I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be giving a lecture on abandoned theaters in partnership with the Theatre Historical Society of America, at the Portage Theatre in Chicago, IL on Thursday November 13, 2014.
Doors open at 6:30 and the lecture starts at 7:00. Admission is free.
The lecture will be an updated version of “The Fall of the American Movie Palace” with some of my more recent work, including some photographs of the Loew’s Kings Theatre renovation.
Below is a brief history of the Portage Theater from the theater’s website:
Located at Six Corners in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago’s Northwest Side, the Portage Theater is one of the oldest movie houses in Chicago. The Portage Theater opened on December 11, 1920 as the Portage Park Theatre (the former name is still visible on the building’s facade). Built for the Ascher Brothers circuit with 1,938 seats, the Portage was the first theater built specifically for film (and not vaudeville) in the area.
The Portage Theater’s interior features a megaphone-shaped auditorium based on a formal Beaux-Arts opera house design. When the theater was taken over by Balaban and Katz in 1940, its marquee, entrance lobby and foyer were redecorated in a sleek, streamlined art deco style to complement other prominent art deco designs at Six Corners such as Sears department store and the Klee Brothers building.
The Portage remained a popular fixture of the neighborhood, becoming a second-run movie house in the 1960s. In the 1980s, the theater underwent a dramatic change when a wall was constructed down the middle of the existing auditorium, resulting in two oddly-shaped cinemas. The Portage was shuttered in 2001 after operating sporadically for the previous couple years. The theater was restored and renovated, and reopened after a five-year hiatus in the spring of 2006 as a single-screen, 1300-plus seat theater showing both silent and sound classic motion pictures as well as hosting other live events.
Today the historic Portage Theater is a multi-purpose venue committed to bringing unique cinema, live music and performing arts to it’s community and surrounding neighbors of Chicagoland .
Some of my photography was featured in an online gallery show a few years ago, and I have a few prints left over. I’d like to find them a good home so each print here is 50% off from now until the end of October. I don’t have that many left so don’t wait!
The prints are available in the following sizes, and each image has the number of prints available in their respective captions:
12″x18″ – $
16″x24″ – $
Please e-mail me if interested. Payment accepted via Paypal or Credit Card. Prints are shipped via FedEx.
The Franklin Park Theatre opened on December 8, 1914 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Designed by Funk and Wilcox, who also designed the nearby Strand Theatre. The theater was originally operated by Jacob Lourie, who was a movie pioneer in Massachusetts and the original president of New England Theatres Operating Company (NETOC). NETOC was affiliated with Paramount Pictures, and many of the “famous players” performed at the Franklin Park. It cost $250,000 to build the theater, or $6 million when adjusted for inflation.
The opening day acts consisted of “Behind the Scenes” (a silent film starring Mary Pickford), two vaudeville acts, an organ recital and musical selections by the Franklin Park Theatre Orchestra. 18 police officers were needed to control the crowds on opening night. Around 3,000 people arrived to attend, but the theater could only seat 2,000.
The theater closed for the first time in the late 1920s. It was reopened in October 1929 as a Yiddish theater, and was promoted as “the only permanent Yiddish theater in New England.” The slogan was most likely true due to the sponsoring of productions by the Yiddish Playwright League Inc., a group that many Yiddish playwrights of the era belonged to. M&P Theaters took over the Franklin Park in 1936, and after some alterations the theater reopened as a motion picture house on September 6, 1936. One such alteration was the installation of then modern seats, which reduced the total number of seats to around 1,500.
In 1950s the theater switched formats and began showing theatrical productions as well as musical acts. This lasted until 1963, when the space became the home of the New Baptist Fellowship Church. Live acts later returned to the theater when in the late 1960s Elma Lewis, who founded the National Center for Afro-American Artists, booked operas there.
On February 21, 2009 a fire caused $250,000 of damage to the theater. Boston fire investigators ruled that arson was the cause, based on the fact that the fire appeared to have started in multiple locations, including the stage, and that a back door was left open. Luckily, the church was insured, and they plan to rebuild the theater. To this end they have held a number of fundraising events, and until the restoration is complete the church services are being held in an adjacent building.
The Fox Theatre in Fullerton, CA opened in 1925. Designed by Raymond M. Kennedy, it was a sister theater to the Egyptian, and Chinese Theatres. The Fox closed in 1987, and was scheduled for demolition until a campaign to restore the building was launched in 2000.
Read more about the theater at: http://www.foxfullerton.org/w/
The Inglewood Fox Theatre opened on March 31, 1949. It closed in 1988, and was added to the National Historic Register in late 2012. For more info about the theater check out the Inglewood Fox Theatre Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inglewood-Fox-Theatre-Alliance/137338472943207
Hi Everyone – I’m on another road trip to photograph America’s abandoned theaters. This time I’m traveling up the west coast of the United States. Keep checking back over the next week for more updates!
The UC Theatre originally opened in 1917 in Berkeley, California. It closed in March 2001, and was designated a landmark the following year. Plans are underway to turn the theater in to a live music venue. For more information check out their website and facebook pages.
© Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I’m excited to announce that on September 27 and 28 I’ll be partnering with photographer/founder of Abandoned America, Matthew Christopher for two photo workshops in Massachusetts.
September 28, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, MA
TBA at the Everett Square Theatre in Boston, MA
For more information and to purchase tickets visit the following links: