Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Russell Up


Yesterday, I took a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Maysville, Kentucky with my parents.

I was pretty jazzed to check out the Russell Theatre, an ornate cinema that opened in 1930 and became famous when hometown gal Rosemary Clooney insisted her first movie hold it's world premier there in 1953.


The theater closed in 1983 (the year I was born!), alternately housing a "restaurant, used furniture store, used clothing store, and finally, a newspaper filler operation," according to the theater's history page.


After a while, the building was left to the elements. The seats were sold off and storms ripped a hole in the roof that allowed water to pour in.


The sad facade caught the attention of locals in 1995, and the Russell Theatre Corporation was formed to restore the building to its former glory as a fully-functioning theater.

Rosemary Clooney even founded a namesake music festival in 1999, with all proceeds donated toward the restoration of the Russell Theater. (I made a quick search of the googles and it doesn't look like the festival continues but I did sign up for the Maysville city newsletter... so, fingers crossed!)


During special events, you can even tour the Russell. Add that to the list of adventures!


'70s bell-sleeve peasant dress - Oh my gosh, you guys. I can't remember. A yard sale, maybe?
white tights - I don't know that, either.
tie-dyed soccer socks - Play It Again Sports
orange cowboy boots - Mason Western via thrift
blue print boot scarf - thrift


Frederik Sisa said...

I love it when old - historic...vintage? - buildings are revived from ruin. When my wife and I visited Portland, OR a few years ago, we have a blast at this former high school that had been converted to a movie, hotel, and dining complex - all while preserving the interior layout and aesthetic. So classrooms were bedrooms, larger spaces were dining rooms. There was even a detention bar in a former janitorial close and an honors bar in a former office. That school was one of several repurposed ("adaptively re-used") buildings in the area by the very cool McMenamin brothers.

By contrast, here in LA, the LA Unified School District opted to tear down most of the old Ambassador Hotel - home to the famous Cocoanut Grove and, sadly, the location of Robert Kennedy's assassination - instead of preserving it or adaptively re-using it. The school building they decided to plunk on the site is rather fugly. I had a chance to visit it while its fate was being debated, and it certainly was a grand building. What a loss.

So, Russell Theatre: very cool. Your peasant blouse ensemble, very lovely. I love how you accessorize your boot with a scarf. Brilliant!

Becky Haltermon Robinson said...

Oh, F, your story breaks my heart. I've heard a lot about the 400+ buildings that are slated to be demolished here in Cincinnati and I have to wonder how many of them could be beautifully repurposed. It's just incredibly awful when cheap, generic buildings replace sturdy, storied ones.

...Hm. You know, the same could be said about clothes!

Lauren Lax said...

Becky! Does not look like my previous commented posted but I just want to say, HEY! You were in my town, and I couldn't be happier! Maysville is completely dedicated to historic preservation. The Russell Theater IS a jewel. Especially the atmospheric ceiling inside, all starry and cool.

You write about Rabbit Hash sometimes, which I adore. There was a stone sculptor who lived there, Richard, who did a beautiful commissioned piece in Maysville years ago. I would love to share it with you.

If this comment posted twice I'm going to feel like a kook, but I'm so pleased you like Maysville, if you are ever back in town I would love to meet you. You are my favorite kind of artist; writer/photographer/purveyor of funky junk.

The Maysville Players are doing a production of the play "Proof" this weekend and next. Come back down the river and check it out.


Lauren Lax

Becky Haltermon Robinson said...


Maysville is so so awesome... A great destination for those of us in the greater Cincinnati area. I will totally look you up next time I'm in town! I love theater and would be curious to see how the Maysville Players' production of Proof compares to the Playhouse in the Park production!

Richard is a buddy of mine... Well, okay, everyone's buddies in Rabbit Hash! If you ever decide to come up to visit, just drop me a line. They're having bands play in the Rabbit Hash General Store every Sunday through the winter.

I just have to say that it's comments like yours that keep me blogging... Where else would I get a note from such an awesome lady?! Thank you so for getting in touch!