- Atmospheric theatre
An atmospheric theatre is a historical type of
movie palace(cinema) that used design and architectural elements to convey an impression of being seated in a fantastic foreign setting, which might be anything from a palace or village square to a garden or outdoor auditoriumat night, including the illusion of an open sky complete with twinkling stars. [http://www.historic.org.nz/Register/ListingDetail.asp?RID=100 Auckland Civic Theatre] (database entry in the Historic Places Register New Zealand)] The first such cinema considered to fully feature the new style was the Majestic Theatre, built in 1923 in Houston, Texasin the USA. [http://www.temple.edu/ispr/examples/ex05_01_06.html The Atmospheric Style of Theatre Design] - Mendiola, Sister Christine; Master's Thesis, University of Akron, 1974]
The style caught on quickly in the US and around the world, as it promised an escape from the often economically difficult times of the 1930s into a type of fantasy world, where not only the movie but also the building aided the transfer. The setting of an outdoor garden, or a palace with arts objects and
statues, helped people forget reality for a time. The buildings were also cheaper to construct than the technically more grandiose cinemas of the time, which called for high vaulted arches or domes, with expensive chandeliers as opposed to projected clouds and a handful of low-wattage stars. However, many also included quite intricate elements, such as those built in the Art Decostyle.
Main proponent of the style was
John Eberson, who built the first cinema of its style, and before his death designed around 500 in the US and around the world, personally selecting the furnishings and art objects. While he had many competitors, none "had quite the same air of midsummer's night in dreamland as Eberson's originals".
*The Gateway Theatre in Chicago's Jefferson Park neighborhood is an atmospheric theatre designed by architect Mason Rapp of the prestigious firm of
Rapp & Rappin 1930. It was the first movie theatre in Chicago built exclusively for the talkies.
7th Street Theatrein Hoquiam, Washington, USA. It is one of the few remaining examples of an atmospheric theatre that remain in the United States. It was built in 1928, seats over 950 people, and features an outdoor Spanish garden motif.
Auckland Civic Theatrein Auckland, New Zealand. The largest surviving atmospheric cinema in Australasia, built in 1929 and featuring an India-inspired motif. Seating 2,750 viewers, it has recently (2000) been restored to near-original condition.
Paradise Center for the Artsin Faribault, Minnesota, USA. Built in 1929 on the site of the former Faribault Opera House, the Paradise was recently renovated. The motif is one of a Moorish courtyard with Turkish caps over the doors, turrets and 'stonework' walls. Originally built to seat 915, the Paradise has been altered to seat 300.
*Uptown Theater in
Kansas City, Missouri, USA. This John Eberson-designed Italian Renaissance atmospheric theater opened in 1928 and features an outdoor Mediterranean courtyard motif. It was built to seat 2,300, but the current configuration allows for 1,700.
*Lido Theatre in
The Pas, Manitoba, CAN. Built in 1930 and designed by Max Blankstein. The Lido is Canada's oldest surviving atmospheric theatre and features an outdoor Mediterranean courtyard motif. It was built to seat 600 people but the current configuration allows for 350. The Lido has not endured major renovations and therefore remains in its true original design. The Lido is not only one of very few surviving theatres of its class, the Lido is also one of the only fourth generation cinemas in Canada and perhaps North America. Being that it is still owned by the Rivalin family. [ [http://www.lidotheatre.ca/index.html Lido Theatre] (official theatre website)]
* [http://www.newarkhistory.com/newarktabernacle.html Stanley Theater/Newark Gospel Tabernacle] (private website, including photos, about a former atmospheric theatre set in a palace courtyard)
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