Today, we took the younger two kids to see Hotel For Dogs at the local old style movie theater. I have only gone to this theater one other time, so I knew what to expect.
First, the theater is basically the same now as it was when it was first opened- in the 40's. You walk in, and there is a small lobby, where you order your tickets and concessions at the same stand. If you veer immediatly to the right, you go into a back room sectioned off- half of it is video games, the other half is behind the concession stand, and where they have extra stock, the soda machines, popcorn machine, etc.
As you walk past the lobby towards the back, there is one theater, and two sets of stairs. The stairs lead up to the smaller theater. There is also two bathrooms in this back section. I can't vouch for the men's bathroom, but I can tell you that the girls bathroom would in no way pass any sort of handicap specifications.
Technically, I suppose since the structure was built so long ago, it doesn't have to, but I have to wonder what they do for handicap guests. When you walk into the woman's bathroom, you are first in a small room with a single sink. There's an old batwing style wooden door in the corner, propped open.
When you walk through it, there are three stalls, with a hallway about shoulder width on an adult. I had to shuffle through sideways. The stalls themselves have shower curtain doors, but I can't imagine there is enough room for an actual door to swing open, and there certainly wasn't enough room for the doors to swing into the stalls.
The stalls themselves are about as wide as the seats in the theater. I had to leave the stall in order to have room to turn around and flush. TINY. Like I said, no way they are wheel chair accessible. Not a chance.
Both movies I've seen have been in the upstairs, so I don't know what shape the big theater room is in. When you get upstairs, the ceiling is domed, but not very tall. There are not many seats, either. The seats are very old- quiet probably they were refitted at some point, but are likely original features to the 1940's theater.
Cup holders, rocking seats, stadium seating, and aisles wide enough to walk through with other people sitting there? Not likely. In fact, when Gillian decided halfway through that she had to go potty, I basically had to straddle Nick's lap to get past him- and that was with his legs turned to the side. I doubt he minded much.
The domed ceiling had, at one time, probably been an Art Deco fantasy. Over time, though, the inlayed ceiling has suffered major water damage, which was never repaired, or even painted over, so it shows every water mark, every bit of mold, and every bulging section.
The ceiling itself, from the point where the walls start to dome, are painted white. Not a big thing, but in a theater, when the light from the movie hits it, it lights the room up much more than it should. Oh, if I could get my hands on that theater... when I win my millions, right? I think it could be a gorgeous place if it were restored.
I love little old buildings like that, and seeing what they used to look like. But, I think it's a shame that it's so run down, and not kept up at all. There was some attempts at recapturing the Art Deco theme, but with the over all run down appearance, and the ill thought out colors (they did Art Deco theming with out Art Deco colors- my guess is they wanted to try and match the overall appearance), it just looks weepy and sad.
If I could, I would snatch it up, and shut it down for a few weeks. I'd repair all the damages to the ceiling, and repaint the upstairs room with an Art Deco theme. I would try to salvage the inlay on the ceiling, and repair it. It looked like it had been repaired with 2 x 4's being added to it at different points, and painted white, but they didn't match the original inlay at all. I would likely paint the ceiling a dark color, with a muted design on it for when the lights are on.
I would remove all the old seats, and probably try to salvage them, but spread the aisles apart a good 5-6 inches. Reupholster the padding on the seats, as well. For the down stairs.. there seems to be a lot of wasted space, with the front lobby (which is always empty), and the back lobby, and the ill proportioned side room with games.
Did I mention that most of the games back there were from the early 80's, and half of them didn't work? I would turn that space into more modern bathrooms. I think the space in front of the downstairs theater could be made into a fully functioning concession stand, and there's space at the front for an old fashioned ticket window.
That would clear the space where the concession stand and ticket counter currently are for bathroom doors. The floors all need to be completely redone in there as well. Walking from room to room, they are not even.
The sign out front is just in sad shape, and needs to be replaced. I would replace it with something similar to the era, and pop the marquee out in a triangle, like many old theaters have. The current marquee is flat. Line it with big white bulbs, ala Broadway.
I think it could be a gorgeous place, but it needs so much work, I fear before too long, it'll be shut down. They certainly can't be making much- for all four of us, it was $12 to get in. I spent an additional $7 on 4 snacks, 2 kids drinks, and 1 large drink. It's perfect for people on a budget, but I have no idea how they are able to operate on so little income.
The theater has limited hours- weekday evenings after 6, and weekends after 2. No morning showings, or weekday matinées. Actually, come to think of it, I think maybe they did have weekday matinées during the summer.
With so many businesses closing down, it makes me wonder if it's time isn't numbered.