29 Abandoned Music Halls, Ballrooms, Theatres and Movie Palaces (Part Two)

(Image: Bob Jagendorf, cc-nc-3.0)

With the advent of television, DVDs and modern multiplexes, many theatres and movie palaces fell into disuse and ultimately dereliction.  While many were demolished or adapted as bingo halls, bars and even fashionable apartments, others await their fates in a state of decay.  Often large buildings, their imposing modern ruins are reminders of a past that is both recent and long gone.

(Images: Benjamin Easham; Stephen McKay; Neal Jennings, all cc-sa-3.0; millicent_bystander, cc-3.0)

Abandoned theatres and movie palaces come in a variety of sizes and architectural styles, from classic and atmospheric theatres to more modern Art Deco cinemas, and even drive-in movie theaters (read a brief history here).

Eastown Theater, Detroit

(Images: Detroit Urbex, reproduced with permission)

If the glory days of theatres are over, Detroit could be their graveyard.  The city is home to numerous derelict theatres that are literally crumbling to the ground.  Eastown Theater was one of Detroit’s great neighbourhood venues, and formed the proud centerpiece of a row of shops.  Those have all gone now, and the Eastown – which latterly hosted rock concerts and raves – was partly burned down in 2010.

Palace Theatre, Gary, Indiana

(Images: Kevin Miller, cc-3.0;Christopher Robleski, reproduced with permission)

Continuing our Rust Belt road trip, Gary’s once splendid Palace Theatre presides over the centre of a city that has endured years of urban decay.  Opened in 1925 and designed in the Atmospheric style, the theatre’s crumbling condition is seen by some as the symbol of an entire community’s decline.  Read more about Gary, Indiana here.

Leow’s Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, New York

(Images: Matt Lambros, reproduced with permission)

Photographer Matt Lambros has documented many abandoned theatres on his website and blog, and Urban Ghosts has had the pleasure of featuring his work on several occasions.  The magnificent Leow’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn opened in 1929 and introduced several youngsters to film, including Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler who worked there as ushers.  A $70 million renovation plan is currently underway, which will make Leow’s Kings the third largest theatre in New York City when it reopens.

Orpheum Theatre, New Bedford, Massachusetts

(Images: Matt Lambros, reproduced with permission)

The 1,500 seat Orpheum Theatre opened on the same day Titanic sank – April 15th 1912 – on Water Street in New Bedford.  The elegant building also housed a ballroom and shooting range prior to closing.  A supermarket now occupies part of the building but everything else remains intact.  Matt Lambros interviewed Lance Gunberg, president of O.R.P.H. Inc., a non-profit group working to restore the Orpheum Theatre.

Keith-Albee Theatre, Queens, New York

(Images: Matt Lambros, reproduced with permission)

Here’s one beautiful old Baroque theatre that’s not long for this world.  The Keith-Albee Theatre (later called the RBO Keith’s Theatre) in Flushing, New York, opened on Christmas Day 1928.  Public outrage thwarted demolition in 1987 but the damage had already been done.  The theatre has been abandoned ever since, and is set to be torn down to make way for a 17-storey tower.  Only the lobby and ticket booth will be saved.

Arcade Theatre, Los Angeles

(Images: Nick Bradshaw, cc-sa-3.0)

While there’s no denying this Electronics store-front resembles a former theatre – and even retains its name – you probably wouldn’t expect to find an entire auditorium lurking in the gloom behind the shop.  Now used for storage, the auditorium of Los Angeles’ former Arcade Theatre, which opened to resemble an English music hall in 1910, remains relatively intact.

(Images: Nick Bradshaw, cc-sa-3.0)

In fact, downtown Los Angeles is home to a variety of abandoned theatres which still stand today.  In this photograph, the Arcade Theatre, mentioned above, can be seen alongside the Roxie and Cameo theatres on Broadway.  Despite current regeneration of downtown LA, it’s difficult to imagine these landmark buildings will ever be revived.  But this is the land of film and Hollywood, so who knows?

ABC Cinema, Wakefield, UK

(Images: Philld (left, right, bottom), cc-sa-3.0)

The Art Deco ABC Cinema in Wakefield is one of hundreds of single screen cinemas in the UK to close its doors, despite surviving until 1996.  Designed by William R. Glen III and opened in 1936, the ABC’s balcony remains largely intact, with unmistakable Art Deco features, although the lower level has been gutted.  Read more about the cinema’s history here.

Abandoned Drive-in Movie Theater, Centralia, Pennsylvania

(Images: Proper Pictures, cc-3.0)

This former drive-in movie theater isn’t the only abandoned building in Centralia.  The whole town was deserted after an underground mine fire ignited in 1962 and continues to burn to this day.  It is thought the blaze could continue for 250 years.  While much of Centralia has been demolished, the drive-in, along with a few homes, linger on in a state of decay.

ABC Cinema, Hull & Elysium Cinema, Swansea, UK

(Images: Paul Whittaker, cc-nd-3.0; Lula TaHula, cc-nd-3.0)

Despite being a multi-screen cinema, the Hull ABC was no match for the modern generation of massive multiplexes that captivate cinema audiences with the latest advances in sound and visual technology, and has now been demolished.  The main auditorium of the Elysium Cinema in Swansea, however, is covered by a false ceiling, which suggests the building was adapted as a bingo hall – the fate of many old British cinemas.

Other Abandoned Cinemas and Movie Theaters

(Images: mdanys, cc-3.0; Matt Lambros, reproduced with permission; David Cabrera, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

Abandoned theatres and movie palaces range in size from small neighbourhood cinemas to vast entertainment venues.  Found across the world, they represent a range of architectural styles and appeal to historians and urban explorers in the same way they once captivated cinema audiences.  They’re crumbling remains are treasure troves of cinema history, as the intact projectors above reflect.

Part One: Abandoned Concert Halls and Ballrooms

 

Comments

  • we have some great places like this is Biddeford, Maine

 
 
 
 

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