116 2nd Avenue NE,
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The Malek Theater opened in 1947 on land previously occupied by the Grand Theater, and was constructed in the still popular style of the age Art Deco. The Malek Theater was part of what was known as the Gedney Block, which contained a theater and a grand hotel called the Gedney Hotel, which was a getaway for wealthy patrons who came from larger cities to gamble at a local carriage-horse race park named the Allerton-Axtel Barn.
The Grand Theater had burned to the ground in the 1940’s and its owner, Bob Malek, decided to build a new theater and named it, aptly, the Malek Theater. The new theater was the patron’s dream for that era, containing two rooms for private viewings, each with doors and thick paned glass to eliminate sound in or out. The theater also came equipped with both a crying room and a party room, in which reservations were made for private party viewings.
In its prime, the Malek Theater was considered a performance theater, not a movie house. But in 1985, the managers decided that business could be improved if the theater was split into a 300-seat twinned theater instead of the original large 1,200-seat auditorium. The Malek Theater switched to a movies-only format and suffered. The results were so disastrous they prompted a legal dispute and great dissappointment for the theater’s patrons.
In 1993, Anthony Fitz and his mother purchased the business and closed the theater to determine what to do next with the Malek Theater. According to Fitz, the theater was closed …due to its reputation of no one caring, and I started to take a look around. I noticed a lot of interesting discoveries in architecure and paint underneath its commercial face, and really dedicated myself in research of the Malek Theater. The original builder and proprietor, Bob Malek (recently deceased), was very happy to come down to the Malek Theater, and tell me all about it. I was very intoxicated by his stories and one thing that will always stick with me is when he started to cry. He had told me he had named the Malek after his father who was ill during construction, and had passed on before it was complete, and never was able to witness its beauty in bloom.
Since Mr. Bob Malek has passed, I have done all of the restoration myself, apart from a few friends' occassional help. Because of the visits from Mr. Bob Malek. he has opened my eyes to graciously appreciate the Malek Theater’s true beauty in design, art, and luster, it will provide with nothing mainly but tlc and creativity. The Malek Theater is one [of a kind], with its neon indirect lighting, artistic interior scroll painted accents, and its personal touch. [i’m] hoping everybody entering can appreciate it for being designed for them to enjoy, not for us to become fat and rich.
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