Some Enchanted Evenings: American Picture Palaces

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on July 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm


We were in Charlottesville, VA for Conclave Theatre Tour 2015 and discovered Mary Halnon’s (UVA American Studies) great site: “Some Enchanted Evenings: American Picture Palaces”

You will find easy to read summaries of the fascinating history of America’s movie palaces from the Rise of Consumer Culture to Forties Boom and Bust. Be sure to click on highlighted links to enjoy the photographs!

“Each week from the 1910s through the 1940s, Americans "went to the show” in record numbers. “The show” drew peak crowds three to four times daily with an extra screening on weekends and it began, as architect S. Charles Lee noted, “on the sidewalk” with the extravagant architecture of America’s motion picture palaces. (1) Palaces seated between 2500 and 6000 patrons at a time; “de luxe” palaces boasted stage shows, permanent orchestras, organs, first run films, and an array of customer services unknown to today’s cinemagoers. Studio head Marcus Loew recognized, “We sell tickets to theaters, not movies.” (2) Movie historian Ben Hall described the movie palace as “an acre of seats in a garden of dreams.”(3) Images courtesy of Mary Halnon’s ‘Some Enchanted Evenngs: American Picture Palaces




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