Theater of Ghosts

greneda

On a very busy and congested street in urban Uptown is a building that resembles a cathedral in a Mediterranean fantasy, the Grenada Theater.

On a Spring day observing it from a corner across the street it seems enormous and elegant, silent and abandoned. Stores and restaurants, a neighboring bookstore are bustling, the sidewalks crowded, the streets a constant stream of traffic.

The theater’s sandstone and fanciful facade should be restored. Its marquis bulbs lit and signs announcing the next performance should be there. The economic recession of the mid 2000s took its toll on the theater and despite all the efforts of the proprietors to offer entertainment, the theater went dark, was listed for sale and was acquired by a mysterious Florida investment company.

Plans were proposed to convert the theater to a retail space. It’s floor would be leveled and the screen removed. It would be a theater no more. Several years have passed. Nothing has happened. What may happen, as new developments continue to over-run the neighborhood, is speculation.

The theater was designed by Leibenberg and Kaplan in 1927. It is said to have a “Spanish Churringueresque Revival style facade with Spanish Baroque design”   Locally it could be the last of its breed, the only one of its kind.

It is an atmospheric theater with balconies, statutes, and fake evergreens. The curved ceiling was painted sky blue. The Brentograph projected twinkling stars, clouds, and a sun and moon moving across the ceiling.

This theater should be restored as a theater with live music, performance and events. Instead the crowds pass it by. The economy has recovered. People would spend money here again.

It is a tragic beauty held hostage by greed and indifference.

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Brenograph

Farkitecture Follies #5 A vacant theater in a vibrant urban neighborhood owned by a mysterious entity that abandoned their plans to convert it to retail,  won’t restore it as a venue for live music and performance, and leaves the unique Liebenberg and Kaplan theater, empty, neglected, abandoned and dark…an anonymous item in an investment portfolio.

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