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Coliseum Theater

Coliseum Theater



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Seattle's Coliseum Theater is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pike Street. Seattle's Coliseum Theater, designed by B. Marcus Priteca, once referred to as "the first of the world's movie palaces" opened on January 8, 1916 and closed on the evening of March 11, 1990. The Coliseum is an early example of large-scale, luxuriously decorated theaters.In 1915, at the start of the silent-film era, the Coliseum opened as Seattle's first theater built expressly for showing movies. By the 1980's only major blockbuster films could hope to fill the theatre to capacity and those films were rare. The Coliseum Theater played first-run movies until the late 1970s, the Coliseum closed without much fanfare, then sat sadly vacant throughout the 1980s and early '90s.In its last years, the Coliseum filled its between-blockbusters schedule with a mix of comedies, crime dramas, and exploitation films, designed to try to attract a low-end urban audience. The day after the Coliseum closed, one of the managers was kind enough to allow a 16mm camera and some lights inside the building to try to document the Coliseum's architecture. Because the Coliseum had been registered as a landmark, the building's exterior would likely be preserved from radical alteration or destruction. The Coliseum had gone through a variety of changes between 1916 and 1990, notably during a major remodeling effort in 1950 that removed much of the elaborate interior decoration, and replaced the exterior cupola half-dome entrance with a more contemporary marquee.By 1990, it was economically impractical to try to restore the Coliseum and use it for any entertainment purpose other than as a movie house. Today the Coliseum Theater is a very effective adaptive use project that dramatically illustrates the successful marriage of commerce and historic preservation.Other original design elements that were lost before 1990 included elaborate patterns of tiny electrical lights, simulating starlight, in the underside of the balcony, and similar light fixtures in the building's exterior, which provided illumination for the carved "COLISEVM" lettering in the side of the building in the pre-neon era. Given the wide range of the interior decoration and design that remained after the changes and remodeling, it seems certain that the Coliseum was one of the most eclectically designed movie houses ever built.The interior was stunning, with ornate plasterwork, including busts of goddess, gargoyles and a huge lion's head over the proscenium arch. The exterior of the Coliseum Theater has been maintained, and elements of the original decor have been incorporated into the store's design. Even with development in the blocks around it, the Coliseum remains a Seattle landmark holding its place at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pike Street, as it has for the past eighty years.


Watch the video: How the Curtains Rose on Time at the Sydney Coliseum Theatre (August 2022).