Abandoned architecture has fascinated me since I was five years old. My grandmother used to take my brother and I in to investigate any old barn she happened to drive past. She was curious about what was left behind, and her inquisitive nature made a lasting impression on me.
I grew up in Dutchess County, New York, and like most places there were quite a few supposedly “haunted” buildings begging for a closer look. Hudson River State Hospital, one of the first places I went to on my own, was one of them. My friends and I used to drive around the campus late at night trying to scare each other. It was then that my interest in abandoned buildings evolved into a vehicle for artistic expression.
I’ve spent ten years composing photographic obituaries for once-thriving buildings that are now crumbled and forgotten. My hope for my work is that it will shine light on beautiful, dated architecture and on the equal yet sinister beauty in decay.
Matt Lambros is a photographer based in New York City.
“After The Final Curtain” is a photographic documentation of the effects of years of neglect and decay in some of America’s greatest theaters as well as a journey into some that have been reborn.
75 thoughts on “About”
Please please please shoot the Uptown Theater in Chicago!
I second Roberts plea!
I’m heading out west to photograph more theaters shortly, and I hope the Uptown will be one of them.
Lovely blog! Do you have anything on the Pelham Picture House which has recently been renovated?
Thanks! I don’t have anything about the Pelham Picture House. I’m trying to spotlight theaters that are in need of renovation, and the Pelham Picture House has already reopened.
Matt, this is just wonderful! Your photographs of these exquisite theaters are so haunting and beautiful. PLEASE keep up the good work!
When will you publish all these memorable pictures in a book? I already have a spot on my coffee table.
I share your interest in capturing the neglect of the RKO Keith’s in Flushing NY. I’ve been posting images and slide shows for a few years. It needs all the publicity it can get for 2 reasons: 1 The loss of a landmark that has defined the neighborhood for millions and a cultural asset; 2 What is proposed to take its place will choke the saturated neighborhood with over-development.
Good stuff. My bro lives in NYC. I saw your work on how to be a retronaut.
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There is a theater in the architecture tradition of the ones that you photograph in downtown Hanover, PA, zip code 17331 (about an hour north of Baltimore, MD). It is also in need of restoration, current owners attempted but vandals and the economy have hurt their cause and it is now up for sale. Would love to see it restored, the building is quite remarkable. Please photograph it for your site…
I contacted the current owners of the theater in Hanover a few months back. I was told that the building is currently for sale, and unable to be photographed. I plan to try again in the near future.
I would love to have my gypsy band’s new cd shoot in the decaying Chicago Uptown theatre. Thoughts/interest?
Unfortunately, the owners of the Uptown Theatre in Chicago are not allowing anyone inside at the moment. The following is taken from the Uptown Theatre website:
“Owned by UTA II, LLC, which intends to restore it, the theatre is not available for tours, photos, film shoots, weddings, etc. at this time.”
I am absolutely in love with your sites. Great photography. I just blogged about After the Final Curtain.
Thank you, Patrick.
Just read the About and realized this is about Abandoned architecture! Love this stuff.
You should restore/renovate all theatres!
If I had the money I would.
He, he, sorry I mean: It should be renovated/restored.
Matt – as you know, you’ve just had some publicity here in the UK in the Sunday Telegraph. I think you’ve exhibited your work here? Any plans to come back over and do that again.?? Great work – keep at it. Oh, and if you run out of subjects in the US, we have plenty over here!!!
All the best,
When we were kids we could walk to the Music Box Theater, and the Uptown. Hope the folks in Bridgeport are successful in their efforts to preserve a piece of history.
Hi Matt, gorgeous photography, loved your website with the abandoned hospitals/theatre and i love the outlets/ I, for some reasons, have always love shooting outlets and old ceiling fixtures. Anyway, beautiful…
How much of re-touching are you doing if you don’t mind me asking?
Just the basics. Color correction, straightening, sharpening, and some blending of bracketed images.
Truly like the name and the issues it connects with. Keep sharing 🙂
Hi Matt. I just found your site and it’s truly fascinating. I live in Brooklyn in a area were I am surrounded by the remnants of theatre history. I have the downtown area to the north of me with all it’s hidden glory. South is Flatbush where the titans still stand. My favorite, The Kings on Flatbush Avenue. My kids think I’m crazy but it’s good to know that others like yourself appreciate these awesome structures. Thank You.
Great blog. There was a feature in Chicago Magazine not too long ago about abandoned, or decrepit theatres in Chicago that may be worth checking out for some more ideas. Keep the awesome pictures coming!
Peter – Thanks! I did see that article and I’ve been to most of the theaters that it profiled.
Matt – I am trying REALLY hard to find information about the historical significance (if any) of The Lawndale Theater in Chicago. All the information I keep finding online is the same stuff, just worded differently. Since you have had the honor of photographing it, i thought you might be able to point me in a new direction?
I had trouble finding anything as well. Have you tried asking the Theatre Historical Society about it? They may have some more information.
I love this whole project! Old buildings -especially those that are abandoned like this- have always fascinated me; they have that weird sense of mystery to them and are very inspiring!
Will you be visiting more theatres??
Thanks! I just visited 7 over the past two weeks, and I have plans for many more.
One of my absolute favourite blogs i have ever come across.
Thankyou for exploring!
Your blog is truly fascinating, I can’t believe that so many magnificent buildings that you photograph are left unused!
Matt: thought you’d find this interesting – one of your earlier subjects – lost to a parking lot:
Final curtain, indeed.
It’s a shame they couldn’t raise the funds to preserve the front of the building.
interesting concept for a site. nice!
Some beautiful images here. You deserve this. http://thetinheademporium.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/liebster-award/
What a wonderful blog and what amazing pictures…Happy to have found you!
PLease PLease shoot the Schine Theatre in Auburn, NY. They have been trying for years to save it!
Thanks! I’ve been meaning to shoot the Schine for a few years now. Hopefully I’ll head up that way soon.
What are the chances that these theaters can be remodeled and thrive once again?
David – Some of them already are in the process of being renovated, but most of them will probably remain abandoned until they are beyond repair.
This is very neat! I love historical buildings. Hopefully your photos will inspire or motivate the people of those communities or historical organizations to find a way to acquire, renovate, and put the theatre to use! Looks like they might need to find donors with deep pockets 😉
I just came across this website and was totally blown away by it. I am a recently retired projectionist with nearly 38 years in just about every movie theatre in Brooklyn, Queens and quite a few in Manhattan. I was in the projection booth the last night the Loew’s Kings Theatre. Few people are aware that there is a full sized gymnasium under the auditorium which was used by employees in the early years of operation to keep fit at the employer’s behest. I grew up in Brooklyn a ten minute bus ride away from this theatre and my earliest memory of it was watching the original version of “Around the world in 80 Days” as a child. I was the last projectionist to turn off the lights at the above pictured RKO Keith and I remember the original interior. The auditorium ceiling was painted blue and had hundreds of tiny lights embedded in it and clouds painted on it to give the illusion of being open to the night. It has been said that sometimes the humidity inside had caused small clouds to appear, but that was waaaay before my time in that place. By the time I arrived there that gorgeous movie palace had already been divided into a triplex, and a lot of the original architecture, while still in place, was damaged and inoperative. If you google images of the RKO Keith you can see pictures of it’s original glory. In the latter half of my career I had the dubious distinction of closing quite a few theatres or was involved in the conversion to a multi plex. The stories I could tell about these places would astound you.
Wow! So happy to have stumbled upon your site. I herald from Waterbury, CT. It’s an old, former, industrial city and the ghosts of it’s past just float throughout its ruins. Not having studied architecture, I only have a layman’s appreciation for the remains that still stand, but I do find the town haunting and sad and strangely beautiful. They did do a wonderful job restoring the Palace theater, but, again, I know little of architecture and design. Now I’m clicking back to enjoy your blog. Cheers!
I am so incredibly grateful to have found your site. I think there is a hushed energy around each of these theaters. Oh if the walls could talk! Thank you for your amazing insight into these special treasures. I’m glad to be following your blog now. Thank you! Cher 🙂
Hi , my name is Ana Martha , I´m an architect , and I work with restoration , in Brazil , we have some government help to this kind of places and I would love to see some of these places that you have been posted , completely restorated , and able to work again…
So would I.
Hi Matt, I have nominated you for the Lovely Blog Award! Please follow this link to my blog for more details: http://wp.me/P4doQv-9K Hugs, Cher xo
This blog is very special. Many old theatres have stories of ghosts. You’ve captured them on film. At times heart bracingly sad, but always capturing the essence of what makes theatres different o any other buildings.
I love your pictures and what you’re doing here. I’m a theater designer at heart so I see so much potential for these abandoned theaters.
Lovely blog! Your project is very thoughtful. Keep up the great work! please Visit http://www.helloworldmagazine.com sometime, too. Thanks!
Its enchanting!!how cool those place!!I’m inlove with your blog..There’s a lot of history and arts with those wonderful pictures you have..You brought me in those place that i would love to see…Its really really lovely….
I think there is definitely a beauty in decay and what was once there is seen in the building through worn out walls and thick dust. I am new to the whole blogging thing and I look forward to following your work.
Congrats on a great blog. Very original.
I am very impressed with the content of this blog. While capturing the beauty and timelessness of these theaters, Matt is also able to provide the information and history to kindle the curiosity of the reader. I hope to continue being a supportive follower of this photographic documentation.
Best of luck,
Quinn Hollows from theperceptiveteen.WordPress.com
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This is so neat! Poignant and beautiful! I look forward to following!
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I’ve loved abandoned buildings and their stories since I was little as well – wonderful to read your about page 🙂 And fabulous photos – thank you!
We caught a BBC report on your work and were fascinated – thank you very much! It made us think about sending you a link to a nearby theater that was left all but abandoned around 1978 in Jersey City but major renovations brought out a jewel for the city! Nice clip with Richard Polton Architectural Historian: https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/united-states/video-clip-stanley-theater-renovation/
Thanks again Matt and keep up the great work!
Thanks for the great Newark theatre photos. There are also quite a few office buildings in the heart of the city in which the floors above the street have been vacant for fifty years. If you can get in there I’ll carry the equipment!
Thanks Tom! I’ll let you know.
Flushing’s RKO Keith’s theatre is soon facing demolition and questionable “restoration” to the grand foyer that would later lack publich access. PLEASE consider contribute your writing and photograph on Atlas Obscura, to give the old theatre the resting farewell. Atlas Obscure is reputable and well liked by many, I hope the theatre would be exposed to more people. I have considered to contribute to the site on my own, but I do not have any photographs and my english grammar is questionable.
Thank you for your time
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Wow, these are such incredible images. I also have love of abandoned theatres, and wish there was one nearby that I could work to restore. Like, give up everything else and just focus on bringing it back to life. Thanks so much for documenting these transformations!
You might want to consider shooting TheParamount, The Neptune, and The Moore Theatres in Seattle, and The Pantages, The Rialto, and Theatre on The Square in Tacoma. The ones in Seattle are all retooled cinemas, and are functional to this day (though not without their problems); they are owned by Seattle Theatre Group (STG). The Pantages and The Rialto are also retooled cinemas; the Theatre on The Square is recent construction. All three are owned by the City of Tacoma and managed by ASM Global. They would make valuable additions to your books.
I’ll definitely add those to my list. To be honest, the Pacific Northwest is the one corner of the country that I haven’t made my way to yet. Hopefully in the next year or soo.