The Southern Movie Palace: Rise, Fall, and Resurrection

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"Jones takes us back to the heyday of the silver screen, when going downtown to an extravagant movie palace was the highlight of the week. Then she shows how contemporary visionaries have preserved and reinterpreted these grand old theaters for a modern 'going downtown' experience."--Thomas Graham, Flagler College, St. Augustine

Focusing on the restoration of movie theaters in Atlanta, Biloxi, Birmingham, Durham, Memphis, and Tampa, Janna Jones provides a record of the architectural history and preservation of ...

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Hardcover New Focusing on the restoration of movie theaters in Atlanta, Biloxi, Birmingham, Durham, Memphis, and Tampa, Janna Jones provides a record of the architectural ... history and preservation of the opulent urban picture palace. Reflecting our fascination with the past, she recreates the magic of the early years of theaters throughout the southern United States, their demise in the mid-20th century, and their renaissance in the 1970s as the preservation movement swept across the country. From the 1920s through the 1950s, the magnificent movie theaters of the South beckoned to millions of urban patrons. By the 1960s, however, many downtown districts had experienced profound cultural and economic crises and the wrecking ball destroyed scores of the grand old structures. Others barely survived by showing pornographic or racially exploitative movies. Those remaining today are often a critical component of downtown revitalization. Jones discusses attempts to save, restore, and reuse the movie houses. She Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Jones takes us back to the heyday of the silver screen, when going downtown to an extravagant movie palace was the highlight of the week. Then she shows how contemporary visionaries have preserved and reinterpreted these grand old theaters for a modern 'going downtown' experience."--Thomas Graham, Flagler College, St. Augustine

Focusing on the restoration of movie theaters in Atlanta, Biloxi, Birmingham, Durham, Memphis, and Tampa, Janna Jones provides a record of the architectural history and preservation of the opulent urban picture palace. Reflecting our fascination with the past, she re-creates the magic of the early years of theaters throughout the southern United States, their demise in the mid-20th century, and their renaissance in the 1970s as the preservation movement swept across the country.

From the 1920s through the 1950s, the magnificent movie theaters of the South beckoned to millions of urban patrons. By the 1960s, however, many downtown districts had experienced profound cultural and economic crises and the wrecking ball destroyed scores of the grand old structures. Others barely survived by showing pornographic or racially exploitative movies. Those remaining today are often a critical component of downtown revitalization.

Jones discusses attempts to save, restore, and reuse the movie houses. She explores how and why people attempt to resurrect the past and reveals the complex layers of cultural memory. Based on her interviews with preservationists, she offers a cultural analysis of architectural preservation in the late 20th century by examining the practices, philosophies, and politics of preservation today, shedding light on the ways that nostalgia often guides--and misguides--their work.

Illustrated with black-and-white photos that evoke an era of glamour and fantasy and utilizing first-hand accounts from past and present employees and patrons of the theaters, this book is the first to detail both the decline and the revival of the urban picture palace.

Janna Jones is assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

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Editorial Reviews

Thomas Graham
Jones takes us back to the heyday of the silver screen, when going downtown to an extravagant movie palace was the highlight of the week. Then she shows how contemporary visionaries have preserved and reinterpreted these grand old theaters for a modern 'going downtown' experience.
Flagler College, St. Augustine
Library Journal
Jones (interdisciplinary studies, Univ. of South Florida) takes a scholarly look at the restoration of Southern movie palaces. Using newspaper archives, public documents, and interviews with theater patrons, employees, and restorers, she attempts to explain the importance of the theaters as well as their cultural and economic aspects, taking a close look at the reasons for their "rise, fall, and decline." She cites the onset of suburban housing developments, shopping malls, and the Civil Rights Movement in the decline of these houses' popularity. While admirable, this book is written in a dry, matter-of-fact style that most casual readers will find tedious at best. Unfortunately, the black-and-white archive photos, which could have imbued the book with more spirit, did not reproduce well. Robert Berger and Anne Conser's The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown and Ave Pildas's Movie Palaces also seek to preserve the legacy of the movie palace, though they are mostly photo essays. Jones's effort is recommended for upper-level academic libraries.-Rosalind Dayen, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813026053
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 From Glory to Ruins: The Early Years of the Movie Palace 13
2 The Decline of the Southern Downtown Movie Palace 40
3 Rescuing the Past from the Wrecking Ball 80
4 Creating the Illusion of a Material Past 119
5 The Discursive Past 188
6 The Transformation of the Downtown Movie Palace 232
Notes 275
Photo Credits 285
Index 287
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