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Up and Down Old Brandywine (Worth Brehm)
Up and Down Old Brandywine (Worth Brehm)
Old Birmingham - The Alabama Theatre (Paul McGehee)
[Hand Signed]

"Old Birmingham - The Alabama Theatre" by Paul McGehee. Situated in the north central region of Alabama, Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, the state's most populated county. Here we see the southern metropolis as it appeared in early 1947, with the daily streetcar and automobile traffic at the busy intersection of Third Avenue North looking east from 18th Street. One can see the Lyric Theatre to the left, built in 1914 as part of the B. F. Keith's vaudeville circuit, where acts such as the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers, Mae West, Milton Berle and Sophie Tucker once packed the house. The Goldstein Building (now known as the Hill Event Center) appears in the center, once a two-building complex but altered and rebuilt as it appears here with the construction of the huge Alabama Theatre, wrapping around it, in 1927. The Alabama Theatre was built by Paramount Motion Picture Studios as a 2,500 seat movie palace with ornate decorations and a large four manual, one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer Theatre Organ which Paramount commissioned specifically for their new theatre. The organ is now affectionately nicknamed "Big Bertha". The Theatre opened to the general public on December 26, 1927 with the film "The Spotlight" starring Esther Rawlson and Neil Hamilton (then a silent-film leading man, he later went on to play Commissioner Gordon on the "Batman" TV show in the 1960s). Some of the finest films of the late-silent and early-talkie era played at the Alabama. From the early 1930's into the 1940's the local chapter of the Mickey Mouse Club held their meetings there, a weekly party for the Mickey Mouse mask-wearing kiddies accompanied with cartoons and music from the Mighty Wurlitzer. The theatre was once the scene of the annual Miss Alabama beauty pageants starting in 1935, the last being in 1966. As years went by the Alabama Theatre went into decline and by the end of 1981 they showed their final first-run feature film, "Sharky's Machine" starring Burt Reynolds. The theatre changed hands a few times during the 1980's and was in danger of being torn down when a miracle, of sorts, happened. The Alabama Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) made contact with the current owners to remove the old 1927 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ in an effort to save it, but the bankruptcy attorney refused their offer and countered by telling them that the ony way they could save the organ was for them to buy the building. So, ATOS then mounted a public campaign to raise money to buy the entire Alabama Theatre building, just to save the organ, "Big Bertha". Successful in their efforts, ATOS then set about restoring the organ to its former magnificence, while a new group called Birmingham Landmarks stepped in to manage the complex as the Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts. Now beautifully restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the old Alabama Theatre regularly hosts screenings of classic films and theatre organ events, as well as concerts and other live events on their stage. You can read more about the beautiful Alabama Theatre and and check out their schedule at their website "Old Birmingham - The Alabama Theatre" is faithfully reproduced as an archival-quality print from McGehee's original color pencil and acrylic artwork, in a limited edition of only 2,000 pieces each hand-signed by the artist. Print image size 10 3/8" x 16 1/4".

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