Jon Crispin's Notebook

Hadley Hall Projection Room

Posted in Art, Community, ephemera, Film, History, Movies by joncrispin on 16/07/2012

This is a bit of an experiment.  When I was out at Willard recently, I shot the bowling alley in Hadley Hall and then went upstairs to the projection room.  The lighting was the weirdest I have come across.  I shoot most of this stuff in RAW, so that I have tons of latitude when it comes to editing the photos.  I messed around with these images for a long time and I could NOT get the color to look good.  The walls were yellowish and there were mixed fluorescents.  Rather than get discouraged and stuff the whole idea of a post I decided to convert to black and white and see how they look online.  Funny, since in the days of film I used to shoot this sort of thing in black and white much of the time.

The tradition for the projectionists was to write the name of the film and the date it was shown on the walls.

Lots of interesting films here.  For example, “All Fall Down” was shown on 13 January, 1963, and Apache Rifles got a (Good) rating.

And here “The Glass Slipper” was shown on 14 April, 1956.  And these were all 35mm prints!

What really interests me about the asylum having shown first run movies is that the residents of the institution were able to attend, as were the people who lived in the surrounding towns.  From what I have been told, the townsfolk sat in the balcony and the asylum residents sat downstairs.

I like these notes for the projectionist.  There must have been someone downstairs who could send some sort of signal in case of a problem.

The projection room seemed to me to be almost totally intact.  The sheet of paper here might be hard to read online, but at the top of the list is “Back To The Future”.

Here’s another of the projection lenses.  A beautifully made optic.

There was still quite a bit of paperwork lying around.

I was just blown away by this room and its contents.

It is really hard to put into words just how fortunate I am to get into places like this, and how important it is to me to be able to preserve images of something that very few people can see for themselves.

So, thank you all for checking in and encouraging me to do this kind of work.  I am off to Rotterdam tomorrow to shoot more suitcases and will post an update to that project very soon.

12 Responses

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  1. ncdavid33 said, on 16/07/2012 at 8:32 pm

    This is just amazing! Fantastic work and very moving.

  2. Carole said, on 16/07/2012 at 8:33 pm

    Your posts are very eye opening for me. I hadn’t considered there’d be a bowling alley or a film projection room at Willard Asylum, or any asylum for that matter.
    I am hoping to go to San Diego in Feb. to see your photos there but I am wondering if you will be showing a larger number of the Willard Asylum photos anywhere sooner than Feb? Take care, Carole

  3. RobW said, on 16/07/2012 at 9:02 pm

    I’m really enjoying these “bonus” shoots. Seeing areas like the bowling alley & the projection room just serves to humanize a place I had previously envisioned to be very depressing & isolated otherwise. It’s equally stunning that spaces like the projection room are so well intact & the detail you’ve captured is almost like being in those places firsthand.

  4. B.R. Jones said, on 16/07/2012 at 9:11 pm

    Reminds me of the film ‘Cinema Paradiso’ not just because of the images but the idea that the room tells a story.

  5. cavepainter said, on 16/07/2012 at 9:16 pm

    This is a really amazing room. It must have been completely surreal to be just up above the asylum residents all watching a movie. 🙂

  6. leamuse said, on 17/07/2012 at 12:16 am

    The phrase, if these walls could talk, comes to mind with each of your posts. Well done.

  7. Pia Massie said, on 17/07/2012 at 2:04 am

    Jon, these photos are just so wonderful. It is like you are a time traveler, capturing memories that we never had. So grateful to be able to see these spaces; they make me so nostalgic – this projection booth especially.
    Thanks !

  8. sorbetsurprise said, on 18/07/2012 at 5:11 am

    Wow this really gives you an insight into life there, seeing the films people would be watching and the projection booth like someone has just popped out and left it all how it was then!

  9. B Swinney said, on 20/07/2012 at 10:45 am

    Very interesting. Thank you for continuing to share the daily activities that those at Willard experienced. I wonder how the movies were received…movies would bring out a lot of emotions for the patience who were leading such “protected” lives at that time. Interesting about the local people being able to attend the movies along with the patients. I wonder if “families” and the patients were allowed to sit together??? How often the movies shown? What year did you say that the asylum was closed? Thanks again for sharing..I find your posts very interesting and thought provoking.

    • joncrispin said, on 20/07/2012 at 11:10 am

      Barbara. Thanks for looking at the photos and for your comment. I really appreciate your interest. / I also wonder if families were able to sit with the patients. There are still many people still living in the town of Willard that worked at the asylum who might know the answer. I believe the movies were shown weekly. The asylum was closed in the mid 1990s. / I am so happy that my posts are thought provoking to you. All I have ever wanted to do with my photographs is stimulate people. All the best, Jon

  10. […] this photograph is from a Hallowe’en party in Hadley Hall (also where movies were shown).  I assume it was taken sometime in the 1950′s.  The band […]


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