Theater RePhotographs

 

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.

 

B&W Image of the RKO Keith's Theatre from the Richard L. Hay Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America
RKO Keith’s Theatre Flushing, NY B&W Image of the RKO Keith’s Theatre from the Richard L. Hay Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America

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.

Loew’s Kings Theatre Brooklyn, NY B&W Image from the Loew’s Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America
Loew’s Kings Theatre Brooklyn, NY B&W Image from the Loew’s Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America

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.

B&W image of the RKO Hamilton Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America
RKO Hamilton Theatre Manhattan, NY B&W image of the RKO Hamilton Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America

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.

B&W image of the Loew's Palace Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America
Loew’s Palace Theatre Bridgeport, CT B&W image of the Loew’s Palace Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America

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.

B&W image of Proctor's Palace Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America
Proctor’s Palace Theatre Newark, NJ B&W image of Proctor’s Palace Theatre courtesy of the American Theatre Architecture Archive of the Theatre Historical Society of America

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.

 

Limited Edition Prints of these images are available at http://www.mlambrosphotography.com/rephotographs

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

 

 

 

 

© 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.

Kings Theatre – The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre

 

Proscenium arch from the balcony, Loew's Kings Theatre.  B&W Image from the Loew’s Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America
Proscenium arch from the balcony, Loew’s Kings Theatre.
B&W Image from the Loew’s Collection, American Theatre Architecture Archive, Theatre Historical Society of America

 

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. 

Thanks to everyone at THS, ACE Theatrical Group, Evergreene Architectural Arts, Martinez + Johnson Architecture and Gilbane Building Company for all the help bringing this project to fruition.

Kings Theatre after renovation.
Kings Theatre after renovation.

For more information check out the Theatre Historical Society of America’s press release on the project :

http://www.historictheatres.org/assets/Press-Release-Announcing-Theatre-Historical-Society-partners-with-Matt-Lambros-for-Kings-Theatre-Book1.pdf

 

Loew’s Valencia Theatre

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.

View from the main level of the auditorium.
View from the main level of the auditorium.

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.

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Theater Updates

In light of the recent demolition of the Boyd Theatre in Philadelphia, I thought I’d post an update for some of the theaters I’ve visited over the years.

 

View from the balcony of the Loew's Kings Theatre during renovation.
View from the balcony of the Loew’s Kings Theatre during renovation.

The Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn has undergone a $94 million restoration, and will reopen as a performing arts center in late 2014/early 2015.

The large mirrors in the Boyd's lobby are some of the art deco features that will be preserved.
The large mirrors in the Boyd’s lobby are some of the art deco features that will be preserved.

The Boyd Theatre was demolished in the spring of 2014, despite the efforts of the Friends of the Boyd. This demolition means that Philadelphia is one of the only large cities in America without at least one restored downtown movie palace. Fortunately, the Friends of the Boyd were able to come to an agreement with the owners to preserve some of the art deco features of the theater.

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The OKLA Theatre – McAlester, Oklahoma

View from the balcony of the auditorium.
View from the balcony of the auditorium.

The OKLA Theatre opened on July 10, 1931 in McAlester, Oklahoma. It was built on the site of the Palace Theatre, which burned down in December of 1930. Wallace Wilkerson, the owner of the theater building, hired architect W. Scott Dunn to build a new theater on a budget of $50,000. Dunn converted the existing cinema walls into a partial atmospheric style theater. It was built for Robb & Rowley Theatres, but the lease was taken over by Howard Hughes’s theater company, Hughes-Franklin Midwest Theatre Corp LTD.

Architect W. Scott Dunn called it a "revised moderne, semi atmospheric" theater.
Architect W. Scott Dunn called it a “revised moderne, semi atmospheric” theater.

The opening day film was “The Man in Possession,” starring Robert Montgomery. Admission prices were 25 cents for the balcony and 35 cents for main level seats. The day after opening, the McAlester News Capital said that, “the theater, in the opinion of patrons, is on a par with the very best found in larger cities.” Hughes-Franklin only ran the 800-seat theater for one year before leasing it back to Robb & Rowley Theatres. In 1950, the premiere of “Rock Island Trail,” starring Forrest Tucker, was held at the theater. The movie was released on the 100th anniversary of the Rock Island Railroad line, part of which runs through McAlester.

View of the auditorium from the stage.
View of the auditorium from the stage.

Wilkinson’s heirs sold the building to United Artists Theatres in December of 1983. UA operated the theater for six years before closing on September 4, 1989 due to declining ticket sales. When it closed, the OKLA was the last surviving single screen movie theater in McAlester. A year later, the OKLA was bought by Kiamichi Actors Studio Theatre, Inc., a local performing arts group. KAST intended to restore the theater, but was unable to raise the funds and surrendered the deed to the bank. It was then purchased from the bank by the Ardeneum of Oklahoma Charitable and Educational Foundation, Inc.

The remains of the projector room.
The remains of the projector room.


Pride in McAlester, a local community improvement non-profit organization, leased the theater from the Ardeneum in June of 2010 with the intent to restore the theater. They’ve since held several events to raise money for the restoration. In 2012, Pride in McAlester applied for and received a $200,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, to be used to remove the lead paint and asbestos in the theater. The current plan is for the theater to be used as a non-profit multi-use community center. It will host concerts, recitals, lectures, movie screenings, community theater, award ceremonies and business meetings. According to a 2010 interview with a Pride in McAlester representative, the renovations will be at least 50% complete by 2015. Donations can be made at the OKLA Theatre’s website. 

The atmospheric blue paint, concealed by a subsequent paint job , is beginning to show through.
The atmospheric blue paint, concealed by a subsequent paint job, is beginning to show through.
The lobby is currently used for storage.
The lobby is currently used for storage.
When the original marquee was replaced in 1948,  two of the windows on the front of the building were bricked over.
When the original marquee was replaced in 1948, two of the windows on the front of the building were bricked over.
View of the auditorium from the side of the balcony.
View of the auditorium from the side of the balcony.
A close-up of some of the details on the wall of the main level.
A close-up of some of the details on the wall of the main level.
When it opened the OKLA was dubbed "the finest talking picture theater in all of eastern Oklahoma.”
When it opened the OKLA was dubbed “the finest talking picture theater in all of eastern Oklahoma.”

The information in this post was obtained with the help of the Theatre Historical Society of America, for more information including how to join – check out their website at www.historictheatres.org

© 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.

February Exhibition and Lecture Update

The lobby and main level of this theater have been used as a grocery store since the late 1960s.
The lobby and main level of this theater have been used as a grocery store since the late 1960s.

Tickets are now available for my February 17 lecture at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The lecture starts at 6:20 PM. Tickets can be purchased at the following links:

http://webtixs.easytixs.com/JeanCocteauCinema/TicketingTodaysEventsPage.aspx?BusinessDate=2014-2-17

http://www.jeancocteaucinema.com/artist/matt-lambros-photographer-final-curtain-show-illustrated-lecture/

The Exhibition opens on February 16. Check out the theater’s website for more information.

February Lecture and Exhibition

The exterior of the Jean Cocteau Theatre. Photo: Suzanne Kessler
The exterior of the Jean Cocteau Theatre. Photo: Suzanne Kessler

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.”

For more information on the space check out the Jean Cocteau website and their Facebook page.

Lyric Fine Arts Theatre

View of the auditorium from the mezzanine.
View of the auditorium from the mezzanine.

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.

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