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Was the new seating installed on the original sloped floor, or have the auditoriums been converted to stadium seating?
Under the photo tab on this page, the second pic from the left – looks mostly demolished to to me. While another theatre may be built on that site, the building that closed in December 2011 is, for the most part, gone.
BTW, based on the previously mentioned photo, the status of this theatre should be changed to ‘Demolished’.
I’m surprised that nobody has commented on the photo added Aug. 13, showing that the Avco Center Cinema has nearly vanished from the face of the earth. So much for the alleged conversion that was supposed to save it.
Joe, what did it in, lease expiration or DLP conversion feasibility?
The last permit issued by the DoB was for conversion from a theater to retail store, dated 11/05/2004. I don’t know if the permit expires at some point if work has not commenced, but it would be uncharacteristic of the city to leave something like this open-ended.
I was never in the Plaza. By the time I came to Cinema 5 “The Queen” (aka Alexandra) was reigning there. OMG the stories about her! She claimed Mr. Rugoff gave her a lifetime contract to manage the Plaza. Ass’t mgrs had a shelf life of a week, new floor staff about a day. By all accounts she was a terror so I steered clear of the place because I was new and needed my job, although I really wanted to see the inside of it. She lived over near the Beekman somewhere, and she always had the armed Burns guard walk her home at night because she thought one or all of the ass’t mgrs or staff members that she fired would kill her on the street. An older woman usher at C I&II, a very nice pleasant lady who never had anything bad to say about anybody, was sent over there to be the assistant. After two days she came back boiling mad, slamming doors, and using some very colorful language to recount her adventure at the Plaza and exactly what she thought of Miss J. – we’d never seen her in such a state. needless to say, she did not return there.
I worked at Cinema 5/City Cinemas from 84 to 94. Mr. Marks was not there when I was. I went to Loews in 94. Did you know Gene Shafran, an Austrian guy who would mumble to himself in German? He was a manager at the Plaza at one time. When I started at Cinema I-II in 84 he was a part-time mgr there, Tue & Thur evenings. During the day he worked at Saks. He had plenty of stories about the Plaza, where he met and was supposedly tight with John Cassavetes, Gena Rowland and Peter Falk.
There are a million stories from all these theaters – I once worked with a cashier who always said “With all the stories that go through this place I ought to write a book!” I think a book could be written about every theatre, but who would read them other than us?
Arthur Marks was the Managing Director at Loews 84th. You could set your watch to his routine, and one day in the fall of 1995 he failed to show up at the theatre. The police were sent to his apartment and found him, he had passed away from a heart attack. Prior to 84th St. he worked at Loews Ridgefield Park over in Jersey. Prior to that, he owned a sports bar on 3rd Av-34th St. That business failed and he came to Loews. I didn’t know he worked for Rugoff, or maybe i did and forgot. And yes he was very tall but was haunched over a little. In his youth he played basketball for Tulane. And huge shoes – once when I came to work evening shift and he had opened the theatre in the morning, I rushed up to the boxoffice and asked the cashier, with an urgent tone, “did Mr. Marks come in today?” She said yes of course. I said “thank God – i was worried – last night when I was going home I saw a tugboat pushing one of his shoes down the East River!” He put up a gruff facade, but once you got to know him he was a nice guy, as long as you did your work, that is. He didn’t put up with a lot of nonsense from the people at the home office, either. His demeanor actually scared a number of them.
I worked there before the 1988 renovation, during the renovation through to the re-opening. Before the renovation Cinema I had 700 seats, Cinema II had 291. During the renovation, once the new seats were installed I counted them to compare with the purchase order and invoice and to have the DoB occupancy signs made up. C1 was 532; C2 was 290; C3 was 165; an additional 49 seats (5%) in spare parts, for a total of 1036 seats. Those were the accurate counts at that time. In the 25 years since then, the place could have been re-seated once or twice with different size seats. If they are the same seats, and I hope they are not, they are probably canibalizing seats up front or against the walls for parts to repair broken seats in prime areas. I haven’t been in there in almost 20 years so anything is possible.
The third cinema was created by removing the front six rows of seats in Cinema I and moving the screen forward, then squeezing some seats, projector and screen into the resulting space. Prior to the reconfiguration Cinema I had 700 seats; afterwards there were 532, and 165 in the added cinema, a loss of only three seats from the original capacity. The addition of that third cinema and combining the street level lobbies destroyed whatever prestige (real or perceived) that the place had. All it really needed was sprucing up with new seats, carpet and wall covering.
That’s not smoke, it’s dirt/dust that gets blown out of the heating-air conditioning vents. I’m sure the precarious location prevents the area from being cleaned regularly.
Once Pathe exited the theatre at 4 W58 it went to Loews and was re-named Fine Arts, but the Loews name was never on the sign, unlike every other Loews theatre in the history of the world.
Al, that zoning restriction did indeed apply, but I don’t think Pathe was aware of it at the time. They knew of its past as a theatre, which is why they inquired about it.
Once Pathé Cinema lost the lease on the Paris Theatre in 1990 they were interested in re-opening elsewhere and looked into this former Reade house. It had been converted into the chapel but appeared to be unused, windows filthy, trash accumulating in front of the entrance. Inquiries were made but the Archdiocese of New York was not interested in giving the place up. Early in 1991 Pathé Cinema went through bankruptcy reorganization and lost interest in pursuing a New York location. If the stars and planets had lined differently it’s possible that the former Fine Arts Theatre at 128 E58 would have been renamed Paris after the former Paris Theatre at 4 W58 had been renamed Fine Arts.
It’s an empty lot now. Change status to demolished.
Does anybody remember the little Walter Reade art house that was on 58th St. btwn Lexington and Park, mid-block on the south side of the street? I can’t remember the name of it, and I want to look it up here on CT. At the time that Pathé Cinema lost the lease on the Paris Theatre in the early 90s they looked at this former Reade house as a place to possibly relocate to. It was then being used as a chapel by the Archdiocese of New York, and they weren’t interested in giving it up. Today I think there is a Subway sandwich shop in there.
As I recall, the original projection/sound package we bought for the new 7-plex included Simplex 35/70mm machines in the main house and the largest house in the cellar, along with the 6-channel mag stereo Dolby processors, I don’t think digital had made its debut yet. The other 5 screens had Simplex 35mm machines and 4-channel Dolby processors. Plus, we got one professional grade 16mm machine with xenon lamp, I don’t recall the brand, that was set up to interface with the automation and audio systems in at least 2, if not all the screens in the cellar. Ralph Donnelly was booking the place at the time, and he made the rounds at Cannes and other prominent film festivals, and several times came back with a low-budget independent film that he thought was promising but had only 16mm prints.
In the description on the title page for this theatre, I’m not sure that the statement “…the empty building was destroyed by fire…” is entirely accurate. I have heard news reports stating that the fire damage was largely confined to the lobby, with smoke damage throughout the rest of the building, including the two adjoining stores. Other reports that the damage estimate is $750K. In any case, the building is still standing and the roof appears to be intact. As I recall, the lobby had been “redecorated” with wood paneling on the walls, the type you would have put in your finished basement in the 1970s, those thin 4'x8' sheets.
The Parma Theatre is on fire at this moment!
(article from WOIO Channel 19 news below)
Parma Theater Fire: Historic landmark goes up in flames
Posted: Nov 16, 2012 5:10 PM EST Updated: Nov 16, 2012 5:29 PM EST
PARMA, OH (WOIO) –
The Parma Fire Department is on the scene at 5826 Ridge Road at the Parma Theater fighting a huge fire.
The Parma Theater was closed about 2 months.
Parma Theater opened in 1936 and is one of the oldest theaters in the neighborhood. It closed on Labor Day of this year.
There is no information about the cause of the fire at this time or if anyone was injured.
Copyright 2012 WOIO. All rights reserved.
The Cinema I Cinema II has made it to the 50 year mark. Considering who has been running the place for the last 18 years I’d say that is quite an accomplishment. It’s too bad such a milestone has gone unnoticed.
Goodbye to an icon in Parma: Sun News editorialPublished: Thursday, August 30, 2012, 11:29 AMSun News staff By Sun News staff
Another sad reminder of the passage of time and the softness of the economy hits home this week as we learn the Parma Theater will shut down for good shortly after Labor Day.
For lots of Parma residents, watching animated classics and favorite childhood films on the enormous screen while seated in plush seats with a treat from the concession stand is a treasured memory. But the reality is we did not continue those weekly pilgrimages to that movie palace, nor did we take our children there on a regular basis in enough numbers to keep the theater afloat.
Viewing habits changed. Multiplexes with about as much charm as tiny warehouses sprang up to push the beautiful movie theaters out of the picture. In-home movie services and gigantic TV screens now are encroaching on that experience, and it seems families are abandoning the movie theater experience altogether and hunkering down in their own family rooms and living rooms to watch films.
The scenario has played out in other cities, where old, art deco movie houses limp along until the owner simply has to throw in the towel. There are sudden spurts of activity from nostalgic residents who suddenly look for ways to save the structures as community assets; architecturally important and significant in the fabric of the community. But after a flurry of concern and calls for saving the theater, what tends to play out is what was recently seen in Lakewood: The theater is razed and a fast-food restaurant is building on the site.
Without patrons, these theaters cannot make it.
Owner Norman Barr told the Sun Post he held out as long as he could. He has been looking for a buyer for five years. Here’s hoping a potential buyer with some creative, workable ideas for such a property steps forward. The city administration and city council should get proactive in helping market the high-traffic site at 5826 Ridge Road. But there is no question the challenge is great.
Meanwhile, we find ourselves saying goodbye to an icon of the community. We might not have supported it enough in recent years, but we wanted to know it was there; an anchor in our town that connected us to our past and to each other. But the passage of time has no respect for that sort of thing, and in the end, it is time that wins.
Parma Theater will close in September, owner says
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 11:14 AM Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 11:21 AM
Bob Sandrick, Sun News By Bob Sandrick, Sun News
PARMA Parma Theater, which has struggled financially in recent years, will probably close for good in September.
The news came earlier this week from Norman Barr, owner of the theater, which is at 5826 Ridge Road.
“We held out as long as we could,” Barr told the Sun Post.
Barr said the theater will probably close Monday, which is Labor Day. However, he said he may keep the theater open another week.
Barr said he is closing Parma Theater partly because he has been trying to sell it for more than five years.
Kelly & Visconsi Associates LLC, a commercial real estate firm in Beachwood, has been marketing the property for Barr.
Barr said he has not reached a deal with a buyer. He said there has only been “general talk” among those interested in purchasing the theater.
Barr said he is closing the theater also due to slipping attendance. Late last year, the theater cut back on show times and started showing movies only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Parma Theater is one of the region’s oldest movie houses.
According to “Parma,” a pictorial history of the city by Diana Eid, Parma Theater opened in 1936 as a one-screen theater with about 1,500 seats.
Barr had also owned Detroit Twin Theater, another old movie theater in Lakewood. He sold that theater and it closed in January 2011. McDonald’s is now building a restaurant on the site.
Barr said there are no firm plans for the Parma Theater site but he believes it might be redeveloped.
“That is probably what will happen,” Barr said.
Councilwoman Debbie Lime, whose Ward 2 encompasses the theater, said she was sad to hear about the closing.
“It’s a big piece of the community,” Lime said. “I’d like to see what we can do to save it.”
For those associated with the Cinema from way back in the early years: Mr. Ray Stibich, evening manager for many years, has passed away in Florida. Services in Ohio. Obit in the PD 2/23&24/2012 for further info.