Parkway Theatre Revitalization Initiative
“No, really, why DO you keep coming here?”

   Perhaps you have mistaken me for Don Quixote. The similiarities are really quite striking. Sorry I missed going to the Parkway's 100th birthday party on 10/23. It would have been more like a funeral to me. And besides, I had to stay home that night and re-arrange my sock drawer. Aw, what the Hell, maybe a little update is in order anyway. I'm guessing you just made a stab at what should be be a website all about the Parkway Theatre. Well it once was, at least until apathy and indifference on everyone's part (except me, of course) took over. The difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care.

   The Baltimore Brew published this little story after the party. Hope they don't mind me posting the link; it's hard to tell your friends from your enemies anymore. There was a quite cogent comment by a person with the screen name Chris Doeller. He comments quite a bit on 'Brew stories it seems, but his observation about Baltimore theatre organs was both profound and maddeningly futile. He noted that:

"One last item neglected in these great theater rebirths is the lack of a pipe organ. They all had them. They are still around, many in people's houses.
Even after the advent of the talkie, the organ was used to entertain in between films. The cost of a restored organ may seem high, but they last for decades before needing a rebuild, if they are properly maintained."

   I've never met the man, but I'd like to shake his hand. My response thereto:

    "Funny you should mention that. Wait, no, tragic that you should mention that. I have been beating the drum for a comprehensive restoration of the Parkway since the year 2000 when I established the Parkway Theatre Revitalization Initiative at, long before the Station North A&E District was even thought of. In 2005 I was fortunate enough to purchase Wurlitzer theatre organ Opus #1419, a virtual twin to Opus #1421 which was installed in the Parkway during its 1926 “remodeling” by the Loews organization, a remodeling that, save for the Wurlitzer, was most unfortunate in its architectural mutilation, a travesty that will apparently not be corrected, despite the wealth of vintage photographic evidence that would allow a thorough and accurate historic restoration. (Oliver Birkhead Wight must, no doubt, be rotating rather rapidly in his grave.) Fortunate to have purchased Opus #1419 and foolish enough to believe I could actually convince an eventual restorer to include it in the plans.

Of course, it all comes down to money; doesn't it always? This project has been “low balled” in the budget department at every step of the process. A conservative estimate of what REALLY needs to happen within the Parkway’s walls would approach $50M. The acquisition, rehabbing and installation of Opus #1419 would take maybe $100K, an amount easily diverted from the current $18.5M budget just by RENOVATING the front half of #1 West North Avenue instead of demolishing it and replacing it with the monstrous eyesore now shown in the “renderings”. Several well-heeled entertainment celebs with Baltimore connections could, with the stroke of their pens, have underwritten $50M and considerably more, but there’s no evidence “they” were even approached.

The Parkway COULD be an incredible entertainment venue, not only for films, but for any number of performing arts disciplines, (witness the Creative Alliance, housed in the old Patterson Theatre), but it would take vision that apparently is not to be found in Station North. I like to think there were some pretty creative ideas for the Parkway once codified on the above website, but after years of apathy and official refusal to consider any of them, I finally quit beating my head against the wall and basically closed the site down. Oh sure, the domain still exists, and I watch the “hit” metrics with amusement as various of the current players circle like vultures, apparently waiting for me to pull the final plug. So, Opus #1419 will soon go it the landfill, just one more casualty of a mentality incapable of recognizing and appreciating an historic artifact and what it could mean for the Old Lady. Try Googling “Importance of theatre organs to classic movie houses”. I weep for the Parkway. So should you."

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