A vast majority of the traditional American movie theaters that predated the multiplexes, from the grand, ornate movie palaces to the neighborhood Roxys, Rialtos and, of course, Bijous, met their end with a wrecking ball to make way for malls, parking lots, condos, office buildings and, yes, multiplexes. However, hundreds of these architecturally unique and culturally fascinating theaters around the U.S. have been saved, restored and reopened. These restorations represent the efforts of thousands of dedicated people and the raising of untold millions of dollars.
We here at Matinee at the Bijou are by no means experts in this realm, but the folks at Cinema Treasures certainly are. We applaud their passion, and the exciting and provocative work they do to help keep these unique American treasures alive.
Cinema Treasures was launched in 2000 by cinema entrepreneurs Patrick Crowley and Ross Melnick. Their mantra is to “Discover, Preserve and Protect” this vital aspect of American popular culture.
To further promote national awareness and stimulate preservation and restoration efforts, Ross Melnick and co-author Andreas Fuchs recently published a companion book: Cinema Treasures – A New Look at Classic American Theaters. This is a lively and engaging look at this rich history, resplendent with scores of sumptuous photographs.
In future articles, with the help of the crusaders at Cinema Treasures, we will be shining a spotlight on those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep these theaters alive, and we’ll be profiling some of the great old classic movie theaters around the country.