Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I didn't notice the clock on the cable box in the livingroom this morning. Maybe it was on when I got up. It's one of three clocks I rely on every day as I roam the house preparing to leave for work.

I only know that shortly after 6 when I looked at it it was not there! I thought perhaps the mother had inadvertently pushed a series of buttons to turn off the clock. (She's very good at that.) But no. She seemed faultless on this count as soon after, the channel display appeared and locked.

A few seconds later, the television rapidly flipped through the last two channel changes I'd tried to make. What the hell? Maybe it's haunted. More likely, it's something those idiots at Charter are doing. We really do need to switch.

But speaking of haunted, there is this lovely old building in the middle of what had to have once been a bustling downtown East St. Louis. (It's now a ghetto.) Looks like an old theater. There's also a pretty building beside it.

I've been noticing it for years since my daily path usually takes within view of it, but from a distance. After getting a more close-up view of it last night (one of several times in the past few weeks due to the bus route detouring) I finally decided to do a little research on it.

Turns out it is an old theater, the Majestic. And man, it must have been. Check this out from its glory days. Just like the postcard says, it was a million-dollar venue when it opened in 1928.

Pretty cool, eh? But then I found this slideshow on Flickr. Not so cool. It made my heart sink. You know how I am about old buildings. Make sure you go through the whole Majestic collection. There's also some nice shots of the Murphy building next door. Gorgeous!

And crumbling. Those photos were taken more than three years ago. Makes me shudder to think about how much farther into ruin this glorious old building has slipped since then. And then there's the lovely little bast*rds putting graffiti all over it. Yeah, paint over it you little turds!

Why don't you try to see someone about painting the INSIDE instead and do something to preserve and promote your heritage instead of destroying priceless history?


Karen Anne said...

This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I had a zillion dollars so I could spend it on fixing up all the things wrong with the universe.

I would actually go to the movies if they still had theaters like this.

Anonymous said...

Makes you wonder which came first, the run down neighborhood or the run down building . . .

Victoria said...

That is impressive- have you tried to go inside? I wouldnt be able to help myself.

In Tampa there is a Hotel that was built by a railroad tycoon in the early 1900's. They have only recently begun restoring part of it, the majority of it is locked up- but I had the pleasure of getting to see the massive ballroom that had been restored- and almost cried it was so beautiful! I still cant understand how the city can let such beautiful old buildings go into such disrepair and abuse! The sad part is there was a smaller scale matching hotel he built in my town- but it was demolished in the 1960's.


Sarah said...

Historical societies are called hysterical societies (behind their backs, of course) for good reason. They make it so difficult and costly for anybody to take on a project like that, that the building just sits vacant and crumbles. If they concerned themselves more with actual historical integrity instead of permits and paint colors, our historical treasures might have a shot of survival!

Sarah said...

Also, if your heart can stand to look at haunting pictures of buildings lost to time, check out the Historical American Buildings Survey via the Library of Congress. It's memory.loc.gov. A lot of the buildings are residential and vernacular, but there are also some amazing showpieces that have since been demolished (the point of the project was to catalog these historical structures before they were torn down).

Debbie said...

Oh, I love historical buildings like that. Too bad it hasn't been turned into a museum or historical landmark to be proud of. So sad.

Why S? said...

We have quite a few old movie palaces in our area. Some have been saved. Others haven't. I think it really depends on the economic realities of the neighborhood. After all, who is going to invest in salvaging that building if the local kids are likely to continue to tag it (and if would-be patrons are likely to be frightened off by the taggers?)

Anonymous said...

Wow, what great photography of this building.

The building itself - I hate to see this kinda stuff. What a waste!


Karen Anne said...

Hi, Sarah,

I think Historical societies work their butts off trying to save old buildings, at least where I've lived. The problem is generally that some developer sees a way to make more money by tearing the building down, and the people who want to save it can't come up with enough money to match that.

One problem with reviving neighborhood theaters, as I understand it, is that they can't get first run movies. Why, I don't know, some way distribution is set up so that the big boxes have exclusive rights for quite awhile after the movie is released, I think.

I would certainly love to see a movie in a real theater instead of a box. I have happy memories of theaters with ushers who asked people jabbering away during the movie to be quiet or leave. And people horsing around or worse (like threatening other patrons to get better seats, which is what happened the last time I ever went to the movies) would be removed.

Jayne said...

Well said, Karen Anne. The Historical Preservation Commission here in my hometown has, just as the ones in your experience, worked their butts off to try and save historical structures, whether residential or commercial, and have been very encouraging to owners of these historical buildings. They regularly hold preservation workshops and are always ready with a word of advice if needed. I'm sorry Sarah's experience with them hasn't been so positive.

bettyl said...

It is truly sad that money trumps history. But don't you feel like you have found a treasure when you research such buildings! Good job.

NV said...

Karen Anne -- Likewise! Seems like such a senseless waste of beauty.

COG -- I can answer that. The theater closed just about the time (1960) that the tide started to shift in the neighborhood.

Victoria -- Um, no. And probably not a place I would attempt it unfortunately.

Sarah -- thanks for the link. It's a hard site to see!

Debbie -- Yeah. So much for "progress."

Why -- True, though doesn't make me wish I could save it any less!

Michele -- It is, though the photos just about made me weep!

Jayne -- I think HPCs are about like everything else: six of one, half dozen of the other. I've heard horror stories (over something as stupid as the SHADE of a paint color) to stories of the whole committee showing up to help a homeowner out.

betty -- Thanks! Maybe by sharing it, it might inspire the salvation of a different building.

Anonymous said...