The Polaris was quite a theater in its day. Built in the post-war boom when America needed a place to relax and enjoy themselves, the tall ceiling is decorated with a large crystal chandelier hangs at the center over the seats below. Each of the red-velvet seats were arranged in a perfect row allowing a degree of comfort for their customers without cramming them too closely to the row in front or behind. Carpeted isles run on either side of the main room and lead up to a converted stage now partially concealed by a large, white, framed canvas upon which the movie could be shown. High above and set in a 'u' shape around the three sides of the room, a balcony level allowed additional seating and reveals the theater's original, non-cinematic origin. A projection booth sets in the center and to the rear of the balcony to show the movie. Though not as opulant as some of the other theaters of its day the Polaris is a marvel of post-war refurbishment.
All of this...the Polaris was.
Gone are many of the red velvet seats leaving divits in the floor where they were ripped up and sold off for scrap or nostalgia. The crystal chandelier hangs limp and dull from the ceiling, threatening to crash to the floor at a moments notice and water stains mark halos of brown and tan against the decorative plaster set surrounding the light fixtures. The paint peels from the wall as though the entire room suffered from some horrific skin disease, a sign of the neglect that has rotted this aged beauty. Windowless, the room is plunged into an inky black darkness tainted by the odor of rotted paper, carpeting and more than a few dead rodents.
The Polaris Theater was, at one time: A real theater with stage productions, A Speak-Easy, A Bomb Shelter, A Cinema, and the Headquarters for a Grass-Roots, Politial Action Committee. In each of its masks it was part of the community of the city. People saw the glowing 'north star' on the front of the building and it gave them hope. Hope for a pleasant evening of entertainment, hope for change in their lives, hope for something to spark them into action. When the highway overpass was built many years ago, the theater was in its last years of operation. It couldn't compete with the multi-movie, cineplexes that were around the suburbs. Located so close to the 'fringe' of downtown, it soon became abandoned and then later forgotten.
Getting into the old Theater is not easy. The front is quite secure with plywood covering the windows and doors and large chains and padlocks covering every entrance. There is, however, a side-door that must have been for employees that leads into the lobby. Where as every other lock is a padlock requiring a key, this door's chain is secured with a combination lock. Scrawled on the brick nearby are the letters M-Z-E. Assuming that you realize the letters are actually numbers you can use the combination and get inside.
Every once in a while and seemingly without any power to the entire building, the movie projector will randomly start and show the beginning of the last movie ever shown at the theater. The movie, 'John Carpenter's: The Fog', only plays for a few moments and it's just the introduction where a retired sea captain tells a good, old-fashioned, ghost story. Click here for the movie.
For those able to perceive the presence of spirits/ghosts, there is one lurking up in the projection booth. The last projectionist - the man responsible for threading the film into the projector - still lingers in the theater. He is weak and will not physically attack anyone who enters the theater though he does, occasionally, attempt to drive them off with some tricks of the light and shadows.
He appears as a poor reflection of a man in his last years of life with white hair and a suit jacket and tie - probably the clothes he was buried in. Everyone said that even in death old 'Max' will probably still be taking care of that projector...and they were right.