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Can anyone tell me if the chandelier shown in the Gothamist photo set is original to the auditorium? I’ve never seen an atmospheric design with a chandelier hanging from the “sky” before.
My question is: how many venues can you have? They just finished renovating the Kings, now they are talking about renovating the Brooklyn Paramount, and they did a great job on the Paradise only to decide after a few years that it was more lucrative leasing it to Creflo Dollar.
If they do spend top dollar on a renovation I just hope the Jersey doesn’t end up being a millstone.
I’ve heard the steel support work at the Jersey is too far gone to reinstall their vertical sign at present. I suppose that might be one positive thing to come from a big time company taking over, though I don’t generally care for the idea. I wonder what condition the support structure at the Kings is in?
I guess they need the prop clouds for the orchestra. But I don’t like the way they look. Wish they could find another way.
News report after collapse:
Apparently it was due to illegal scrappers.
So much for that:
But then, realistically it was probably done for years ago.
I know what you mean Mike. That terra cotta makes a really nice presentation. But the Kings doesn’t feel finished without a vertical sign.
MarkDHite: They can take it all the way back to 1928 if they want to. If they were willing to spend the money they could make every detail look like opening day. It’ll be interesting to watch the situation develop.
They spent so many millions on this (and it looks great, I’m not complaining). But after all that why not spend a little more to put in a new vertical marquee? Does anyone know the story behind that?
Modern photos here:
That’s quite a fundraising drive they pulled together.
I’ve been wondering what would happen to the Belpark. It’s been Golden Tiara for so long, it just seemed like the average run of a Chicago business meant change was coming.
I really don’t understand why the two can’t coexist. Both bring something to the table. And anyway, it seems like these places are never booked as much as officials promised after the restoration is complete. So it is likely there would be plenty of time for silent movies and community events.
The posting kind of puts them on the same level. But the New Regal is in far better shape, having been restored in the 80’s. The Central Park, from what I’ve seen, is kind of a disaster on the inside.
After closing as the Oakland Square, the theater was known for a while as the Afro-Arts.
Photo of it as the Afro-Arts in this article:
The opening description for this theater also needs to be amended. This was far more than a hangout for gang members. As the “El Rukn Fort” it was on the evening news frequently in the 1980’s. Documentary here:
The El Rukn leader attempted to make a terrorism deal with Libya and ended up locked in Supermax somewhere.
As negative as it all is, this is a large chapter in Chicago’s history.
The description says it was divided in 1990. I think it was later. I remember seeing a screening of the Blade Runner Director’s Cut there, and I’m sure it wasn’t until around 1994-5. It was still a single screen.
If someone wanted to take the time, I’m sure the Historical Aerials web site could help clarify this point. That assumes they have coverage of Mobile.
$100,000 isn’t much money for such a big real estate deal. That’s not a positive sign.
And I really don’t understand why so much money was used to build a new Black performing arts center on the site of the old Regal Theater. The timing of the project was horrible, as both performing arts and film presentation aren’t what they used to be, and it created competition for the New Regal after so much money was spent to make it beautiful again. Neither facility has fared well:
I hope there is a good ending to all this. But right now I don’t see it.
In response to WayOutWardell:
It costs truckloads of money to maintain one of these big places: heating, cooling, electrical bill, cleaning, taxes, building maintenance, staffing, etc. The Tivoli might not have been completely dead in the water business-wise. But Balaban & Katz was a well-run company. For what they saw coming back it might not have been worth further investment. They put considerable money into the building in the 50’s and were apparently not satisfied with the return on investment.
If the decision to close and demolish was sudden it may be because a big repair came up, like maybe a problem with the boilers, and they opted to get out instead. The building was about forty years old at the time.
I’ll give you a modern-day example. John Barleycorn, a bar which has been on Lincoln Avenue for many years, just closed. When Crain’s talked to the owner he blamed it on nearby Children’s Memorial Hospital moving downtown. He said business wasn’t in the tank. But it wasn’t nearly as lucrative as it had been with so many employees working right next door. He said it would take a few years for them to re-purpose the property and he didn’t want to wait around. He has other business ventures and decided this one wasn’t the best use of his capital.
Kind of sounds like someone got bribed. On the other hand the city is really hard up for cash right now. They may be doing anything they can to get money in the door. Whatever the case, the Jefferson Park Police Commander doesn’t sound like he’s in the mood to take any crap.
I think it could be restored. Some really devastated buildings have been made beautiful again. The restoration would also pump a lot of money into the economy through the contractors. The question is what then?
From what I read in the comments marquee replacement went against local and national opinion, and I personally don’t think it is an improvement. It’s the Windows 8 style of management: 1) Give Windows 8 to focus groups. 2) Focus groups all say they hate it but Windows 8 is released anyway. 3) Windows 8 bombs in the marketplace. But they don’t fix the consumer complaints with an update and continue to try to force it on people as is. This kind of thing always baffles me, especially in the case of the Virginia where it involves a taxpayer-funded organization. In Microsoft’s case they will pay the price with continued poor sales if they don’t give the people what they want. I’m not sure how it shakes out in Champaign, except possibly at the election booth.
You would think if it was featured in a WWII documentary that it was operating after 1930, despite what the description above says.
Photos of the Pike Theater can be seen in Ken Burns' WW II documentary “The War”.
Per second link above, address may have been 234 E. Main Street.
Vintage photograph: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30559980@N07/9394301449/