Gem Theatre — Cairo, Illinois

Cairo, Illinois (March 2017) The Gem Theatre opened its doors in 1910, and seated 685.
A fire in 1934 completely gutted the theatre, and it was rebuilt two years later in Art Deco style, including a new, elegant marquee.
Cairo, Illinois (March 2017) The Gem Theatre continued to operate for nearly another half century, before it was closed in 1978. On January 26, 1979 the Cairo Historic District, including the Gem Theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, many of the buildings included in that district have fallen to the wrecking ball in the last 5-10 years.

Cairo, Illinois (2012)
The Gem Theatre as seen in March 2012

As you can see from the pictures above, the last 5 years has not been particularly kind to the Gem Theatre. As buildings surrounding it have fallen to the wrecking ball, a giant tree now grows out of the side, bursting through the brick wall of the Gem.

Cairo, Illinois (March 2017)
The Gem Theatre and the giant tree that is breaking through the side wall (March 2017)

Booker T Washington School — Hopkinsville, Kentucky

The Booker T Washington School is located on Second Street and until 1922 was named the Jackson Street School.
Booker T Washington Elementary -- Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Following integration of local public schools, Booker T. Washington housed classes for several programs, including middle school students, Head Start and adult literacy. The building has been vacant for about 15 years.
Booker T Washington Elementary -- Hopkinsville, Kentucky
In early 2010 a fire damaged an entire wing of the school and in March of that year that secion of the school was demolished.
Booker T Washington Elementary -- Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Booker T Washington Elementary -- Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Parks-Belk — Jefferson City, Tennessee

A lot of times when I go exploring in unfamiliar towns I pre-explore on google maps.  Last night I was “driving around” in downtown Jefferson City, Tennessee and spotted this:
Old Parks-Belk -- Jefferson City, Tennessee The most recent street view was dated 2014 so I was excited and curious to find out if the remnants of the old Parks-Belk sign were still exposed. Luckily, as you can see, they were! Old Parks-Belk -- Jefferson City, Tennessee
I cant locate any information about Parks-Belk in Jefferson City. So if anyone has any idea of a closing date, pass that along, that would be awesome. This building has been recently sold and there are some revitalization efforts going on in the town. This sign’s days are probably numbered.
Old Parks-Belk -- Jefferson City, Tennessee

Curtis Mathes Sign — Martinsville, Virginia

Several weeks ago a friend of mine and I took a drive over to the Martinsville, Virginia area.  It was a new experience for me.  Even though I had been all around Martinsville before, I had never actually been to Martinsville proper.

One of the most striking vintage relics we came across was this Curtis Mathes sign hanging on the side of a building, where it has obviously resided for many years.
Martinsville, VA
Now, Im about to show my age here, but I can remember when my parents first got a VCR and they would go to and take me to Curtis Mathes in downtown Harlan to rent video tapes.  In those does, Kentucky 38 went straight through downtown along Clover Street and there were buildings and the river right around where it runs today.  In one of those buildings was Curtis Mathes.  I always thought Curtis Mathes was the fancy place in town to rent video tapes because they came in those big brown and orange cases.  Kids are so weird sometimes.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio — Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Checked another item off my bucket list this morning and saw the original Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
The following information is taken from the wikipedia page for the sound studio:

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was formed in Sheffield, Alabama, in 1969 when a group of four session musicians called The Swampers decided to leave the nearby FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to create their own recording set-up.

The four, Barry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and David Hood(bass), then became known as The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section and were the first rhythm section to own a studio and eventually run their own publishing and production companies. Their backing and arrangements have been heard on many recordings, including major hits from Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and the Staple Singers, but a wide range of artists in popular music recorded hit songs and complete albums at the studio. They are referred to as “the Swampers” in the lyrics of “Sweet Home Alabama” byLynyrd Skynyrd.

The group first came together in 1967 and initially played sessions in New York and Nashville, as well as on recordings made at Rick Hall’s FAME facility. The initial successes in soul and R&B led to the arrival at the Muscle Shoals Sound studios of more mainstream rock and pop performers, including The Rolling Stones, Traffic, Elton John, Boz Scaggs,Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Dr. Hook, Elkie Brooks, Millie Jackson, Julian Lennon and Glenn Frey.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 2, 2006.