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Here’s a thought that I’ve had for some time, after researching at the Omaha city planning department. I discovered that the blue-prints for the World/Omaha Theater are still down there, permanently preserved on micro-film.
The lot it sat on is still only occupied by a parking garage, and not an excessively expensive, valuable highrise office building.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if money could be raised and support garnered from some quarter to recreate this wonderful building?
I’ve thought alot about this kind of stuff. I think there’s a real, viable solution to the problem that provided the inspiration for the creation of this website. The Europeans have spent billions of dollars to recreate their historic, bombed out cities. Why could we as American lovers of architecture not start our own movement to begin recreating and rebuilding our own urban-renewal destroyed cities?
Can someone tell me exactly where on Farnam the State sat? Was it on the north side of the street or the south side? Was it in the same block as the old WOW building, or was it further east?
Where is the location of primary source material for finding this kind of information about theater organs?
CAN ANYBODY TELL US WHAT EVER BECAME OF THE WORLD THEATER PIPE ORGAN?
WHAT ABOUT DETAILS- YEAR, MAKE, MODEL?
I think the philosophy behind the Main Street Theater renovation is fascinating. On the surface it looks as though the whole place has simply been gutted and replaced, with so historical/architectural continuity. In other words it is definitely no longer a French Rennaisance theater. But if a person studies the original photographs and architecture carefully, and then takes a closer look at the current theater, it is actually very much in the spirit of the original place. Grand stairways, spacious two-story lobby spaces with soaring ceilings. This is a very good modern adaptation of the same basic principles that Rapp and Rapp were using when they built it.
The other night after the show one of the theater workers took me upstairs and showed me the original auditorium. I found it fascinating to see what they’ve done with it. The French Rennaisance plaster-work is all gone, both on the walls and the ceiling. But, the integrity of the original interior walls, balcony seating area, and floor plan is all intact. The existing six screen-rooms and lobby areas are all built as a sort of inner shell within the auditorium. From the top balcony you can see all of these little structures built between it and the stage. This theater could easily be turned back into a very large house.
A fixture at the Brandeis was stage-hand Clifford Donnell, who began working there at age 14, the day the theater opened in 1910. He was still there when it closed in 1959, and mourned its loss. He was quoted by the Omaha World Herald (on closing day) as saying, “I think I’ll go out and buy myself a jug.”
The Brandeis opened March 3, 1910. Until 1933 it was a venue for live shows. In that year it was leased as a motion picture theater by the RKO corporation. It initially closed in the fall of 1958, but was then leased by the Cooper Foundation. The patronage of the reopened theater was disspointing, and the Cooper Foundation permanently closed it in April of 1959, handing the lease back to the Brandeis family. The last movie at the Brandeis was “The Student Prince,” which had at one time been a lavishly produced live show on the same stage.
On the ceiling of the Brandeis was a beautiful fresco by artist E.T. Behr, titled “The Triumphal Entry of Art”.
Demolition took place between Aug and October, 1959. Anything salvageable was sold. Some had commented at the time that the theater lost much of its beauty when the boxes and their accompanying Greco-Roman statuary were removed.
One corner of the exterior of the Brandeis Theater was left standing when the building was torn down, and houses (as it did then) the offices of an insurance company. It is identical to rest of the building, and can give a first-hand idea of what the theater exterior looked like.
The World Theater was not on the same block as the Rialto. The World Theater sat across the street from the Rialto, on the northwest corner of 15th and Douglas. The Rialto was on the northeast corner. The Empress sat in the middle of the block with the World Theater, in part of the space later occupied by Woolworth’s Department Store. The theater next to the Rialto was the Moon (later the Cooper).