Have you ever wanted to photograph an abandoned theater?
I’ve been traveling around the country photographing historic theaters and using my images to raise awareness of their plight for almost 10 years now.
One of the most common questions I get about my work is “Can I come with you?” So, I reached out to some theater owners, and finally the answer to the question is “Yes, you can.” I have co-hosted some workshops in the past, and through those we raised over $10,000 to help with maintenance and other expenses. However, these are solo workshops, which means more money will be going to the owners to help the theaters. While the money from these workshops will never be enough to save a theater, every little helps.
Here are the workshops planned so far. I’ll be adding more dates and locations throughout the year. I hope to see some of you at one of these fantastic spaces.
Everett Square Theatre
Location: Boston, MA
November 7, 2021
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/
Location: Boston, MA
August 7, 2021
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.
Auditorium, Victory Theatre Holyoke, MA
Location: Holyoke, MA
Date: August 21, 2021
The Theatre: Construction on the Victory began in the fall of 1919, and cost around $500,000 or $7,057,106.74 when adjusted for inflation. It opened on December 31, 1920, and the proceeds from the theater’s opening night were given to the Holyoke City Hospital and the House of Providence Hospital. Its name is itself a reference to the Allies’ victory during the war. From its opening date, The Victory operated as a “combination house,” showing both films and vaudeville performances. Vaudeville was phased out in the early 1930s for the more popular motion picture screenings.
It closed in the late 1970s and was seized by the city for nonpayment of taxes. In September 2008, the city of Holyoke transferred ownership of the theater to the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, who plan to renovate the theater and reopen it as a performing arts center.
Location: Boston, MA
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.
Location: Springfield, MA
Date/Time: TBA 2021
The Theatre: The Paramount Theater (also known as the Julia Sanderson Theater and The Hippodrome) opened in 1926. Built at a cost of $1 million (13 million when adjusted for inflation), it was the most ornate theater in western Massachusetts. The Paramount closed in 2011 after being used as a nightclub for a few years. It is currently scheduled to undergo a renovation next year and reopen as a performing arts center.
Variety Theatre – Co-hosted with Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
The Theatre: The Variety Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio originally opened on November 24, 1927 in the Jefferson neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. It operated on the Variety Amusement Company circuit before being sold to Warner Brothers in 1929. Warner Brothers ran the theater until 1954 when it was sold to Wargo Realty for $500,000, one of the largest real estate sales involving a theater since the great depression. The Variety was last used as a wrestling gym called the Cleveland Wrestleplex before closing for good in the late 1980s.
Grand Theatre Workshop
Location: Steubenville, Ohio
The Theatre: The Grand Theatre building was built in 1885 by German immigrant Jacob Griesinger, Sr. in Steubenville, Ohio. It originally housed a saloon, restaurant and livery stables. In 1924, the building was taken over by Charles, Edward, Howard and William Biggio. The four brothers had the stables torn down and constructed the Grand Theatre auditorium in its place. In 2010, the theater was purchased by the Grand Theatre Restoration Project, who plan to restore and renovate the theater into a performing arts center and museum. For more information, visit: https://afterthefinalcurtain.net/2013/07/22/grand-theatre/
Sorg Opera House
Location: Middletown, Ohio
The Theatre: The Sorg Opera House in Middletown, Ohio originally opened in the 1890s. It began showing early forms of motion pictures in 1901, and switched to films full time in the late 1920s. It is currently owned by the SORG (Sorg Opera Revitalization Group), who have performed much-needed renovations on parts of the theater.