Monday, July 5, 2010

Tour of Alabama Theatre

This is supposed to be my July 5th post but because I loaded the photos on June 23rd, Blogger won't allow me to change the date under "post options."

The Alabama Theatre
was built in 1927 and was once known as The Showplace of the South. In later years it went into bankruptcy and was forced to close. For a number of years it was the victim of theft and vandalism. It was later purchased by a non-profit group who along with a group wanting to restore it, finally did. Today the Alabama is used for various entertainment venues.

The upper mezzanine

I attended a tour of the Alabama Theatre some years ago. We had an excellent guide. He was an older man who remembered his days as a youth frequenting the theatre for double features, newsreels, and cartoons. Back then going to the movies could be an all day affair. I remember hearing stories of kids skipping school and staying at the movies all day.
This year the tour was a self-guided one. (Not as much fun when there's no one to tell all of the inside, secret stories.)

This is just one of the ceiling medallions found in the theatre. It is located in what is called The Hall of Mirrors. It's visible as soon as you enter.

This ceiling and chandelier is located in the lobby of the theatre. You may notice as you view these photos that there are numerous chandeliers and unique light fixtures.

This domed ceiling is inside the seating area. I took this picture from the main floor. As you can see there's a smaller domed area in the balcony.
The Wurlitzer organ is able to ascend and descend. Hearing the music and seeing it rise is very dramatic. Click here
to hear songs played on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Although used during the era of silent movies, it is still used today, by the Organ Society.

Apparently the performers back then must have been in excellent shape. There were dressing rooms on about three different floors. We had to walk up loooooooooooogggg flights of stairs to see them. After walking up to each floor, all we saw was another dressing room. It wasn't anything fancy.

The faucet fixtures still had the old-fashioned "hot" and "cold" written on them.
Located underneath the stage area is this contraption that is used to expand the bellows so that the organ can be played. It is located in a compact area. We had to take turns going inside. Oh yes. There are also dressing rooms downstairs with no windows.

Another chandelier. (Click on the picture to enlarge and see the detail)
This chandelier is hanging in the lobby of The Loft. We were told that it was one of the chandeliers from the original Tutwiler Hotel.
The Loft is a building attached to the Alabama Theatre that was once Weil Furs back during downtown Birmingham's hey days. It has now been remodeled as the lobby up to a ballroom and banquet facilities. Thank goodness this is the modern side and there's an elevator.

Click the photos below to read the captions.

I didn't get up to the projector room. My calves were sore from all of those flights of stairs.
My friend who is from Chicago asked, "Why does Birmingham tear everything down?"
She asks a valid question. Case in point. The building known as the Tutwiler Hotel today is NOT the original Tutwiler Hotel. The Tutwiler today was once an apartment building known as the the Ridgely Apartments.
Years later I guess somebody said, "Doggone it we shouldn't have torn down the Tutwiler."
Then somebody else says, "Let's just redo another old building and NAME it The Tutwiler. Maybe no one will notice."
There are many historic buildings that have been destroyed in Birmingham. These can never be replaced.
To answer my friends question, ...because of ignorance, greed, dishonesty and most of all, racism.

1 comment:

  1. The building is absolutely gorgeous and love the many chandeliers. The Wurlitzer organ is a piece of art. My home was built in 1927 and really appreciate a lot of the detail work that was created duing that time.