Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life, Death, Resurrection

Considering the heavy nature of my last post, some of you might think this is a continuation of those sentiments.

But no, it's about theaters. We're back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

I'm going to talk about three theaters; each in a different stage of being. The first fits into the "Life" category.

The Lyric in Harrison (northeast AR) has one of the most beautiful facades I've seen on a theater (it having been built in 1929 will have something to say about that). Like most of the examples on this blog, it has been shut down at some point in its life (in the 70s through the 90s in this case). But it is alive now, though not in its original capacity. They show classic films occasionally, and otherwise the theater is used as a venue for local artists and musicians. When we visited the Lyric, it was celebrating its 80th anniversary. Note the LED display mounted tastefully atop the neon-adorned marquee.

According to my good friend Cinema Treasures, the Lyric's best feature are its intricate wall murals painted by hobos in the depression. I didn't get to see these, sadly.

I don't think I need to insult the reader's intelligence by stating this theater belongs in the "death" category.

The only information I have, besides its seating capacity, about Augusta's Lura Theater is that its name was typoed to "Laura" in 1935's Film Daily. The last thing this poor husk has left to it is its rusting marquee, proudly but dimly declaring the name of "Lura," emphasized by the single, cursive "L," to the pedestrians of Augusta's main street. On the Saturday I took this picture, we were the only ones.

Actually, if the Lura's marquee were to disappear, I probably wouldn't have even picked out this building as a theater at all. There is no visible ticket booth and only the vaguest indication of where previous owners might have hung movie posters. When I peered through the glass front doors, I saw nothing but piles of overturned furniture. Why is it that abandoned buildings tend to fill up with this kind of offal? It's as if, in death, the shell of the built environment becomes a gigantic trash receptacle. But I digress.

The Lura is nothing more than a death-mask.

Our last theater takes us out of Arkansas and into Illinois. I've noticed the Showtime Theater of Carmi every single time I've driven to Jenna's family home in Albion (and that is a lot of times, let me tell you). Showtime Cinemas (formerly the Carmi Theater) is the youngest of our three examples, having been built in 1940. It falls under "resurrection" mainly because I have seen this theater undergo death and rebirth during my lifetime, each observation occurring during that little snapshot of a glance I would get every time we drove through downtown Carmi.

The theater, like most small American theaters, had already died and been reopened at least once since the 1980s, but by 2007 it had closed again. Fading Spider-Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince posters hung on its walls under the marquee's simple message: "closed."

But as of this year, Showtime Cinemas is open again! The little three-screen theater shows current-run films. And that's enough to make this little blogger a happier man.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Lura theater is not dead, it is going to be restored and put it back to work.2015'