The building portrayed in this week's auction selection is familiar in a number of ways, although there are some key differences. The entrance is the most striking; the marquee display still there but not what we're used to. Of course, the has gone through a number of changes since its heyday as a movie house.
The seller historicalfindings offers this week's eBay pick, a high-quality reproduction of an architectural drawing of the Garde Theatre. The theater was founded on Sept. 22, 1926, and this schematic shows what it looked like five years later. The marquee advertises "six acts of vaudeville, five star final[e]." There is also mention of how the theater is under the direction of Warner Brothers.
Named for businessman Walter S. Garde, who developed the theater with Arthur S. Friend, the theater proved attractive to Warner Brothers and the studio bought the property for $1 million in 1929. Surviving a small fire in 1958 and the closing of other movie houses in the city, Warner Brothers finally shut down the theater in April of 1977 and sold the property in 1978. The official statement was that there was a lack of "good films which will draw in business," even though 1977 was the year of Taxi Driver, Marathon Man, Rocky, and Network among others. The Garde Arts Center history puts the blame on "growing competition from suburbanization and malls."
After a series of caretakers kept the site preserved, the non-profit Garde Arts Center Inc. purchased the theater in 1985. The building went through a major restoration to bring its ornate Mediterranean-style interior back to its former glory. Nowadays, the theater includes performances by the and other concerts, Broadway shows, acrobatic displays, talent shows, and more. But there's also a strong connection to its film days, as the theater is one of many sites around the world participating in the Manhattan Short Film Festival. It also screens a selection of the previous year's best movies in a winter film series.
The drawing is eight inches by 12 inches, and three copies are available for purchase. The starting bid is $8.99, plus $2.99 for shipping and handling. The auction ends at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.