The Russell Theatre opened on December 4, 1930 in Maysville, Kentucky. Plans to build the theater were announced in 1929 by Col. J. Barbour Russell, a local businessman. Russell hired the architectural firm of Frankel and Curtis to design the theater. It was built on the site of a grocery warehouse owned by the Russell family at a cost of around $200,000. Russell envisioned the 700 seat theater as a grand movie palace, saying, “what the Roxy is to New York, the Russell will be to Maysville.”
Help me pick the next blog post on After the Final Curtain! Cast a vote for the theater you’d like to see next on the site, and whichever has the most votes by Thursday 6/19 will be featured in a blog post on Friday 6/20!
Over the years, I’ve come across a number of vintage photographs while researching blog posts for After the Final Curtain. One resource is the Theatre Historical Society of America‘s American Theatre Architecture Archive. With their permission I was able to combine our photographs to create these “rephotographs” showcasing a glimpse of what I have seen over the years. The composite of these images illustrates the rise and fall of these buildings and the potential for what they could become again, if restored.
The before photograph of the RKO Keith’s Theatre was taken in 1955, and the after was taken in 2011, twenty-five years after the theater closed.
The before photograph of the Loew’s Kings Theatre was taken in 1929, and the after was taken in 2010, thirty-three years after it closed.
The before photograph of the RKO Hamilton Theatre was taken in the 1930s, and the after was taken in 2011, fifty-three years after the theater closed.
The before photograph of the Loew’s Palace Theatre was taken in the 1930s, and the after was taken in 2011, thirty-six years after the theater closed.
The before photograph of the Proctor’s Palace Theatre was taken in 1955, and the after was taken in 2010, forty-two years after the theater closed.
A portion of sales from this limited edition print run will benefit the Theatre Historical Society of America and support their mission to document and celebrate the history of America’s theatres. For more information — check out their website at www.historictheatres.org
I’m very excited to announce that I’ve partnered with the Theatre Historical Society of America for my first book: Kings Theatre, The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre. The book will cover the entire history of the Loew’s Kings Theatre from it’s original construction to the reopening late 2014/early 2015. I’ve photographed over 75 abandoned theaters over the past 5 years, and being able to document one being restored has been amazing. Every visit to the theater has been awe inspiring and I can’t wait to share what I’ve seen with all of you.
This theater is not abandoned, but I had the chance to shoot it late last year, and I wanted to share the images with everyone.
In the early 1920s, the Paramount-Publix theater chain planned to open five theaters in the New York City area. However, in December of 1927 those plans were put on hold due to an agreement with the Loew’s Corporation. The agreement stated that Loew’s would not open any new theaters in Chicago, and Paramount would not open any more in New York. The plans for four of the theaters were then turned over to the Loew’s Corporation. Two years later on January 12, 1929, The Loew’s Valencia Theatre opened in Jamaica, Queens, and became the first of the five Loew’s “Wonder” theaters.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be giving a lecture on abandoned theaters on February 17 at the Jean-Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A selection of my images will be exhibited at the theater’s gallery space until March 17.
Below is a brief history of the theater from it’s website:
“The Jean Cocteau Cinema opened as the Collective Fantasy Cinema in 1976. Brent Kliewer, programmer for the Collective Fantasy, bought the theater in 1983 and renamed it the Jean Cocteau in reverence to the French filmmaker and artist. Kliewer, who remains the programmer for The Screen in Santa Fe, sold it to Blue Pearl Corporation in 1986.
Trans-Lux Corporation purchased the venue in 1989 and ran the theatre, which has a single screen and 120 seats, until closing it in April of 2006. The state of New Mexico then leased offices above the theater and the theater itself as the home for the state film office, with plans to make the theatre auditorium into a film museum. Funding for that project never came to fruition and the film office left the theater and offices in 2010. Trans-Lux still owned the theater, which stood vacant until it was purchased by author George R R Martin in 2013, who reopened it on August 9, 2013.
The theater shows film on 35 mm and digitally as well, combining the best of the old with the best of the new, including Santa Fe’s only ‘Midnight Movie’ series, with a different title being offered each weekend at 11 PM.”
The Lyric Fine Arts Theatre opened on January 14, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama. It was built for Louis V. Clark by C.K Howell, the architect of many theaters on the B.F. Keith vaudeville circuit in the South. Clark leased the theater to Jake Wells who owned and managed a number of theaters, including the nearby Bijou Theatre. The Lyric’s opening was delayed due to a legal dispute with the Orpheum Theatre over where shows on the B.F. Keith’s vaudeville circuit would play.