Showing 20 comments
theatrefan — I had the same question as to where the theater 1 booth was. I doubt it was on the orchestra floor. It might have been at the front of the balcony, or the old booth projecting over or maybe even between 2 and 3, if there was a space between the theaters. I just don’t remember.
movieguy — I didn’t find the church people unfriendly at all — maybe just a little surprised anyone wanted to see the building. I would have liked to have seen the balcony, but I’m sure they had their reasons for keeping it off limits, like insurance. Any reluctance I had to wander the orchestra was out of respect for people there for church, not because I was stopped by anyone. I wouldn’t say the theater is “unused”. The church is using the space, which means keeping it heated and keeping the roof intact. Because of this, the theater will survive. We wouldn’t have the 175th Street if it weren’t for the late Rev. Ike.
I don’t know how the theater was quadded — I do recall the triplex which preceded it, which was quite tastefully done. They dropped a wall toward the front of the balcony and left the entire orchestra section, including the dome and stars in front of the wall, intact as theater 1. Unless you were sitting right up front and craned your head back, you didn’t see the wall, and the atmospheric effect was intact. The balcony was split right down the middle for theaters 2 and 3. I can’t remember if they dropped a false ceiling or used the original ceiling in theaters 2 and 3. So I would usually pick whatever was playing in theater 1. Loews took pretty good care of the place in the 70s.
The church website still lists the address and hours for services. I was there in August 2013, and they were quite nice about us looking around (although a pre-service prayer session started as soon as the doors opened, so we were discreet and didn’t wander too far forward in the orchestra.) The place looked good, although they wouldn’t let us up in the balcony, which is where the fire had been. I didn’t see any signs of water damage. First visit since 1979.
The Avalon will be open as part of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago on October 18 and 19, 2014: http://www.openhousechicago.org/site/396/
From the 4/2/14 NYT:
“Marc Platt, a lively and versatile dancer who had standout roles onstage and in films, including in the original 1943 Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” and as one of the virile young woodsmen seeking spouses in the 1954 film musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” died on Saturday in San Rafael, Calif. He was 100.”
“After his dancing career slowed in the 1960s, he spent eight years as the producer and director of Radio City Music Hall’s ballet troupe.”
The Patio is changing from a sub-run to a revival policy, featuring films from the 60s, 70s and 80s, starting this September. The Patio will also continue to host the Northwest Chicago Film Society.
From David Roeder’s column in today’s Sun-Times:
A buyer has emerged for the landmark New Regal Theater at 1645 E. 79th St. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has marketed the 2,250-seat auditorium for the eye-catching price of $99,000, said through spokesman Greg Hernandez that U.S. Equities Realty, its broker, has found a potential purchaser and is in the “due diligence” stage to determine if it can close a deal.
Hernandez declined further comment. The FDIC got the property through a bank failure. The last person to operate the theater was Regina Evans, the former Country Club Hills police chief, who booked some shows there but defaulted on her loans. She’s now due to be sentenced in a fraud scheme involving state job-training grants tied to the theater.
I stepped inside last Sunday, and saw the console of the Robert Morton wrapped in plastic in the lobby. I heard the organ played at a THS Conclave (can’t remember whether it was ‘76 or the '80). I know the organ is listed on several organ websites as unplayable; the recent Times article states this is due to water damage. Anybody know what’s up?
The article had a few other blows.
The Rivoli was hardly “brand-new” in 1925 when the Carrier system was installed — it was 8 years old.
And it did not have “the world’s first movie air conditioning system.” Mechanical refrigeration air-conditioning started appearing in 1917—the earliest examples cited are the Empire Theater in Montgomery, Alabama and the Balaban & Katz Central Park Theater in Chicago, both in October 1917. The early systems weren’t perfect. Humidity control and temperature wouldn’t be considered acceptable by today’s standards, and air was distributed via underseat ventilators which blew ice cold drafts over patrons' ankles. Nonetheless, B&K’s early installations at the Central Park and Riviera were hugely popular and B&K crushed their competition in summer months.
For those who are curious, Gail Cooper’s book Air Conditioned America is a good source. For a contemporary trade journal discussion of the Empire system, see http://archive.org/stream/moving34chal#page/1317/mode/1up (website address from a post by Tinseltoes on the Empire Theater page.)
This has been listed on and off for months. The update reflects that the price has been cut from $500k to $100k(!) Very sad. Property records indicate the seller is the FDIC. I haven’t been in the theater since the late 80s just after its restoration by the Gardner family, but back then it was in spectacular condition. This is a close second to the Loew’s Paradise as my favorite theater.
This was a splendid little theater. In 1979, I saw a pristine print of Orson Welles' Othello here, at a time when it was virtually impossible to see. It was on a double bill with Welles' latest, his last completed film, Filming Othello. Sadly, Welles' reputation was at its nadir then, and this historic booking got almost no press coverage.
From the Sun-Times:
No, sorry, I took no pictures. Plenty of photographers were with that group—it would be great if some pictures turned up.
Sorry to all to off topic, but the Victoria was only fairly recently closed at the time of the 1980 THS conclave, and Loew’s shuttered it without pulling any equipment or powering down. I vividly recall everyone being startled—someone had gone up to the booth and threaded up the trailer for “The Exorcist” and ran it! We also were at the now demolished Harlem Opera house—the booth was full of deteriorating nitrate trailers.
Movieplace—thanks for the memory jog—I’ve actually been to the Regent and Victoria, I believe at that great 1980 THS conclave. We may have even been to the Hamilton.
See the attached letter from Demetri Kouvalis on rogerebert.com;
It would be a shame to lose the Patio at this point. We’ve been out to see Thor, Drive, Fast Five, Crazy Stupid Love, Puss in Boots, Back to the Future, Pirates and Columbiana since the Patio reopened, and we don’t even live in Portage Park. It would be a shame to lose the theater again.
Went to Open House Chicago. The interior of the theater is in very nice shape. The projection booth is still fully equipped, with three Simplex projectors with carbon arc lamps. I wish I had brought my camera—I wasn’t expecting the booth to be so complete. If anyone has pictures, please post!
From the front page of today’s Chicago Tribune.
The FDIC (which took over the bank which held the mortgage on the Regal/Avalon) may have acquired the theater in a foreclosure sale earlier this summer. If anyone knows for sure, please post!
The Patio looked great last Friday. There was a large and appreciative crowd, and the projection and sound were excellent. The print of Thor was pristine as well—it looked brand new.
Re Warren Harris' 2/11/08 post about Judas Priest vs the Theater Historical Society Conclave: I was there and can vouch for the story. My recollection is that when we didn’t leave at JP’s first demand, they actually turned up the volume. (I’m not sure how—it was already at “11”.)
I haven’t really been following what’s been going on in Manhattan since I left in the mid 80s—the assault on the few remaining Thomas Lamb houses is disheartening. Is it possible that the only intact Lamb theaters in Manhattan are the Mark Hellinger and the 175th Street?