The auditorium at Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds. Photograph: Tom Joy/Heritage Lottery Fund
A tiny cinema that opened in Leeds within months of the outbreak of the first world war, now believed to be the only one in the world still lit by gas, has won a £2.4m heritage lottery grant to restore historic features and open up its archives.
The Hyde Park Picture House is among a dozen sites receiving major grants, including William Morris’s beautiful Oxfordshire country home, Kelmscott Manor, where the flowers and wildlife inspired many of his designs.
Now owned by the local authority, the Grade II-listed Hyde Park still has 11 working gas lamps, though the imposing lantern on the facade, which is separately listed, was converted to electricity.
Its single-screen auditorium shows films every day, having seen off the competition of the giant jazz-age cinemas with their thousands of seats and luxurious facilities, the coming of television, and the more recent rise of out-of-town multiplexes.
The restored Alexandra Palace Theatre seen from within the projection room.
Originally Opened in 1875, the Theatre was a place of spectacle and delight where audiences of up to 3,000 people were entertained by pantomime, opera, drama and ballet.
A feat of Victorian engineering, the impressive stage machinery was designed so that performers could appear, fly into the air and disappear through the stage.
However, it struggled to compete with the might of the West End and the theatre went on to be used as a cinema, a chapel and the home of music hall stars before a spell as a BBC prop store and workshop.
For 80 years it has been closed to the public, but now a full restoration brings this hidden gem back to its original glory.
It may only show one movie at a time, but this quaint theater is not to be missed.
It was the last theater in the United States constructed in the Nuevo Deco style, a form of Art Deco that also features elements of Art Nouveau.
The Washoe Theater was designed circa 1930 by B. Marcus Priteca, the architect of the Hollywood Pantages theater, and built in 1936 during the Great Depression.
The space was designed to feature near-perfect acoustics, which was an impressive feat of engineering as the theater opened at a time when films with sound were still relatively new.
The space itself is just as much of an attraction as the movies. Its walls boast ornate reliefs and accents.
Copper details pay homage to the mining industry that once dominated the city. The curtain, which is made of silk and covered with a painting of deer, is so old and beautiful that workers are hesitant to take it down for cleaning or restoration in case it falls apart.
The historic theater sits in the middle of the former mining city of Anaconda. At the beginning of the 20th century, Anaconda was one of the world’s largest processors of copper.
As such, it had a hefty population of immigrants working its mines and smelter. The miners were eager to be entertained after a hard day, and the Washoe Theater provided a reprieve from their grueling work.
Today, people can still pop into this delightful feature from the city’s past. The experience of seeing a movie in such a historic place is a treat for anyone visiting this corner of Montana.
The Hyde Park Picture House, the world’s only surviving gas-lit cinema, opened in 1914.
The owners of the Grade II-listed building have now been granted planning permission for redevelopment, to improve accessibility, restore the gas lights and ornate plasterwork and incorporate a second screen in the basement.
Photographer Franck Bohbot is a master of interior and exterior spaces.
Whether it’s his attention-grabbing photographs of French pools, grand libraries, or humble basketball courts, for me, it was hard to decide which photo series to interview him about.
In the end, I gravitated toward his pictures of American movie theaters because they seemed to evoke a familiar narrative—old Hollywood and the golden days of film.
The Crest, Westwood, Lobby, Los Angeles, California, 2014
The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles, California
It’s no easy feat to take an empty space—devoid of people, animals, or weather—and make it shine, but every theater comes to life in Bohbot’s imagination. He originally became interested in the visual arts through cinema before his interests turned to photography, which is now one of his great passions.
While working on a project on French theaters, Bohbot stumbled on the Max Linder Panorama, which he calls “a famous venue and a beautiful Parisian movie theater.
I told myself that one day I would travel to the U.S. and photograph the movie theaters built during the golden age of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s.