23 South Main Street,
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A massive structure, it dominated Main Street for 80 years until it was demolished in the spring of 2003. Built in 1922-23 by the Comerford Theatres chain, it was a lavish movie palace. Rich in theatrical lore, Lionel Barrymore performed as did Milton Berle-although Mr. Berle’s humor was considered a little too risque and was asked to leave by the managment.
The interior was rich and lush, it walls were a relaxing salmon color and a mural of Main Street-circa 1923- above the stage. The golden years of Hollywood in the 1930’s and 1940’s, were also the golden years for the Irving Theatre. The theatre, reduced to showing porn, closed in 1973. Local residents had abondoned the downtown in favor of the new malls and shopping centers of the region. Most of the balcony and private loge boxes had long since been abondoned. Years of neglect by its subsequent owners left a gaping hole in the roof where the air-conditioner was ripped out-effectivly sealing the buildings fate.
It sat vacated and rotting, like Carbondale itself, until work begin demolishing the building. The huge lot it left vacant on Main Street has created a scar that the downtown will struggle to overcome.
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