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Arcade Theatre, Charleston SC.

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  • hawaiiguy123155
    Arcade Theater Demolished January 12, 2004 CHARLESTON, SC — The Arcade Theater was in the Art Moderne style by prolific Charleston architect Augustus
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 14, 2004
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      Arcade Theater Demolished
      January 12, 2004
      CHARLESTON, SC — The Arcade Theater was in the Art Moderne style by
      prolific Charleston architect Augustus Constantine who personally
      supervised a renovation to the building in 1957 when the pergola and
      yellow brick were added.


      In correspondence from Albert Sottile in 1958, he made his affection
      for the Arcade Theater known. He wrote, "I must deal with the most
      enchanting place of all, the Arcade Theater, standing on Liberty
      Street. Charleston people, as well as visitors, have nothing but
      praise for the beautiful pergola approach to the theater, as well as
      the interior of the theater itself. We were almost tempted a year
      ago, to accept an offer to convert it into a business establishement,
      at a good rental. But, we decided that to do so, we would be robbing
      so many of our friends and visitors, the pleasure of visiting this
      little gem of a theater. So, the offer was turned down and there it
      remains, continuing to contribute a good measure of delight to our
      patrons."

      On November 8, 1973, the Arcade Theater closed. Larry Barrett,
      assistant general manager of Pastime Amusement Company cited an
      insufficient quantity of good films as the reason. While saying the
      Arcade Theater would be closed indefinitely, he added that it was not
      a permanent closing nor was it due to financial reasons. "Most of the
      films," he said, "are booked through the major studios' branch
      offices in Atlanta, Charlotte or New York." He said that quality
      films were always scarce in the early Fall because the major studios
      wait until Thanksgiving and Christmas to release films.

      A letter from T. J. Worthington to the Editor of the News and Courier
      on November 26, 1973, is particularly insightful when trying to
      understand the appeal of the Arcade Theater. "I read in the paper
      that the Arcade Theater had closed, according to the management,
      because no quality films were being made anymore. That is
      preposterous nonsense. I suspect the truth lies more on whoever it is
      selecting the films and his idea of what a good film is.

      Seven and eight years ago one could go to the Arcade once a week, not
      knowing what would be on, and see a first rate film. One never took a
      chance at the Arcade. It was the envy of cities for miles around.

      Charleston was one of the very few cities outside New York that
      showed quality above Hollywood commercial successes. In the last five
      years the Arcade has not even been up to that. There has clearly been
      a shift.

      The shift was not due to the theater losing money. In those years the
      theater was always full, because the Arcade could be depended on to
      show quality. However, when it began to change, the frequency of good
      films became scarce. I know there are good films being made. Two I
      have seen outside Charleston are "The Conformist" and
      Pasolini's "Decameron." The problem at the Arcade is in the
      management, not the film industry. Hollywood has always been blamed
      for making bad films, and it has, but the Arcade was never a theater
      for the average Hollywood film. The Arcade's audience was driven away
      long ago and the habit is gone. So, is the only good movie theater
      Charleston ever had."

      On December 26, 1975 the Arcade reopened under the management of
      Coastal Theaters, a subsidiary of Fairlane Litchfield Company, Inc.
      of Easley, South Carolina. Coastal Theaters also took over management
      of the Riviera Theater. H. G. Meyer, Jr. was named city manager for
      Coastal Theaters.

      In March, 1978, the Academy Award winning documentary "Harlan County,
      USA" was shown. The exhibition was part of the Independent
      Filmmakers: Southern Circuit film series. Hart Perry, cinematographer
      for the film was there to discuss how the film was made and answered
      questions from the audience.

      In January, 1981, the Charleston Board of Architectural Review
      approved a parking variance for a planned lounge and restaurant in
      the former Arcade Theater. The board noted that the major trade for a
      restaurant and lounge in that location would be college students, who
      generally would walk to such a close establishment and not require
      parking.

      From 1984 through 1997, the Arcade operated as a gay nightclub often
      featuring drag shows. In 2000, the College of Charleston bought the
      property. It was used for a computer lab, a physics lab, classrooms
      and offices. In August, 2002, the College sought permission from
      Charleston's Board of Architectural Review to have the building
      demolished in order to expand its business school.

      Initially, the board unanimously denied the college's request. Board
      member John Moore said, "It's not the most beautiful building around,
      that's for sure, but it's one of the rare examples of this kind of
      architecture."

      A month later, the board reversed itself saying the former Arcade
      Theater really isn't a classic and definitely isn't worth saving.
      Architect Jeffrey Rosenblum said, "I contend that it's just standard
      shopping strip architecture with a little bit of frou-frou. This
      building has no architectural merit."

      Today, the "Little Gem" is gone. Many factors including soaring
      property values, the rapidly expanding College of Charleston, and the
      lack of will by local preservationists to preserve the smaller scale
      buildings of mid-twentieth century architecture, have combined to
      cause the loss of another tangible piece of Charleston's
      architectural and cultural history.
    • mrcooby
      ... 3155@y... wrote: Arcade Theater Demolished January 12, 2004 CHARLESTON, SC — The Arcade Theater was in the Art Moderne style by prolific
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 15, 2004
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        --- In historicmoviepalaces@yahoogroups.com, "hawaiiguy123155" <hawaiiguy12=
        3155@y...> wrote:
        > Arcade Theater Demolished
        > January 12, 2004
        > CHARLESTON, SC — The Arcade Theater was in the Art Moderne style by
        > prolific Charleston architect Augustus Constantine who personally
        > supervised a renovation to the building in 1957 when the pergola and
        > yellow brick were added.
        >
        >
        So, the College couldn't continue to have a film theatre as part of its cur=
        riculum? The one in MY town does, and they pack them in.
        >
        > In 2000, the College of Charleston bought the property. It was used for
        > a computer lab, a physics lab, classrooms
        > and offices. In August, 2002, the College sought permission from
        > Charleston's Board of Architectural Review to have the building
        > demolished in order to expand its business school.
        >
        These "educators" seem to always be at the forefront in throwing their weig=
        ht around when it comes to demolitions of historic buildings.

        I got a real "education" from Loyola University in Chicago when they insist=
        ed that the gorgeous Granada Theatre come down. They got it down, too.

        In 1980, Marquette University in Milwaukee took down the Plankinton Mansion=
        , despite a community uproar.
        They wanted a jogging track.
        Like people couldn't jog anywheres else?
        They did it really sneakily:
        they used the old "'Oops' Trick".
        They didn't have a demolition permit so first thing in the morning, a bulld=
        ozer started hacking away at the mansion. Somebody called the authorities, w=
        ho ordered the bulldozer to stop because he had no permit, and he said "Oops=
        !" and stopped right there on the spot.
        AFTER he caused a million dollars in damage to the mansion. Get it??

        Watch out for the old "'Oops' Trick in your hometowns!
        >
        > Initially, the board unanimously denied the college's request. Board
        > member John Moore said, "It's not the most beautiful building around,
        > that's for sure, but it's one of the rare examples of this kind of
        > architecture."
        >
        > A month later, the board reversed itself saying the former Arcade
        > Theater really isn't a classic and definitely isn't worth saving.
        >
        See? Our education continues!
        WE just learned something, didn't we?
        We learned that either the Board has a short attenton span, or somebody got=
        to somebody.
        >
        > Architect Jeffrey Rosenblum said, "I contend that it's just standard
        > shopping strip architecture with a little bit of frou-frou. This
        > building has no architectural merit."
        >
        I wonder if anything HE designed has any "architectural merit", and if anyb=
        ody will mourn HIS buildings when they're threatened the way they mourn the =
        Arcade Theatre.
        >
        > Today, the "Little Gem" is gone. Many factors including soaring
        > property values, the rapidly expanding College of Charleston, and the
        > lack of will by local preservationists to preserve the smaller scale
        > buildings of mid-twentieth century architecture, have combined to
        > cause the loss of another tangible piece of Charleston's
        > architectural and cultural history.
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