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What a bunch of freakin crap….“closeing it for the good of the community” get real. I am restoring a closed theatre in Washington, N.J. and it had been down for 5 years with no heat and a leaking roof. Its coming back and there is always a way to preserve and restore.
With an achitect like Ebereson, someone should make sure they don’t take it down stupidly. Sounds like some political dealings are at work.
Just wanted to wish you guys good luck. I am actually restoring another “Washington Theatre” in my hometown of Washington, New Jersey.
Maybe we will have to trade some large photos of our theatres…lol.
When it opened in Jan of 1927, it was called “The Washington”
Looks like the Washington Theatre is going to re-open once again.
The current website is www.thewashingtontheatre.com
I’ve seen lots of activity recently and its great to see the old building being utilized again.
I like the faded shot of the United Artists marquee. Let me know when you may go on tour so that I could arrange for you to display your work:
Wow that is one amazing theatre, pretty interesting how the Brenkert machine displayed all those effects. Too bad theatres of today dont have such a a unique appeal like the Waikiki. Why cant it remain viable to stay in business ??? With all the musicians and actors out there flaunting there fabulous lifestyles, its hard to imagine some of them dont get involved in restoring these landmarks…
Has anyone ever had to replace a leaking oil tank and is oil still good if it has not been used in three years ???
Those murals are pretty cool, along with that etched glass design. Hope you all have the best of times there.
How much was the total conversion and installation ????
Should I plan on 20-$30,000. for this project Ian ???
A really good classic film thats seniors would enjoy also is the 1932 release, “The Hurricane.” That was some piture for its day and it had great effects.
Thankx for the info fellas. The theatre is twinned and seats about 450 total. Its was built in 1926. It did run by oil and forced air along with a chiller unit outside of the building. The tanks have been removed and I now must use another alternative. I do have a heating contractor working on some ideas for cost and they will be visiting the theatre shortly. The existing oil furnace is a Wells McCain, installed in 1991. It put out 9 gallons an hour and 1,004,000 btu’s. Its pretty big and two huge blowers force the air. The current idea was to install two gas units to minimize the cost and efficiency of usage. I did like the idea of using a boiler for the job if possible.
Anthing else you can suggest I am all ears…lol.
The Washington Theatre also had a huge Robert Morton organ installed on the left side originally. Never found out what happened to it and the beautiful gold organ grills and pillars were destroyed when it was twinned.
so is this theatre still abandoned…how big is the town its in ??? and what is the inside like ???
That is one awesome theatre, I really love the egyptian styled themes back then. That piece above the procenium is really cool, so glad to see it has been restored. Does anyone know if the restoration effort was done by owners or through grants issued to a non profit orginization. Good Luck….
I see that you work in film, very interesting, pass along your e:mail address and I will follow up with you.
The construction of the Washington Theatre began in April of 1926, under the supervision of architect James Lyons of Morristown. He sold the half finished building to film pioneer John Taylor Howell of Dover, who had ran the Bon-Ton theatre and Dover playhouse as well. He used to traveled by horse and carriage with his wife Clara, showing movies he bought from the companies at that time. They finally settled at “The Washington” as it was called back then and opened it on January 24th 1927.
Films were projected by Simplex motors and Brenkert carbon-arc housings, it was known to seat 1000 and reports state that many attended the opening night festivities with lines reaching two blocks away. The interior design was done by Mrs Howell, and the first silent film shown was the “Music Master” by David Belasco. The original “silver screen” was painted on the back wall behind the stage.
Other noted events were “Wings” and “Ben-Hur” accompanied by a big New York City orchestra. The “Washingon” started showing talkies in 1929, wired for sound by George Miller, who was the sole mechanic. He laughed, recalling how the theatre booked the 30 piece “Singer” Midget Circus, complete with a jazz band and 3 jumbo elephants, back in 1935. Many vaudeville acts appeared, about 4 acts per night and admission was 15 cents for the orchestra and 35 cents for the loge.
The original marquee was a “french curve” design that changed to an aluminum neon-style sometime in the later 30s or the early 40s. By the mid-70s, it was changed to the “Washington Twin Cinema” and the 32 foot wide dome ceiling and orante plasterwork and decorative frieze was covered up. This era became viable for many years, and many (3D) films appeared in the 80s. By 1997 the business closed and George Miller was still there after 70 years of dedicated service.
Soon after, a local community arts group came together to reopen the building for films and shows, with the intent to restore it. Their plans fell short by not securing enough funds needed for a long term purchase.
It was taken over by “Galaxy Theatres” who renovated and re-opened the building in the fall of 1998 showing “Practical Magic and "Bride of Chucky” Soon after, they converted the two storefronts into small screening rooms and eventually recieved heavy fines for working without permits and failure to meet codes. The theatre closed again in 2001 and now sits vacant with a legacy of entertainment waiting inside.
Oh yeah, I also noticed the roof looks like it is different, like a vaulted style that seems to form an angle at the top. Wonder if it had a dome ceiling inside ?
Hey thanks for the comments, I cant believe I got such a quick response, thats awesome. I am going to cruise over there soon and investigate further. When I get some more info I will def post it. The fact that it was done in Egptian style design is fascinating to me. Thanks for the decription, its funny how owners consider the possible uses of grand theatres like that. The facade looks in good shape too and I will take some photos as well.
I always noticed the white square marque lit up in white, with black lettering announcing the features. It was located right off Mountain Ave next to the mall entrance, with a steel ladder attached to the side for someone to change the display. Alot of people used to go to K-Mart back in the 80s and the mall was thriving. I never did see a movie there but noticed people always exiting from the left side doors and it usually seemed busy. The one time I did step inside the lobby it felt like I was in a spaceship because of the unusual light fixtures on the ceiling. I like seeing those photos in the site mentioned above too. The mall theatre would get the first run films back then and some would later play at the Washington Theatre in the next town over, which is where I would always see the movies. They were part of a chain that also included the ones in Newton and Sparta. It was a lot of fun back in those days because of the rivalry between Washington and Hackettstown and everyone liked watching films in there hometown.
That is one cool picture, I used to hang out on Front Street which is around the corner. I bet it looked cool lit up at night.
Yes people I know that feeling of seeing your favorite movie house close. But I can tell you this. Dont sit there and watch it ride off into the sunset, because if you dont do something, someone else will. Theatres like this and then one I used to go to need to promote themselves within the schools and colleges for programming. Try some late night horror festivals and classic films for seniors.
Be creative and enthusiastic, and definitely not ordinary.
Also keep your fingers crossed too. It looks like a cool place, thats such a different name, but I like it.