15 February 2009

The Schnitz

We were walking down Broadway yesterday, killing time until the taqueria I woke up craving opened for lunch, when we noticed there was a free tour of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, the two building complex at Main & Broadway that houses most of Portland's big time theatre performances, touring shows and such.
The Newmark and the Winningstad are newer theatres in a newish building, and the tours were interesting to this old theatre geek, not sure how G liked it, but we were really on the tour to see the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

That picture above is the lobby with the usual diffused Portland sunlight. The place was built as a "movie palace" back in the day. Broadway was lined with them, all in various states of gildedness. This one spent the majority of her life as the Paramount, showing films until it closed in the early 1970's. It sat empty, owned by dubious entities who raped it of most of its charms while it sat vacant, and sold them to the highest bidder. Luckily, much of it remains intact despite every effort to destroy it. In the early 1980's it was saved and refurbished into the concert venue it is today.

This statue, entitled "Surprise" has stood here since the theatre first opened in 1927. Soon after the opening, in 1928, a bizarre robbery (by a disgruntled man who was an extra in the film being shown at the moment), resulted in her fingers being shot off in the melee that ensued. She remained fingerless until the 80's when her hand was restored.

A shot through the fancy ass lobby. It was awesome to be here with an empty house. Empty except for Diane Reeves rehearsing with the band for the evening's performance, we were treated to a private show of sorts, in the right place at the right time.

I'm a sucker for radiator grates. These line the interior of the lobby. Not the most exciting pattern, but still vintage and awesome.
The tour was quite a nice spontaneous diversion on a Saturday afternoon, and it made my wet burrito at Maya's Taqueria even tastier.
If you're in Portland on a Saturday and want to check it out, free tours start at 11 am and 12:30 pm from the lobby of the new building.

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