Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 21, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Something I did not include in the description of the Alpine Theatre is the possibility that it opened in 1916 as the Strand Theatre. The July 22 issue of The Moving Picture World that year had an item saying that the 400-seat Strand had opened at Salem, West Virginia, on July 3, but I’ve been unable to find any documentation indicating that the Strand later became the Salem/Alpine. It’s certainly a possibility that it did, though. G. C. Broadwater was the original owner of the Strand.

Half of the block on which the Alpine was located has recently been demolished and the old buildings replaced by a new chain store and its parking lot. It is possible that the Alpine was located in one of the buildings that is still standing on the other half of the block, but none of them show any indication of having once held a theater.

However, I’ve found a source saying that the Arcadia Publishing Company plans to release a book called Historic Movie Theatres of West Virginia in spring, 2018, and that one of the photos that might be included in it shows “… people standing in hip-deep floodwater under the marquee of Salem’s Alpine Theatre….” so we might find out next year if the building is still standing or among the demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 21, 2017 at 12:15 am

This house originally opened as the Arcade Theatre on June 12, 1925. It had been renamed the Alpine Theatre by January, 1935.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bantam Cinema on Sep 20, 2017 at 9:12 pm

I wonder if the barn-like, utilitarian exterior remodeling can be undone, and the handsome brick front the Bantam sported when it opened in 1927 as the Rivoli restored?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theater on Sep 20, 2017 at 5:35 am

The May 23, 1917, issue of Building & Engineering News had an item about this theater:

“BREMERTON, WASH. Theatre, 2 story and base. reinforced concrete $75,000. Architect Max Umbrecht, Arcade Bldg. Seattle. Owners Osran Amusement Co. Will cover an area of 60 by 105 feet. Plans are being prepared.”
The June 27 issue of the same journal noted that the contract for the project had been let.

Architect Maximilian B. Umbracht practiced in Seattle from 1900-1907 and again from 1912 to 1922, following which he returned to his home town of Syracuse, New York.

The Osran Amusement Company (Oswald and Rance) operated several theaters in Bremerton during this period. It eventually became a subsidiary of Evergreen State Amusement Corporation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 20, 2017 at 3:54 am

I forgot to mention in my previous comment that the newspaper article said that the Alpine Theatre had been demolished in 1981.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 20, 2017 at 3:49 am

An item in the December 4, 1935, issue of The Film Daily mentions a house recently taken over by Anderson & Urling’s Alpine Theatre Company. It doesn’t give the name of the town, but I have come to believe that it refers to Marlinton. It says:

“W. E. Keller, West Virginia operator, has opened the Lyric. The Seneca Theater in the same town has been taken over by the Alpine Circuit, operated by Anderson & Urling, and renamed the Alpine. House was formerly operated by C. E. Cooper.”
I have found a reference to the Lyric Theatre in Marlinton in 1937, and references to the Seneca Theatre there prior to this 1935 item. Marlinton is the only West Virginia town where I have found references to theaters of all three of those names (Alpine, Seneca, and Lyric), so I conclude that the 1935 item must be about Marlinton. It follows that the hotel was renamed the Alpine Hotel when, or sometime after, the theater was renamed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 20, 2017 at 3:35 am

A brief history of the Alpine Theatre in Kingwood appears in the September 22, 2010 issue of The Preston County Journal (link). Built to replace an earlier house called the Court Theatre, which had burned down in late 1924, the Alpine opened as the Arcade Theatre on June 12, 1925. After operating for five years, the house closed. The owner, Mrs. Mae V. Brennan, then leased the theater to the Tower Amusement Company, who renovated and installed sound equipment, but the house was only open for one week before the lessees, unable to meet their financial obligations, were forced to close it again.

The Arcade then sat dark until it was reopened on April 1, 1934, by Charles Anderson, who had been showing movies twice a week at Kingwood High School since shortly after the theater had closed. Anderson remodeled the house, redecorating and installing new seats and carpeting. The article says that the house was renamed the Alpine Theatre at this time.

As the Alpine, the theater operated under several owners until 1979, the last movies being shown in December of that year.

There is an item in the November 23, 1935, issue of The Film Daily which contradicts the 2010 newspaper article. Datelined Kingwood, it says “The Alpine, formerly the Seneca, which is operated by Charles A. Anderson, has been equipped with new RCA High Fidelity sound.” Now it is possible that the Arcade was renamed the Seneca briefly before being renamed the Alpine, and the author of the 2010 article simply never saw any information about that brief period, but it is also possible that The Film Daily made a mistake- something it is known to have done fairly often.

What is known is that Charles Anderson and his partner, Walter B. Urling, formed the Alpine Theatre Company in 1934, after taking over the Alpine Theatre in Terra Alta, West Virginia. As there are trade journal references to the Terra Alta house having been called the Alpine prior to Anderson and Urling’s involvement with it. The Terra Alta Alpine, which was surely named for Alpine Lake, near Terra Alta, must have given its name to the Alpine Theatre Company, rather than the other way around.

The Alpine Theatre Company was headquartered in Terra Alta from 1934 to 1936, whereupon it moved to Kingwood, where the headquarters remained until the company was dissolved in 1955. FDY lists the company as active as late as 1958, but this appears to have been another case of the FDY not being updated in a timely manner.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 20, 2017 at 3:22 am

The Alpine Theatre in Terra Alta was for sale at auction in 1958, and the advertisements for the auction said that the 285-seat theater was in a “[l]arge brick building on a corner lot located in the main business section of Terra Alta….” so yes, the address we have must be wrong.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Theatre on Sep 19, 2017 at 9:10 pm

An old photo has revealed the location of the Alpine Theatre in Marlinton, though the exact address is still a guess. The Gen Disasters link in my previous comment says that the buildings destroyed in the 1968 fire were at the corner of 8th Street and 2nd Street (it’s actually called 2nd Avenue.)

This web page has a scan of page 7 of the April 11, 2013, issue of Marlinton’s newspaper, The Pocahontas Times, which features a 1959 photo of 8th Street being resurfaced, with the view being east from 2nd Avenue. The Alpine Theatre can be seen at the left, its entrance in the last storefront in the Alpine Hotel Building.

The building across the street with the stair-stepped parapet is still standing, and has the address 204 8th Street, so the theater was most likely at 205 8th, though it might have been 207. The lots the theater, hotel, and adjacent storefronts once occupied is now the site of the modern First Citizens Bank building, which uses the address 201 8th Street, but I’d say the theater entrance was probably just about where the bank’s front entrance and freestanding sign are now.

The Alpine Hotel originated in 1905 as the DeArmit Hotel, and the theater was built as part of an expansion that opened in 1924. The project had been noted in the October 20, 1923, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“MARLINTON, W. VA.— Marlinton Hotel Company has plans by Knapp & Haviland, Charleston, for three-story brick and tile theatre and hotel building to be erected on Main street, to cost $30,000.”
Principals of Knapp & Haviland were Bernard L. Knapp and Charles Arthur Haviland. From references on the Internet it’s clear that Haviland was by far the better known architect, and his partnership with Knapp appears to have been rather brief.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lois Theatre on Sep 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

The Lois Theatre was opened by Alexander Pantages in 1906. The house was named for his wife. In its early years it hosted a stock company called The Pantages Players. The 1907-1908 edition of the Henry guide listed a seating capacity of 1,200 for the Lois. So far I’ve been unable to discover anything about its later history.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Decatur Theater on Sep 16, 2017 at 8:34 pm

The Decatur Theatre is most likely this project noted in the November 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:

“Theater, Store & Office Bldg. (seating cap. 2,000): $175,000. 2 sty. 200x100. W. S. Webster av., from 195th to 196th sts. Archt. Geo. F. Pelham, Inc., 30 E. 42d st. Lessee Fleischman Goldreyer Co., care bldr. Bldr. Max J. Kramer, 135 Nassau st., is taking sub-bids. Brk., terra cotta, struct. steel, slag rfg.”
As the block of Webster from 195th to 197th Streets is now occupied by a large public school, I would imagine that the section of 196th Street which the item implies once bisected it was vacated to accommodate that school. The architectural style of the school building indicates construction most likely took place in the late 1940s or early 1950s, which would explain the Decatur’s disappearance from the FDY by 1950.

The gala opening of the U.S. Theatre was covered in the January 6, 1917, issue of Motion Picture News. The writer of the article, probably a Manhattanite, was a bit confused about the theater’s exact location, though, saying repeatedly that it was between 194th and 195th Streets. A scan of the article can be seen here, courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Architect George Frederick Pelham operated his own firm, Geo. F. Pelham, Inc., from 1890 to 1931. Prior to that he had worked as a draftsman in the office of his father, architect George Brown Pelham. G.F.’s own son, George Frederick Pelham, Jr., joined his firm in 1910. Pelham was a master of the revival styles popular during the period from 1890 until the onset of the depression of the 1930s, and the city, especially the upper west side of Manhattan, is still graced with dozens of his works. It’s unfortunate that the Decatur Theatre is not among the survivors.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about University Theatre on Sep 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm

The January 21, 1922, issue of Real Estate Record had an item about a theater that must have been this house:

“Fordham Theatre in New Hands

“Samuel Wood, president of Wood’s Business School in Harlem, purchased from Thomas Ward property known as ‘The Fordham Theatre Photoplay House,’ having a seating capacity of 600 and the 1-story brick taxpayer, adjoining, containing nine stories [sic], known as 25-37 West Fordham rd., and the 2x2-story frame dwelling, with garage, north of Fordham rd., known as 2458 Davidson av. This property covers 120 feet on Fordham rd., taking in the northwest corner of Davidson av. with 128 feet on the avenue. Property was held at $225,000, which transaction was for all cash. Armstrong Bros, were the brokers.”

The “2x2-story frame dwelling” and garage were probably soon replaced by the standard 6-story brick apartment block now seen on Davidson Avenue, but I suspect that the theater and “1-story brick taxpayer” survive, and satellite view shows the shop building still abutting the theater on two sides.

The new owners might have changed the theater’s name to Bandbox at this time, to avoid confusion with Keith’s Fordham Theatre (later the RKO Fordham) which had opened nearby in 1921. We know the name change to Bandbox took place no later than 1928, as that is the year a Kilgen organ was installed.

The Fordham Theatre Photoplay House was in the planning stage in 1916, according to this item from Motography of June 3 that year:

“Irving Judis as president of Creston Building company, will build a one-story moving-picture theater, with stores, 117.5x65.10, on the northwest corner of Davidson avenue and Fordham road, New York.”
This was not Irving Judis’s first theater project. In 1915 he had built the Concourse Theatre at Grand Concourse and Fordham Road. Architects for that project were Herman Gronenberg and Albert J. H. Leuchtag. It’s possible that Gronenberg & Leuchtag also designed the Fordham Theatre Photoplay House, but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Concourse Theatre on Sep 16, 2017 at 7:05 pm

The Concourse Theatre was in operation by August, 1916, when it was advertised for sale along with an adjacent property in The Sun:

“The Concourse Theatre, with the adjoining store building erected recently, at the northeast corner of the Concourse and Fordham road, was purchased yesterday by Joseph P. Ryan from the Fordham Road Corporation, Irving Judis, president. The Concourse property measures 158x108.”
Mr. Judis’s theater project at this site had been noted in the November 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:
“Stores & Moving Picture Theater (seating cap. 600): 1 sty. 108x158. Concourse & Fordham rd. Archts. Gronenberg & Leuchtag, 303 Fifth av. Owners & Bldrs. Concourse Estates, Irving Judis, pres., 7 E. 42d st., will take sub bids. Brk., slag rfg.”
Herman Gronenberg and Albert J. H. Leuchtag were prolific architects, having filed 309 new building applications in the city from 1910 to 1931, but little is known about them. The firm was dissolved when Gronenberg died in 1931.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theater on Sep 16, 2017 at 3:50 pm

I believe there’s a piece of the Unique Theatre’s history missing. Our description for the Unique/Rialto says it opened in April, 1920, replacing the original Unique Theatre, but our page for the Unique says that that house closed in 1913 when the new Unique opened a few doors away.

It must be that the 1920 opening was a reopening, after the house had been rebuilt following a disastrous fire on July 10, 1919, which was reported in that day’s issue of New York City’s The Evening World. The World article said that the fire had started just after midnight, and had burned for several hours, the local firefighters ultimately needing the assistance of brigades from two nearby towns as well as soldiers from Camp Upton to put it out.

This web page has a scan of a four-page program from the Unique Theatre for the week of August 12, 1918.

The pre-fire Unique had an unusual feature, according to this item from the July 7, 1916, issue of The Patchogue Advance (now succeeded by The Long Island Advance):

“The most perfectly ventilated show house on Long Island is the Unique Theatre, with its open roof and large number of electric fans.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm

The April 13, 1918, issue of Motography had an article about the new Liberty Theatre in Yakima (scan at Google Books.)

When the new Liberty opened on March 12, 1918, an earlier house also called the Liberty was closed and subsequently demolished to make way for the Mercy (now Capitol) Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bison Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Asian Americans at the movies : race, labor, and migration in the Transpacific West, 1900-1945, a 2008 dissertation by U.C. San Diego student Denise Kohr, contains this line:

“Japanese showmen Kaita and Yamada were not novices to the business of the movies. They were successful entrepreneurs who had opened the Bison Theatre in Seattle in 1903.”
The complete dissertation is available in the popular PDF format here. It has quite a bit of information about movie theaters operated by Japanese Americans in Seattle (ten such houses were in operation there in 1919) and other American cities.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 1:22 pm

An article about the conversion of the Orpheum Theatre to a first-rum moving picture house appeared in the June 8, 1918, issue of Motography (Google Books scan.) There is an interior photo, with an inset of the managing director Eugene Levy. The house was advertised during this period as Levy’s Orpheum Theatre, to differentiate it from the Orpheum vaudeville shows, which had been moved to the Moore Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

History Link has a page about the Grand, with the emphasis on the 1917 fire. In 1911 the house had been leased to Eugene Levy, who operated a dozen movie and vaudeville houses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane. After the fire Levy originally intended to rebuild the Grand, but instead ended up leasing the Orpheum Theatre and Third Avenue and Madison Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alki Theatre on Sep 15, 2017 at 11:15 am

Looking at the street view I just noticed that the back of the former theater is now occupied by a U.S. Post Office, with its entrance on the Broadway Street side.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dinuba Theater on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:25 pm

The record of a lawsuit (Levy v. Paramount Pictures) decided in 1952 indicate that the Dinuba Theatre opened on February 14, 1941, and was operated by the plaintiff, Mr. Levy until May, 1942.

The finding aid for the S. Charles Lee papers lists a Dinuba Theatre at Dinuba as a 1940-1941 project. However, given this theater’s location in a small San Joaquin Valley town, we should consider the possibility that this house was one of those projects actually designed by the unlicensed architect William B. David, with the plans only signed by S. Charles Lee, which is something Lee did for David on several occasions.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alki Theatre on Sep 14, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Forgot to mention the item in Boxoffice of May 1, 1954, saying that owner E. C. Rettkowski had remodeled the Alki Theatre, installing CinemaScope and stereophonic sound equipment. The opening feature was The Robe.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alki Theatre on Sep 14, 2017 at 10:55 pm

The Alki Theatre building still stands, with its small marquee intact, at the southeast corner of Main Avenue and Broadway Street (16 NW Main Avenue.) The building is now occupied by the Magic Mirror Beauty Salon.

A closed brick arch on the facade, which might indicate that an arch was an original feature the building, has a keystone with the year 1920 on it. If the building was erected as a theater in 1920, rather than converted to one later, then we are surely missing an earlier aka for the house. The name Roxy did not come into vogue until after the opening of the first Roxy Theatre in New York in 1926.

It’s possible that the house was called the Liberty, whether opened in 1920 or not, as the earliest trade journal item I’ve found datelined Wilbur is this, from the January 16, 1931, issue of The Film Daily: “Wilbur, Wash. — Peter Falborg has temporarily closed the Liberty.” The reopening of the Liberty was noted in the May 24 issue of the Daily.

The Alki Theatre was still in operation at least as late as 1963, when it was advertised in the August 8 issue of The News-Standard published in nearby Coulee City.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Telenews Theatre on Sep 14, 2017 at 10:10 pm

The May 1, 1954, issue of Boxoffice ran a brief item noting that the Oakland Telenews Theatre had been renamed the Globe Theatre, reflecting its change from a newsreel house to feature films, which had taken place in December, 1953. The theater was still owned and operated by Telemanagement, the company that operated the Telenews circuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:51 pm

The issue of the Rome Daily Sentinel published on December 8, 1928, two days before the opening of the Capitol, included an article about the Kallet Theatre chain (PDF here.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:43 pm

The caption of a (rather dark and blurry) photo of the Strand in the August 1, 1970, issue of the Rome Daily Sentinel (PDF here) says that the building was demolished in 1964.

The bulk of the page is a reprint of an interesting 1928 article about Rome’s theaters, but the article is incomplete, and I’ve been unable to find the subsequent page on which it continues. The archive from which it comes may be incomplete itself.