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Film historian Mary Mallory, writing at Larry Harnisch’s weblog The Daily Mirror, has posted as part of her “Hollywood Heights” series a long (and very interesting) article about art director and costume designer Max Rée in which she mentions in passing that he was responsible (apparently sometime around 1930) for upgrading and redecorating the Mason Theatre.
Rée, who trained as an architect, was one of the movie set designers who had considerable influence on architecture and design in general during the period. Photos of the Mason’s interior from the 1930s must show Rée’s work.
Unfortunately many of the links posted in earlier comments on this theater have gone dead, but fortunately many of the photos they displayed have been preserved at Bill Counter’s Historic Los Angeles Theatres web site, and can be found on his Mason Theatre page.
Thanks, Chris. I must have misspelled Washington when I searched for the theater.
DavidDymond is thinking of the King Square Cinema (singular) which was called the Odeon from 1966 to 1984. It was the King Square Cinema from 1984 until closing in 1996. The Paramount, renamed Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 in 1979, must have been renamed Kings Square Cinemas after the other house closed.
I wonder if this might have been the same house later known as the Washington Theatre and Airdome? It was mentioned in the October 12, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World, which said: “BELLEVILLE, ILL- Arthur Esberg has taken over the management of Washington Theatre and Airdome.” Belleville also once had an airdome called the Lyric.
The Princess Theatre in Ottumwa was also mentioned in the August, 1918, issue of Theatre Magazine, so it predated the Benson Block by several years.
The December, 1909, issue of The Reporter, a trade publication for the granite and marble industries, said that following the annual meeting of the Hardwick Granite Manufacturers Association, the crowd was entertained with movies and music at the Idle Hour Theatre, courtesy of the owner of the house, George H. Bailey.
This walking tour of Waterbury says that the Opera House, which later became the town’s first movie theater, was on the site now occupied by the American Legion post. The original building, built around 1890, burned down on December 27, 1985. The Legion post is at modern address 16 Stowe Street, so lots must have been renumbered at some point.
The Opera House in Waterbuty, Vermont, is on a list of theaters belonging to the American Motion Picture League that was published in the December 20, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World.
The tour page also says that in the 1930s and 1940s the town’s second movie house was in the Minard Block, now occupied by the Stowe Street Emporium, at 23 Stowe. It’s almost directly across the street from the Legion Post, so I would guess that lots on that side of the street didn’t get renumbered. The page doesn’t give the second theater’s name (it doesn’t mention the name Rialto either) but the house must have been listed in the FDY during that period.
I see that although the Garden is closed it still has a page on the Reynolds Theatres web site. The Palace in Elmwood is still operating. The Town Theatre in Chillicothe is still open, but is no longer operated by Reynolds Theatres. The Optimist Club in Chillicothe bought the Town and reopened it with digital equipment. Perhaps the Optimists or some other service club(s) in Canton could take a leaf from the Chillicothe Optimists and do the same thing with the Garden Theatre.
This house is now billed both on its own web site and on various movie listing sites as the Optimist Town Theatre. The name on the marquee has not been changed, but there is a decorative piece on the facade above the marquee bearing the Optimist International logo.
Both sides of the block are lined with tall, modern buildings, so the Regent has been demolished.
Architect J. Harry Randall practiced in his native St. Louis during the 1890s. Around 1901 he moved to Seattle, where he remained for a few years. By 1909 he had established his practice in Oklahoma City. There’s a hint that he might have moved to California by 1921, but I haven’t been able to find anything definite about that.
Architect J.Harry Randall practiced in St. Louis during the late 19th century. Around 1901-1904 he was working in Seattle, and by 1909 had established himself in Oklahoma City.
The news that J. Harry Randall had prepared plans for a $20,000 vaudeville theater at Oklahoma City for W. F. Burnell appeared in the August 7, 1909, issue of The Engineering Record. The house was in operation prior to October 17 that year, when the Oklahoma City Daily Pointer ran an article about various legal troubles Mr. Burnell had run into in connection with the Princess, Colonial, and Dixie Theatres, all three of which properties Burnell owned.
The Historic Toronto post robboehm referred to says that the St. Clair Theatre opened in 1921 and had been designed for the Allen circuit by the architectural firm of Hynes, Feldman & Watson. Design work began in 1919. James Patrick Hynes and Albert Edward Watson were the firm’s principals when this theater was completed. Isadore Feldman died suddenly of pneumonia in January, 1919, at the age of 32, though his name was retained as part of the firm’s name for some time thereafter.
I never saw the Colonial Theatre, nor have I seen photos of its interior, but it was a legitimate house built in the early 20th century and I’ve never come across any good-sized theaters with stages from that era that didn’t have boxes. It’s very unlikely that the Colonial would have been an exception to the rule. Boxes were typically the highest-priced seats in a house, as a lot of well-to-do customers preferred them.
Boxes were sometimes removed from old theaters that were extensively modernized for movies in the 1930s or later, and during the silent movie era the pair of boxes nearest the stage would in some cases have to be removed to accommodate pipes and an organ screen if a pipe organ was installed, but I don’t think the Colonial was ever extensively remodeled, so it probably kept at least some of its boxes even if it got an organ.
The site of the Fox 4 is now under the overpass which carries traffic from westbound 19th street to the southbound lanes of the Marsha Sharp Freeway. The ramp overpass was still under construction when some of the current Google street view shots were taken, so it’s pretty recent. Historic Aerials has views from 2012, 2004, and 1995. The theater and an adjacent motel closer to Quaker Avenue were both still standing in the 1995 view, but they are gone in the 2004 view.
Historic Aerials has changed its format for links and only provides for linking to Twitter now, so I don’t know if this link will work or not, but lets try it.
Scott: Your photo of this house at CinemaTour shows the building quite changed from the drawing in the grand opening ad Mike uploaded. The exterior was obviously remodeled at some point and its clean, Midcentury look was replaced by a portico with some of those rather retarditaire precast concrete columns with brackets that marred a lot of late (and decadent, to my eye) modern design.
The Buena Vista Tuscon, which was not designed by Pearson & Wuesthoff but by Charles “Bud” Magee, had that clumsy late modern look from the beginning (follow the links in this comment by rivest266), and the Tucson house must have been taken as the model for the later remodeling at the Lubbock and Amarillo houses.
Late in his career Bill Pereira adopted similar precast concrete elements for many of his designs, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Charles Magee worked in Pereira’s office for a while during that period, which may be where he picked up the style. I’ve always found it clunky and awkward, and I was terribly disappointed when Pereira, who in 1938 had shown his mastery of early modernism in designing the splendid Esquire Theatre in Chicago, began using a style so fussy and graceless.
Usually I hate to see theaters demolished, but I’d say that the people of Lubbock are fortunate that they don’t have to encounter this eyesore anymore- though naturally it would have been better if somebody had just stripped off the extraneous junk and restored Pearson & Wuesthoff’s original design.
northernparade: Just about everything I know about Jay English (and it isn’t much) is already in comments I’ve made on the Cinema Treasures pages for various theaters he designed (list here.) He was born in 1903 and died in 1947. He was for some time the chief designer for Odeon Theatres Canada, but had designed a few theater projects for other chains. The earliest projects listed on his page at the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada (see the first link in my previous comment) is dated 1937, and the first theaters are dated 1938. I’ve found nothing online about his earlier career, though I would imagine that he spent a decade or more as a draftsman or associate in some firm, perhaps even Kaplan & Sprachman.
Obituaries of English were undoubtedly published in newspapers (and probably in professional journals) in 1947, but I’ve found none online. There might be some behind paywalls at sites to which I don’t have access. An obituary would most likely give some details about his background and career, including the schools where he had studied and the firms where he had worked.
The best history of Odeon Theatres Canada that I’ve found online is an extensive article by Paul S. Moore in the Fall, 2003, issue of the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, which you can read in this PDF.
At the time English died he had about twenty unfinished theater projects on the boards. When Canadian Odeon’s parent company, the J. Arthur Rank Organization, sent Leslie Kemp to Toronto to oversee their completion by English’s staff (which was probably quite large) the amount of work left to be done on each of them would have varied quite a bit. The fact that the Odeon Port Arthur was given to Kaplan & Sprachman to complete, rather than Kemp and English’s staff, suggests that it might have been in a very early stage, and if so then Kaplan & Sprachman might have had a lot more to do with the finished design than English did. It’s a possibility that you might want to look into, though I can’t tell you where the information might be available. At this late date it might be impossible to find out.
The Springfield architectural firm Butler Rosenbury & Partners designed the 2011 renovation and expansion project for this theater. A thumbnail link to six photos of the Springfield 11 Cinemas can be found on the entertainment projects page of the firm’s web site.
The Gateway 12 in Mesa was designed by TK Architects. There is a slidshow with several photos here at the web site of Luke Draily Construction Co., the contractors.
This PDF of a document prepared for the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties has a fairly extensive history of the Emerson/Sands Theatre. It includes the information that the house opened on March 4, 1916. The house originally seated 360, with 300 seats on the main floor and 60 in a small balcony.
With the addition of a stage and the closing of the balcony in the early 1960s, plus subsequent re-seating with larger seats, the seating capacity of the house has been reduced to 226. The house was renamed the Sands Theatre in 1966.
The October 16, 1915, issue of The American Contractor had this item about the Emerson Theatre:
“Brush, Colo.—Theater: 2 sty. 40x 118. $6M. Archts. Baerresen Bros. 408 Chamber of Commerce bldg., Denver. Owner Mr. Emerson, Brush. Architects taking bids.”
Howard Hughes' production Hell’s Angels was released nationwide in late 1930, shortly before the La Nora opened, so this photo probably dates from early 1931 (I’d guess January or February, judging from the amount of snow on the ground.)
The November 20, 1915, issue of The Music Trade Review had this item which was probably about the Strand: “Willingham Tift will erect a new $8,000 moving picture theatre at Tifton.” Henry Tift founded Tifton as a site for his lumber mill in 1872, and the Tift family remained a force in the town’s economic life long after.
The November 20, 1915, issue of The Music Trade Review had an item about this theater:
“The Plaza Theatre Co., of Waterloo, has taken a lease on the Selzer building on Pierce street, in Sioux City, and will convert it into a high class moving picture house.”
I don’t know how much the exterior of the Selzer Building was altered in the conversion to a theater (probably very little,) but according to the records of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Company the original architect of the 1905 structure was Henry Fisher. I’ve been unable to discover the architect for the 1915-1916 conversion, but it would not have been Fisher, who retired in 1909.
Surprisingly, even without an address to work with Google Maps has put the pin icon for this theater almost exactly at its actual location. The seven-story building prominent in the vintage postcard Don Lewis provided is still standing at the northeast corner of Pierce and 4th Street, and the Theatre was in the second building south of 4th on the same side of Pierce. This block is now mostly parking lot, so we can mark the Plaza Theatre as demolished.
The Plaza Theatre would have been roughly across the street from the entrance of the modern Great Southern Bank building which uses the address 329 N.Pierce, so the theater’s address would probably have been approximately 330 N. Pierce (Google street view estimates the location as 351, but of course it exaggerates.)
Thanks, Ferretman. I see from Google’s satellite view that the entire block the theater was on is now a parking lot, but it looks like there aren’t many places nearby to go to once you’ve parked your car.
norfolk356: What is on the corner now (and extending along Boush Street all the way to College Place) is an enormous building called Harbor Heights. It has retail space on the Boush Street side of the ground floor, with fourteen floors condominiums and lofts above. The parking garage extends east along Tazewell about two thirds of the way to Granby Street, so the Colonial’s site must be under its footprint.
Chestnut Hill is an unincorporated village that is mostly inside the incorporated city of Newton, which is the part of it that the Showcase SuperLux is in. Newton contains all or parts of thirteen villages, but none of those villages are legal entities, just traditional names.
One part of the town of Brookline is also considered part of the village of Chestnut Hill, and Chestnut Hill also spills over into part of the city of Boston itself (parts of the Boston neighborhoods of West Roxbury and Brighton are considered part of the village Chestnut Hill.) Massachusetts is just kind of odd when it comes to place names (so is Pennsylvania, but that’s another story.) Things like that don’t happen in Iowa, by gosh!
Anyway, the Showcase SuperLux should probably be listed as being both in Newton (the incorporated city) and in Chestnut Hill (the unofficial but traditional neighborhood.) If any theaters ever open in the entirely unrelated Chestnut Hill neighborhoods of the Massachusetts towns of Blackstone or Belchertown, well, we’ll just have to figure out what to do about them then.