Last call for ordering pre-publication copies of “American Theatres of Today!”

posted by theatrehistoricalsociety on February 25, 2009 at 8:15 am

It’s the “last call” to order your pre-publication numbered limited edition copy of “American Theatres of Today.” This important book is being reissued by the Theatre Historical Society of America in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Readers of Cinema Treasures can place orders through March 15th, 2009.

Originally issued as two volumes in 1927 and 1930, the book by R.W. Sexton and B.F. Betts is one of the very few theatre reference works published during the movie palace era. It is 368 pages and features 113 theatres, 275 photographs, 278 plans and illustrations. The book contains an introduction by famed showman S. L. “Roxy” Rothafel and articles by noted authorities on various aspects of theatre design and operation.

Original copies are extremely rare and sell for many hundreds of dollars. Even the 1977 single-volume reissue, also long out of print, is hard to find and expensive.

The special THS edition is limited to 400 numbered copies and will be published in a single hard-bound volume in the original large format and using heavy acid-free paper. The cover features gold-stamped text and blue cloth binding.

The pre-publication price of the standard edition is $75, plus shipping, and the deluxe slipcase edition is $125, plus shipping. Delivery is anticipated in late March, 2009.

All proceeds will support the ongoing efforts of the non-profit Theatre Historical Society to document and preserve America’s rich theatre history.

The Theatre Historical Society was founded in 1969 by Ben Hall, author of the first historic look at movie palaces, “The Best Remaining Seats." The THS archive contains material on more than 15,000 theatres nationwide, the largest collection of its kind in the country. It publishes a quarterly journal, Marquee, and an illustrated Annual, both included in membership, and operates the American Movie Palace Museum at its headquarters in Elmhurst, Illinois, 15 miles west of Chicago. THS also produces an annual Conclave, or theatre tour, in a different part of the country each summer, which typically visits two dozen historic theatres. Membership is open to individuals or organizations and starts at $55 for Regular U.S. members. There is also a reduced rate for full-time students.

To order your copy of “American Theatres of Today,” or for more information on THS, visit the THS website,, or contact THS at , or call (630) 782-1800.

Comments (9)

kencmcintyre on February 25, 2009 at 9:27 am

I sent a check last month, but it hasn’t been cashed. Is it going to be cashed when the book is shipped?

theatrehistoricalsociety on February 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Our apologies for the delay! We are working this week on processing the backlog of checks and credit card orders received. We are confident that you will enjoy this historic and fascinating book!

NativeForestHiller on February 25, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Great accomplishment! Which NY theaters are featured?

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 26, 2009 at 10:59 am

To answer NativeForestHiller’s question, I am looking thru the index of my well-thumbed 1979 edition of the book. Some NY theaters included are: Biltmore, Embassy,46th Street, Guild, Hollywood, Mansfield, Martin Beck, Modjeska, Music Box, 175th Street, Bronx Paradise, Brooklyn Paramount, NY Paramount, Roxy, Royale, Ziegfeld, Brooklyn Kings,Brooklyn Coney Island, Jersey and Journal Square in Jersey City, etc. Also some houses in metro NY-NJ area, Philadelphia, etc, etc. Lots of nice black & white photos, plans, drawings, a “check list” of features and equipment for theaters; if you like theaters, believe me, you will like this book!

NativeForestHiller on February 26, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for your reply! Any Queens theaters listed in the 1979 edition? I do feel that some theaters were omitted in the newer book, due to demolition. I hope to hear a response from THSA.

GaryParks on February 26, 2009 at 9:42 pm

To answer NativeForestHiller’s question: As a THSA Board member, I have been there when we have discussed and made decisions regarding this book project. NO theatres have been ommitted from this new printing of the original book. What you are going to see is what was published originally, and in finer quality that the one that came out in the 70s, from what has been clearly told to us. I can’t speak for the 70s reprint, having never seen it. I have seen a number of sample proof pages of this new printing and they are very crisp. Now, at last report, there will be an insert that will identify a few theatres which were on the drawing boards and unnamed/unbuilt at the time the book came out. There will be a new page acknowledging those of us who helped bring this project to fruition.
This is truly an heirloom item to be treasured. Receiving my copy is going to feel like Christmas!

NativeForestHiller on February 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Thanks, Gary! Please let me know if there any theaters from the borough of Queens, and what those theaters might be. If I decide to purchase it, I would like to know what is featured.

theatrehistoricalsociety on February 28, 2009 at 11:53 am

There’s one theatre in Queens in the book – the Boulevard, on Northern Boulevard, in Jackson Heights. It’s a nice photo of the outer lobby.

To clarify Gary’s comment above, the Editor’s Notes will correct a few errors in the original volumes, identify many of the theatres listed as “proposed,” and clarify other things such as names, dates and locations. These Notes will be bound into the book itself.

THS is very proud to be making this signigficant book available again after so many years!

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