Want to learn more about America’s historic theatres? Here are some key books to start your journey:
Best Remaining Seats
By Ben M. Hall
The book that started it all, The Best Remaining Seats — The Story of The Golden Age of the Movie Palace, written by THS Founder Ben M. Hall is a tale of the briefest of eras, as golden as ages go, swept in on a floodtide of splendor, fantastic architecture, music, laughter and dreams. The Best Remaining Seats is your ticket to all the fun and foolishness that-used-to-be in the days when going to the movies was an adventure – and anyone with a little loose change might dwell in marble halls for a couple of enchanted hours.
American Theatres of Today (Deluxe Reprint)
by R. W. Sexton & B. F. Betts
American Theatres of Today (ATOT) was originally published as two separate volumes in 1927 and 1930. To celebrate the Theatre Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary, it was decided to publish a special numbered, limited edition reprint of this long unavailable reference work. ATOT is one of the very few books on theatres produced during the era when large movie palaces were being built all across the country. Included in the reissue is a wonderful introduction by famed showman Samuel L. “Roxy” Rothafel. Also, this fabulous book contains numerous essays on many design and operational aspects of theatres from the period, and is illustrated by hundreds of beautiful photographs, drawings and plans. Purchase it online from THS.
Cinema Treasures: A New Look at Classic Movie Theaters
By Ross Melnick & Andreas Fuchs
More than 100 years after the first movie delighted audiences, movie theaters remain the last great community centers and one of the few amusements any family can afford. While countless books have been devoted to films and their stars, none have attempted a truly definitive history of those magical venues that have transported moviegoers since the beginning of the last century. In this stunningly illustrated book, film industry insiders Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs take readers from the nickelodeon to the megaplex and show how changes in moviemaking and political, social, and technological forces (e.g., war, depression, the baby boom, the VCR) have influenced the way we see movies. Photographs from archives like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and movie theater ephemera (postcards, period ads, matchbooks, and even a “barf bag”) sourced from private collections complement Melnick’s informative and engaging history. Purchase it online from THS.
Great American Movie Theaters
By David Naylor
Published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1987, this guidebook provides a guided trip through over 300 theatres organized by geographic region. Entries include architect, date of opening, current ownership and use as well as architectural design and theater’s history.
by Craig Morrison
This visual sourcebook traces the development of its colorful and varied forms as they developed in early America, on the western frontier, and in cities from coast to coast. The first comprehensive study of American theaters, it illustrates their wide range from raucous music halls to vaudeville, from circus to grand opera, from World’s Fair to Coney island, from nickelodeon to glorious picture palace. Also featured are theaters for burlesque, theaters afloat, military theaters, Shakespearean theaters, summer theaters, theaters and African-Americans, and arenas (when a stage just won’t do), enlivened by a cast of entrepreneurs and showmen who were the movers and shakers of our theatrical heritage. Includes over 1,200 b/w illustrations.