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I continued to explore the old AMC4 over the next few weekends. I said it was intact. Let me clarify: it’s mostly intact. When the new EMS expanded in from the front of the old mall it utilized the space that was once the old concourse. It’s rear sheetrock wall extended to the edge of the old AMC entrance… blocking part of it. This sheetrock wall is evident in the old storage room so I have to assume the original wall that was demolished. There’s evidence in the theaters of other such construction encroachment… at the end of the hall leading to the theaters and in the last cinema itself. Wherever these walls were built the drop ceilings in the theater were ripped down and the remains left hanging. Otherwise the cinemas are intact. All the projectors are there as well as supplies… not food but everything from AMC popcorn bags, old ad copy, to the letters used on the road signs to advertise movies. Some desks were moved into the hallway, presumably moved from areas of the theater that were being cannibalized. The whole place is covered in construction dust. As I said in the last entry, what’s left of the old entrance has been walled in but there was a gap leading in. I assume that soon the entrance will be either walled off or a door placed in that wall. Just how much of the old cinemas will eventually be cannibalized for new stores or storage… who knows. The theater floors are angled and dip below grade making such expansion more costly. Who knows. The remains of these theaters may still be there 10 years from now.
The comments in the introduction are in error. The Capitol was not torn down in the 60’s. I’m not sure when the Capitol stopped being a theater. By spring 1970 the seats had been removed and it was a rock concert venue. Ya, we just all sat on the rug! Concerts were usually $3-4. Some big names played there… the Allman Brothers, NRBQ, Savoy Brown, the Elves… including some well known regional bands such as Fat. I believe the Capitol was torn down in 1972. I have some pics of the front and the demolition somewhere.
The Rivoli was a place I used to walk to as a kid. Back then the Saturday matinee was just 25 cents. I was in shock when it jumped to 35 cents. In a silent protest I collected ticket stubs off the floor and perfected a way of gluing 2 halves together to make a new ticket. The bond was so good that the attendant never caught on. Back in the early 60’s these Saturday matinees were jam packed with kids. The older kids were always in the back left section making out. The Rivoli was never known for its comforts. It had uncomfortable wooden-backed chairs and not much space for 6 footers. I don’t remember when they gave up the kiddie matinees but they became a discount theater for second run films by the late 70’s. The place was famous for it’s sticky floors and the occasional bat that flew in front screen casting shadows. In those last years one of the projectors was always out of focus. It seemed to be a downward spiral. Not enough money coming in to make repairs, yet watching movies there was hardly a bargain if every other reel was fuzzy. None the less I miss the place. Some work continues on the nightclub. Old theater seats have been removed and now can be seen piled up in the old lobby.
The remains of the old Mountain Farms Mall have been slowly rebuilt the past 5 years. The last store… Manny’s Appliances is being torn down as I write this.
The result is it’s no longer a mall but a shopping center. The center concourse has slowly been gobbled up by those new stores which have rebuilt the front of the old mall and expanded inward.
But the rear section of the old mall has not been so radically altered. I was in that rear section today. I followed a hall which would have led to the front of the mall. Walled off, but with some gaps in the sheetrock, I found myself in the lobby of the old Mountain Farms 4 Cinemas. They may be a mess, but they are intact…. all the seats remain in the theaters as do the snack bars and restrooms. I’d first gone to the MF4 back when I was at UMass in 74-77. I never thought I’d see the inside of them again after they closed. Imagine my surprise!