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These Historic American Theaters Anxiously Await Buyers

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With the rise of the megaplex, the once-ubiquitous downtown theaters have suffered, with their numbers dwindling from an estimated 20,000 in the 1920s to a little over 250 nationwide. Some of the former "movie palaces" have been converted to other uses or demolished all together, but a few survive in near-original condition. The Cabot Street Cinema Theatre, in Beverly, Mass., is one such historic gem. Currently listed for $1.35M, the 800-seat auditorium has been meticulously maintained on the interior over the years, while the exterior—including the towering marquee—have been left to the elements. The theater comes fully equipped with the original cast-iron seating, a 35mm projector, and the restored stage for live performances, but the parking situation is lacking, with space for only ten cars.

Photos: Cinema Treasures

? In its heyday, Chicago's New Regal Theater, previously known as the Avalon Theater, played host to a litany of big names—including Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Green, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald—but despite its one-time success, has fallen on hard times lately. Built in 1927 in a Moorish Revival style, the theater has seen little use since it was purchased in 2008 by a consortium of investors, save for a 2008 party to celebrate Barack Obama's election victory. Now that two of the owners have been indicted for misusing a state grant, the theater has been listed for an undisclosed price. The sale includes the 2,400-seat auditorium and plenty of "Mideast-inspired detail."

? Despite its highfalutin' name, the Ritz Theater in Newberry, S.C. is a relatively humble affair, but has a price tag to match. Listed for $75K, and protected by historic covenants, the Ritz is "located in a town that is primed for arts tourism and is in need for a larger venue to attract acts that could fill the larger capacity auditorium," according to the listing. If that all sounds a bit far fetched, at least the new owner can bank a reasonable return just by screening movies. Apparently, the remote town has "no movie house available within 30 miles."

? Described as "the crown jewel of downtown Missoula" and the "Showplace of Montana," the Wilma Theater is nestled on the bottom floors of a prominent 1921 tower along the banks of the Clark Fork River. The building has now been converted to condominium residences, but the theater is currently hunting for a buyer, asking $1.8M. That price includes the original ornate marble lobby, a time-worn but beautiful 1,065-seat theater, an 125-seat cinema, and all the necessary film projection and sound equipment.

Photos: Cinema Treasures

? The Golden State Theater in Monterey, Calif. has had its price slashed from $8M to just under $5M. The landmark building measures 24,000-square-feet and houses a "1000-seat Spanish Revival multi-use theatre," along with commercial loft spaces. The listing also includes four retail storefronts and a restaurant in the rear of the building, but, sadly, few photos of the 1920s classic. Thankfully, the historic theater enthusiasts at Cinema Treasures have archived plenty of interior photography.

· 286 Cabot Street [LandVest]
· New Regal Theater (PDF) [US Equities]
· New Regal Theater's Future Uncertain as Neighbors Hope for Rebirth [DNA Info]
· 1511 Main Street [Palmetto Trust]
· Wilma Theater [ZillaState]
· 417 Alvarado Street [Loopnet]
· Golden State Theatre - Photos [Cinema Treasures]