A red-lighted abstraction seen on the ceiling upon entering the bottom floor of the theater: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Because pretty soon, it may not be a theater at all.

The Lakewood tower has become a universal symbol of our neighborhood. But when is the last time you ventured inside the historic building? Unless you’re a burlesque show regular or a die-hard “Rocky Horror Picture Show” fan, it has probably been a while.

This month’s cover story examines the fate of the 76-year-old theater as its owners consider carving up the space for restaurants or retail when the current tenant’s lease expires at the end of January. They’ve vowed to preserve the iconic tower; it’s the bold Art Deco interior that we’ll likely lose.

“The idea of preserving only the tower is not preserving it at all,” neighborhood preservationist Norman Alston told our reporters. “Seeing just the tower would just remind you of what you’ve lost.”

Saving the interior would be no easy task, though. Read on for more perspective from the theater owners, Councilman Philip Kingston, and the guys behind the successful Granada and Texas theaters. And keep checking the news digest for follow-ups on what may become of the Lakewood Theater.

For the cover story, Advocate photo editor Danny Fulgencio came back with these detail shots of the intricate murals, the Art Nouveau moldings, and more not seen in our print issue:

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