The Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts in Birmingham, Alabama, is a cinema palace constructed by the Paramount-Publix Corporation in 1927. It was launched on December 26, 1927. Building of the steel and concrete structure took only eight and a half months and cost almost $1.5 million.
Originally constructed to show silent movies, the theater features an ornate Mighty Wurlitzer organ. Interestingly enough, the Crawford Special-Publix One-Mighty Wurlitzer organ was the reason the palace was salvaged. The Alabama Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society approached the property owners who were planning a parking lot where the Alabama was situated and asked them if they could buy this iconic instrument, one of only 25 organs of its kind that was ever built.
With seats for about 2,500 people, the Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts was one of the larger cinemas built in Birmingham and is the only one of its size that remains from the period and the first public structure in the state to be equipped with an air-conditioning system.
One of the things the Alabama was popular for in its early days was its Mickey Mouse Club which was formed in 1933. Meetings were held every Saturday. Children would perform for each other, watch Mickey Mouse cartoons, and participate in other activities. The club also sponsored toy and feeding campaigns for the less fortunate.
Today, in addition to screening classic movies, the Alabama Theatre for the Performing Arts hosts the Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony, theatrical productions of all kinds. Artists such as John Prine, Garrison Keillor, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, Kings of Leon, Greg Allman, Allison Krauss, Black Crowes, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Jamie Johnson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Nickel Creek, Norah Jones, Wilco, Willie Nelson, and Wynton Marsalis, to name a few, have performed at the theatre.
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