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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » Historic Grand Lake Theater, Oakland, CA

   
Author Topic: Historic Grand Lake Theater, Oakland, CA
Miron Murcury
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted February 12, 2005 03:52 AM      Profile for Miron Murcury   Email Miron Murcury         Edit/Delete Post 
Oakland's Historic Grand Lake Theater Featured On New CD-ROM

Our grandparents and parents spent their Saturday evenings in elaborate movie theaters built to resemble European opera houses. Today these “palaces” are all but gone, victims of redevelopment, gentrification and the multiplex.
Now Oakland artist Miron Murcury has created a unique love letter to the neighborhood movie palace. The Historic Grand Lake Theater is an e-book tour of the Roaring Twenties era theater in over 223 photographs, accompanied by a Kevin King mini-concert on the Wurlitzer organ. A short movie of the landmark roof sign is sure to delight historic theater buffs. A limited number of the first edition multimedia CDs are available now at the Grand Lake Theater, Walden Pond Books, and other local outlets.
'I wanted to help preserve this beautiful palace and celebrate the theater's 79th anniversary,' said the author, whose first CD-ROM earned a Partners in Preservation Award from the Oakland Heritage Alliance.
The Historic Grand Lake Theater is a 14-chapter picture book presented as an Acrobat Reader document. It begins with antique and historic photographs and a brief biography of the building with the theater's organ playing in the background.

The pictures, selected by Murcury from his half-decade of work as the theater's resident restoration artist, show many normally unseen ornate details and locations.
The camera serves as your guide as it reveals the entire building. It circles the French rococo inspired exterior, glides through the domed foyer and sensuously curving lobby and travels into the four movie palace auditoriums, and peeks into the three projection booths. You'll be guided through the three projection booths, past the proscenium curtain (rescued from San Francisco's Fox Theater) and into the vaudeville-era stage and dressing rooms. You'll even be taken up to the roof to learn how the largest rotary-contact sign west of the Mississippi operates.
A man of few words, the author clearly explains the many artistic and technical wonders of The Grand Lake Theater. He briefly discusses the three Tiffany Studio stained glass pieces, the roof sign that operates like a music box, and how films are projected in a continuous loop from a platter. In a building equal parts art and commerce, there are many artistic wonders that deserve notice. The hand painted wallpaper and plaster architectural details are the jewelry in the building.
But this is not a ''silent picture show.'' While reading and looking at the photographs, you can listen to the theater's Wurlitzer organ. Kevin King, Grand Lake Organist, has contributed a delightful miniconcert recorded on the 3-manual, 18 rank, Wurlitzer pipe organ. Before restoring the theater's organ, Mr. King played a key roll in the rebuilding and installation of two other large Bay Area Wurlitzer organs. Kevin has performed concerts at many of the country's major theater organ venues and plays the Grand Lake organ Saturday evenings before the feature film. With this CD, you can hear him play at home as well.
With lights, cameras, musical action and costing over one million dollars, The Grand Lake Theater, opened as America's largest neighborhood theater on March 2, 1926. The Historic Grand Lake Theater multimedia CD opens the doors of history and provides a window into a restored cathedral of cinema as no book can.

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Ken Roe
Member

Posts: 66
From: London, England
Registered: May 2003


 - posted February 12, 2005 06:52 AM      Profile for Ken Roe   Author's Homepage   Email Ken Roe         Edit/Delete Post 
I called into the Grand Lake Theater about 10 days ago (on a CinemaTour type visit I was on in CA) and enquired at the ticket office if there were any new postcards or a book published since my last visit there 3 years ago. I was told no, sorry.

I would love to purchase a copy of your cd-rom, but living here in London, UK it's not possible to just go along to the theatre!

Could you please contact me e-mail; ken@kenroe.co.uk and we can work out how I can obtain a copy and make payment etc.

Thanks

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William French, Jr.
New Member

Posts: 22
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted February 12, 2005 07:46 AM      Profile for William French, Jr.   Email William French, Jr.         Edit/Delete Post 
How great this is. My Father worked at the Grand Lake back in the 1960s and was able to see a number of movies there when I lived in Oakland as a teen.

It is the main auditorium of the Grand Lake that is on the cover of the book Cinema Treasures.

Now I know where I will go on my next trip with my Mom.

Thanx,
William

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Miron Murcury
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted February 12, 2005 10:46 AM      Profile for Miron Murcury   Email Miron Murcury         Edit/Delete Post 
Ken,

I am so very sorry that I missed you by so few days.

It would have been my great pleasure to walk with you through the theater.

Did the staff show you the set of Grand Lake Theater postcards?

Please note: the Grand Lake Theater web site is -

www.rrfilms.com

This small chain is about to get smaller. Please, take what ever pictures of the Oaks and Orinda theaters from the web site that you want before this coming Thursday.

William, Hello.

When you and your mom come to visit, I will, if you would like, try to meet and walk with you through the theater. There is much to see.
The book cover is also available as a post card, without type.

Thank you.
Here's a picture of theater 1.

 -

Yours,
Miron Murcury

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William French, Jr.
New Member

Posts: 22
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted February 12, 2005 11:30 AM      Profile for William French, Jr.   Email William French, Jr.         Edit/Delete Post 
That would be a lot of fun. Are the other theatres closing? With all of the multiplexs in the East Bay it is no wonder why they are having trouble. I just hope the theatres do not get gutted. How great it would be for them to be turned into live theatre or concert venues. The Oaks looks as if it would be a great place to restore. I saw movie there in 1992 but I don't remember what it was.

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Miron Murcury
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted February 12, 2005 11:42 AM      Profile for Miron Murcury   Email Miron Murcury         Edit/Delete Post 
Hello,

The Oaks and the art deco Orinda, will be under new management.
Both theaters are worth visiting.
The Oaks, Phil Tippet told me, was his local and favorite movie house when he was a kid.
It has been twinned. Sigh.

Yours,
Miron Murcury

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Eric Hooper
Member

Posts: 107
From: Santa Clara, CA
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted February 14, 2005 12:50 PM      Profile for Eric Hooper   Email Eric Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
RR's website states The Oaks will be run by Metropolitan Theatres as of Fri 2/18...

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Miron Murcury
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted February 14, 2005 07:03 PM      Profile for Miron Murcury   Email Miron Murcury         Edit/Delete Post 
Eric. Hello Neighbor

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Scott D. Neff
Tour Guide

Posts: 661
From: San Francisco, CA
Registered: Feb 2003


 - posted February 16, 2005 03:36 PM      Profile for Scott D. Neff   Email Scott D. Neff         Edit/Delete Post 
Was the OAKS an original Metropolitan Theatre? I know Pacific used to run it back when they ran everything in Berkeley.

This sounds like a theatre reverting to the landlord after the lease expires.

I don't see anything on RR's website about the Orinda. Which makes sense since they were the ones to rennovate and operate that site.

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Miron Murcury
New Member

Posts: 6
From: Oakland, CA
Registered: Feb 2005


 - posted February 28, 2005 09:04 AM      Profile for Miron Murcury   Email Miron Murcury         Edit/Delete Post 
Thu, Nov. 25, 2004 Contra Costa Times newspaper

Grand Lake Theater owner trims moviehouse business to one site

By Meera Pal
STAFF WRITER

Grand Lake Theater owner Allen Michaan, who has for years operated several independent moviehouses in the Bay Area, wants to end his lease on the Orinda Theater, along with two of his other historic theaters. The proliferation of multi-screen megaplexes, together with fewer blockbuster movies and higher overhead costs have made it tough to break even, said Michaan, an Alameda resident.

His lease runs out on the Orinda Theater in 2006. Michaan has put the Lafayette Park Theater up for sale, and is negotiating with a potential new operator for the Oaks Theater in Berkeley.

He plans to keep the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, and to install all new seats and carpeting.

Rather than see the Orinda Theater turned into a multi-screen megaplex, a group of Orinda residents have banned together to preserve the historic neighborhood theater. Michaan is pleased that Holleschau's group wants to purchase the operating rights and take control of the classic movie house. ScanlanKemper Bard, which owns Orinda Theater Square.

Three Orinda families have approached ScanlanKemper and Orinda officials about a plan to use the theater for community and cultural events, and to run retrospectives, and student- and independent-films. The group needs the city to take part in the agreement, because ScanlanKemper has offered the city a below-market rate, in exchange for modifications to development conditions at Theatre Square. They would like to expand commercial uses and modify parking requirements. No city funds would be required in the transaction.

Michaan tried to reopen Alameda Theatre in the 1990s, but the need for expanding parking spaces in the area and other financial drawbacks sunk the plan.

"The theater business is changing," Michaan said. "It's dominated by huge companies and megaplex-type theaters. It is the Wal-Martization of America. Someone builds soul-less megaplex boxes and beautiful old theaters like Orinda lose a chunk of their audience."

Between competing with multi-screen theaters and first-run films, smaller movie theaters are having a tough time keeping up, said Bill Banning, who has operated the historic Roxie in San Francisco for 21 years. Built in 1913, it is the oldest operating theater in San Francisco.

Banning said he has seen a slow decline in business over 20 years, so in order to compete, he opened a second screen six months ago. Since then, cash flow has slowly increased.

Megaplex competition and declining business didn't dissuade Gary Meyer from taking over operation of San Francisco's Balboa Theater four years ago.

Meyer has reached out to neighbors in an attempt to revitalize the historic theater. The Balboa's e-mail newsletter now has 7,000 subscribers.

The free parking, stadium seating and state-of-the-art sound that megaplexes offer mean neighborhood theaters will struggle, he says.

"These are all things the neighborhood theater can't do anything about," he said. "But there are some real joys to going to a neighborhood theater like the Balboa."

Reach Meera Pal at 925-952-5029 or mpal2@cctimes.com

© 2004 ContraCostaTimes.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.contracostatimes.com

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