Post Bar rises over the Madison's ruins.
Madison fell to the wreckers in the early summer of
2000. At that time I had my first and only encounter
with Kunsky's grand lady. The wrecking company Genesis
7 was kind enough to allow a friend Lucas Mcgrail
and myself access to the theater. The trip was hastily
put together and on a Wednesday afternoon I grabbed
my camera and drove downtown.
were allowed in through the alley entrance of the
lobby. By that time the room had already been gutted.
All that remained were the decorative iron railings
around the mezzanine and stairs. More of the entrance
lobby was intact. Though some of the walls separating
it and the storefronts had been knocked down, I could
still identify its form. At one end, leaning against
the plywood former theater entrance, were a row of
ornate light fixtures. They had once graced the theater
space. Now they were destined for new homes.
took the same route which countless patrons took to
reach the auditorium's balcony. The auditorium space
had been almost untouched by the wreckers. The seats
had been removed but the decorative plaster remained.
I could see the extent of the water damage caused
by burst water pipes and a leaky roof. Much of the
ceiling had dissolved away. However, the plaster around
the stage and side boxes were pristine. The paint
looked as fresh as the day the theater opened. Directly
above the stage was a row of dancing classical maidens.
Painted in shades of metallic copper it was hard to
fathom they had spend 16 years in darkness. The foreman
explained to us that they were going to attempt to
salvage these maidens. I've since heard that they
our tour drew to an end I took one last look at the
auditorium. I knew I would never see it again. Within
a few days everything I had just seen would be gone.
Even in death it was a beautiful space. Despite the
noise of jackhammers working 5 floors above us , the
auditorium was peaceful.
am happy to see new development downtown. However,
I cannot help but be disturbed by the lose of this
structure. The Madison could have been saved, and
up to three months prior to the demolition I was assured
that it would be. I hope the fate of the Madison does
not become the standard for the other ruins.