Photographs & History

Photographs and History

New Website is Live!

Dear Friends, Since the Library Company lecture early in March I have fallen off the radar, but for good reason! I am excited to announce my revamped website, michaelfroio.com which just went live! I have been considering a change in service  for a while and finally began the process a few weeks ago after seeing the huge improvement in image quality and functionality that my new host, Livebooks offers. On the new site you will find more and larger images for the Main Line Project which was in desperate need of an update, including text on each of the Regions/ Divisions covered in the three portfolios. In addition to the Main Line Project you will find the Relic and Watershed Portfolios have been freshened up and reorganized for improved navigation. Of course the site still maintains a link to the blog, sections for news and updates, contact info and social media. I hope you take the time to check out the site, please feel free to email me with any feedback. I should note that the new site utilizes a Flash based template, and IOs users will be pointed to an HTML mirror site which looks and functions much like the main site.

Again the website address is www.michaelfroio.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best Regards,

Michael Froio

Relic Exhibition: Lansdowne Theater

Auditorium Detail, Northeast Corner, Lansdowne Theater. May 2009

Auditorium Detail, Northeast Corner, Lansdowne Theater. May 2009

In conjunction with the current exhibition of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the show. The fifth and final building in the Relic exhibition is the beautiful Lansdowne Theater. This Theater opened it’s doors on June 1st, 1927 just two years before the Great Depression and continued to operate for over 60 years. Situated in the heart of the downtown business area of this Philadelphia commuter suburb the theater survives as one of the most prominent structures on North Lansdowne Avenue. Financed by the Stanley Warner Company and Herbert Effinger who commissioned renowned theater architect W. H. Lee to design a modern 1300 seat theater, the $250,000 project resulted in a grand, lavish theater featuring remarkable interiors clad with chandeliers and intricate tile plasterwork throughout. The theater featured an organ, built by the W.W. Kimball Company of Chicago to provide both music and sound effects prior to the introduction of sound movies. Situated in the front of the auditorium in the orchestra pit the “band” organ also controlled a variety of instruments and sound effects for silent films in the false balconies on both sides of the stage. According to the Lansdowne Theater Corporation the organ originally fell silent by 1937 and was later restored by local volunteers which provided a unique venue for professional organists to perform in the historic theater, a tradition that continued until the removal of the organ in the late 1970s

Into the early 1980’s ownership changed hands and Lansdowne Theater Associates, Inc cosmetically restored the building after purchase in 1986. Shortly after in July of 1987 an electrical fire broke out during a movie, fortunately nobody was hurt but the electrical systems that served the theater suffered major damage. While repairs were started the group was never successful in getting the building back to operating condition and the property eventually defaulted to bank ownership. Today the building’s retail spaces have been renovated and provide income revenue for the site while the non-profit Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation works tirelessly to secure funding and make efforts to stabilize and restore the theater back to it’s original operating condition.

For more information on the Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation please visit their website.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio is currently on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.

Relic Exhibition: Philadelphia Civic Auditorium

Public Entry Foyer, Philadelphia Civic Center Auditorium, April 2005.

Public Entry Foyer, Philadelphia Civic Center Auditorium, April 2005.

In conjunction with the upcoming show of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the exhibition. The first of five buildings featured in this show is the Philadelphia Civic Auditorium. Completed in 1931 the Art Deco Auditorium graced Civic Center Boulevard in West Philadelphia as part of a complex of buildings that began with the National Export Exhibition in 1899. There were two important buildings on the site. The Commercial Museum, built in 1899, was one of the original exposition buildings and The Municipal Auditorium (Convention Hall), built in 1931, by Philip H. Johnson. The Auditorium would be host to four National Political Conventions and notable people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul the II. The auditorium was also utilized for countless musical performances including the Beetles, Jackson Five, Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead while also serving as the original home of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Warriors. In 1967 the opening of the Spectrum sports arena in South Philadelphia made the Auditorium virtually obsolete, and the beautiful building was relegated to a secondary status occasionally utilized for performances or University of Penn and Drexel graduation services. By the mid 1990’s the City could not entice a regular tenant and the facility began fall in neglect. The massive building was expensive to maintain and would see sporadic use as a sound stage for both TV and movie productions. Finally in 2005 the Civic Auditorium would meet its demise to clear way for construction of University of Pennsylvania Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio will be on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery, Gloucester County College, 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell, New Jersey 08080. The exhibition opens Friday, October 26, 2012 with a reception from 6:30 – 8:30 and the show runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.