Casino Theatre – Bronx, NY

This was originally posted on After the Final Curtain’s Patreon in January 2022. For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content, you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain

The auditorium of the former Casino Theatre in the Bronx.

View of the auditorium from the side of the balcony.

The Casino Theatre originally opened as the Willis Theatre in late December 1923. It’s near 138th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, NY. The 2,166 seat theater was designed by architect Eugene De Rosa, who is known for many other New York Metropolitan Theatres such as The Apollo Theatre in Harlem, Studio 54 in Midtown Manhattan, and the St. George Theatre in Staten Island. 

It was not a successful theater and closed and reopened many times throughout the 1920s, often with a change of format. It went from vaudeville to burlesque to motion pictures and even had a brief stint as a Broadway-style theater when a manager’s tryout for “A Woman of Destiny” was held at the theater in 1936.

Center view of the Auditorium, Casino Theatre - Bronx, NY

The orchestra level was converted into a grocery store, and the stage area is used for storage.

The Willis was renovated and renamed the Casino in 1939 to coincide with the World’s Fair, which was being held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, NY. It closed as a movie house for the last time in the 1960s. After a few years, a supermarket replaced the theater. However, it wasn’t demolished, at least not completely. Instead, the lobby and orchestra level of the auditorium were gutted and converted into the supermarket. The balcony is all that remains of the Casino today.

Storage lockers for films. Early film was made of nitrate, and it is very combustible, so it needed to be stored in lockers like the one pictured here.

Loew’s Boulevard Theatre – Bronx, NY

This was originally posted on After the Final Curtain’s Patreon in January 2022. For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content, you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain

Balcony, Loew's Boulevard Theatre - Bronx, NY

View of the remains of the balcony.

On November 1, 1913, the Loew’s Boulevard Theatre opened in the Bronx, NY. Marcus Loew, founder of Loew’s Incorporated, was one of the 2,800 people who attended the opening night celebrations. Loew announced ‌the theater would feature “small time” vaudeville and motion pictures. Thomas W. Lamb, famed theater architect, redesigned the interior of the Boulevard in 1917. During the remodel, a three-manual Möller organ was installed to accompany the films and live performances. Loew’s Inc. remodeled it again in 1932, but this time to better equip it for talking motion pictures. 

Organ Chamber, Boulevard Theatre - Bronx, NY

Most of the organ chambers were destroyed when the balcony was separated from the orchestra level.

The Boulevard was one of 24 nearby theaters to start a program of one night vaudeville in June 1949. Vaudeville continued into late 1950, but by then the Boulevard was one of only ten other theaters in the program. They discontinued it soon after. Loew’s closed the Boulevard in the late 1960s, and it soon reopened as an independent theater dropping the “Loew’s” from its name. It continued showing motion pictures, but hosted live events from time to time, including a Circus in September 1972. The Boulevard changed formats and became a Spanish language theater in the late 1970s before closing for good in the mid-1980s. 

Five Brothers Furniture took over the building soon after it closed and gutted the lower level, turning it into their showroom. Five Brothers remained in the building until the late 2000s, when it was replaced by Planet Fitness, a fitness club franchise. Planet Fitness cleaned up the facade of the building, but did not touch the balcony, which is the only part of the original theater that remains to this day.

 

You can hear the sounds of workout machines and fitness classes while you’re in the balcony.

Oriental Theatre – Boston, MA

The ornamental plaster was removed after the theater closed.

Originally planned to be built in Waltham, The Oriental Theatre opened on October 24, 1930 in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It was designed in the atmospheric style, where the ceiling resembled the night sky surrounded by a town, by the Boston based architectural firm Krokyn, Browne, and Rosenstein. They recreated notable Chinese structures, such as the Wanshou Temple and the Street Gate of Tsinanfu, in the auditorium. The 2,200 seat theater did not have a balcony, but had stadium seating with a raised section at the rear of the auditorium.

It was originally part of Jacob Lourie and Sam Pinanki’s NETOCO theater circuit, then Paramount, followed by M & P, and finally American Theatres Corporation (ATC.) The Oriental gained a reputation for being run down, and was eventually foreclosed on, which forced the theater to close. It was sold at a foreclosure auction on Friday, September 21, 1971. The last film advertised as being shown was “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.

View from the rear of the auditorium.

In the mid-1970s, the building became home to an electrical supply warehouse. Fred McLennan, a local theater operator, purchased much of the ornamental plasterwork from the theater and installed it at the Orpheum Theatre in Canton, MA, which he renamed to the New Oriental Theatre. Only a few small pieces of plaster and the blue ceiling remained at the Oriental. A furniture store and warehouse replaced the electrical supply warehouse in 2018.

Somerville Theatre – Somerville, MA

This was originally posted on After the Final Curtain’s Patreon in February 2022. For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content, you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain

View from the side of the balcony.

The 1,100 seat Somerville Theatre originally opened on May 11, 1914 in Somerville, Massachusetts. It was designed by the architecture firm of Funk and Wilcox, who also designed the Strand and Franklin Park Theatres. It was part of the Hobbs Building, which also had a bowling alley, a billiards hall, a basement cafe, and a 700-person dance hall, the Hobbs Crystal Ballroom.

Originally designed for vaudeville, stage shows and films, the fallout from the Great Depression forced the theater into primarily showing motion pictures, beginning in 1932. Like many theaters of this era, The Somerville held gimmicks, such as dish night or appliance giveaways, to get people to come to a show. During the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, films would open in the downtown Boston theaters, and then open in neighborhood cinemas like the Somerville a week later.

Unlike many historic movie palaces, the Somerville Theatre was never closed for long periods of time. It became a revival house in 1982, often showing double features and independent films. In the mid-1980s, The Fraiman family purchased The Hobbs Building, and came up with a plan to keep the theater competitive with modern multiplexes. They turned the unused portions of the building, such as the bowling alley, billiards hall, and the ballroom into new screens to show films.

The Somerville Theatre closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, screens 4 & 5 were removed, and they restored the Crystal Ballroom. The theater reopened on September 17, 2021 and the Ballroom reopened on October 8, 2021.

Looking back at the auditorium from the stage.

The exterior of the Somerville Theatre.

 

 

Summer and Fall Workshops 2022

Strand Theatre Auditorium

Here are the dates and locations for the next four After the Final Curtain photo workshops. I’m very excited about the Strand Theatre, which is an active theater, so it’ll be nice and cool inside.

A long exposure of the Everett Square Theatre auditorium. 

The projection booth at the Everett Square Theatre.

Everett Square Theatre

Location: Boston, MA

Date/Time:

July 16, 2022

The Theatre: The Everett Square Theatre opened in 1915 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It was designed by Boston architect Harry M. Ramsay for the Littlefield Trust, the original owner of the theater. For more information, visit: https://afterthefinalcurtain.net/2014/08/05/everett-square-theatre/

Cost: $50.00

Tickets: http://www.mlambrosphotography.com/workshops/everett-square-theatre-workshop

The Everett was an early movie house and is perfect if you’ve never been on a workshop before. I keep the groups small here, and we tend to experiment with lighting as seen in the first photo of the theater posted above.

Strand Theatre

Location: Boston, MA

Date/Time:

August 21, 2022

The Theatre: The Strand Theatre opened on November 11, 1918, in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It was designed by Boston architectural firm Funk and Wilcox, who also designed the nearby Franklin Park Theatre. It is currently used for live events.

Cost: $70.00

Tickets: http://www.mlambrosphotography.com/workshops/strand-theatre-workshop-boston-ma

The Strand is an active theater with decay. This workshop was originally planned for January 2022, but was delayed because of Vincent van Gogh (seriously.)  The afternoon session is already almost sold out.

Auditorium of the “Grant” Theatre.

Grant Theatre

Location: South of Boston, MA

Date/Time:

September 17, 2022

The Theatre: The Grant opened in the early 1900s as a vaudeville theater, and was eventually divided into 2 separate theaters. It’s been closed for several years with no plans to reopen it.

Cost: $75.00

Tickets: https://www.mlambrosphotography.com/workshops/granttheatre2022

***At the request of the owner the real name and location of this theater will be disclosed only to workshop attendees***

Franklin Park Theatre

Location: Boston, MA

Date/Time:

October 15, 2022

The Theatre: The Franklin Park Theatre opened on December 8, 1914 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It was designed by Boston architectural firm Funk and Wilcox, who also designed the nearby Strand Theatre. It was turned into a church in 1963.

https://afterthefinalcurtain.net/2014/10/08/franklin-park-theatre/

Cost: $110

Tickets: http://www.mlambrosphotography.com/workshops/franklinparktheatreworkshop

The Franklin Park is one of my favorite workshop locations. Where else can you get a theater and a church all in one? (That’s a rhetorical question. Please don’t answer.)

 

And that’s it for 2022 workshops. Maybe. I’m always working on new locations and I’ve got a new one that may happen in late fall. Followers of my Patreon will know about it before anyone else.  If there are some locations I’ve done in the past that you’d like another workshop  at – let me know.

Strand Theatre – Boston, MA

I originally posted this post on After the Final Curtain’s Patreon in October 2021. For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content, you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain

View of the auditorium from the balcony.

The Strand Theatre in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, originally opened on November 11, 1918, the same day that the news of the Armistice, ending World War I, reached Boston. The Boston-based architectural firm of Funk & Wilcox, the same firm that designed the nearby Franklin Park Theatre and the Cabot Theatre in Beverly, MA, designed it. It was one of the first theaters in Massachusetts designed with motion pictures in mind. The Strand also had a $75,000 Hope-Jones Theatre Organ, one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts.

A portion of the lobby was restored to show what the theater could look like after a full restoration.

Early advertisements for the Strand called it “New England’s Most Beautiful Theatre” and “Dorchester’s New Million Dollar Photoplay Palace.” The 2,200 seat Strand opened with a silent film double feature of “Queen of the Sea” starring Annette Kellerman and“Out of a Clear Sky” starring Marguerite Clark. There was also a performance by “Songstress DeLuxe” Emile Earle. Hundreds of people showed up to the Strand’s opening celebration in part to celebrate the theater but also the signing of the armistice. Many celebrities performed at the Strand over the years, including Fred Allen, Fanny Brice, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Duke Ellington, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Like many single-screen theaters of its day, the Strand’s audience declined, and the theater closed in 1969. In 1979, the City of Boston took ownership of the theater, and the Strand reopened. It was managed by the M. Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts (MHMCA), who signed a 25-year lease for $1 a year. During this time, some big names performed at the theater – Joe Perry, B.B. King, Tracy Chapman, Public Enemy, Phish, and LL Cool J, just to name a few. MHMCA operated the theater until 2003, when the City declined to renew their lease because of allegations of mismanagement.

The right organ chamber and box seats were given a sample restoration as well.

The City of Boston is currently searching for a new operator of the Strand.

 

 

Palace Theatre – Norwalk, CT

View from the side of the balcony.

The 1,149 seat Palace Theatre originally opened on December 21, 1914, in Norwalk, CT. It was known as “the theater you play before you play the Palace in New York.” Many famous vaudeville acts performed at the Palace over the years, such as Harry Houdini, W.C Fields, Mae West, and Enrico Caruso. It’s rumored to have been one of the final places Houdini played before his death in 1926.

A close up of the theater’s proscenium arch.

The Palace closed as a movie theater for the last time on August 28, 1966. It stayed closed until Russell Fratto purchased it in 1975. Fratto intended on turning the theater into a performing arts center and home for the ballet company he founded. Fratto could reopen it for the 1980-81 season but because of a recession, it closed again after that season.

The lobby is currently used as receptionist area for the building.

It was leased to the Palace Production Center (PPC) in 1983. PPC updated the electrical and HVAC systems and turned the auditorium into a sound stage. PPC purchased the building in 1985 and has operated the building ever since. It’s used for photoshoots, video shoots, and feature film productions.

Orpheum Theatre – St. Louis, Missouri

View of the auditorium from the mezzanine.

The Orpheum Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri opened on September 3, 1917. The Southern Real Estate and Financial Company hired G. Albert Lansberg to design the building. Lansberg designed many theaters for the San Francisco-based Orpheum Theatre Circuit. The 2,300-seat Beaux arts theater cost $500,000 ($9.6 million with inflation) to build. Unlike many other theaters, the Orpheum did not have a formal opening with special guests and speeches. Opening day was a straight vaudeville ticket with two strongmen, a contortionist, two comedians, and a singer.

The lobby of the Orpheum.

Many famous vaudeville acts performed at the Orpheum over the years, including Sophie Tucker, Eddie Foy, Fannie Ward, and Lee Morse. Harry Houdini, the famous illusionist and escape artist, performed at the Orpheum for a week on three separate occasions: the first began on February 13, 1922; the second on January 14, 1923; and the last on December 22, 1923. When vaudeville declined in the late 1920s, the theater switched formats and became a playhouse. It opened on Christmas Day 1929 with a production of David Belasco’s The Bachelor Father.
Warner Bros took the Orpheum over in 1934 and changed formats again, this time to motion pictures. A new screen, projectors, and a W.W. Kimball 2 manual organ were installed in the theater. It reopened on September 15, 1934, with a showing of “British Agent” starring Kay Francis and Leslie Howard. Warner Bros operated the theater until 1941, when the theater closed. It reopened two years later, as the Loew’s Orpheum Theatre on January 28, 1943, with a war bond event and a screening of “The War Against Mrs. Hadley” starring Edward Arnold and Fay Bainter.
On February 28, 1960, Loew’s Theatres Inc. announced that they wanted to move their operations to the nearby American Theater (a playhouse) since they could not easily install a 70mm screen at the Orpheum because of its balconies. They could convert the American Theatre at a much lower cost. Both theaters were owned by Southern Real Estate and Financial Company, which were in favor of the switch. However, because of the ruling of the landmark antitrust case, United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., which said that movie studios could no longer own the theaters in which their films played; Loew’s needed the permission of the Department of Justice to sign a new lease; the Department of Justice signed in March 1960. After a $300,000 renovation, the Orpheum reopened as the American Theatre on October 10, 1960, with a performance of The Music Man.
Local entrepreneurs Steve and Michael Roberts purchased the theater for $1.5 million in 2003. It underwent a two-year renovation and upgrade before reopening on April 10, 2005, as the Roberts Orpheum Theater. The first musical act to perform at the reopened theater was the Backstreet Boys. In 2012, Steve and Michael Roberts went bankrupt and were forced to close the theater. Jubilee World Inc., a music-oriented Christian ministry, bought the theater in late 2016, intending to reopen it as a performing arts center. However, no reopening date has been announced.

View of the auditorium from the box seats.

The auditorium chandelier and procenium arch.

View of the auditorium from the upper balcony.

Exhibition at The Kerlin Gallery in York, PA

The Kerlin Gallery, one of the Creative York galleries in York, PA is currently exhibiting 16 pieces of my work.  They range from 30×20 prints on aluminum to smaller framed prints.

The exhibition runs from Thursday, January 27 to Thursday, February 17, 2022. The opening reception is Thursday, January 27 from 6 to 8pm.

I will be at Creative York on Thursday, February 17 at 5pm for the closing reception. Following this reception, I’ll be speaking at the nearby Capitol Theatre at 7pm.

Hope to see some of you there!

The Library Opera House – Marathon, NY (Lucky Number 200!)

I knew I wanted to do something a little different for the 200th theater I photographed. I was speaking with a friend who went to school in upstate (real upstate, not just slightly north of NYC) and he asked “have you been to the one above the library in Marathon?” I hadn’t heard of it and was immediately intrigued. I found a few recent photos online and knew this would be perfect. Plus, it’s now the oldest theater I’ve photographed in the United States. As with most of my posts – it was originally posted on Patreon in August 2021.  For expanded early posts, as well as video walkthroughs and other exclusive content you can become a patron at: https://www.patreon.com/afterthefinalcurtain

View of the auditorium from the balcony.

In January 1891, Mersena Peck, a native of Marathon, New York died. She left $20,000 ($584,217 when adjusted for inflation) in trust for the creation of a public library in Marathon and named three town residents as trustees. They began working to carry out her wishes and were well underway by 1893. However, before construction could start, a group of 125 citizens petitioned that the building include a space for public entertainment. Architect Miles F. Howe adjusted the blueprints to add a 600 seat opera house on the second floor of the building.

The Marathon Library and Opera House opened on January 1, 1896. It began as a live performance space, hosting traveling performers before transitioning over to films in the early 1930s. The Library Opera House was renamed the Park Theatre and lasted as a movie theater until 1953. The auditorium is currently only used a few times a year to host a used book fair.

The exterior of the Marathon Library/Opera House.

In early 2020, the Marathon Public Library announced that the building needs close to $1 million in renovations. They’ve received $50,000 through their capital campaign but far from enough to be able to make the renovations needed to reopen the opera house.

The orchestra level of the auditorium is used as a book fair.