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The Adams Theatre in Newark, New Jersey originally opened on January 12, 1912 as the Shubert Theatre. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architect William E. Lehman, who also designed the Proctor’s Palace Theatre in Yonkers, NY. The 2,037 seat theater was originally used for theatrical productions, Broadway tryouts and revivals.
In August 1939 the theater was purchased by A.A Adams. He changed the name to the Adams Theatre, after the name he had taken upon immigrating to the United States from Greece. The first stage show after the rename was “Susan and God” starring Jessie Royce Landis on September 4, 1939. Adams began booking big bands to support the theater in addition to the stage shows and films. Some very famous acts played at the theater during this time including; Eddie Cantor, Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis, Jr, the Marx Brothers, Tommy Dorsey, Laurel and Hardy, The Andrew Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway. In late August 1949, the Adams switched to booking vaudeville acts before each film. A week later the nearby RKO Proctor’s Theatre announced they would do the same.
Harold Minsky of Minsky’s Burlesque took over operating the theater in September 1952. Minsky applied for a permit to have burlesque shows and was denied. After an appeal he was allowed to have burlesque performances at the theater. On December 21, 1955 the city of Newark passed an ordinance that made burlesque illegal. The ordinance stated that shows in which an actor disrobed or gave the “illusion of nudeness” was not allowed. It also outlawed profane, indecent or lewd language. It was immediately challenged in court by the Adams Theatre Company and I. Hurst Enterprises. I. Hurst Enterprises operated the nearby Empire Theatre, another burlesque venue. The legal battle eventually reached the United States Supreme Court who declined to hear the case, and the ban on burlesque went into effect. However, Minsky did not wait for the verdict to come in and stopped showing burlesque at the theater on February 7, 1957.
Eventually the theater began showing grindhouse and b-movies. It closed on March 31, 1986 due to a 400% increase in the insurance rates which also caused the nearby Paramount Theatre to close. It was sold in 1990 to the Freeman Group, a Manhattan based investment firm, who planned to restore and reopen the theater. However, that did not come to pass and the building was sold again. A number of retail stores have occupied the former lobby space, but have since closed. The theater remains unused.
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© Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain, 2014. 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 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.
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 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.