Demolition is set to begin this week with a gorgeous movie in downtown Anchorage theater Designed by the architects of Hollywood’s famous Pantages Theater. Anchorage entrepreneur Austin “Cap” Lathrop opened his nearly 1,000-seat 4th Avenue Theater on May 31, 1947, and staged “The Jolson Story.” The Art Deco theater became the centerpiece of downtown’s historic district. But it wasn’t until more than 40 years before his last film was shown that the building remained nearly half empty.
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The current owner of the building has problems such as it being too costly to return a building that has been vacant for more than 15 years to a usable location, and its use as a single-screen cinema is an outdated business model. said. Instead, the building’s owners, Derrick Chan and Terrence Chan, said in a statement earlier this year that they had recovered the striking artwork inside the building and the iconic 4th Avenue Art Deco neon sign, and decided to replace them. into the block’s new $200 million redevelopment plan. Hotelretail stores, entertainment venues.
Mr. and Mrs. Chang did not respond to messages from the Associated Press. State Historic Preservation Officer Judith Bittner said: “It is a building of great architectural importance, its relationship to Cap Lathrop, and as a historic icon of Anchorage itself.” . “I think both the interior and exterior are unique and worthy of preservation.” Efforts over the years to save the theater were unsuccessful, including the failure of a voter initiative to fund it.Fulfillment of efforts to save theater For some who fought to preserve the five-story, nearly 11,500-square-foot (1,068-square-meter) building, especially after a fence was put up around the theater this week to restrict traffic around the building. is.
“I think it’s a foregone conclusion that this is the end,” said Trish Neal, president of the Alaska Society for Historic Preservation. “I think there are people in and out of the state who are grieving.” Historic preservation architect Sam Combs added, “It’s going to destroy the historic core of our city.” . Lathrop was making a substantive statement by starting construction on the theater in 1941, two years after Anchorage had a population of about 3,500 according to the U.S. Census.
Alaska Long before Anchorage became the state’s largest city and an aviation hub between the United States and Asia, Anchorage was still a territory. At the time, Alaska’s future was unclear, but Bittner said Lathrop had a vision of Alaska becoming something, and he put his considerable fortune behind that belief. In a sense, “I believe in Alaska, I believe in Alaska’s future, and we can aspire to greater things,” was a comment to Alaska.B. Marcus Priteka from Seattle was hired to design theaters for Alexander Pantages, an early theater chain owner, including the iconic Hollywood Theatre, founded in 1929, and to design the new Anchorage Movie Theater. Construction began in 1941 but was interrupted during World War 2. The interior is lush and features high-end décor and loveseats at the ends of alternating rows.
A gold leaf mural of Alaska’s Mount McKinley, now named Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, adorned the lobby. A silver and gold mural depicting scenes from Alaska by Anthony Heinsbergen and Frank Bowman of Los Angeles was featured in the main theater. two floor to ceiling mural According to the Friends of the Fourth Avenue Theater website, they assembled the stage and screen. Twinkling lights illuminated the constellations of the Big Dipper and Polaris on the ceiling.
However, the theater lacked one major detail. Lathrop thought that the concession stands were unsightly, and since there was no concession stand, the children should visit Woolworth’s at the end of the block to stock up on candy before they got to the movies. The building was more than just a cinema. It housed Lathrop’s television and radio studios, with offices and an attic on the fourth floor. It wasn’t until about 1960 that he added a fifth floor, becoming a penthouse. Bitner said the building is solid, with lots of concrete poured into it. “It’s built to last,” she said. “They will try to demolish some of that concrete.”
Its solid foundation may be one reason why the theater remained standing despite streets and buildings all over Anchorage collapsing after the 9.2-magnitude earthquake on Good Friday in 1964. earthquake on record. The 4th Avenue Theater projector went quiet in his 1980s, and the building was used as an event venue until the turn of the century. Neal said any remaining hope to save the building from the wrecking ball was due to a Republican governor.
Mike Dunleavy declared it a state historic site and asked the owner for written consent to designate it. “The Alaska Historical Commission has the authority required and authorized by the Alaska Constitution and the Alaska Historic Preservation Act to ensure that the historic features and values of the 4th Avenue Theater are protected and preserved for future generations. In a July 12 letter to Dunleavy obtained by the Associated Press, Bittner said:
“The governor’s office has not received a letter from the Historical Commission. Therefore, there is no official request,” Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said in an email to the AP on Thursday. Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson supports the downtown changes, his spokesperson Corey Allen Young said. We support plans that bring about further development and vitality.
The developer artwork Please recreate the historic landmark signage on 4th Avenue whenever possible,” he said in an email. Bittner said he appreciates the Chans’ efforts to preserve the iconic sign and mural, but whatever its future use, it’s art, not part of the building. The context in which it was created is lost,” she said. “When it’s gone, it’s gone forever.”
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