Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre had been abandoned for over 30 years when photographer Matt Lambros first discovered it in 2009. “I had been documenting abandoned buildings for almost a decade at that point, mostly asylums, and I was looking for a new spin,” Lambros says.
Since then he has photographed almost 100 decaying theaters for his website After The Final Curtain in hopes that his work will shed light on these abandoned buildings and the efforts to renovate them. While Lambros confesses to doing “some light trespassing” when he first started shooting these abandoned places, he says that theater owners reach out to him now to photograph their buildings.
Here, he shared a few photos with us from his upcoming book After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater, which comes out November 15.
Kenosha Theatre, Kenosha, Wisconsin
After opening in 1927, the Kenosha Theatre was in business for 36 years until the building was repurposed as a warehouse and a flea market before closing permanently. The owners are currently looking to restore it.
Fox Theatre, Inglewood, California
Built in 1949 on the site of another theater that burned down, the Fox Theatre closed permanently in 1988 but the Inglewood Fox Theatre Alliance was able to get the theater listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hopes to restore it one day.
Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, New York
One of five Loew’s “wonder” theaters opened in New York and New Jersey just before the Great Depression hit, Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre was abandoned from 1977 until it was restored and reopened in 2015.
Uptown Theatre, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Opened less than a year before the 1929 stock market crash, the Uptown Theatre operated as a live music venue until the 1970s hosting acts like the Jackson 5, the Temptations, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and more.
Loew’s Canal Theatre, New York, New York
Loew’s Canal Theatre opened in 1927 and is currently used as a warehouse. On September 10, 1932, an explosion threw the theater’s ticket booth into the street and shattered windows on neighboring buildings. An hour earlier, another bomb destroyed the entrance to the Loew’s 46th Street Theatre. While nothing was ever proven, both explosions were assumed to be the work of the Motion Picture Operators’ Union Local 306, who were on strike at the time.
Loew’s Poli Theatre, Bridgeport, Connecticut
The Poli Theatre operated for about 50 years until Loew’s sold it in the1970s. After showing adult films for a couple years, the theater permanently closed in 1975.
Paramount Theatre, Newark, New Jersey
Originally called the H.C. Miner’s Newark Theatre when it opened in 1886, the Paramount Theatre was remodeled and renamed in 1917 and operated until it closed in 1986 due to a hike in insurance rates.
State Palace Theatre, New Orleans, Louisiana
The State Palace Theatre operated from 1926 until it was forced to close when Hurricane Katrina damaged the building. After that it was used as a rave venue from time to time until it was officially shut down in 2007 for fire code violations.
Studebaker Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
Located in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, The Studebaker Theatre operated for more than a century from when it opened in 1898 until it closed its doors in 2000. It reopened in 2015 as a live performance venue after renovations were made.
National Theatre, Detroit, Michigan
The National Theatre is the only theater that renowned architect Albert Kahn designed. In operation from 1911 until 1975, the theater is currently owned by the city of Detroit and its future is up in the air.
Jayhawk Theatre, Topeka, Kansas
The Jayhawk Theatre closed in 1976, just two years after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Two decades later, the Historic Jayhawk Theatre, Inc. was created and is currently in the process of raising money to fully restore and reopen it.
Franklin Park Theatre, Boston, Massachusetts
The Baptist Fellowship Church took over the 1914 Franklin Park Theatre in 1963. After a fire caused extensive damage to the space in 2009, the church relocated and is currently raising money to restore the building and move back.