Conversation: Kendall Messick’s Close-Up of ‘The Projectionist’

BY Jeffrey Brown  September 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM EDT

Image Courtesy Kendall Messick/ Princeton Architectural PressBorn in 1915, Gordon Brinckle’s boyhood dream was to become a movie projectionist and perhaps some day even own his own theater. After getting his start showing films in the army, he lived most of his adult life in a small town in Delaware, where he worked at a movie theater for 33 years, living in a modest 1950s-style house with his wife until they both passed away just months apart in 2007.

But Gordon Brinckle had an extraordinary secret: Over the course of nearly 50 years, he created a miniature movie palace in his basement that he called the Shalimar. Inspired by 1920s and 30s-era movie palaces, his miniature theater, decorated in bright pink and gold, had a marquee, an organ, a box office and, of course, a working projector.

The Shalimar might have never been seen by the outside world were it not for photographer Kendall Messick, who grew up across the street from the Brinckles and had their daughter Sandy as a babysitter. Messick and his brother got to visit the theater as young boys in the 60s.

It wasn’t until 2001 that Messick returned to the basement movie palace and decided to bring the theater to light. Gordon Brinkcle and his fabulous, miniature movie palace is the subject of Messick’s new book of photographs called ‘The Projectionist’.

Kendall Messick recently visited our studio to talk about his new book: