Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Preservation Rocks, Dude!

There’s nothing like having a scene from a hit movie filmed on site to raise a locale’s profile. The St. George Theatre on Staten Island had been vacant and unused for 25 years when the climactic scene in the Jack Black/School of Rock movie was filmed there. That’s when a Staten Island family stepped in to save it. Gotham Gazette tells the story:

Today, the St. George has been restored to much of its former glory - without the benefit of landmark status or government money. The revival of the St. George Theatre is largely the work of one family that set out to save it and create a showcase on Staten Island. ….

The St. George Theatre opened in the St. George section of Staten Island, a short walk from the ferry terminal, on December 4, 1929. Designed by Eugene DeRosa, with the assistance of Staten Island architect James Whitford, its exterior was nothing particularly remarkable. But, inside the building offered an array of lavish and ornate detailing, much of it with a Spanish flavor -- faux wrought iron balconies, heavy chandeliers and painting of bullfighters and villas.

Preservation efforts are ongoing and in need of funding, but the theater managed to reopen last December. Upcoming shows include a performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.