Friday, April 17, 2015

The Ridgeline Monastery Home

Sitting in the middle of a neighborhood, two blighted and soon to be demolished monastery buildings sit behind a large stone wall. The main building of this small complex is still in use, while two residential buildings and the gatehouse crumble with time.

I don't know when these beautiful buildings were built, but I do know their days are limited. The land they are on changed hands recently, and after making some improvements to the grounds the new owners have decided they want these buildings gone.

Stepping inside, I quickly asked myself, "why?"

Room after room, that question in my head kept getting repeated louder, and louder, and louder still.

Beautiful hardwood floors line the entire building. Stained glass depictions of saints and other religious ephemera dotted the crumbling structures.

The staircases were very intricate as well.

I lost count of all the fireplaces.

After exiting the building, I knew I had to come back with a camera. When I did, I also managed to get into the building behind the main monastery home.

The first floor lounge area didn't connect to the second floor, and didn't have the same charm that the main building did.

But the second floor was much nicer looking. A furnished kitchen greeted me as I ascended the stairs, and the spacious dormitories mostly all had fireplaces as well.

I don't know how much longer we have these buildings for, but until there future is decided with absolute certainty, I won't subject he building to the abuse that posting it's real name entails. Especially since the building is sitting right next to houses in a quiet residential area. I don't want the beautiful buildings to become a party spot, as almost every other known locale in this area becomes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lincoln Theater

The history of the Lincoln Theater dates back to 1931, when it was opened as a live performance theater.

Much smaller than the nearby Royal theater, and across town from the Savoy, the Lincoln theater was somewhat unique in that the fire escapes for the balcony were on the front facade of the building. Usually you find them on the sides of the auditorium. There were two doors on the front, which led to two ornate exterior staircases built into the marquis.

Unfortunately, the only remnant of the original facade is the beige tile work around the projector room window above the marquis.

The inside hasn't fared much better. Over the years, the theater has changed hands more than a half a dozen times. In the process, almost the entire inside of the auditorium has been lost.

The proscenium and decorative frame around the stage are nowhere to be found. All of the original seating is gone, and the only real pieces of the building's past are the pieces of plaster that began falling to my feet as I tried to remove the curtains that were put up along the walls.

The building was twinned, with the balcony being converted into a 99 seat second theater. The theater began showing movies, as it went on to do for a few more decades before once again being used as a live performance venue.

From what I could tell, there wasn't anything dating back to 1931 in the lobby either. It is possibly the marble lining on the wall is original, but that is about it.

Its name wasn't even the Lincoln Theater for very long. It was also known as The Center Theater, The Robert's Lost Picture Show, The 12 Miles West Theater Co., and the Multi Media Arts Center.

 It also apparently spent some time as a Ralph & Ruden theater, as well as a part of the Triangle Theater Service.

The building is being sold as a "shell", and due to the fact that the entire section of Bloomfield is being redeveloped, I cant imagine it will be very long until the building is demolished. Though there is very little of this theater that remains original to the time of construction, it is still sad to see another place that served so many local people fond memories for so many years forgotten and inevitably demolished.

The old Essex County Jail

John Haviland, architect of the famous Eastern State Penitentiary, was hired to design the new Essex County Jail in 1837. 

The old prison had succumbed to a fire a few years earlier, and the county decided to go a different way as far as the feel of the prison. The old prison was a nice building, and the prisoners were encouraged to spend their free time productively. The new building was an emotionless stone box.

 The building was small, holding roughly 100 cells. Soon the space in Newark wasn't enough, and a large new annex building was built in North Caldwell.

With the rise in crime and prosecution, both of the prisons expanded. This expansion included a large new cellblock built at the Newark Jail in 1890. The building could now house over 300 prisoners.

The walkways on the different tiers in the cellblocks were made of glass, so the officers could see through them in the event of a commotion. 

While the annex would grow to house thousands of prisoners, this building would go on to stay at 300 cells until it was closed in 1970. It was used up until 1989 by the Essex County Narcotics Bureau, who were the last group to occupy the structure.

 In 1991 it was added to the national register of historic places, and subsequently used in the filming of the movie Malcolm X, but the jail would remain abandoned and neglected until eventually catching fire in 2001. 

The fire gutted part of the structure, and ever since then the building has been totally falling apart.

Despite living within 15 minutes of the building, I have only ever visited the building twice. Once in 2011, and once again just recently. It is basically a ruin, and the future doesn't look very promising for the building. Just another example of how Essex County lets it's history demolish itself.