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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rialto

Doesn't look like a door you want to enter without high boots and a flashlight. Though it's pretty, in its way.

This is the side door to the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena. The Theatre, which opened in 1925, has been closed since last December, when it showed "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" for the last time (after a thirty-year run).

Fortunately, the Rialto's on the National Register of Historic Places, so it's not a tear-down. While awaiting funds for its new function, there's a bit of elegant entropy going on.

A few extra shots on Overdog.

15 comments:

Bibi said...

Another piece of history bites the dust; too bad. Nice photo of the side entrance; you've undoubtedly preserved the theater for a while longer.

USelaine said...

Beautiful. The Arlington in Santa Barbara was an old movie house that was restored into a live performing arts space. Listing is good, but only protects if the politics is behind it. Good luck.

Petrea said...

Bibi, I was hoping the listing on the National Register would preserve it, but if uselaine is correct it may not. I think the politics may be behind it; South Pas residents have kept the place alive before, they just may do it again. They're a feisty bunch. According to Wikipedia, South Pas itself has been listed 5 times on the National Register's list of "Most Endangered Places."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Pasadena,_California

Clueless in boston said...

The doorway is very nice, but what happened to the original door? Any idea. I'm sure it would cost a very large fortune to renovate the theater, but I hope it can be saved.

marley said...

Its very ornate.

Palm Axis said...

I like your description "elegant entropy". Funny, my mother didn't like me going there during the 70's. She was convinced the plush but heavily worn seats in the balcony harbored bed bugs.

Jim said...

The theatre should be preserved just for the history it has. It sounds like the inside was wonderful looking. Surfing the net it looks like Pasadena and South Pasadena have had quite a few old theatres closed and demolished or redeveloped. The movie theatres and drive-ins I worked in as a teenager have been long gone in Illinois.

Petrea said...

It's a good question, clueless. I've read stuff in preservation magazines about new owners who find old pieces like that lying around. The originals are the most valuable of course.

The Rialto's owned by Landmark Theatres. I don't know what their plans are, but there's a sign high up on the southeast corner of the building saying the space is "available." For sale or lease, I don't know.

Yes, marley, and there are little bits of color, and more carvings all over it. It's lovely.

We were there for a movie not long ago, Palm. It was plenty clean. But I can't speak for the 70's. I'm glad I had a chance to see the "elegant entropy" inside before it closed.

Petrea said...

I'm from Illinois, too, Jim. There's a beautifully preserved theatre in my home town of DeKalb, called the Egyptian. I wish they could all be so well-kept, but if we're not using them, who's going to keep them for us?

Katie said...

Here's hoping this place can be saved. I like this door photo, but especially like the marquee photo and other details. You've really captured the essence of the place. Oh to have a lot of money to turn this place into a cool theatre again. There's one near me that was recently redone into a great theatre with couches and you can get food and wine & beer. Makes for a fun evening out! I hope we aren't in the twilight years of the movie theatre, but I'm afraid we are.

P.S. Watched last night's episode online and there you were! Fun to see you live, even briefly and playing someone else. Plus fabulous dress!

Bernie K. said...

Sidenote: the National Register doesn't save anything; can't—no budget. The Register's just a list, administered by some folks under the Dept. of Interior (National Parks) & has pretty much no staff.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation could save the Rialto, but moldering theaters are ten-pence-a-bunch in this country. Q.v.:

http://tinyurl.com/5nr386

Lydia said...

I love this shot, all the more because I remember my mother telling of movie dates at the Rialto when she was in high school. It had all these boxes in malls beat for beauty and atmosphere. What good is a listing in the National Register if it doesn't save buildings? I just don't get it. I hope this one survives.

Petrea said...

I don't know, Lydia. I thought the listing meant the building couldn't be touched. Maybe it just means it's harder to touch it.

Bernie K. said...

A National Register listing is the memorialization of preservation processes officially recognized as necessary, underway or completed. It provides protections so preservation can occur. The actual work of preservation—site surveys, feasibility research, grant processes, funding, physical labor, legal & financial work, not to mention determining appropriate reuse plans & tenantry—is done by, well, preservationists. The Register staff don't do any of that.

Petrea said...

Thanks, Bernie. Now we know why it takes so much--not just money, but effort. And time. And expertise. And--money.