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The March 11, 1922, issue of the Daily Reporter has advertisements for the Beldorf, Best, and Quality Theatres, so the Best and Quality had to have been different houses at that time.
The November 27, 1911, issue of The Evening Star gives the address of the Snark Theatre as 107 North Pennsylvania, and the July 28, 1921, issue of the Independence Daily Reporter, cited in my previous comment, is explicit that the Snark Theatre was to be renamed the Best Theatre.
The NRHP registration form for the Independence Downtown Historic District (dated 1990: PDF here) says this about the building at 107 N.Pennsylvania:
“107 North Penn., was a dry goods and shoe
store in 1890, a jewelry store (1902), and a drug store (1905). From 1910 until 1939, the property was a
motion picture theater; it was known as the Best Theater from 1922 until 1939. The current owner is
Karen Rankin who runs a clothing retail business out of the first floor.”
The NRHP form also mentions the Airdome, at 314-316 N. Pennsylvania from 1910 to 1920; an upstairs theater at 109 S. Pennsylvania known variously as the Lyric (1908), Star (1911), and Empress(1912); the Joy, operating at 11 E.Man Street in 1911; a theater with no name or date given but which operated at 117 W. Main; the Vaudette Theatre at 114 W. Main in 1908; and, of course, the Booth Theatre. The form doesn’t mention the original Best/Quality, which probably means that its building has been demolished.
What seems most likely is that the operators of the Best Theatre took over the Snark and renamed it the Best when their five year lease on their original location ran out in 1921, and then the owners of the original Best building leased it to new operators who reopened it as the Quality later that year.
An article in the July 28, 1921, issue of the Independence Daily Reporter provides some clarification of the history of the theater at 107 N. Pennsylvania Avenue. It said that the Snark Theatre, after some remodeling, would become the Best Theatre. The Snark had opened in 1909, and one of its original owner/operators, was Martin Johnson, a friend of writer Jack London, with whom he had sailed.
Johnson named the theater for London’s boat, soon to become famous with the publication in 1911 of his book The Cruise of the Snark. Johnson did not remain long in Independence, but within two years had returned to his career as an adventurer and documentary filmmaker.
The October 22, 1909, issue of the Independence Evening Star said that the new Snark Theatre would soon open in Charles Kerr’s commercial building, which had been extended to 110 feet. The seating area of the new theater, accommodating 400, would be 85 feet long.
The name Quality Theatre first appears in the Daily Reporter in late 1921. What I haven’t been able to determine is if it was the Snark/Best at 107 Pennsylvania that became the Quality, or if the Quality was the original Best Theatre, which had opened in 1916, reopened under a new name. I haven’t been able to find the address of the original Best Theatre.
Interestingly, the December 27, 1910, issue of the Daily Reporter has advertisements for five theaters: The Beldorf, the Snark, the Cozy, the Star, and the Joy.
Also interesting, there is a Snark Theatre today in The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum at Chanute, Kansas.
The Yearbook was not always kept up to date. It’s quite possible the building was demolished in 1940.
If the building the Best was in had earlier housed the Snark Theatre, then there was a later Snark as well. The December 24, 1917, issue of the Independence Daily Reporter advertises both the Best and the Snark.
The Best’s ad uses the tagline “Home of the Photo Pipe Organ,” which suggests that the house had one of the semi-automated players that could be operated by someone without musical training, such as the American Fotoplayer, the Reproduco, or the Bartola.
crogg: The date of the fire came from the NRHP REgistration Form for the second Merced Theatre. A section of it deals with the history of the Golden State Theatre Company, and that’s where the brief bit of information about the first Merced Theatre can be found.
Here is a link to a PDF of the Registration Form.
This article by Sarah Lim, museum director for the Merced County Courthouse Museum, appeared in the September 4, 2015, issue of the Merced Sun-Star and contains a bit more information about the original Merced Theatre. It gives the opening date as March 4, 1920 (the first performance was a live operetta rather than a movie) and says that the theater was destroyed by a fire in December, 1936.
A 1936 date for the final fire does not preclude the possibility of a fire in 1931 as well. Fires were a common hazard of theaters in those days, and many an early movie house suffered more than one in its history. In fact during the era of highly explosive nitrate film stock used in conjunction with intensely hot carbon arc projector lamps, it would be difficult to find a theater that didn’t suffer at least one projection booth fire.
The Broad Street Theatre was designed by J.B. McElfatrick & Son for the Pittston Opera House Company.
DocSouth’s “Going to the Show” lists the Liberty Theatre at the address 427-429 North Liberty from 1912 to 1915. It lists the Paramount Theatre at 429 N. Liberty from 1916 to 1919 (I’ve found the Paramount mentioned in the local newspapers in 1915.) It then lists the Broadway Theatre at 429 N. Liberty from 1920 to 1926 (there’s an ad for the Broadway, dating from early 1919, displayed on this web page.)
It seems increasingly likely that the Liberty/Paramount/Broadway Theatre was the same house that became the Colonial and finally the Center. An article about the new Liberty Theatre, then under construction, appeared in the February 25, 1911, issue of the Winston-Salem Journal. The house was to have over 900 seats, with 510 on the main floor, more than 300 in the balcony, and 100 seats in boxes. The project had been designed by a local architect, Willard Close Northup.
DocSouth’s “Going to the Show” lists the Lincoln Theatre as having been open by 1924. It lists the house as having had 300 seats in 1926 and 850 seats in 1930. As that’s a considerable expansion, I’m thinking it might have been done by adding one or two levels of balcony seating to a single-floor auditorium. Closing the upper balcony could then account for a later reduction to 640 seats.
I just noticed that DocSouth has two entries for the Lafayette. The one I linked previously lists the years of operation as 1920-1926 and this one lists 1926-1933. The second page gives a seating capacity of 300, but no address, while the first one lists an address but gives no seating capacity.
DocSouth’s “Going to the Show” lists the Lafayette Theatre at 108 E. Fourth Street, and has it in operation by 1920. The house was mentioned frequently in both the Winston-Salem Journal and The Twin-City Daily Sentinel in the early 1920s. The April 25, 1921, issue of the latter paper mentioned a movie being presented at the Pilot Theatre that evening which would also “…be shown at the LaFayette theatre for colored people tomorrow.”
One of the photos accompanying this article about Winston-Salem’s early movie theaters depicts the Pilot Theatre (click on third thumbnail.)
This article about Winston-Salem’s early movie theaters says that the Lyric opened in 1909 and became the Amuzu Theatre in 1910.
ThePossum: If you check my first comment on the Cinema Treasures page for the Hollywood Theatre you’ll find links to sources that document the history of the theater at 411 N. Liberty Street as having been the Elmont Theatre from 1912 until 1927, the Ideal Theatre from 1927 to 1934, and the Hollywood Theatre from 1934 until its destruction by fire in 1948.
I still suspect that the Broadway, listed at 429 Liberty in the 1926 theater list I posted earlier, was the predecessor of the Colonial, at 427 Liberty. The only thing I haven’t been able to discover is if the Broadway was simply remodeled to become the Colonial or if it was demolished and replaced by a new building for the Colonial.
This short-lived multiplex was dismantled in 2012 and converted into a warehouse store for Restaurant Equippers, a wholesale-retail restaurant supply company. See this article at philly.com.
Both Hoyts Pennsauken and Loews Cherry Hill opened on December 18, 1998, and Philly.com reported in an article posted on October 17, 2002, that Hoyts had been closed, so this house operated for less than four years. All the remaining American operations of Hoyts Cinemas, an Australian company, were taken over by Regal in 2004.
In 1955, the Liberty was the only movie house operating in Vermilion, according to an ad in the June 21 issue of The Lorain Journal. The house was operated by Zegiob Theaters Inc., a local chain also operating the Dreamland and Pearl Theatres in Loraine. The ad noted that, in recent years, the Liberty’s seating capacity had been doubled to 500.
An ad for Zegiob Theatres Inc., operators of the Dreamland and Pearl Theatres in Lorain and the Liberty Theatre in Vermilion, appeared in the June 21, 1955, issue of The Lorain Journal. It said that the Dreamland Theatre had been in operation since 1917 and had recently installed a wide screen, new projection equipment, and air conditioning.
A timeline of Lorain history said that the Dreamland suffered a major fire on August 18, 1947, and was reopened on April 7, 1948.
The Cleveland Architects Database (large pdf file here) lists an Ivanhoe Square Block and Theatre, 16341-7 Euclid Avenue, East Cleveland, as a 1926 project of architect Frank Wooster Bail. The storefronts in the three-story theater building as seen in Google street view run from 16345 to 16357, and I can’t explain the address discrepancy. This is the place, though, as we’ve got the vintage photo showing it.
This item from the February 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor indicates that some contracts had been let for a movie theater at Madison and Ridgewood Avenues by that date:
“Motion Picture Theater & Store Bldg. (seating 756 & 2 stores): 1 sty. & bas. 52x133. $20M. Madison & Ridgewood avs. Archt. Henry Hradilek, 1001 Illuminating bldg. Owner J. H. Brown, care archt. Brk., stone trim, re. cone. Mas., re. cone. & cement work let to C. N. Griffen Co., 3111 Carnegie av. Struct, steel let to T. H. Brooks Co., 3104 Lakeside av. Ptg. let to Moskopp Bros. & Co., 5706 Broadway.”
I don’t believe this has been linked yet. This post from Hidden City Philadelphia has several photos of the Logan showing the interior renovations as of 2012, most of them paired with vintage 1924 photos of the same scenes.
The text notes that Dr. Williamson bought the Logan in 2005. The church which had moved into the house in 1973 had moved out in 1992, and much damage had been done during the years the building was vacant. The Logan Theatre closed as a movie house in 1972.
The Rockland Theatre should be listed in the Logan-Fern Rock neighborhood, along with the nearby Logan and Broad Theatres (all of them in a three-block stretch of Broad Street) instead of Germantown, which is some distance west.
The original Logan Theatre probably opened in 1913, and the 1915 project that I mistook for evidence of a delay in construction was in fact an expansion of the already-operating house. This clarifying item comes from the January 23, 1915, issue of Motography:
“Plans have been completed by M. Haupt for alterations and the erection of a one-story addition, 50x150 feet, to the moving picture theater at 4817 North Broad street, Philadelphia, for the Logan Amusement Company.”
The Rockland Theatre opened in 1915, not 1914. Here is an item announcing the status of the project in the February 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:
“Theater & Stores: 1 sty. & bas. 50x175. $30M. Broad & Rockland sts. Archt. Albert F. Schenck, Real Estate Trust bldg. Owner Clarence Shilcock, Broad & Westmoreland sts. Brk. Up to roof. Bldr. Freund-Seidenback Co., Bulletin bldg. Ptg. let to Potteiger & Hainley, 1829 Filbert st. Rf. to McFarland-Meade Co., 46th & Woodland av. Plmg. & htg. to Gray & Dormer, 1729 Columbia av.”
I believe that the remodeled building Frank Albrecht mentioned is indeed the former Hillcrest Theatre. It is currently occupied by businesses called Diamond Design Construction (probably offices, located at the rear of the building but with a narrow entrance at the street) and Tamara’s Spa Salon & Hair Studio. Their addresses are, respectively, 2503A and 2503 Peach Street, so the theater’s address was probably 2503.
2505 is a vacant lot, which judging from the fenestration in the building across it from the theater’s site was always there. The detail around the windows indicates that they are original to the building, and the building looks to have been built no later than the 1920s.
The former theater building has a side entrance near the rear onto the vacant lot, and it is at a lower level than the front entrances, indicating that the building floor sloped downward at one time. The entrance tot he construction company’s offices probably slopes downward. Entirely new construction would be unlikely to be built on two levels like that, so this probably is the old theater building remodeled.
Hurstpacman’s revelation that Mr. Guerrein’s residence was at 2509 Peach is confirmed by the notice in the February 20, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:
“Picture Theater: $6M. Peach st., nr. 25th. Private plans. Owner Leo. Guerrein, 2509 Peach st. Excavating. Brk. Gen. contr. let to Deutsch & Dudenhoefer.”
Both Bell’s Opera House and the Orpheum Theatre at Hillsboro were mentioned in an item in the December 12, 1908, issue of The Moving Picture World:
“Hillsboro, Ohio.—The Bell Opera House, which only opened with moving pictures on Thanksgiving, reports good business. Only high-class pictures are shown and highclass vaudeville.
“The Orpheum Theater has discarded the old style folding chairs and installed comfortable metal frame high back opera chairs.”
“The Orpheum Theater has discarded the old style folding chairs and installed comfortable metal frame high back opera chairs.”
Here is a reminiscence about the Wabash Theatre written by former projectionist W.F. Werzner. The theater is presumably still intact and usable, as it was the venue for a variety and talent show, part of the annual Grayville Days event, as recently as September 3 last year, and for a town-wide church service the following Sunday.