Saturday, April 18, 2009

How the Crap Economy Ate Parkway Theater

Oh, dreads, the contemporary iconic community art house, Park Way Theater (aka Speakeasy) closed down March 22, 2009. A much beloved venue where you can enjoy excellent programming while lounging in one of the cool couches, sipping on beer and chomping on pizza. Built for $200,000 in 1925 by the The Golden State Theatre Group, this historical building has at various times showed live vaudeville, Chinese opera and even porn. Architect Mark T. Jorgensen's eclectic design includes Spanish Renaissance influences in the exterior with a mixture of Egyptian and East Indian motifs for the interior.

Abandoned in the less than desirable neighborhood along Parkway Blvd,
owners Catherine and Kyle revived it in 1997. It quickly morphed into all that represents Oakland showing everything from B-horror movies to second run films and hosting festivals ranging from educational porn to the African diaspora. More recently, they showed TV extravaganzas like the inauguration, the Oscars and the Super Bowl.

The bad economy, torn relations with the landlords and possibly expanding too quickly may have hastened the closing of this phenomenal space. But, as it is much loved, the Oakland community have come together in an effort to save it. This effort inludes the Facebook group that is growing in the thousands. Hopefully the momentum will wield positive results. I have made my contribution and hope others will help with the cause.

Watch the Fischers say their goodbyes below.

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