Posted on May 14, 2015
The Fourth Avenue Theatre
The Fourth Avenue Theatre: the neon sign is a landmark, and the building is an icon in Anchorage, Alaska. It is listed in the Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey (where I found these photos and more at http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=Photograph:%20ak0096&fi=number&op=PHRASE&va=exact&co%20=hh&st=gallery&sg%20=%20true) and the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Cap Lathrop, a prominent Alaskan, started construction of the movie theater in 1941, but war postponed the project, and it was completed in 1947. It is also known as the Lathrop Building, in his honor. Designed in Art Deco style by B.Marcus Priteca in association with architect A. A. Porreca, it was the most opulent building in town. The theater lobby featured a gold leaf mural of Denali, and inside the theater, silver and gold murals celebrated Alaska history. Twinkling lights in the shape of the Big Dipper adorned the ceiling.
I was lucky enough to go to several movies at the Fourth Avenue Theatre. It was always a treat. I would arrive early to look around the building before the movie started. Even if the film wasn’t very good, I could look up at the the Big Dipper. My husband and I had our first date there (The World According to Garp).
I was sad to see the Theatre close, and even more now to see the sad state it’s in. Anchorage is now considering the next chapter for the building, and I hope some history fans and sentimental Alaskans will pull together to save this special place. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the Facebook group Save the 4th Avenue Theatre at https://www.facebook.com/Savethe4thavenuetheatre?fref=ts.