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.
The world’s oldest surviving public movie theater, the Eden Theatre in the town of La Ciotat 20 miles east of Marseille on the south coast of France, has been restored and reopened after 30 years of neglect.
In a gala opening this little town’s prominent place in film history was reclaimed with a showing of some of the first moving pictures ever filmed, shot in 1895 by the Lumière brothers in La Ciotat’s summer sun.
In 1892, Antoine Lumière, father of the soon-to-be-famous brothers, had a seaside mansion built in La Ciotat. A friend of his had introduced him to the town and he had fallen in love with its charms.
After construction on the Tuscan-style villa known as Château Lumière was completed in 1893, entire family spent summers there. The timing was ideal to make the sleepy town of 12,000 a dominant figure in movie history.
According to one popular view of events, Antoine saw Edison’s Kinetoscope in Paris in 1894 and suggested to his sons that they look into improving on Edison’s device which was heavy, dependent on electricity and only allowed one person at a time to view the motion picture through a peephole.
Within months, Louis had invented combination device that shot the film, developed it and projected it.
The brothers patented the Cinématographe on February 13th, 1895, using the name of an earlier recording and projecting device patented by Léon Bouly in February of 1892.
By 1894 Bouly could no longer afford the fees to renew his patents, so the Lumière’s snapped up the name.
Some historians believe Louis took more than just the name from Bouly’s device, but if so, he improved upon it drastically. Louis insisted he came up with the idea all on his own, denying even the story about his father and the Kinetoscope.
On March 22nd, 1895, the first movie audience witnessed La Sortie de l’Usine (“Exiting the factory”), less than a minute of footage of workers, mainly women, leaving the Lumière photographic plate factory in Lyons shot three days before the showing.
This demonstration took place in Paris for a private audience at the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (Society for the Encouragement of National Industry).
One of the most glamorous and beautiful of Australian picture palaces was The Regent Theatre, located on Rundle Street. It opened on June 29, 1928 with the features, MGM’s “Flesh and the Devil” and Fox’s “The Gay Retreat”.
There was an orchestra of 16 players. The Wurlitzer 3Manual 15Ranks theatre pipe organ was installed some three months after the gala opening at a cost of 25,000 pounds ($AUD50,000) and premiered on September 22, 1928 with American organist Ray de Clemens, who took up a 3-month residency.
It was the third Regent Theatre in the Hoyts Theatres chain to open, after Perth and Sydney. It was also one of the first public buildings in Adelaide to be air-conditioned. The huge auditorium in Spanish-Moroccan style seated 2,300 patrons.
A highly arched proscenium was the focal point and was bathed in a range of subdued colors. From behind the intricate grille-work in and around the proscenium, emanated the distinctly rich sounds of the mighty Wurlitzer.
Stage shows were also always a part of the Regent Theatre presentations. A massive crystal chandelier hung above the lounge circle, and there were other smaller versions placed around the theatre.
In December 1953, the first CinemaScope film “The Robe” opened for an eight week run.
In late-1959, TV came to South Australia and theatre attendances started to dwindle. In 1961, the theatre closed for three weeks so that six shops could be built along one side of the stalls, with the shops facing out onto a laneway at the side of the theatre. 298 stalls seats were lost, leaving the theatre with 1,964 seats.
In 1967, plans were drawn by architect Peter Muller to create an arcade in the stalls area to accommodate 38 shops at ground level. The Paris Theatre behind the Regent Theatre was also demolished and rebuilt.
The Wurlitzer organ was then removed and is now installed in the Memorial Hall at St. Peters College. The newly revamped Regent Theatre re-opened on 30th May 1968 with “In the Heat of the Night”.
It incorporated the former ceiling and side walls of the original dress circle, some of the white marble from the grand staircase which led from the foyer, and most of the original 1928 facade.
The much smaller Regent Theatre now seated only 894 on a one raked level, using the former dress circle area. The latest projection equipment capable of most film formats was installed, including Cinerama on the 70 foot screen.
The Regent Theatre’s future was in doubt for quite some time and it closed on 28th January 2004. The building was further gutted internally to become part of the shopping centre.
Contributed by KinoCQ/Australian Cinema And Theatre Society
With its nearly 6,000 seats and multi-tiered balconies, the Roxy Theatre was the showplace of New York City and of the nation.
Construction began on March 22, 1926 and it opened on March 11, 1927 with Gloria Swanson in “The Loves of Sonya”.
It was designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago (who also designed New York’s Beacon Theatre), with interior decoration by Harold W. Rambusch of New York.
Its rather modest entrance at the corner of the Taft Hotel building disguised one of the most cavernous lobbies ever built and a magnificent auditorium that has lived on in its patrons’ imagination.
Whatever adjectives can be used for the Roxy Theatre, they all fail to signify the theatre’s achievement.
Sadly, the decline in attendance that had begun in the 1950’s spilled over into the early-1960’s and the Roxy Theatre closed with Dirk Bogarde in “The Wind Cannot Read” which began its run on March 9, 1960.
Despite numerous protests, it was razed in 1961. In its place sits a nondescript and unremarkable office building.
The neighboring Taft Hotel survives to this day (now the Michangelo Hotel) and is the only evidence that this epic structure was ever here. A TGI Friday’s restaurant occupies the theatres’ original entrance.
The legacy of the Roxy Theatre is almost as impressive as the theater itself once was.
The name ‘Roxy’ has since adorned movie theaters, nightclubs, restaurants and a host of other establishments around the world all attempting to give to their patrons what Roxy always brought to its own: entertainment.
The end of the Roxy Theatre signified the beginning of the end for thousands of movie palaces across the country.
With its destruction, New York City began to destroy its past for urban renewal and the city, and movie palaces, have never been the same.