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mid thirties
world war ii
movie theaters
Art Deco Theatres Like The Cascade Theatre Are Important To All
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Art Deco Theatres Like The Cascade Theatre Are Important To All

I grew up in a small rural town that had one movie theater. It was an older building in a more of a rundown condition and was the place I saw my first movie as a child sometime in the mid 60s. It was originally built as a lavish Art Deco Theatre in the mid thirties but time and the up and downs of the economy had taken their toll on it.

Although I loved going there as a child I never really realized its amazing beauty until later in life. I am referring to the Cascade Theatre in Redding California. It is Art Deco in style and at night with the neon lighting and marquee it was even more impressive than in daylight.

Art Deco is an amazing style of architecture and decoration that was popular the world over after World War I. It was seen as the spirit of the modern age. It all started in Europe and became famous a little closer to World War II here in the United States. As usual Americans took things to the next level with no facet of life being untouched.

One place Art Deco was obvious was at the theater. Most cities built movie theaters that in one way or another were influenced by Art Deco. Up until this time theaters, or should I say theatres, were more cathedral like. The clean lines of Art Deco were quickly embraced and used in theaters everywhere.

This was the case with the Cascade Theatre. It was even the first public building in Redding to have air conditioning. Of course by my generation not only the air conditioning but also the architecture were taken for granted.

The actual term "Art Deco" was not coined until 1968 by a famous art critic and historian, Bevis Hillier. Less flattering terms like Moderne, Jazz Moderne or Zig Zag were used. Thank goodness these were abandoned.

As usual all good things must come to an end. Rapid expansion of Redding in the 70s which has continued to this day and the building of movie complexes in several malls in the area were a death blow to The Cascade Theatre. She struggled to survive by going through a remodel in the mid 70s which turned her insides into four small movie theaters but that just wasn't enough and by '97 she closed her doors.

The value of many things are not appreciated until long after they are gone and this was the case with the Cascade Theatre. The property was purchased by Southern Oregon University and the JPR Foundation in '04 and to every ones delight a full restoration to original condition was soon completed.

This historical landmark and tribute to the Art Deco era is now in full use as a Performing Arts Venue. Hopefully more cities who have lost these attractive theaters will follow suite with there own restorations.


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