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A look at downtown Los Angeles August 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History, Preservation, Theaters, Towns.
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With the help of a quad-copter, filmmaker Ian Wood produced this video about the landmarks of downtown Los Angeles, which was the western end of Route 66 until the highway was extended to Santa Monica.

Downtown Los Angeles from Ian Wood on Vimeo.

Wood’s description of the video:

Above the grit and noise of the street, downtown Los Angeles quietly provides some of the most amazing visual detail in its buildings and public art works. This is a selection of those buildings and public arts filmed across some 50 different locations in the immediate downtown area and the arts district. There are many many more locations that are not included and are equally if not more impressive.

Some of the buildings are in disrepair, some have been restored to their full glory while others have been transformed into artworks. In all of them, there is character, color and detail that makes the area a never-ending source of intrigue.

Wood also provided a very helpful map of many of the buildings he filmed here.

(Hat tip to Scott Piotrowski; image of the Palace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles by David Gallagher via Flickr)

The miracle of the Coleman Theatre’s restoration July 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Preservation, Theaters.
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The history and eventual revitalization of the historic Coleman Theatre in Miami, Oklahoma, is one of the most inspiring and interesting stories you’ll hear on Route 66.

It continues to amaze how a town of just 13,000 people with nominal funding could return an opulent theater back to its old glory.

And who better to tell about it than the theater’s executive director, Barbara Smith?

As Smith noted, the theater continues to host tours almost every day. And it continues to bring in music acts, dramatic productions and the occasional film. Go here for its schedule of upcoming events.

The documentary was produced by students at Macon State College in Macon, Georgia.

(Image of the Coleman Theater from 1929 by CharmaineZoe’s Marvelous Melange via Flickr)

Neon restored on historic theater in downtown Los Angeles June 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Signs, Theaters.
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The marquee of the historic Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles was relighted during a ceremony Tuesday night.

It reportedly was the first time in 30 years that the marquee has glowed.

The theater is on 740 S. Broadway in downtown L.A., which served as the western terminus of Route 66 until it was stretched to Santa Monica.

Here’s a countdown from the relighting:

KABC-TV also filed this report:

The Globe Theatre was built in 1913 — more than a decade before Route 66. It is scheduled to reopen later this year. Owner Erik Choi is in the middle of a $5 million renovation.

Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena on the market June 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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The historic but shuttered Rialto Theatre of South Pasadena, California — after sitting in limbo for many months — finally will be put up for sale.

According to a Facebook post Monday by Escott O. Norton of Friends of the Rialto:

BIG NEWS! The Rialto will be going up for sale! It was announced today that the Rialto Theatre building will be listed shortly for an undisclosed amount. I have talked to representatives of the family trust that has owned the Rialto, and the point man for the firm that will be handling the listing. I have offered myself as a resource for potential buyers and hope to help find someone who will bring the Rialto back to life! It is good to see movement, now we need to make sure the movement is in the best direction for the Rialto and the South Pasadena community. If you know anyone who has always wanted to take on the project and has the resources to do it, NOW is the time to come forward!

The South Pasadena Now newspaper also reported today about movement on doing something with the theater, according to mayor Dr. Richard Schneider:

The mayor, Gonzalez and South Pasadena City Councilman Robert Joe plan to meet with members of the trust in the next couple of weeks. The ad hoc committee plans to report back to the City Council. “So there is some movement on the Rialto,” said Dr. Schneider. “Hopefully, it will bear fruit in the near future.”

The theater, at 1023 Fair Oaks Ave., is part of the original 1926 alignment of Route 66. Built in 1925, the theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

However, the theater will need a lot of work; its vertical neon sign, for example, worked itself loose two years ago to the point where city officials thought it would become a safety hazard to pedestrians and motorists.

(Image of the Rialto Theatre in 2008 by waltarrrrr via Flickr)

Car crashes into Webb City theater June 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Theaters.
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A vehicle accidentally struck and damaged the box office of the Route 66 Movie Theater in downtown Webb City, Missouri, last weekend, according to a report in the Joplin Globe.

The newspaper said the driver hit the vehicle’s accelerator instead of the brake pedal. No one was injured, and the theater was able to continue operations, said general manager Lisa Daugherty.

Daugherty said the difficult part will be finding replacements for the glass bricks that made up most of the box office. Some of bricks were salvaged, but others had to be thrown away.

“Some of them were curved, and we weren’t able to save as many as you would need to rebuild it the way it was,” she said.

Nancy Hutson said she met with an insurance adjuster Wednesday and hopes to start rebuilding within a couple of weeks.

The theater posted a photo of the damage on its Facebook page.

The theater, formerly the Newland Hotel, opened in 1945. It closed for a time, then reopened in 2005 when Scott and Nancy Hutson bought the property. It shows first-run films.

El Rey Theater in Albuquerque closes February 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Theaters.
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The historic El Rey Theater in downtown Albuquerque closed a few days ago because the operator was encountering cash-flow problems with another venture, according to KOB-TV.

Here’s the station’s report:

The report makes it clear that El Rey, located on Central Avenue (aka Route 66), could reopen quickly if another operators signs a lease there. But apparently downtown is either struggling or a few businesses are going through bad luck.

A February 2013 report in the Albuquerque Journal said oil-industry businessman Tino Robles took over management of the theater to bring live music there. He spent about $700,000 on various upgrades there.

According to that article, El Rey — built in 1941 — and the neighboring Golden West saloon are knownn as the Puccini Building after Luigi Puccini, whose family holds the property in a trust.

As a live-music venue in the past 30-plus years, the theater has hosted an impressive array of acts, including Weezer, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Texas Tornadoes, Son Volt, Roger McGuinn, Phish, Richie Havens, No Doubt, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Leon Russell, John Lee Hooker, Emmylou Harris, Bo Diddley and many more.

(Image of the El Rey Theater in 2011 by Pete Zarria via Flickr)

Tucumcari theater reopens Friday after renovations January 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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The historic Odeon Theatre in downtown Tucumcari, N.M., reopens Friday with a 7 p.m. screening of the animated film “Frozen” after months of interior renovations by its new owners.

Improvements included upgrades to the long-substandard sound system and a conversion to digital projection, including 3-D capability for the theater’s next film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” More work on the theater is planned before summer.

Tucumcari natives Christy Dominguez, a former office worker at Mesalands Community College, and Robert Lopez, a farmer, decided to buy the theater after going on a date there and noting it had been for sale for years. They closed on the property in April from longtime owner Ramon Martinez and shuttered the theater in mid-September to begin renovations.

Dominguez, who also is the theater’s general manager, said in a telephone interview work included repairing, repainting or reupholstering the theater’s 385 seats, new tile and carpeting, new acoustic tiles on the walls, and cleanup and repairs to the lobby and bathrooms.

Dominguez said they were mindful of not changing the 1937 theater to endanger its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. “We wanted to maintain the historical integrity,” she said.

Dominguez declined to say how much money they spent overhauling the Odeon, other than it was “substantial.” Despite that, the cost of an adult ticket when the theater opens Friday will be $6 — an increase of just 50 cents before the Odeon closed in the fall.

She said they may close the theater again in the spring for a few more weeks of work, including repainting the exterior. They will apply for a state historical preservation grant for some of that.

The theater’s balcony remains closed, but Dominguez said they intend to eventually convert it into a VIP section, with reclining seats and other amenities.

Dominguez said the theater is contractually obligated to show just one new movie per week, despite the flexibility of digital. However, they hooked up a Blu-ray player to the projector so the Odeon can screen old movies on special occasions. She gave John Wayne films as a treat for some of the senior citizens in town as an example.

Dominguez noted the theater’s viability has increased since the closing of the historic Pecos Theatre in nearby Santa Rosa, N.M., in 2011. The Odeon remains the only theater within a 90-mile radius; the closest is in Clovis, N.M.

Although it sits a half-mile north of Route 66, Dominguez says the Odeon gets its share of Mother Road tourists referred from the Blue Swallow Motel, Motel Safari, Del’s Restaurant and other businesses. Because of the theater’s improvements and its historic nature, she expects that number to increase.

(Photos of the Odeon Theatre courtesy of Christy Dominguez)

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