Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Adieu Marquee

If you read La France Profonde -- and if you're reading this, you probably do -- you know about my fascination for the underside of old-ish places.

I emphasize "old-ish" because prehistoric sites, Roman ruins and vestiges of medieval structures don't do it for me. Give me traces of the 20th century -- like this movie theater marquee in my home town, Olympia, Washington. It went up in 1940; it came down last week.

While plenty of Olympians apparently felt nostalgic about the loss of this downtown landmark, the local paper's photo gallery on the dismantling reveals that the marquee masked treasures: stained glass and sculptures that had been hidden from the public for almost 70 years.

"Removal of Capitol Theater marquee brings sadness but uncovers beauty," reads the headline of the article about the change. Would that all architectural changes were that way...

(Photo courtesy of Ken McIntyre. I couldn't find how to contact Ken to ask if I could use his photo, but given all of the html links he has provided on his Photobucket site, I assume he won't mind.

If like me, you are fascinated by old movie theaters, check out the theater section of cinematreasures.org.)

6 comments:

Steve H. said...

There were (at least) three old theaters in downtown Olympia: The Capitol, The State, and The Olympic. Right?

The Olympic was converted into the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in the early 80s.

I'm pretty sure we filmed a scene for our movie -- yeah, that movie -- in the entry way of the Capitol Theater. If I remember correctly, I had aluminum foil covering all my teeth in an attempt to look like the character Jaws from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me.

And then in grade school, I remember we used to get bussed down to one of those theaters (either the Capitol or the Olympic?) for various shows during the year.

Wasn't The State where they always showed Rocky Horror?

Funny how all that history sort of blurs together....

Betty C. said...

In our era, there were "the big three" that you mention. I seem to remember my parents talking about a previous theater, "The Avalon", but I may be wrong there. I'll try to check with them on that one.

The Capitol Theater is still basically intact and houses the Olympia Film Society.

I also remember being bussed down to "Junior Programs," but can't remember which theater they were in, although I'm guessing the Olympic for some reason.

The State went through a period where it was still operating as a sort of triplex, I think -- do you remember that? The Harlequin theater (Harlequin Productions?" refurbished part of it and they now put on high-quality stage productions throughout the year.

It's funny you should mention Rocky Horror. I saw it a lot when I was at Stanford, but only remember seeing it in Olympia at through the first incarnation of the Olympia Film Society, which was in a former church at the top of 4th Avenue (of all places to see Rocky Horror!)

To round this up nicely, I think Harlequin will be putting on a live version of Rocky Horror in the former State theater this summer.

Steve H. said...

Junior Programs! That's right... I could not remember that title. And yes, I definitely remember The State as a sort of triplex.

But guess what. I've never actually seen Rocky Horror.... Weird, huh?

Anyway, I forgot to thank you for the interesting post. It's a little ironic that the information came by way of France, but that's what makes the blogosphere such an interesting medium. So, thanks!

Betty C. said...

Well, thank you for commenting! I suspect the post is mainly of interest to Olympians...I doubt I'll et many more comments!

Cécy said...

You're making me think that I should take a picture of the Fine Art Theater down town, it has an old marquee as well.

Betty C. said...

Cécy, you might want to do it before it's too late!