A sweet neon sign on the Michigan Theater in Escanaba – located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it must have gone through some pretty rough winters. The theater opened in 1930 and, like many other businesses in this little waterfront town, it’s currently for sale.
Inside a gutted tuberculosis hospital in southern Spain, the auditorium has been stripped to concrete and a few remnants of tile. Now a mere skeleton lurking in the beautiful countryside, the modern hospital building has even repelled the usual invasion of plants and animals so far. Trashed, wrecked and burned, it’s hard to imagine this theater was ever a pleasant place for patients to spend time in… at least before it was abandoned. Vacant for over 20 years, there are still no plans for demolition or reuse – good news for satanists and ghost hunters in the area, who have made this a predictable destination to let their imagination shrivel towards swastikas and the usual hauntings of tortured patients.
An unexpected discovery during my recent trip to France: a semi-abandoned sanatorium in the woods, featuring two nearly identical theaters on either end. The one shown here has obviously seen a lot of traffic since its closure; I’m told it has been hosting raves and secret performances for well over a decade. A little surprising, since the active part of the hospital complex is visible through the auditorium windows, but we all know a bit of guerrilla theater does wonders for one’s mental constitution. The concrete building from the 1930s seems pretty indestructible, although some visitors have clearly tried.
Cream and purple stage curtains making their way across the floor in a Midwestern auditorium.
An atmospheric-style theater from 1929, the Ramova Theater is slowly crumbling to pieces in Chicago’s Bridgeport area. At least it is getting a lot of love from neighbors who would like to see it preserved. Really all you would need are some generators and dusk masks and you won’t even care what’s playing on the screen. To follow its progress, check out the Ramova Theater facebook page.
More photos here.
This lovely theater in Milwaukee was named after a famous Polish actress, Helena Modjeska, and has been closed since 2010. As of 2012, efforts were underway to restore it – perhaps it’s not too late to help?
The Vanity Ballroom in Detroit in the summer of 2012.
The first time I saw the ballroom in 2007, I barely had time to look around before being chased out by someone who claimed to live downstairs (the bottom floor was once occupied by stores and is now in a pretty destroyed condition). At that time there was hardly any graffiti and the wood floor was still up for a few dances. Since the stairway was busted wide open earlier this year, the building is going the way of so many other architectural gems in this city. For reference, the Detroit News recently published a nice historic photo of the space as part of its essay Detroit Dances Through Time.