Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Theatre on Aug 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm

A June 12, 2012, feature about the news of 1925 in the Sidney Herald indicated that the opening of the Isis Theatre was one of the events that took place that year.

A March 18, 2008, article about centenarian Dorothy Gall, who as a girl had played piano to accompany silent movies at both the Isis and the Princess Theatres, said that the Isis was next door to the First National Bank, which is now occupied by the Cheerio Lounge. Internet gives the lounge the address 101 E. Main St., so the Isis/Roxy must have been at 103 E. Main, now the location of 2 Blondes, a nail salon. The Princess was farther east on the same block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dixon Theatre on Aug 1, 2014 at 3:23 am

The March 21, 1921, issue of Exhibitors Herald said that plans for the proposed Dixon Theatre in Dixon, Illinois, had been completed by Chicago architectural firm N. S. Spencer & Son.

An article in the December 9, 1966, issue of the Dixon Evening Telegraph says that William J. McAlpine was the contractor who built the courthouse, the old post office, the Dixon National Bank building and the City National Bank building as well as the Dixon Theatre. Almost all the references to McAlpine I’ve found call him a builder or contractor, not an architect. Those that call him an architect all appear to be citing the Dixon Theatre’s web site.

Dixon’s William J. McAlpine is not to be confused with William Jarvis McAlpine, a noted 19th century civil engineer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Aug 1, 2014 at 1:18 am

An item datelined Missoula in the January 1, 1921, issue of Exhibitors Herald said (somewhat belatedly) that “[t]he new Rialto theatre will be open for the holiday season.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Penn Theatre on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:29 pm

A list of theaters in Reading published in the January 1, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World includes a Penn Theatre on Penn Avenue, West Reading. However, this 1916 house was probably in a different building.

An article in the February 19, 1984, issue of the Reading Eagle telling of the closing of the Majestic Theatre in Mount Penn, which had opened on November 10, 1939, says that “[s]hortly after the Majestic opening, Wilmer and Vincent opened the Penn Theatre in West Reading, in a building that currently serves as a piano showroom.”

The building might have been new construction in 1939, or Wilmer and Vincent could have taken over and remodeled the old Penn Theatre. The back of the building can be seen in Street View, but it is made of common brick painted over so the only real clue as to the possible age is the large size of the bricks, which would argue for the later construction date, the use of large bricks having been rare until the 1930s. It’s possible that the original Penn Theatre was on the same site and was demolished to make way for the new house.

The Penn Theatre closed sometime between October, 1953, when the Eagle reported that the theater’s safe had been robbed by burglars, and 1956, when a news item said that the West Reading Fire Department would hold its annual children’s Christmas party in “…the former Penn Theatre.” The Orth Music Company was advertising its new location in the Penn Theatre Building by May, 1958. It’s likely that the Penn was one of the many neighborhood theaters closed in the mid-1950s due to the high cost of equipping a movie house for wide-screen productions.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hyannis Theater on Jul 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm

A “Looking Back” feature in the June 27, 2013, issue of The Barnstable Patriot cites an item from the June 28, 1923, issue of the paper saying that the new Hyannis Theatre would open that day. The timing indicates that the Hyannis was probably the theater project mentioned in the April 28, 1923, issue of Exhibitors Herald, which said that a 1,000-seat house was being built for Hyannis Theatre, Inc., from plans by Boston architects J. Williams Beal Sons. The same firm later designed the house now known as The Boston University Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Boston University Theatre on Jul 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm

The correct name of the architectural firm that designed this 1925 theater is J. Williams Beal Sons. I don’t believe there ever was a Beal & Sons (the name never appears in trade publications of the period, but only in modern books.) J Williams Beal himself died in 1919, and his sons, who had worked in his office but were not partners in the business, established the firm at that time. I suspect that they incorporated their noted father’s name as they were still fairly young and had not yet established a reputation of their own.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alba Theatre on Jul 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm

This house reopened as the Capitol Theatre on March 7, 1923. It had been remodeled and redecorated after having been closed for many years. The architect for the project, Albert A. Schwartz, and the decorator, O. J. Bodelson, wrote an article about the project for the April 7 issue of Exhibitors Herald. There are four photos, and the article mentions a Kimball Organ Co. Unit Orchestra being installed in the renovated house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Twin Theater on Jul 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

CinemaTour lists five theaters in Hamilton: the Roxy and Pharaohplex, plus the Liberty Theatre and a Starlite Drive-In, neither with an address, and a Rio Theatre at 172 S. Second Street. Maybe the Liberty became the Rio. The building at that address now has 1996 on its pediment, though, so the Rio is demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 10:44 pm

GoRaWa1 is correct. The Survant Theatre is at the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue S. and 6th Street S. As the vintage photo shows, the Roxy was a few doors west of 5th Street S., not on the corner. The Survant Theatre replaced the Roxy when it burned down, but not on the same site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 10:34 pm

514 2nd Avenue is an even number, so it would be on the north side of the street. 514 must be the correct address of the Roxy Theatre. The Orpheum was on the opposite side of the street in the same block, and a bit farther west. The Western Drug store is at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 6th Street, and has the address 539 2nd, and I believe that the Orpheum was next door to that building (see the vintage photo on our Roxy page) so would have been at approximately 531-535 2nd Avenue South.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pix Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Ah, I can see it now by zooming in. The theater is up the block on the right side of the street, and the neighboring building with the brick front is still standing too. But the map says it’s called called A Street, not 4th Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crookston Grand Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:00 pm

A history of the Grand Theatre written by University of Minnesota student Brooke Helgerson and dated 2011 is available in this PDF file. It says that the theater opened on November 8, 1910. It was designed by J. A. Van Wie and Theodore Hays of the Twin Cities Scenic Co. in Minneapolis.

An item about the project in the May 21, 1910, issue of The Improvement Bulletin referred to the proposed opera house as “practically fireproof.” Practically wasn’t quite enough, though. Helgerson’s history says that the auditorium was gutted by a fire in May, 1914. The Grand reopened in September that year, and in 1917 its operation was taken over by Charles Hiller. Members of the Hiller family would continue to operate the Grand until 2005.

The Grand Theatre has been altered several times over the years, with a concession stand being installed in 1949 and a new marquee in 1954. A second screen was installed in an adjacent space in 1984, leaving the original auditorium intact for the time being. The most drastic alterations came in 2005, when the new owners, Moore Family Theatres, removed the balcony and reconfigured the auditorium for stadium seating. Despite these changes, the theater retains much of its original decoration.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Jul 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm

The Liberty Theatre in McKeesport was in operation by 1921, when it was mentioned in the September 10 issue of Exhibitor’s Trade Review.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theater on Jul 28, 2014 at 7:08 pm

There were two houses called the Altmeyer Theatre in McKeesport. The first was a 1,600-seat house on Fifth Avenue at Strawberry Street, which was dedicated in December, 1892, and destroyed by a fire in February, 1896.

The second Altmeyer Theatre was on the north side of Fifth Avenue almost opposite the end of Blackberry Street. This was a former saloon which was converted into a theater. By 1908 it was being operated by J. P. Harris. It was listed in the 1913-1914 Cahn guide as a ground floor house with 640 seats in the orchestra, 210 in the balcony, a gallery accommodating 300 and boxes for 50.

In later years the second Altmeyer Theatre was renamed the Harris State Theatre. It was later converted into a department store. This probably happened before 1930. When Warner Brothers took over 17 Harris theaters in the region in 1930, the only McKeesport houses listed as part of the deal were the J. P. Harris Memorial Theatre and a house called the Harris Walnut Street Theatre.

There might have been a 200-seat house called the Star Theatre in McKeesport, but if there was it was definitely not the former Altmeyer Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

A 1920 Worcester City Directory lists the Bijou Theatre at 24 Millbury Street and the Rialto Theatre at 37 Millbury Street (the Rialto’s building occupies multiple lots.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Whoever wrote the text with those photos must have confused the Alhambra with the Doric Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

The July, 1911, issue of a magazine called New Boston featured a brief article with an encomium for B. F. Keith’s Bijou Theatre:

“During the month of June hundreds of visiting social workers, interested in the dangers and possibilities of the moving picture show, will be in Boston attending the various meetings of a half dozen or more charities conferences. In order to show these visitors the possibilities in the development of a moving picture theater, Mrs. Josephine Clement, the manager of B. F. Keith’s Bijou Theater, has arranged a program of special interest for the week of June 7-14. The two and one-half hour entertainment will consist of motion pictures, musical numbers, and the one act play or opera that are parts of the regular program, and will include also specially arranged illustrated talks on topics of social and civic interest, prepared by a local conference committee. A visit to the Bijou will illustrate how the liberality and broad-mindedness of Mr. Keith have raised the ordinary moving picture show to the level of refined entertainment without sacrificing life and sparkle to ‘uplift.’

“The Bijou Theater is not an educational institution in any sense of the word; its sole purpose is to amuse. The management believes, however, that a motion picture entertainment may be made both interesting and diverting without depicting the antics of hoodlums or the tawdry sentiment of the dime novel. During the past three years, the entire program at the Bijou has been developed from material supplied directly to the management, no agents having been employed.

“The regular program of motion pictures — always with one educational film — is varied by ten minute, illustrated, camera chats, one act dramas presented by the Bijou players, stereopticon views of subjects of contemporary interest, and high grade vocal and instrumental music. As a sample of the best development of the motion picture theater, visitors to Boston should not neglect the Bijou.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Art Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Given it’s 1917 opening and its original name of Alhambra Theatre, this house must be the project noted in the March 11, 1916, issue of The American Contractor:

“Theater: $60,000. 2 sty. Quincy, Mass. Archt. E. W. Campbell, 5 Park square, Boston. Owners Alhambra Theater, Inc., care archts. Archt. will take bids after Mar. 13. Brk., re. conc, struct. & orn. iron, gravel rfg.”
I haven’t been able to discover much about E. W. Campbell, but the July, 1911, issue of a magazine called New Boston features an ad for the Atlantic Decorating Company at 5 Park Square, E. W. Campbell General Manager, which boasts that they are “Architects and Constructors of All the Noted Shows in Boston.” I don’t know if by “shows” they meant theaters or not. I did find one reference to Campbell having designed a display for an auto show in Detroit, so maybe the firm specialized in trade shows.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

The Paramount was most likely this theater project noted in the September 22, 1921, issue of Engineering News-Record

:“Newton (Boston P. O.)—Theater—Newton Theater Co., 415 Center St.. let contract building 2 story, 70 x 153 ft., concrete and steel, rein.-con. flooring, concrete foundation, on Washington and Beacon Sts., here, to T. L. Goodwin. Newton Highlands. About $150,000.”
“Beacon” was an obvious typo for Bacon Street. An item in the July 28 issue of the same publication had said that plans for a theater on Washington Street for the Newton Theater Company were begin prepared by the Boston firm of Desmond & Lord. George Henri Desmond was also the architect of the Portland Theatre in Portland, Maine. The firm also drew plans for a large theater in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1922, but I haven’t yet been able to identify it, assuming it was completed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Portland Theater on Jul 28, 2014 at 11:07 am

The Maine Historical Society has drawings of the New Portland Theatre by the architect, George Henri Desmond, of the Boston firm of Desmond & Lord. The drawings are not digitized, but the collection of which they are part is open for research according to Archive Grid.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dreamland Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:47 am

The March 3, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World has an article about the recent sale of the Dreamland Theatre, which mentions a few other theaters in McKeesport and the surrounding area:

“DREAMLAND AT McKEESPORT, PA., SOLD.

“One of the most important transactions that has taken place in amusement circles of McKeesport, Pa., in some time, was closed February 10, when the Dreamland theater was purchased by Frank Panopolis and George Lambru, well-known exhibitors, from A. H. Berg, of the McKeesport Amusement Company. The Dreamland has been closed for the purpose of remodeling by the new owners. It is hoped to have the work completed for reopening by March 1. Mr. Berg, who has achieved much success as an exhibitor for the past seven years, still conducts three up-to-date picture houses, the Altmeyer and Orpheum theaters in McKeesport and the Avenue theater at Duquesne, Pa. The firm of Panopolis and Lambru owns and operates the Lyric theater, a handsome thousand-seat house, at 515 Fifth avenue, McKeesport, of which Mr. Panopolis is manager. He will also manage their latest acquisition, the Dreamland, and having shown the latest and best film productions with much success in the past at the Lyric he plans to set a high standard in every respect.”

A McKeesport vaudeville house called the Dreamland Theatre is mentioned in Variety, The Billboard, and The New York Clipper as early as 1907. It was probably this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on Jul 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

The Capitol Theatre was in operation by 1917 under the name Lyric Theatre. It was mentioned in an article about the recent sale of the Dreamland Theatre in McKeesport to Frank Panopolis and George Lambru, operators of the Lyric. The article appeared in the March 3, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Town Theatre on Jul 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

The Orpheum Theater in East Helena was mentioned in the November 7, 1938, issue of the Helena Independent. It was also mentioned in the May 22, 1932, issue, and quite a few times in the 1920s.

I’ve found the Town Theatre mentioned in the Independent-Record as early as July 13, 1947, and as late as December 28, 1958.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pix Theatre on Jul 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

I’ve looked up and down Front Street and can’t find any buildings that resemble the Pix Theatre in this photo. There’s no trace of the two neighboring buildings either. I suspect that the Pix has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pix Theatre on Jul 27, 2014 at 10:45 am

The Pix Theatre in Drummond was advertised in the November 17, 1939, issue of The Philipsburg Mail. Two different single feature programs were advertised for Saturday and Sunday, and a double feature was advertised for the following Wednesday.