Comments from BradHarlan

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BradHarlan commented about Cinema 3 on Apr 15, 2008 at 4:10 am

Cinema 3 was located in the former PepsiCola bottling building, a building still extant, but for which the clock is ticking, I understand. The photo posted by Lost Memory is actually what remains of the El Rancho Theatre, which had the most amazing marquee and blade sign you’ve ever seen…all split timbers, and a multi-color New Mexico “zia” symbol in neon underneath. (Lost, I have a black-and-white [poor] picture of it if you’d care to post it.) The Luna was located directly across the street from the El Rancho. It was torn down in the 70s. The Mimbres Drive-In was on the east side of town, and nothing to write home about. :–)

I wish I could remember the name of the theatre chain. It was quite prominent in New Mexico, but I just can’t recall it.

The only reason I know this much is because I grew up in Deming and still go back every year.

BradHarlan commented about Joseph H. Lebowsky Center on Feb 14, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Just heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all of those dedicated volunteers.

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Jun 10, 2005 at 2:02 am

Exciting times yesterday and today. Progress is being made again on opening the stenciling on the vaulted ceiling of the mezzanine. Truly amazing patterns, and surprisingly well-preserved under the layer of blah white paint.

Just as exciting is the installation of new atmospheric lighting in the auditorium! Using LED light bars, the original lighting patterns can be generated once again, at a tiny percentage of the power usage it took when the theatre originally opened. My favorite pattern so far is a “sunset” behind the proscenium arch, an effect we know is original to the theatre by the placement of the colored bulbs behind the false front.

By the way, Tom DeLay played the Wurlitzer for my 50th birthday party. He may not be comfortable with playing in public, but he sure is good at it!

BradHarlan commented about Garland Theater on May 9, 2005 at 2:09 am

I managed (barely) to get through, but this website is a mess. It’s too bad, because the pix I saw are stunning. Love to see this theatre in person!

Too many applets!

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Apr 28, 2005 at 4:27 am

Thank YOU for the kind comments, David! We’re all very excited about GWTW this weekend. Tickets have been selling at a healthy clip for both shows.

The big news today is the installation of the new loge seating…very cushy and plush. Next on the seating agenda: refurbishment of the upper balcony seats, which came from the long-ago Carmel Theatre in Carmel-by-the-Sea. New seat buckets and reupholstered backs are on the docket. When the upper balcony rows are filled in, seating capacity of the theatre will be just shy of 1,000.

Fun thing: many moons ago, the indirect niche lighting in the auditorium was softened by milk glass panels in each of the small window openings. Guess what? In most cases, the milk glass was still there, but so filthy that no light was shining through. A couple of members of the restoration gang have removed, SCRUBBED and replaced all those they could reach, and the effect is breathtaking. It really highlights the openings without the extra light being offensive.

Another fun thing: the large urns above each of the balcony exits have been backed by plywood since time immemorial. Tom discovered that these, too, were originally backed by milk glass sheets measuring about two feet by three feet! This would illuminate the urns in silhouette. While none of us want to handle glass sheets that large, the plywood will be replaced by white lucite, giving the same effect without the weight or the danger. Can’t wait!

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Mar 14, 2005 at 2:15 am

The pipe organ artistry, and composition and conducting skills, of Mr. Robert Israel were well-evident this last Friday as he and the all-female Golden State Theatre Orchestra performed for the screening of Harold Lloyd’s “Grandma’s Boy” at GST. An enthusiastic crowd of 600 attended this latest “work in progress” as restoration continues. A definitive calendar of events will be forthcoming on, so remember to check there for details. Better yet, sign up online for email updates!

The next major step…loge seating. The floor in this portion of the balcony has been reclad and carpeted…truly stunning.

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Feb 21, 2005 at 3:14 am

Thanks for correcting the theatre’s name!

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Feb 20, 2005 at 1:46 am

Pardon me while I gloat. For all practical purposes, the lobby is DONE! Carpet is in, plaster baseboards are repainted in the original forest green, all ornament is clean, and velvet drapes have been hung in the storage space opening behind the late-but-not-lamented 1970s concession stand. This wall will eventually be restored to its original appearance, but that will require a permit, which is a ways down the road.

(Baseboards note: These baseboards have been four different colors…white, red (!), pale green and forest green. I think I also saw yellow (!!) but I won’t swear to it.)

With the ticket counter and the aforementioned concession counter gone, the lobby is huge, and the original three spaces are now very evident…vestibule, grand lobby and inner lobby. The new carpet pattern, much like the 1934 version, increases the perception of space. The new reproduction furniture looks right at home.

And I vacuumed that space today. I’ll never gripe about vacuuming my own home again!

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Feb 12, 2005 at 2:52 am

Change o' plans. The show will be March 11, and the title is Lloyd’s “Grandma’s Boy” with a 20-piece orchestra AND the Mighty Wurlitzer!

Amazing discovery department: while workers were restringing security camera cables, they discovered that the original lobby walls and ceiling are still intact! They’ve been photographed, and the 1926 design, while interesting, is nothing to write home about…really very plain and dungeon-like. One theory is that when the Golden State Theatre chain built Reid Bros.‘ Merced Theatre, the chain owners were so taken with the lobby design of the Merced that they decided to replicate it in Monterey’s Golden State. This 1934 remodel removed about a foot of width from the lobby and about three feet of height…and saved a ton of cleanup!

It appears that the theatre’s original seat annunciator and in-house telephone systems may still be intact! More on those if discoveries warrant.

Carpet installation continues, and the meticulous pattern matching is well worth the time. Gorgeous!

The staff of the Golden State Theatre is preparing to launch a new website. I’ve seen the prototype and it’s beautiful. I’ll post the address here as soon as it’s completed.

New 4K lamp housings are now operational and the new giant screen has been flown.

Now, how does one change this listing’s title from “State Theatre” to “Golden State Theatre”?

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Feb 6, 2005 at 6:36 am

EverGreene Studios completed the restoration/preservation of the Golden State’s lobby beams and ceiling today! Exciting note: those of us who have volunteered at the theatre for the past umpteen years could see ghosts of stenciling on the flat panels between the beams. EverGreene opened one of these, and they were stunning. So the theatre’s new owner, Warren Dewey, contracted with the studio to reproduce all seven of these giants as an add-on to the project, and they’re probably being applied even as I write this! Whatta guy!

Two of our volunteers have opened the original design in the four balcony “window” niches. They are paintings of highly detailed roman shades, raised about 1/3 of the way up from the “sill” of the niche. One is completed; three to go.

The new carpet has FINALLY arrived, and installation begins Monday.

Next show: Robert Israel on the Mighty Wurlitzer for Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” on March 12.

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Jan 25, 2005 at 7:43 pm

The traveling exhibition of Murnau’s silent classic “Faust” was a triumph. The evening featured the live original score by Gatto Marte ( and the performance was both a sellout and a knockout. This was due in part to the new larger screen and the ultra-brilliant 4K projector lamp housings. Of additional interest was the debut of one of the three electrical lighting circuits (amber) powering the atmospheric coves, so all were illuminated for the first time in about 25 years.

The crew from Evergreene Studios continues its restoration of the water-damaged lobby beam stencils, and the new carpeting is being installed this week.

Of particular note in the world of movie palace entertainment is that I will celebrate my 50th birthday at the Golden State in March! ;–)

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Jan 8, 2005 at 2:02 am

New Year’s Eve was HUGE. More than 4,000 people looked through the building and/or stayed for classic cartoons, the mighty WurlitZer, and live stage entertainment. The new seats were very well received, as was the restoration to date.

Sweet story: the new owner was conversing with a local woman, and he introduced me as one of the painting volunteers. She turned to me, and on the verge of tears said, “I can’t thank you enough. I remember leaning back in my seat when I was a little girl and pretending I was in a castle.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, made the last 10 years of work well worth while!

Next on the to-do list: carpet replacement (on the looms as I write this); loge seat replacement (after the new carpet is installed) and restoration of the atmospheric cove lighting (already in progress.)

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Dec 14, 2004 at 5:05 am

December 13, 2004 update:

Evidently the previous owners of the theatre were sold a bill of goods by a company that swore they could reduce the various aromas in the building by putting DIRT under the wooden floor. We discovered enough soil to farm beans. Two brave, thin young men crawled into the space beneath the wooden floor and shoveled out yards of the stuff. The difference in the atmosphere of the building is amazing! It still smells old, but it no longer smells musty. Very refreshing.

In other news, a new top layer of finished birch plywood has been applied to the existing floor and painted. New design discoveries have been made in various niches and coves and are in the process of being uncovered and restored. The original exhaust fans, disconnected for years or blocked entirely by the balcony theatres, have been found to be in working condition and are pumping fresh air through the building for the first time in almost three decades. New carpet has been ordered. Gold washing of the walls in the lobby and on the mezzanine is nearly completed. A water pipe which came out of the auditorium floor and snaked over the orchestra pit wall was replumbed today…UNDER the floor, where it belongs.

And the best news? The new main floor seats arrive TOMORROW and they are SPECTACULAR!

Join us for a sneak preview New Year’s Eve!

BradHarlan commented about Golden State Theatre on Nov 14, 2004 at 4:10 am

UPDATE: All traces of the balcony theatres are now gone, including the floor platforms. All main floor seats are removed. Restoration painting continues. (If anyone has info on how to remove “acoustical sealant” easily, post it here! We’ve tried everything from canned air to olive oil!) Grand piano has taken residence on the mezzanine. Eight-foot lobby chandelier is being repaired. Original balcony chandeliers have been purchased from a sympathetic collector. Reproduction lobby furniture and lighting has been purchased. Several local musical groups have already asked to use the stage for rehearsals, so the new owner ordered music stands for them, and they arrived today! 70s lobby ticket booth has been demolished. Electrician has been hired and was on-site today. Think good thoughts for him :–)

BradHarlan commented about Monterey's State Theatre Being Sold on Oct 17, 2004 at 7:18 pm

I’ve been out of town for two weeks, and the changes wrought in the meantime are stunning. The first of the two balcony theatres is almost completely dismantled, and the back row of the upper balcony now shows the excellent sight lines the original configuration afforded. Carpet selection is being made, “new” lobby furniture has been bought, and the original balcony chandeliers have been purchased from a preservationist and await refurbishment. (Iron and mica: beautiful!)
The 1970s lobby box office has been demolished, new seats for the ground floor have been located, and city officials have already been taken on a tour to rave reviews.

I hope Monterey knows how lucky it is to have a sensitive and dedicated private owner bring back the Golden State Theatre to its rightful place as a community performing arts center!