the City of Oakland plans to restore the Fox’s store fronts, exterior masonry and terra cotta, and central dome.
“We’re excited the city got this grant,” said Gary Knecht, spokesman for the Friends of the Fox. “Even though we don’t know how or when the theater will actually be used again, we would like to hope that this incredible public treasure might be open for public tours within about a year, so that the people of Oakland can begin to realize what a valuable resource it is. We’re working hard to celebrate a grand reopening of the theater sometime before the end of the decade.”
In an earlier 2001 restoration, the Fox Theater’s marquee and blade sign were restored and relit at a cost of $650,000, thanks to the efforts of Friends of the Oakland Fox and the Wagner Sign Company.
The winning plan from Centre City Development Corp., which was approved by unanimous vote, beat out a competing plan from the Theater Now company, which had proposed to buy the Balboa from the San Diego for $1 and renovate the theater using private funds.
As a result of this approval, the Centre City Development Corp. (which serves as San Diego’s downtown redevelopment arm) plans to present a detailed business plan to the City Council, with hopes of beginning construction in 2004.
(Thanks to our friend Gregg Anderson at the American Diner Museum for both of today’s stories.)