Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Unique Theater on Nov 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm

The Unique was mentioned in the October 3, 1914, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“THE Unique theater at Mankato, Minn., has been reopened by the American Amusement Company and will again be operated in conjunction with the Grand theater. Manager Arthur Erickson of the Grand will have charge of both houses. Erickson has opened a show at Madison Lake, showing Sunday and Wednesday nights in the village hall. Percy Wirig is local manager.”
An issue of MPW later that year noted that Erickson had given up management of the Grand and Unique and had leased Mankato’s Pastime Theatre.

The Mankato Commercial College building that burned in 1915 was located in the 100 block of south Front Street, a location that will no longer map, the neighborhood having been altered by an urban renewal project. As near as I can figure the building was under the footprint of what is now the Holiday Inn that fronts on Main Street, or perhaps the footprint of the municipal parking ramp just north of it, or maybe across Front Street at or near the location of what is now the Loose Moose Saloon and Conference Center.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park I & II Theatre on Nov 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm

The judo classes given at the Park Theatre are provided by Racine Youth Sports, a nonprofit volunteer organization. Most of their activities are held in Haban Park.

I don’t know the nature of the group’s arrangement with the theater. I’ve been unable to discover if it is still owned by the Westbury Group LLC, the investment bank that bought it in 2004 with the intention of renovating it for use as a performing arts venue. Thirteen years is an awfully long time for a for-profit company to hang on to a property that can’t bringing in much revenue, if any.

At least the fact that RYS is using the building for kids' classes indicates that it is unlikely to fall down from decay. The promised renovation for theatrical use, however, must be at the very least on hold for now, and has perhaps been abandoned.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Waldo Theatre on Nov 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

According to a 1990 survey form for the Missouri Office of Historic Preservation, the Waldo Opera House was upstairs in a two-story brick building erected in 1908 at the corner of 4th and Cedar Streets, across Cedar Street from the City Hall and a bank.

Today there are no old buildings directly on the corners of that intersection, so it appears that the Waldo Theatre is gone. The upper floor was abandoned in the 1950s due to safety issues with the stairway, and the ground floor was vacated around 1975. The building fell into decay due to weather and vandalism, but was still recommended as a potential candidate for preservation in 1990. Now it isn’t even possible to tell which corner of the intersection the vanished building was on.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theatre on Nov 19, 2017 at 6:21 pm

The address 204 W. California Avenue will not map any more because the street is gone. It was under what is now either the Cox Convention Center or Myriad Botanical Gardens.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Eagle Theatre on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Houses called the Eagle Theatre more often than not shared quarters with lodges (aeries) of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, which was founded in 1898 by six Seattle theater owners, including John Cort and the Considine brothers. In the early years a very large percentage of its members were associated with the theater business.

I’ve searched the FOE web site but the order apparently no longer has a chapter in Council Grove. I’ve also used Google street view to examine the old buildings along Main Street, but see none with an FOE on the parapet, which they usually did have. It has probably been demolished, or at least had its upper floor removed and lower floor modernized, as I see no two-story buildings on Main Street that look like they have been significantly altered.

If somebody can find the address of the FOE’s aerie in Council Grove they’ve most likely found the location of the Eagle Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on Nov 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm

This item from the March 22, 1913, issue of Engineering Record is probably about the Colonial Theatre, which opened in April, 1914:

“Laconia, N. H.— The contract for erection of ground floor theater and 3 story business block has been awarded by Benj. Piscopo to Henry Stone, of Laconia: cost about $150,000. Architect, Geo. L. Griffin, of Laconia .”
The Colonial Theatre is undergoing restoration and will be a multi-use theater of 750 seats, as noted in this weblog post. Fundraising for the project continues as well. A web site about the restoration includes this page of “before” photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on Nov 17, 2017 at 6:41 pm

The movie on the Colonial’s marquee in this photo, Men of the Fighting Lady, was released in May, 1954.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Nov 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm

The Rialto was demolished in 2015. The sad story is told in this article from the Omaha World-Herald of June 15 that year. There are photos. The theater had been closed in 2008 due to structural deterioration that had led to leakage and then a partial roof collapse.

An item in the August 28, 1920, issue of The American Contractor describes a theater project at Cozad which fits the description of the Rialto:

“Theater (M. P.) $30,000. 1 sty. 50x132. Cozad, Nebr. Archt. V. F. Beck, North Platte. Owner A. Loibl, Cozad. Brk. & comp. rfg. Plans drawn. Owner & archt. taking bids.”
Victor F. Beck began his career as a brick mason, became a brick contractor around 1910 and began advertising himself as an architect in 1911, first in Omaha and then in North Platte. The brickwork of this theater was quite impressive, and looked to have been in good shape to the end. It’s too bad the roof didn’t hold up as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Unless Hutchinson had more than one house called the Deluxe, the name Martin might have been short-lived for this theater. The July 1, 1914, issue of The St. Louis Lumberman made reference to an event held in the “De Luxe” theater at Hutchinson on June 26.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Nov 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

The “New Theatres” column of the January 15, 1938, issue of The Film Daily lists a Roxy Theatre at Council Grove. That’s the only mention of the Roxy I’ve found in the trade journals. The Stella/Ritz and members of the Bratton family were mentioned quite often.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on Nov 16, 2017 at 4:23 pm

Views at Historic Aerials show that the Palace was still standing in 1960, but had been demolished by 1970. The large auditorium covered what is now the parking lot behind both the site of the demolished theater entrance building and the adjacent three-story building that is tagged on the Google Maps satellite view as the Columbus Dispatch News Bureau.

A newspaper report about the opening of the Palace gave its seating capacity as 1,300, but I suspect that was typical exaggeration. I’ve seen other sources claiming 1,100, which could certainly have been accommodated in the space the auditorium occupied. I’m pretty sure it had more than the one seat we currently list for it in the header (which must have been my mistake when I submitted the theater.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on Nov 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm

The Palace originally had a Möller theater organ, but I’ve been unable to find any details about it. The organ was later moved to Lancaster City Hall. The City of Lancaster has since donated the instrument to the Victoria Opera House in the village of Baltimore, Ohio, where it is awaiting restoration.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm

Thanks for the information, Ken. I know a lot of errors turn up in both the daily and weekly journals, and in the FDY. Theaters changed both owners and names frequently, and the industry journals had rather slapdash communication with theater owners and managers, so it would have been easy for a brief name change to reach one journal and not the others. That might have been the case with the Star, or Strand if it did in fact get that name change and it simply slipped through the cracks at the FDY.

When you add to that the likelihood of editing errors in publications that were compiled quickly, and which covered wide areas without professional journalists on the ground, it’s difficult to unravel a lot of these puzzles. Someone at Motion Picture News might have just gotten the theater name wrong in that item I cited. That’s why I like to rely more on local newspapers when they are available, but I’ve been unable to find any from Moorhead. Being a very small town in a very poor region, its newspaper might have vanished without a trace, so we might never find it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 16, 2017 at 3:48 am

There might have been more than one Strand in Moorhead, or the name might have been temporarily changed to Regent. This item is from the April 20, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Moorehead, [sic] Miss., will have a new theatre, the Regent, remodeled from the former Strand, when P. E. Morris completes plans now under way. Morris now operates the Regent at Indianola, Miss.”
Assuming the Strand of 1929 was the same house that was the Strand in the 1940s, and that the name change to Regent had indeed taken place, the name Strand had been restored by 1939. The Strand placed courtesy advertisements in the 1939, 1940, and 1941 editions of Retrospect, the yearbook of Sunflower Junior College and Agricultural High School in Moorhead.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Amus-U Theater on Nov 15, 2017 at 11:17 pm

SethG is probably correct about the theater being at 108 W. Main. Views at Historic Aerials show the building at 108 W. Main being somewhat deeper than most of its neighbors, while still not extending all the way back the the alley, yet certainly big enough to have held a 350-seat theater. It was still standing in 1998, but gone by 2005.

This web page is about Elsie Magin who, with her husband Howard, was the last owner of the Amus-U Theatre, having bought it from Ralph Todd in 1952. It says that after converting the theater into a bowling alley in 1958, the Magins had to adopt an early closing time due to complaints from residents of the apartments upstairs about the noise.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broad Theatre on Nov 15, 2017 at 7:29 pm

The January 12, 1957, issue of Boxoffice said that Leo Kessel, operator of the Broad Theatre, had sold his 99-year lease on the property to the Equitable Federal Savings & Loan Association. The bank planned to undertake an expansion which would also include the properties occupied by an adjacent shoe store and women’s wear shop.

Both of the shops (Blazer’s Shoes and Milady’s) can be seen in the vintage photo of the theater uploaded by Khnemu. The building that replaced them and the theater is currently occupied by Chase Bank.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Quaker Cinema on Nov 15, 2017 at 5:39 pm

The October 31, 1940, issue of the New Philadelphia Daily Times said that the new Quaker Theatre would open the following night. Among the many congratulatory advertisements in this issue of the Times was one from Harry C. Holbrook, the architect.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Nov 15, 2017 at 5:11 pm

The Moving Picture World of December 25, 1920, said that Sherman A. Cartwright had purchased Lyric Theatre at East Moline, and named Theodore C. Defoe as the manager of the house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse on Nov 15, 2017 at 4:53 pm

The August 7, 1920, issue of The Moving Picture World had a long description of the Fort Armstrong Theatre, then under construction:

“Rosenfield and Hopp Building Big Theatre in Rock Island; Scheduled to Open October 20

“THE Fort Armstrong Theatre, Rock Island, I11., which has been under construction since early March, this year, will be ready for opening about October 20. The structure, which has a frontage of 90 feet on Third avenue and a depth of 150 feet on Nineteenth street, is devoted wholly to a fine, modern picture theatre, with a spacious main floor seating 1,150 persons and a mezzanine balcony seating 850. In conjunction, there will be a smoking room for men, a parlor for women, and a large nursery for children in the basement, also a tea room and a dance salon on the mezzanine floor, adjoining the balcony. The estimated cost of the entire structure, when finished, is $400,000.

“Rosenfield, Hopp & Co., which also owns the Majestic Theatre, Rock Island, is the corporation formed for the construction and control of the Fort Armstrong Theatre. Walter A. Rosenfield, banker, manufacturer, and big business man of Rock Island, who is also prominent in club life and in state political circles, is president of the company; Joseph Hopp, nationally known in film circles as second vice-president of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America, and president of the Illinois Exhibitors’ Alliance, is vice-president and general manager; George Schneider, secretary; Charles D. Rosenfield, treasurer, and Joseph M. Quinn, house manager. Mr. Tuinn will also have supervision of the Majestic Theatre management.

“Will Book All Pictures.

“Walter A. Rosenfield, president of the company, served as a volunteer soldier during the Great War, with the rank of major. His regiment was not sent abroad, but was assigned to guard the Mexican border. It was due to his interest in army life and to perpetuate the name that the house has been called the Fort Armstrong Theatre. On the island in the Mississippi, near Rock Island, is located one of the largest U. S. arsenals in the country. On this island old Fort Armstrong, which dates back to the time of the Indian wars in that section, is still preserved by the U. S. government.

“Without enumerating particulars it can be said that the new theatre will include all the latest modern improvements and devices that contribute to the comfort and safety of patrons. General Manager Hopp, who will have charge of all the bookings for the Fort Armstrong and the Rock Is- land, will retain his office in Chicago. All makes will be included in Mr. Hopp’s bookings, without discrimination.

“Fifteen Pieces in Orchestra.

“A symphony orchestra of fifteen pieces will be used in the presentations given by House Manager Quinn. A large organ, specially built by Lyon & Healy, of Chicago, in their Rock Island factory, at a cost of $15,0D0, will support the orchestra.

“The Fort Armstrong Theatre will have a population of over 120,000 to draw from. Close by, in Illinois, is the manufacturing town of Moline, and across the Mississippi, in Iowa, is Davenport. Besides, neighboring small towns and villages will yield their regular quota to view the high class picture programs, presented in conjunction with the most approved musical aids.

“Mr. Hopp states that a big novelty act — either musical, dramatic or specialty, will always precede the feature of the program. Each of these acts will be carefully selected and their stage introduction will be novel, artistic and agreeably impressive.

“The plans of the Fort Armstrong Theatre were made with great care. Many of the leading picture theatres in the Middle West were visited before they were drawn. Cervin & Horn, Rock Island architects, and William T. Braun, a Chicago architect, worked in collaboration. To Mr. Braun, who has made a special study of modern theatre construction, is due many of the practical structural features, which give the Fort Armstrong high rank as a thoroughly up-to-date house.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Nov 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm

The February 19, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had this notice:

“Philadelphia, Pa. — The Tulpehocken theater located at the corner of Tulpehocken street and Germantown avenue, has been renamed the Rialto.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theater on Nov 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

AndreasP is correct. I am not sure that Robert Larson was correct when he said this was the second Rio Theatre, though. SteveSwanson’s information about the Myrtle Theatre is probably from this web page, which says that the Myrtle Theatre was destroyed by a fire, and reopened as the Rio Theatre on January 9, 1953, at the First Avenue location.

The page does not say that the Myrtle was renamed the Rio sometime before the fire, nor is it clear about when the fire took place. One fire happened in 1943, destroying the Post Office which occupied the bay adjacent to the theater (as near as I can tell from the vague wording), but the page does not specifically say that that fire was the one that destroyed the Myrtle Theatre.

Perhaps the FDY editions between 1944 and 1952 list the theater in Myrtle Creek, if any, giving the name it was using at the time. Alas, I no longer have my digital FDY editions (they are trapped on another computer that no longer works.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Analy Theatre on Nov 15, 2017 at 3:08 pm

I see that one of the congratulatory notices in the grand opening ad dallasmovietheaters just uploaded is from William B. David. That strongly suggests that he was indeed the actual (but unlicensed) architect of the house, with William W. Wolf signing the plans. Another of the notices is from Gus (Gale) Santocono, who was probably responsible for the decoration of the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Loew's Liberty Theater on Nov 15, 2017 at 2:49 pm

AndreasP’s link doesn’t work for me, but I did find this photo which might be the same one.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Nov 14, 2017 at 5:43 pm

An article about architect Sydney Lovell in the summer, 2003, issue of Marquee, by Barbara Coy Janssens, says that Lovell was working in partnership with James Wood when, in 1888, Wood received a commission to remodel the Grand Opera House. The project was completed in 1890.

As the house was only four years old when Wood was commissioned to remodel it, it seems likely that he, already noted as a theater architect, was brought in to correct shortcomings of the original design by Kysor and Morgan, who were not experienced in theater design.

I would imagine that most of Wood and Lovell’s work on the building had to do with the practical aspects of theater design, and focused on the stage facilities. Photos over the years don’t indicate any significant change in the style of the building, inside or out. It’s likely that the original gas lighting system was either replaced by or augmented with electric lighting as part of this project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Nor Shor Theatre on Nov 13, 2017 at 9:28 pm

The official web site says their target for completion of the renovations and reopening is December, 2017.

The project was designed by the St. Paul architectural firm TKDA. There is a slide show with three drawings on the firm’s web site.