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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinema Yak   » Largest abandoned single screen theatres (Page 2)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Largest abandoned single screen theatres
William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted July 05, 2004 01:33 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
I should have just gone ahead & called them hoods, but most folks these days are more familiar with the components as drip caps. Cast iron ornament for facades are pretty much Victorian-era items, and those drip caps were sold as 'hoods'. They fit in nicely with Victorian-era construction, as most of them tilted toward the gothic (like the ogee-shaped ones), but as more & more of them filled up facades, they worked out better in a sort of simplification that was more of an Italian palazzo look. The culmination of it all was entire cast iron facades that looked that way.

So in the Victorian era of architectural design wanting to get away from the classical & finding pointiness, verticality, & busy-ness for Victorian construction coming from the gothic, a large part of the commercial architecture was sort of neo-neapolitan cheek-by-jowl with Victorian what-the-hell-is-it.

It's interesting that as cast iron facades & ornament fell from fashion, the components that led to them then became available in newfangled terra cotta (along with bazillions of other decorative gewgaws).

I just had a flash on why I remembered Sol Smith at the new Montgomery theatre; it's part of one of his famous anecdotes of early theatre in the USA - The Prince of Morocco on Horseback. Somebody's got it online at
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/detoc/SW/field.html

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Mike Law
Member

Posts: 60
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted July 05, 2004 10:30 PM      Profile for Mike Law   Email Mike Law         Edit/Delete Post 
Jim, what in the world are crockets???

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted July 06, 2004 12:56 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
Crockets are little spiky things that are part of gothic (and gothic-inspired styles like Victorian Gothic & some Romanesque) ornament. On steeples, on flying buttresses, on pinnacles, on finials, on porticoes, under eaves, around door & window ornament, everywhere. In gothic architecture they're based on clusters of leaves, but in derivative forms they may be just spindly, spiky things. More than anything, at first glance they look like the barbs on barbed wire.

There's an excellent site online which is mostly an examination of architecture in Buffalo NY, USA

http://ah.bfn.org/index.html

which has a nice basic illustrated architectural dictionary

http://ah.bfn.org/a/DCTNRY/vocab.html

and a definition of crockets

http://ah.bfn.org/a/DCTNRY/c/crock.html

I've never been a big fan of Gothic or much less Victorian Gothic; they've always looked to me like what happened when the kitchen drawer came out & everything fell on the floor.

http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/arch/hvgothic.html

palm trees on the roof don't help much either, like on the Jax Brewery in New Orleans
http://www.residues.info/nola0050.jpg

and residential styles give me about the same response
http://ontarioarchitecture.com/Victorian.htm
(lots of crockets there!)

http://www.shermanhill.org/architecture.html
(check the Gothic Revival example for months of nightmares)

But a friend of mine & I were talking about some auditorium design during a project, what I was thinking of to work with the room & its existing features, limitations, & needs as an auditorium; I tend to lean toward letting a room go where it wants to go & just do it very well. Interior commercial spaces of the Victorian (& Edwardian) era in the USA, as opposed to exteriors, tended to be very spare, high, airy, & actually have a classical temple feel. Mostly, it was due to minimized ornament, a bit of wainscot, and primarily the cast iron posts below minimized beams. He pointed out that it was strange that an era that came up with such clunky, jumbled exteriors produced also very fine, understated work especially in cast iron like posts, grates, brackets, beds, park benches, etc. And it's true: the handsomest light standards, fountains, gates, fencing, basement grates, bridges, greenhouses, etc. are all pretty much from the Victorian era. Usually they're surrounding some clunky Victorian masses, but in exteriors like municipal & amusement parks, roadways, etc., and spare commercial interiors, they're very quietly, comfortably formal. The difference between inside & outside is almost a schizophrenic personality difference in ideas of design proportions when working with cast iron & anything else. It's the difference between the Midland Hotel & the Crystal Palace, but both come from the same thought.

http://www.fizzly.com/Crystal%20Palace.htm
http://www.meijergardens.org/explore/victorian.htm

And that brings me back to marvelling again at the solutions & work of Joe DuciBella at Jasper Sanfillippo's.

They call it the Victorian Palace, but the exterior is pretty Second Empire (except for the tower). Inside the music room, where all the problems were, is the transplantation of Victorian parks & exterior componentry to the interior to solve the problem of how to have a cohesive design around the THOUSANDS of things which had previously been separately collected without a thought of how to bring them together. Chandeliers without number of different designs, capitals, the mechanical music machines, the organ, ELEVATOR, seating, etc. Here's the Victorian park & exterior ironwork idea; bright, airy, spacious, accommodating disparate items as it did before in parks, on streets, etc. Columns would have to be larger at the base, but posts, part of that Victorian ironwork mode, are straight & add verticality & space. The exposed bulbs on the iron arches are straight out of electrified Victorian theatres. For me there's initially a sort of desire that the walls were rows of Palladian windows, but that would be the Crystal Palace again, different from the music room which functionally requires hard walls for the organ & mechanical music collection. The Music Room is a thing of its own, just brilliant. I also like the columns at the base of the stair - freestanding & airy in the same mode as the ironwork, functional with general lighting in the capitals bouncing off the ceiling (with a fun nod to Pearlman's sculptured edges of their chandeliers specifically to cast interesting shadows).

http://www.wurlitzer2003.com/victorian_palace.htm
http://www.atos.org/Pages/Residences/Sanfilippo/Sanfilippo.html

Ha ha ha, he had to go Thomas Lamb/Robert Adam on the front of the balcony. A diehard Rapp & Rapp partisan must have grit his teeth a little. Lamb did his stuff mighty well, too.

What could easily have been a house or barn full of stuff is an idealized day at a park with chandeliers hanging from the sky. It's a comfortably formal, almost classical, VERY commercial interior & municipal exterior spaces Victorian design which solves the problems & is mighty fine.

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Jeff Arellano
Senior Member

Posts: 685
From: Monterey Park, CA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted July 06, 2004 05:49 PM      Profile for Jeff Arellano   Email Jeff Arellano         Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, william, Impressive.

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted July 07, 2004 01:15 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
I didn't do it, that was Joe DuciBella & a bunch of engineers & architects up in Chicago!

The more you look at it, you see more & more that's interesting & successful in the solution of the problems solved through the selection of an overall style that fit the issues, & the successful inclusion of (neccessary!) movie-palace functional & ornamental components within another style that had never been expected to accommodate them.

It's got that (neccessary) balcony there with the successful & traditional Adam-esque decoration on the front, but there are other interior-associated Adame-esque components stretching like organic nerves or something through it. There's the anthemion running mold that could have come out of any Thomas Lamb pre-eclectic era theatre that you can see just see at the edge of the gallery soffit seen in the upper left of the picture with the elevator at
http://www.atos.org/Pages/Residences/Sanfilippo/Sanfilippo.html
Not to mention the the ornament on the front of the galleries. And with all the wrought iron or cast iron (hard to tell) rails, it's got a straight-out-of-the-bible bent pipe balcony rail.

The design of Victorian ironworks arches is clamped onto down front over the organ to form a "proscenium" by incorporating a little valance curtain (complete with a curtain warmer behind it shining down the 'grand curtain', put there by someone who knows how these things are done). There's a mention that the scrim which impersonates the grand curtain is based on the grand from the Chicago Paradise theatre, but about 10% larger. That's because of the increased height, the Paradise & theatres of around its time & later had an oversquare shape instead.

The dimensions of the proscenium being more tall than movie-palace era theatres kick it right back to Victorian era opera houses, & continuing the exposed bulbs in that arch tie it in with the other arches as well as theatrical design of 'you can almost never have too much eye candy around the proscenium to draw focus'.

I don't know how "structural" those arch trusses are. The posts almost certainly are supporting roof girders. The trusses are doing all the heavy work to create the Victorian park style, & if they were imposed just for that, they're doing a lot. Plus, they're handling a lot of the general lighting. The trusses are interesting in that they're not mechanically 100% arch trusses. Vertical members would transfer the load from the horizontal truss directly to the arch. But as you see, except at the center, there are diagonals from the horizontal truss to the verticals. So the horizontal truss is cantilevered out to the one or three verticals at the center, where there it's transferring the load to the arch. Regardless of what the trusses are holding up or holding together, the diagonals are probably a design choice as being more attractive than verticals. So you get a part arch, part cantilever, 6 of one, half a dozen of the other truss system; probably coming out about the same with the horizontal truss holding the verticals upright, & a truss design which, by using diagonals for esthetic reasons, makes the major contribution with the other elements in making the difference between the look of Victorian ironwork & a chandelier warehouse with purely utilitarian trusses.

Like in movie palace designs, the ornament & hanging chandeliers are engineered to distract from the fact that the auditorium is, in fact, a big hole with flat walls. In the movie palaces you had ornament on the walls, plaster & drapes, & usually a center chandelier & maybe two smaller ones down front on either sides of the prosc over the organ grilles. Here, all the ornament is hanging or applied to the balcony. That's because there are no drapes, you'll notice: it's fufunctional, because the room was designed for the organ, & to make an organ sound best it requires hard, inflexible walls. In case you're missing a big high fanlight or something at the back end of the room: That wall, the inside of the attic story formed by the mansard roof, is literally part of the organ.

All the "hanging ornament" & the arrangement of the casual furninture on the floor (I envy people who can do that; my only idea of arranging furniture goes no further than put it against the wall) gives you enough stuff going on that you don't miss another typical thing you might prominently see in a home or interior area of that size - plants! The scale makes plants problematic. It's actually outdoor scale, so you'd need Oak trees or something. The design inside at normal scale would be appropriate for rubber plants or potted palms, but they'd be dwarfed & look like unexplainable bonsai trees. There are huge palms, but by the time they grew to appropriate scale, they'd begin to look bizarre indoors. The big window sort of fulfills that "where's the plants" expectation & helps reconcile the scale & indoors/outdoors elements of the design.

Maybe they could get the needed scale & height by hanging some Spanish moss from the trusses & sending some kudzu up the exposed 32's. Okay, maybe not.

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted July 07, 2004 05:03 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
Well, Mike, I'm not exactly sure just how we got from your question about 'crockets' to Hoops' disquisition about them and the Sanfilippo's Victorian Palace music 'room,' (maybe he was kept up at 1:AM by the wet heat of a Mobile night, just as I have been by an asthma attack tonight) but at the risk of somewhat boring the non-architecturally-minded, I will expand slightly on the origin and nature of 'crockets.' The illustration Hoops refers to at the Buffalo Architecture and History site's Architectural Dictionary is a good illustration on the spines of a church spire, and this does show the most common occurrence of the ornament, but it is not intended to be so "spiky" a thing as he implies, since it is usually a rounded, almost ball-like form. The form is perhaps best defined in John Henry Parker's 1846 "A Concise Glossary of Architectural Terms" thusly: "Crockets (French 'croc' = a hook [from which is derived the name of 'crosier' or 'bishops' crook' in imitation of the crook-shaped staff once carried by shepherds to corral their more wandering sheep, based upon Jesus' command in the Bible for his servants to be 'shepherds' to guide and protect his 'sheep,' since Jesus was the Great Shepherd as at Mark 6:34], projecting leaves, flowers or bunches of foliage, used in Gothic architecture to decorate the angles of canopies, spires and pinnacles, &c.; they are also frequently found on gables, and on the weather-mouldings of doors and windows [drip caps, drip hoods] and in other similar situations: occasionally they are used among vertical mouldings, as at Lincoln Cathedral, where they run up the mullions of the windows of the tower, and the sides of some of the arches, but they are not employed in historical situations [as seen from his British perspective in the mid-nineteenth century]. They are used in suites [groups], and are placed at equal distances apart: the varieties are innumerable. The earliest crockets are to be found in the 'Early English Style'…'Decorated' crockets vary considerably… In the 'Perpendicular Style'…."

In Professor Cyril Harris' 1977 "Historic Architecture Sourcebook" on page 148 he also defines the "Crocket capital" and shows one from a Gothic church where several are used to top carved stone leaf stalks that sprout from the annulet at the top of the shaft.

The study of architectural Ornamentation can be fascinating, but it is important to realize that unlike the drip mould, or cap or hood, which had the functional purpose of casting rainwater away from the fenestration, the crocket does not have a function and arose merely to emphasize the 'pastoral' nature of Christendom's church forms, such as the Nave and Transept which mimicked in floor plan the shape of the cross, while the steeple and spires were carryovers from the phallic poles of the pagan temples, the crocket was to emphasize the Bishop's presence in imitation of his crosier, which is why the crocket was originally reserved only for cathedrals, the seats of Bishops. Another good discussion of such can be found in Richard Glazier's 1899 "Manual of Ornament" on page 49ff, and a shorter description is found in Martin Pegler's exhaustive "The Dictionary of Interior Design" of 1966 which treats of architecture as much as interior decor -- much of which derives from Ornamentation. Lastly, Franz Sales Mayer in his landmark book "Ornamentale Formenlehre" ["Handbook of Ornament"] of 1888 Germany groups crockets in the class of Free Ornaments in his article: "The Crocket and the Gargoyle (Plate 116)," where he describes them as "excrescencies." Thus the crocket of Europe is not collateral with the "shibi" of Japanese architecture where such protrusions from the rooflines had somewhat the purpose of the 'acroterion' of classic Greek architecture in forming the open ends of rafters, and were also thought to stop fires, as well as to impale passing invisible demons of Buddhist and Shinto imaginations. The 'shibi' were of wood, but the 'crocket' was derived originally from stonework, as was the 'acroterion.'

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Mike Law
Member

Posts: 60
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted July 07, 2004 11:11 PM      Profile for Mike Law   Email Mike Law         Edit/Delete Post 
Okay, let's give it up for Jeff, Jim, and the Hoopster for the info on drip pans, bed pans, or whatever the hell they are.. but could we please try to stick with the original topic? There was, or is, a shuttered theatre in Rio Vista, California called the Vista (I think). It was opened around 1940ish and was about 700 seats. Does anyone have any info on this one. The Tower in Marysville, CA is the only other one in this neck of the woods that comes to mind. Maybe some in Stockton???

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted July 07, 2004 11:37 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
I think the slippery spot on the floor was gothic->gothic-inspired Victorian.

There's a picture of a crocket form complete with the curving stalk on a crocket capital at
http://www.pitt.edu/~medart/menuglossary/crocket.htm

and then crockets as they evolved to just the knobby projections at
http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~ajm/Pages/crocket.htm

By the time they were translated to things like bargeboards on Carpenter Gothic buildings, they were just regular little projections in various simple profiles.

Similarity: they all look like something you wouldn't want to get your pants caught on.

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Greg Johnson
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted December 19, 2004 06:23 PM      Profile for Greg Johnson   Email Greg Johnson         Edit/Delete Post 
The California Theater in Downtown San Diego has been sitting empty and unused for years now. Must have been some theater in its heyday. The Palace, The Million Dollar, The Rialto and The Tower in Downtown Los Angeles were unused last time I checked. Also the Warner Theater in Hollywood is still empty. I have been in all of them except for the California in San Diego.

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