Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 92-year-old Palace Theatre has received a full facelift of its 2,691-seat auditorium. The first major renovation for the Palace since 1984, the six-month, main-hall makeover included the repair of damaged plaster, new paint in a new color scheme, all-new seats on the main floor, full refurbishment of balcony seats, and installation of a new LED house lighting system in the dome and main chandelier. The first public performance in the fully renovated auditorium will be Grammy-nominated comedian Jim Gaffigan on Friday, November 2.
The auditorium rehab is part of an ongoing $6.5 million capital campaign to fund a full renovation of the Palace Theatre. In addition to the recently completed auditorium work, the campaign has also funded installation of a high-efficiency heating system and new roof. CAPA will continue its fundraising efforts to finance the remaining renovations needed in the lobby spaces, including replacement of the front entry doors, enhanced security, and repair and remodeling of the mezzanine-level men’s restrooms and concessions area.
“We are thrilled to reveal the stunning transformation of the Palace Theatre’s magnificent auditorium and know that Columbus audiences will agree she once again portrays the royal splendor after which she was designed and named,” stated CAPA President and CEO Chad Whittington. “It’s important to realize that the work is not yet done at the Palace, and CAPA is working diligently to complete the capital campaign to fund the remaining repairs and renovations needed in the lobby. We invite the Columbus community to rally with us and donate to the campaign at www.HelpThePalace.com.”
After a two-week installation of an elaborate scaffolding system that allowed artisans direct access to the Palace’s 60-foot-high ceilings, the intricate plaster work was cleaned and repaired. After the plaster was properly cured, the ceiling and walls were painted with a new color scheme that blends historical references and fresh, new colors in a striking combination that maximizes its visual impact and highlights the stunning, decorative plaster work. The large arches lining the walls of the auditorium were inlaid with a complimentary damask-patterned wall covering, restoring the pattern and color from its original design.
In the largest arches above the upper boxes, luxurious, red drapes were installed that closely resemble the drapes that once hung in that space. All other existing drapery was cleaned and rehung, including the stage curtain.
All-new seats were installed on the main floor, and balcony seats were cleaned and refurbished with all-new cushioning, springs, and upholstery that matches the main-floor seats.
All 70 light fixtures were taken down and disassembled for cleaning and refurbishment, including the grand chandelier. During the meticulous reassembly process, more than 1,200 light bulbs were replaced, and 100,000 crystals were polished.
Further, a new LED house lighting system was installed in the dome and main chandelier that offers increased control over color temperature and dimming functions while creating a 90% reduction in power consumption. Over time, the new lighting technology will be phased into the remaining lighting fixtures in the auditorium.
In addition, 14 sets of emergency exit doors were restored.
Architect Thomas Lamb designed both the Palace Theatre (which opened in 1926) and the Ohio Theatre (which opened in 1928). His design for the Palace Theatre was inspired by France’s magnificent Palais de Versailles, the royal manor house of King Louis XIV, and was constructed at a cost of $3 million ($43 million in today’s dollars). The “Keith-Albee Palace” was built for vaudeville, a popular “variety show” form of entertainment that offered multiple, unrelated acts grouped together on one bill. A vaudeville show could include musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, animal acts, magicians, strongmen, acrobats, jugglers, and much more. Due to the need for performers to be heard without amplification, exceptional care was paid to acoustics as the Palace was being designed and constructed.
In 1973, the Palace was purchased by Frederick W. LeVeque who had plans to incorporate a hotel, but he tragically died in 1975. In 1978, his widow Katherine LeVeque announced she would save and restore the Palace and invested millions in renovation and improvements. As such, the Palace was closed during much of the ’70s.
On February 4, 1980, the Palace Theatre held a grand reopening celebration with a concert by The Osmond Family starring Donny and Marie and continued to host concerts and Broadway shows throughout the 1980s.
In 1989, Mrs. LeVeque gifted the Palace Theatre to CAPA. Already stewarding downtown’s historic Ohio Theatre since 1969, CAPA was honored to add the beloved Palace Theatre to the family, assuming responsibility for its everyday care and creating a strategy for a successful future.
Today, the Palace has become one of Columbus’ most active and frequently visited entertainment venues, hosting an average of 100 performances for 150,000 people each year. The Palace has brought some of the biggest names in entertainment to Columbus, including such performers as B.B. King, Jon Stewart, Bonnie Raitt, Jay Leno, Peter, Paul and Mary, Etta James, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah McLachlan, John Mellencamp, Frankie Valli, and many, many more. Many Broadway in Columbus performances are held at the Palace Theatre as well, including engagements of such smash-hit musicals as Dreamgirls, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Green Day‘s American Idiot, and most recently, the Columbus stage debut of NFL legend, OSU superstar, and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in CHICAGO.
The question arose, “Could the ABC, would the ABC, re-release their beloved television series?”
The job of getting an answer fell to Tweed Regional Museum Curator Erika Taylor.
“The first time I enquired with the ABC about getting access to Pastures of the Blue Crane, I just got told ‘No’. It was a hard no, there’s no way,” Ms Taylor said.
“But I don’t like to be told no, so I asked them again, and again and sent a lot of emails, and then I got a maybe.”
Ms Taylor asked the ABC what was the problem and how could she help?
“It turns out there was a web of complex copyright and red tape that the film had been buried under, and that all needed to be sorted out before it could be released to the public,” Ms Taylor said.
The search for the rights holders
The rights to the film had lapsed and many of the rights holders could not be found.
What was astonishing was just how many ‘rights holders’ there were.
Artists, composers, playwrights, and the author, who had since died, all of them needed to be contacted in order to re-negotiate the rights to the series.
With the aid of enthusiastic Pastures fans, Erika Taylor set off to find them for the ABC.
“One of the hardest to find was the playwright, Eleanor Whitcombe, who is in her 90s.
“We ended cold-calling Whitcombes out of the phone book and we actually found her on the 11th call, and we managed to get her in contact with the ABC as well,” Ms Taylor said.
Why was the series so important?
Melissa Darnley from the Facebook fan club Friends of Pastures of the Blue Crane explains how the series captured the timeless coming of age story set in a regional setting.
“Well apart from the Blue Crane (the bird itself), it really is the bananas and the cane and the hills and the rainforest, Coolangatta beach, Murwillumbah and the characters in the book, people feel they want to connect to it”
Almost 50 years after it was filmed, these fans have helped the ABC make Pastures of the Blue Crane once again available.
After a year and a half of tracking down rights holders, fans were finally able to access all five episodes.
With a copy on DVD, the group of strangers decided to meet up in person, with Christine Wilkinson opening the door of her house, for a special private screening.
“It’s really lovely to know that (‘Geebin’) has got such a soft spot in their hearts from a special time, childhood, it’s heart-warming to know that (the house) is loved as much as we love it,” Christine Wilkinson said.
For fan of the book and series Peter Spolc, viewing it in such a significant place, brought tears of joy.
“It’s overwhelming to talk about it … because it’s not so much that it was a fantastic piece of television … but it was a memory,” Peter Spolc said.
Famed masked luchador El Santo has long held a firm place in the heart and soul of Mexico. Born Rudolfo Guzmán Huerta, El Santo is a legend of the ring – an icon, the greatest, most popular Mexican wrestler of all time.
He was a celebrated movie star, comic book character and a most-coveted action figure who still pops up in today’s popular culture: He made a cameo in the 2017 Disney Pixar movie, “Coco.”
But he’s so much more.
El Santo, or The Saint, is a folk hero. He was a champion for the common man and, by the same turn, a unifier of all – young and old, rich and poor, man and woman. He was the real People’s Champ.
Born in Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico, in 1917, El Santo wrestled for nearly five decades.
He retired years before anyone caught so much as a whiff of what The Rock was cooking.
El Santo died in February 1984 – a week after taking off his mask for a TV audience for the first time. He was buried wearing the iconic mask.
The masked hero always returns, however, and is on his way back to the big screen in El Paso.
In all his silver-masked glory, El Santo will be the highlight of Cine Fantastico at the Plaza Theatre Thursday, Nov. 1. The free event will feature a screening of a newly restored copy of his big-screen debut, “Santo Contra Cerebro del Mal.”
Cine Fantastico also will celebrate the Mexican family with border ties that put him on the big screen, and will serve as the launch of the Permanencia Voluntaria Film Fund, a collaboration between the Paso del Norte Foundation and Mexico’s Permanencia Voluntaria Archive to fund the restoration of more classic Mexican films.
Viviana García Besné is the director of the Permanencia Voluntaria Archive, an organization dedicated to restoring and preserving Mexico’s film history.
Her family’s legacy has deep roots in Mexican cinema. Three of her great-uncles were theater owners who became filmmakers: Pedro A. Calderon, Jose Luis Calderon and Guillermo Calderon. Her grandfather, Jorge García Besné, produced El Santo’s first forays on the big screen.
“My family started early in the theater business,” said García Besné. “In 1904, they worked for the railroad in St. Louis. At the World’s Fair, they saw the magic of film projection for the first time and they fell totally in love.”
It wasn’t long before García Besné’s ancestors purchased their first theater in Chihuahua. They eventually owned 35 movie theaters, including six in El Paso.
But it’s not only her family’s legacy that led García Besné to create the Permanencia Vountaria. The film archive holds more than 300 neglected Mexican films, some of which suffered damage in the 2016 earthquake in Mexico City.
She was guided by her passion for movies.
“All of my family’s theaters opened their doors to people who didn’t feel welcome at other theaters in El Paso,” García Besné said.
At the time, many movie theaters, including The Plaza Theatre, were segregated.
From ring to screen
When García Besné’s grandfather decided he wanted to produce movies of his own, he didn’t have the budget to create the Hollywood-style monster- and sci-fi movies that inspired him.
So he found the next best thing. A real-life superhero: El Santo.
“My grandfather liked sports and he was friends with many wrestlers, including El Santo,” García Besné said.
El Santo would go on to star in more than 50 movies, reinvigorating his career and launching him into a pop culture icon in Mexico. García Besné’s grandfather produced El Santo’s first two movies, “Santo Contra el Cerebro del Mal” and “Santo Contra Hombres Infernales,” simultaneously, in Cuba. Her family’s company, Producciones Calderon, made about 12 movies featuring El Santo.
“It was a great friendship,” García Besné said. “The movies catapulted him to a unique fame that no one had ever seen before. He became a flesh and bone hero, who was able to fight against everything that the writers and producers could think of – woman vampires, Dracula, the Wolfman, aliens, corruption, drug dealers.”
And, more importantly, she said, his movies brought people together.
“These movies entertained all types of people; adults, children, parents, grandparents, poor, rich,” García Besné said. “Everyone got together in a theater to enjoy these movies, not only in Mexico. They crossed borders to the U.S. and were shown in Turkey and Japan.”
Through her efforts to preserve her family’s and other popular Mexican films, and her ties to the border, García Besné met El Paso film historian and former Plaza Classic Film Festival director Charles Horak.
Horak was very supportive of her efforts to restore and preserve these films, she said. It was his idea to set up a fund through the Paso del Norte Foundation, so other El Paso movie fans could contribute to those efforts.
“We’d like to restore a movie every year and premiere it in El Paso so people can feel proud that they are helping preserve that heritage,” she said.
Part of the reason that funding these film’s restoration is so hard, is that they aren’t necessarily critically acclaimed.
Nevertheless, García Besné said, they are an important part of Mexican culture and film history.
“We should recognize the value of these movies and restore them, preserve them for future generations to enjoy,” she said. “Classic Mexican cinema has the capacity to unite people in one theater, enjoying the same movie.”
One of Newcastle’s oldest buildings is in trouble.
The Cooperage, on the Quayside, has its roots in the 16th century.
As Newcastle’s oldest surviving example of timber-frame architecture, it is understandable that 10,000 people have signed a petition to pressure The Cooperage’s owner, Apartment Group, into maintaining and preserving it for future generations.
That, and The Cooperage was a popular pub in the late 20th/early 21st centuries.
Apartment has not responded to the petition’s claim the Tudor building is being intentionally “left to rot”.
But Historic England – who last year added The Cooperage to its list of important historic buildings at risk – has said it has attempted to open a dialogue with the group in a bid to safeguard the Cooperage’s future.
In August, the risk list’s principal advisor, Kate Wilson, said: “We understand it must seem like quite a daunting task for the building’s owners but we want to advise them and engage with them.”
The Apartment Group admitted to ChronicleLive back then it had no restoration plans for the property.
Newcastle City Council says there’s little it can do, as The Cooperage is privately owned.
So, let’s give the Apartment Group some inspiration, shall we?
Newcastle – despite the infamous T Dan Smith era, the Blitz and devastating fires – has retained much of its architectural heritage.
Old buildings can be restored, re-purposed and given a new lease of life without compromising on historic charm.
Across the North East, there are examples which Apartment Group – or another owner – could at least take inspiration from, including some of The Cooperage’s Quayside neighbours.
House of Tides
No 28-30 the Close is – like the Cooperage – a former merchant’s home and is believed to have been built in the 16th or 17th century.
The building fell into disrepair during the 20th century. But the Tyne Wear Building Preservation Trust took it over in 1983, ahead of a four-phase restoration.
The project took many years, partly because the trust was involved in restoration work elsewhere, but eventually the former grand home was given a new lease of life.
In 2014, Kenny and Abbie Atkinson opened House of Tides inside.
Since then, the restaurant won and retained a Michelin Star, putting Newcastle – and one of its oldest buildings – on the culinary map.
Just like the Cooperage, 63 Quayside is a grade-II listed building with a maritime history.
And, just like The Cooperage, the 18th century former map house’s most recent purpose was filling Geordies with alcohol – as the famous Flynn’s bar.
Again, just like The Cooperage, Flynn’s spent a long time doing nothing.
But after seven years and a tasteful restoration, gastropub/live music bar Charts opened up there in the summer of 2018.
Another grade-II listed building close to the Quayside, Broad Chare’s once derelict former warehouses were taken over by Live Theatre in the 1980s.
In 2007, a huge internal renovation created a 160-sea theatre, studio theatre, rehearsal rooms, writer’s rooms, a cafe, bar and pub.
As NewcastleGateshead’s website says about Live Theatre: “Its quirky historic spaces made from five Grade II listed buildings joined together create a unique atmosphere with an intimate feel.”
The world’s first purpose-built locomotive works opened in Forth Banks, Newcastle, in 1823. There, the Stephensons built ‘Locomotion’ and ‘Rocket’, as well as engines exported across the globe.
The works shut in 1960, as railways modernised.
But instead of losing a globally important heritage site, the works have been transformed. Now they are home to the Boiler Shop, a multi-purpose venue used for food festivals, gigs and club nights.
The Baltic, Gateshead
The former Baltic Flour Mill shut its doors in 1981, a good 20 years before it reopened as centre for the contemporary arts.
Had it been torn down, there would be little reminder of the mills which once dotted the river bank.
The Baltic’s across-the-Tyne neighbour, Spillers, was demolished in 2011.
From the outside, the Baltic still looks like a flour mill. On the inside, it is a modern, airy gallery.
Yes, it was a huge project, it cost millions, but it shows old can marry new in the 21st century North East.
Spanish City, Whitley Bay
It took a long, long time but the Spanish City finally reopened to the public this year.
The one-time pleasure palace first opened in 1910, with its ballroom added in 1920 and a funfair later on.
But Spanish City fell out of fashion and into disrepair in the 1990s, before shutting in 2000.
The next two decades saw many failed plans. But in 2018, the dome reopened, with cafes, restaurants and hire venues inside.
Pele Tower, Corbridge
If you think The Cooperage is too old to restore, take a look at what they’ve done in Corbridge to a 700-year-old Pele Tower.
The tower, next to St Andrew’s Church, is now a microbrewery and pub set over three floors.
There’s live music and a bar with enough room to stock 50 types of gin.
Click to play Tap to play
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Let’s not forget, there are even plans to turn the former public toilets in the Bigg Market into a niche drinking venue.
Built in 1898, the Victorian WC shut in 2012 – but the council is keen to see them transformed instead of demolished.
If they’re worth saving, surely the Cooperage is worth a go.
Only an awning outside the Historic Electric Building Apartments hints that the mezzanine lobby, balcony and ornate auditorium of a 1,800-seat theater are hidden behind locked doors at 410 W. Seventh St.
“I love old Fort Worth things,” said Casey Tibbetts, 36, president at the new Guaranty Bank & Trust location next door. He saw the theater and arranged public tours as part of the new bank’s open house.
“When we picked this location, people started asking about the theater. We wanted people to come take a look.”
Like an aging movie star, the Hollywood needs an expensive facelift.
The lower auditorium floor and seats are gone, stripped and removed to make room for residents of the adjacent apartments to park underneath.
But the balcony, walls, ceiling and screen area remain, along with the mezzanine, marble staircase and part of the lobby, in a style described in one opening-day 1930 news report as Georgian modernist.
“I personally think it sets up nicely for a performance venue,” said Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc.
“I was surprised at how intact the features are inside. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the potential.”
It’d need disability access and an auditorium floor. But it could easily become a black-box performance theater or music club.
360 photo of the old Hollywood Theater located in Downtown Fort Worth. Steve Wilson – [email protected]
The Hollywood is inside the Electric Building, built in 1929 by Houston investor Jesse H. Jones for Texas Electric Service Co., now TXU Energy.
The Historic Star-Telegram Building, converted in 2013 to MorningStar Partners, is next door. (The Star-Telegram is now in a different Jesse Jones tower at 808 Throckmorton St., built in 1930 as the Fair Building.)
The Hollywood was built in 1930, just when the industry was switching from silent movies and musicians to “talking pictures,” so it only has a screen, not a stage. The first movie shown was director Frank Capra’s “Flight.”
In 1940, the Hollywood was in the spotlight twice.
In February, it unreeled Fort Worth’s first-run showings of “Gone With the Wind,” to audiences that included Civil War veterans and that stood in lines circling the block.
That September, the Hollywood and the larger Worth Theater one block east co-hosted the city’s first world movie premiere: “The Westerner” with Gary Cooper, telling the story of legendary Texas frontier Judge Roy Bean.
The movie was partly shot at Star-Telegram owner Amon G. Carter’s Shady Oak Farm. A Houston movie critic described the premiere, hosted by comedian Bob Hope, as classic Fort Worth: “Cowboys in full regalia slouched around in boots, cowboy Stetsons at rakish angles.
“ … The dinner out at Amon G. Carter’s ranch looked like a miniature Academy Awards banquet. … In cowboy outfit and riding his Palomino pony, he greeted the celebrities. … ‘I can think of nothing more appropriate than having the premiere here where the West begins,’ he said.”