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I appreciate the interest in drive-ins. This conclave, however, is a tour of 33 (thirty-three) historic theatres throughout Indiana, and Louisville and Lexington, Ky. If we make all of those theatres on time and without a change in plans, it will be an act of vision and daring. Come see!
Terry, we cannot do photo ops of drive-ins. Even the SKY-VUE owned by some branch of the Pierce family will be a drive-by at top highway speed. If you look at our daily schedule and see the miles we are covering, there is not a moment to lose. And we do not want to be rolling back into Indy at midnight. The conclave is set up as a theatre tour and not a tour of drive-ins. If we were doing drive-ins, it would probably be best at night — and a completely different dynamic overall.
If my memory serves correctly, THSA archives has a photo of the INDIANA auditorium altered and outfitted for Cinerama.
We will certainly mention drive-ins that are along the way in Indiana. A struggling survivor that comes to mind is the SKY-VUE, mentioned in the writing above. It is along Highway 3 between New Castle and Spiceland, just north of I-70.
We will not be touring Santa Barbara, Calif.
I would like to inject a little positivity. THSA “conclave” theatre tours are about appreciating the best remaining historic theatres as they are and supporting efforts that are underway. Two busloads of historians from around the world showing up to look at your theatre can draw positive attention if it is needed.
The INDIANA, Indianapolis, does have a radically altered auditorium. Renovated in 1979 and 1986, the current configuration seats 600, 300 and 100 (Originally 3,133), depending on the needs/demands of a given show. Its flexibility has been its key to survival. Otherwise, it would most likely be gone entirely.
The INDIANA, Terre Haute, is a worn but intact survivor that we are glad to be touring. While I am sure that everyone would love to see a museum-quality restoration, we have to appreciate that the theatre is loved by its owner and is kept as best as the market conditions allow. It eatures many early John Eberson (architect) trademarks that would serve his designs for years to come. The INDIANA includes a rotunda vestibule, a vaulted lobby, an antiqued Spanish theme and some atmospheric effects such as windows.
In my own writing in Marquee magazine, I also tagged the INDIANA, Terre Haute, Ind., as a movie palace. (But I left it out in this writing!) Would you agree that it can be called a palace?
Theatre Historical Society of America has a nice vintage exterior view in the current edition of Marquee magazine, promoting the 2010 Indiana Hoosier Heartland Conclave, June 22 to 27, and some basic historical information.
To correct David Zornig’s comment above, the City has invested heavily in the stabilization of the Uptown. All of the major work that you can see from the street in the past five years has been done on the City’s dime under the direction of a court-appointed receiver and a licensed structural engineer. Each related City department and official has been incredibly supportive over the years.
Please recall that the building remains privately owned. The impetus to renovate and reuse the Uptown must come from the private owner and what he or she sees the Uptown’s role being in the entertainment market. It will not be saved simply by the city, state or federal government throwing money at it. The Uptown will only come back with a sensible renovation and reuse plan that is funded largely by private enterprise. There will be civic backed support and incentives, no doubt. But the solution will have to come from within.
More recent stabilization and monitoring work continues under the direction of U.T.A. II, LLC, which is related to Jam Productions. They are the most interested owners in some time. They are both responsive and supportive and have retained an architect to investigate options and directions.
To support our efforts and to stay in touch about the Uptown Theatre, Chicago, please go to the Friends of the Uptown web site, www.uptowntheatre.com and do three simple things:
Links for all three things are on our homepage. Thanks for your continuing interest, support and detailed observation.
Veteran Cinema Operators to Restore the ‘Castle’ in New Castle
New Castle, Ind. â€" The City of New Castle along with Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana announced today that Dave and Wanda Battas, veteran theatre operators from Indianapolis, have leased, will restore and plan to reopen the Castle Theatre in New Cas…tle, Ind. The Battas family owns a concession supply company and has owned and operated several cinemas in Central Indiana.
Area residents were shocked and saddened last month when the theatre was closed with short notice. This left the county seat of Henry County without a cinema for the first time since movies came to the prairie in the early 1900s.
“I believe that every town should have a theatre,” said Dave Battas, who brings decades of theater operation experience to the Castle. “It is a part of our identity. We need to be entertained together in the same way that we see sports and other attractions. Getting together for wholesome entertainment is good stress relief for all ages in these challenging times. Thereâ€™s nothing like hearing hundreds of people laugh at the same joke.â€
Dave and Wanda read about the closing of the Castle Theatre in the Courier-Times, in other area papers and in Internet postings. They decided to pursue leasing and operating the theater after positive discussions with New Castle Mayor Jim Small and Wayne Goodman, Director of the Eastern Regional office of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. While the theatre has only been closed a short time and is relatively good condition, Dave and Wanda have decided to do some maintenance prior to re-opening.
“We plan to be good stewards of this historic theatre,â€ said Dave Battas. â€œWe look forward to working with area businesses so that we can survive in tandem with the restaurants and shops. We are extremely excited about operating the Castle and being a valuable part of the New Castle and Henry County community.â€
Opened in 1935, the historic Castle Theatre is a modest, modern/art deco 650-seat cinema that retains some of its original swirled red and black Vitrolite on its faÃ§ade. It features historic panoramic aerial views of New Castle in its lobby and a spacious auditorium with a large screen and a small stage. It takes its name not only from the city but also from the earlier Princess Theatre across the street, which it has long since outlived.
â€œDave Battas has not only saved a historic theatre, but he has saved a crucial piece of the community,â€ said Wayne Goodman of the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. â€œA theatre is so very important to sustain a quality of life and to attract and increase in outside investment.
â€œThis historic theatre will play a successful part in downtown revitalization efforts that are proving to reverse decades of decline,â€ Goodman added. â€œThe community now needs to fully support its community theatre. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Battas, we have been given a second chance. We now know what it feels like to not have a theatre, and we know that it was not a good feeling.â€
Local leaders expressed gratitude and excitement regarding the Castleâ€™s planned reopening. â€œThis is really exciting news for the downtown revitalization effort,â€ said New Castle Mayor Jim Small. â€œThe Castle Theatre will play an important role in re-establishing the Downtown Historic District as the place to go for family entertainment and dining.â€
â€œI am so very thankful to the Battas family for adding to the entertainment and business community of Henry County,â€ said Mike McIntosh, executive director of the New Castle-Henry County Chamber of Commerce. â€œIt takes everyone in Henry County working together to make our community the best place to live and work.â€
Even individuals outside the local vicinity expressed interest and excitement about the recent news to preserve the theatre and continue its use.
“The flashing lights and neon on Main Street are the pulse of the city,” said Andy Pierce, a New Castle native and an organizer with the Theatre Historical Society of America, which is headquartered in Elmhurst, Ill. Pierce said the Castle may be part of a statewide tour of 25 historic venues taking place June 22-26, 2010.
“Asking residents if they want their historic theatre opened back up is like asking kids if they want Christmas,â€ Pierce added. â€œIt is something on which everyone can agree and enjoy for generations to come. It builds friendships and community when we turn off the phones, put down the video games, turn off the TV and go back to the local movie house. Your Castle Theatre is one of the best kept secrets in the state.â€
New Castle and Henry County residents should be able to enjoy entertainment at the Castle Theatre on a regular basis again soon. â€œIf all goes as planned, we will re-open on March 26,â€ said Battas. â€œWork has already started. I have already secured some first-rate movies that I think will bring quality cinema entertainment back to the area.â€
[February 24, 2010]
Historic Landmarks Foundation ofIndiana
IDNR Historic Theatre Initiative
Theatre Historical Society of America
Image courtesy of Henry County Historical Society
1935 to 2010
Hidden gem? No, this is the Fountainhead.
Steve had the bearing of a hard-boiled journalist. And he always seemed to be on a mission. He knew FACTS and he had done his homework of research, information gathering and photo collecting.
FACTS go a long way toward telling an accurate story! His editing of Marquee magazine helped continue the growth of scholarly consideration of theatre architecture that began with the seed-germ of Ben Hall, Bro. Andrew Corsini Fowler and others.
I always enjoyed Steve’s company and conversations, even when we disagreed. He was a busy man and did much for the effort. I recall fondly his descriptions of the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, Wash., and wish that I had seen it with him.
(A good use for the local movie palace)
Obama on the Big Screen
CHICAGO – Presidential candidate Barack Obama loomed larger than
life last night in Chicago, despite his being far away in the center
of Denver’s Mile High Stadium.
In fact, he was a hit at the old thee-ay-ter in the neighborhood.
More than 1,500 people gathered in the auditorium of the historic
New Regal Theatre, 1645 E. 79th St., last night, Thursday, August
28, 2008, to watch Barack Obama give his acceptance speech live on
the big screen. Several media outlets covered the event from the
back of the main floor as the crowd cheered and rose to its feet to
show enthusiasm for the individual campaign promises Obama made.
Ron and Regina Evans, the theater’s owners invited the public to
watch the broadcast live and for free. Registration was required at
The bejeweled lobby hosted several tables of Obama memorabilia and
voter registration opportunities. Popcorn, sodas and other snacks
were available as per custom.
The New Regal’s creative marketing of the event read: “If you cannot
make it to Denver, you can get together with your friends at the
Regal Theater (sic) and watch Barack.” Also, there was an
opportunity to sign up for the New Regal’s mailing list.
Native Chicagoans recall this building was originally the Avalon
Theatre, a fantastic 1927 atmospheric design from architect John
Eberson. Restored in 1985 in a project sponsored by Ed and Bettian
Gardner, of Softsheen Products and backed in part by the City of
Chicago, the New Regal is perhaps the best restoration of a movie
palace in Chicago.
It was renamed to capture the spirit of the lost Regal Theatre, 47th
Street and South Parkway (now MLK). The original Regal was sited in
the second expansion of the Black Metropolis in Chicago’s
Bronzeville. It was a movie palace built for African American
audiences and was venue to many important musicians in the decades
before its 1973 demolition.
Story courtesy of Uptown Adviser, www.uptowntheatre.com
That wasn’t directed at you, Rene. Just everyone else who didn’t eat pizza with the Boss.
I guess I would simply ask that all of us armchair observers wait until there are some facts or there is a project proposal before getting into any flavor of lather. At this moment, nothing has changed. Everyone’s hopes, dreams and fears are simply on hold, awaiting further action and announcement. I cannot speak for any of the would-be owner/operators. However, I can speak for the volunteers who have a lot of experience and have studied and visited theatre restoration projects worldwide — good, bad and ugly. Yes, there is much to be learned from the past 30 years of theatre renovation and resue as we know it. No, conjecture, blame, accusations, threats of imprisonment and other nonsense are not helpful at this time. If this garbage continues on this page for the UPTOWN, I will ask that it be removed. Thanks.
This discussion has strayed so far from the Uptown, Chicago and any facts available at this time that I really wish it would cease.
The chief of security at the UPTOWN continues to ask that interior photos not be posted online at this time due to security concerns. The building is probably one of the most photographed theatres of all time, and many historic photos are available through Theatre Historical Socity of America at www.historictheatres.org Photos taken on rare, approved tours are supposed to be for personal enjoyment only. Unfortunately, people still try to break in the building’s dozens of doors. There have been petty thefts in recent years, including a not-historic bust from a niche. We don’t want to risk any damage or theft to the building. We also don’t want to make it even more challenging for security. We’ve respected this specific request, online, since 1998 at www.uptowntheatre.com
I don’t think this is true: “Currently, the theater is a performing arts venue, managed by the Pickwick Theatre Council.”
Nationally speaking, the LOEWS KINGS, Brooklyn, ranks right up there with UPTOWN, Chicago. BIG challenges to solve with both.
My favorite wildcard is the QUO VADIS, Westfield, Mich. High-quality materials in a modern/Jetsons entry from Yamasaki and Associates. It is a national treasure.
In Chicago, the PATIO, GATEWAY and RAMOVA come to mind. And the CENTRAL PARK always needs a helping hand.
(Not endangered) In North Carolina, I am excited to see something of the PARAMOUNT, Goldsboro, N.C. being rebuilt after the fire. Such a great history of use (armory, vaudeville, cinema and community theatre). I saw this building in use prior to the fire and was warmed to see if full of happy patrons. This is a good example for all of those civic leaders who shrug their shoulders and don’t work to rebuild.
If anyone photographed other marquees, please send along any digital pics that you have available. I missed capturing the PORTAGE tribute and perhaps others. Thank you:
[updated info:] A wake will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 6, and a funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7, at the Church of the Ascension, 1133 N. La Salle Drive, where Joe DuciBella was a member. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Cathedral Counseling Center of Chicago, 50 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602, www.cathedralcounseling.org
Also, friends have asked theatre venue owners and managers nationwide to honor Joe in some small way on their marquees and/or their web sites. If you spot one of these tributes, please take a photo or screenshot and email it to us. Your help in this regard would be very much appreciated. Email to:
Budget and resources certainly play a part. The cost of heating and maintaining space that is not currently needed at this time is also a factor. Fortunately, very little additional damage has been allowed in recent years. Repairs and preventative maintenance are a part of the program. The majority of damage, to my understanding, happened during an extended time of roof repair in which the deck was left exposed in some places. And, one should recall, that the building was in less than perfect condition when it was received from B&K’s successors. Considering it has made it this far from 1917, it is remarkable. Rev. Scott has used and treated the building well during his long and continuing tenure of community building.
Dear Paul Warshauer and Life’s Too Short:
Please have the courtesy to take your sparring away from the Uptown’s page here, and perhaps away from Cinema Treasures (a really nice place!). Your issues have nothing to do with this theatre building.
I suggest you share your email addresses with each other so you may argue in private. Or, exchange phone numbers. Or, arrange to meet in an alley or boxing ring and work out your frustrations on each other. Let’s self-police this forum and keep it positive.
Consider the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Accepting Nobel Peace Prize,
December 10, 1964
Please correct: In the 80s, its auditorium was divided in two, and the interior received a modernization in which much of the little that remained of its original decor was lost.
Is not true!~
The division project simply built a wall in the not-exactly-middle of the auditorium. Very little original decor was lost. Aside from long-gone (and kind of ugly light fixtures), the auditorium retains almost all of its decorative plaster and details.
It has been lovingly renovated for single-screen presentation!
I was lucky to see the PARAMOUNT during a November 2004 holiday show. It was really something, filled to the gills with happy citizens enjoying a holiday variety show. The lobby and the street were both alive with activity related to the show. This site has such a great history of continuous yet different use … an armory turned opera house, turned cinema, turned performing arts center … that I feel it would be shortsighted to not rebuild a similar venue for continued entertainment/community-building use. For those who have not seen downtown Goldsboro, it is really an American treasure. It makes Mayberry look like a dump. And note all of the surviving nickleodeon storefronts nearby … a couple blocks of cinema treasures, no kidding! I wish Goldsboro and these planners the best. The PARAMOUNT was really something — something worth seeing again!