Showing 226 - 250 of 271 comments
Superb info on the Fox and Orpheum.
Yes, that line was great to see again. We had this happen when the organ was restored in 1994; when Tom Hazleton returned home to Monterey. It happened again in 1996 when we presented the original “Phantom of the Opera” silent with Dennis James accompanying. Of course, the auditorium held only 700 people then.
No, I was not at the organ. I am not comfortable playing theatre organ music in public. The organist was John Christopher who lives in Monterey and teaches at the music store where Abinante’s used to be.
I do not know about the ticket situation for “Grease”. I would call the theatre (831) 372-4556 for info.
The organ will be used as pre-show music for the entire run of classic films over the next several weeks.
“Gone With the Wind” was a great success! It was a trip to see the theatre filled with nearly 1000 people again. The balcony had the largest group of people in it for the first time in 29 years. The projection was first rate, the sound was superb, and it was great to hear the public response to the Wurlitzer roaring away. Even with a capacity audience, the room’s acoustic did not change and remained bright, live, and totally natural.
“Progress” is not always good. The loss of the Waikiki proves once again when these palaces go, a singularly unique bit of architecture is lost forever.
I feel fortunate to have seen the theatre once; in 1980.
The Robert-Morton organ was legendary in the hands of the late Johnny DeMello. At least the organ will live on (sort of) with the Morton organs in the Hawaii Theatre Honolulu and the Palace Theatre in Hilo.
Back in the mid-late 1960s, the Dick Weber family installed a large 3 manual 20 rank Wurlitzer in the Strand. The organ was Wurlitzer opus 1196, a style 260 special (plus additions). This was not the Strand’s original organ. This organ, along with the Dick Weber family, was featured in an issue of Theatre Organ Bombarde journal circa 1967.
The family eventually moved the organ to a pizza parlor in Marietta, GA around 1977. It did not last long and the business and organ were scattered to the winds. I have no idea what became of the organ.
I have never heard that Odeon was ever in Fresno. The Barton Opera House was later renamed the Hippodrome. This old building was torn down and replaced in 1928 with the Sequoia/State/Towne Cinema. The Kinema Theatre was involved with the Kinema/Criterion Theatre in LA. Without looking it up, I think the Fresno Kinema opened in 1914.
One unusual facet of the Kinema was that it had a 5 manual 12 rank Robert Morton pipe organ installed in 1921.
I have never heard of the Odeon-Keith. Keith-Orpheum was a more likely name. I do not know of a Fresno theatre that was affiliated with Keith-Orpheum either. The Fresno Warnor’s Theatre was originally built as the Pantages Theatre in 1928.
And yes, I said I own the Wurlitzer from the Parkside and this organ IS installed in the Golden State Theatre in Monterey. Hopefully this will clarify statements above regarding the organ.
The architects for the Parkside was a firm known as Clausen and Amandes. One of them had been an associate of the Reids, but the Parkside was not a Reid house.
The Parkside was far from a copy of the Reids' Golden State in Monterey or the Fairfax in Oakland, but there are certain similarities. I have large chunks of plaster that I lifted out of the Parkside’s gutting in 1996. These were from the remains of the long covered-over organ screens. Since I own the Wurlitzer from the Parkside, I wanted some piece of the original plaster organ screen.
Thankfully I was able to break into the destruction zone without notice! Not-too-curiously, the colors that were part of the Parkside’s organ screens, bear no resemblance to the Monterey Golden State screens.
The Robert-Morton organ once in the Alhambra Theatre was removed in the early 1960s and installed in a Baptist church in Stockton, 40 miles south of Sacramento.
Around 1992, the church put the organ up for sale. The organ was totally restored and now resides in the Kautz Ironstone Winery in the Sierra town of Murphys, CA.
The organ was originally 11 ranks and is now 15 ranks, installed in the winery in 1994. The organ is played regularly for tours and concerts.
Even though Gary has pretty well said everything above, the lobby of the Monterey Golden State Theatre is magnificently restored thanks to the efforts of Evergreene. Our lobby started a sudden and dramatic self-destruction last December. You would never know anything was ever wrong with the space. I cannot speak highly enough of the work Jackie and Walter did on this.
What was particularly appreciated was the total lack of “attitude” on behalf of the workers. They were very helpful in many different
facets of the painting work for the volunteers on the Golden State project. I cannot speak highly enough of the efforts of the Evergreen folks.
Error! I was NOT in the Indiana in 1977! I was in the theatre in July of 1972 while the house was still in operation. The organ was removed in 1977 or so.
Cheers to John Lauter’s remarks above. I took a self-guided tour of the Indiana (with the blessings of the manager)in 1977. The Barton organ was still in-place. The magnificent auditorium was intact save for the obese Cinerama screen chewing up the front of the auditorium (and its three booths).
Thankfully citizens in Indianapolis raised holy terror when it was discovered what IRT was about to do to the Indiana. An organization called STOPS (Save the ornamental plaster) at least managed to get most of the auditorium plaster saved.
I was again in the theatre a few years ago during an ATOS Convention in Indianapolis. The lobby and ballroom are magnificent. The one-of-a-kind auditorium is a ghost of its former self. The auditorium'sorgan screens and urns are painted flat black and reside in what is now a back stage area. The original stage is used for stage shops.
Perhaps Mr. Arland does disagree with what John Lauter said above. And quite likely, as a 3200 seat theatre, the Indiana might have been too large for what was going to be going on in its future, but what a crime the “flavor” of the original auditorium could not have been left alone—even if the original balcony was removed.
I was so glad to be able to see the Indiana before the butcher’s knife was taken to the auditorium. In 1930 or so, my father saw Phil Harris perform on the Indiana’s once large stage. That was an experience he never forgot.
I will never forget the experience of being taken on a tour of this theatre circa 2001 and being greatly saddened to the lack of interest in preserving the auditorium other than leaving the remnants of ornamental plaster sticking up here and there. I guess we should be happy for that. Perhaps someday, IRT will want a new shining steel and glass structure, leaving the Indiana and perhaps allowing the Indiana to be restored to what it once was a give the downtown a restored gem in keeping with its lobby and ballroom.
The White Theatre stood next to the somewhat still-standing Hotel Fresno. The theatre had a retrofit 2 manual 4 rank Wurlitzer that came from the Fresno Hippodrome (nee Barton Opera House)that was installed in a swellbox on-stage. When the organ was removed in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the piano-console with roll player was found resting on its back in the orchestra pit. THe organ still exists, but has not played a note since it was removed from the White Theatre. The organ is owned by a Northern California musical instrument collector. (Point of fact, the next door Hotel Fresno also contained a 2 manual 5 rank Wurlitzer installed in the hotel lobby. Fo many years this organ was in a Bay Area home. It has since been split up for parts. Some of the organ is in storage in the Bay Area.)
The Kinema had one of three 5 manual pipe organs built by the Robert-Morton Company of Van Nuys. A photo of this console exists in Vol. II of Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ by David L. Junchen.
The organ comprised 11 ranks. The top two manuals were mainly for show and played only via coupler stops from the lower three manuals.
The organ was supposed to be installed in Fresno High School Auditorium in the 1930s, but this did not take place. Supposedly the organ went to Berkeley, CA. The organ has never been heard of again so it presumably was junked.
I too, have never heard that the Kinema was ever called the Rivoli.
Photos of the Kinema exterior are shown through its years in the Claude “Pop” Laval books on Fresno and Valley history.
This theatre had a 2 manual 4 rank Wurlitzer style B organ. This little instrument was a read oddball in that it was a “divided” instrument. In larger instruments, it was not uncommon to have the organ’s pipes placed on both side of the proscenium.
However, this tiny little organ was also divided with 3 ranks of pipes (Flute, Diapason, Salicional) in the left loft. The right loft contained 1 rank of pipes (Vox Humana) and all percussions.
The console and relay of the Temple organ still exist, playing the Wurlitzer organ from the San Luis Obispo, CA Elmo Theatre (moved to the Obispo Theatre in 1930) in St. Mary’s Church Visalia, CA.
This theatre is now closed.
More minutia dept. Yes, since 1926, the baseboard colors appear to have been the original light terra cotta, then the forest green (probably the 1934 redecoration), rust red, yellow, ivory, neon green, green, and now back to the likely 1934 forest green.
It was also discovered that several rough plaster ceiling surfaces were applied with an Ebersonian sponged-on maze of light blue, rust, brown, gold, and Lord knows what else.
All of the original stencils and painted surfaces were done by the Fagioni Studios of San Francisco. As of this point, it is not known what company did the original, spectacular, lobby celing painting.
Evergreene Studios of New York is to be commended for the wonderful work they did to bring this space back to “life”. Thanks Jackie and Walter!
The original 3 manual 10 rank Wurlitzer is in the Downers Grove High School in Downers Grove, IL. The organ has been there since the late 1960s. Page Pipe Organs were also built in Lima.
The Regency (ex Strand/Rio) Theatre directly across from the State is around +300 seats and is managed from the State team. The theatre is vastly better under the new management than it was under the earlier chain-owned situation.
The MIIS is a nice concert/lecture hall environemnt, but I have never heard of any films being shown there.
I suggest you contact the theatre at 831/372-3800 or 831/372-4556.
Ask for Matt.
I could not agree more with “Mr 50s” more. It is more and more interesting each day as the balcony opens back up to its original size. The room acoustic ain’t too bad either! The organ really likes having more space to speak into.
I do hope the city of Monterey, et al, realizes what a bargain this is for the community at-large.
The theatre very nearly was trashed by a plan from a group in 2001 that would have cut holes thru walls in the lobby, added ADA restrooms in spaces that would have required re-spacing the lobby stairs (and ruined the original iron-work along the stairs), destroyed the backstage, cut holes thru walls to the mezzanine that would have obliterated original wall sconces, etc. Yes, the city is lucky in more ways than one, to say nothing of the historic State Theatre being saved from unsympathetic architectural “improvers”.
You should come over to Monterey and see what is happening with the Golden State Theatre there. That theatre has been privately purchased and is in the middle of a major restoration as I write this. Shame on the City of Silliness for not getting its “act” together!
Tom DeLay (no, NOT the erstwhile Congressman!)
The old single screen, the 1917 Strand/Rio/Regency/State IV will probably remain a theatre for the time being. I have heard many different proposals for the space, most of which lean toward keeping the theatre for now. The building is to undergo massive renovation in the spaces above the theatre. There is virtually nothing left of the 1917 theatre interior save for some water damaged stencils above the mirror in the lobby.
Sadly, preservation efforts have failed on the Salinas Fox. The organ is being removed and the property is for sale. The owners have been more than willing to string the theatre along to try and save the place. At ever opportunity, the City tried to place restrictions on the theatre’s use. The City has bordered on abusive until a local attorney set the City “right”. Regarless, other investors want to be rid of the structure.
The City of Silliness seems to be unable to save any historic structures. The City of Silliness needs to have a strong slap in their collective faces for NOT stepping forward to preserve this theatre. The city is continually financially strapped, but they have plenty of money to over-pay the gobs of do-nothings in City Hall. Now the city is threatening to close the libraries in this cow town. How could one expect such an overpaid city staff to ever preserve a structure such as the Fox?
As I have said for years about this town I live in, “If it does not involve a horse, cow, or head of lettuce, no one pays any attention”.
I would love for this place to prove me wrong!
When the theatre was still known as Brown’s Opera House, there was a photo taken from the balcony. The orchestra pit was rimmed by what looked like a brass pipe. An upright piano was in the pit’s center. To the immediate left and right of the stage were large box
seats with what looks to be plaster organ pipes above and behind.
The square opening of the proscenium had a large keystone at the dead center of the arch.
When the theatre was demolished, the footlights were still in place.
I was in the theatre circa 1975/76. There was not much left other than the large Phoenix on the ceiling. The box seats and plaster grills (?) were scraped out as was the orchestra pit. It is known that the theatre had some sort of an organ—two windline holes went through the pit wall of about 4" and about 2". This would indicate that theatre might have had a style 45 American Fotoplayer organ as the pit piano and swell boxes used windline sizes of 4" and 2".
In the poor light in 1975/76, it looked like all the walls had been
scraped clean. The side walls toward the balcony had some sort of fabric painted the same color as the auditorium (white as I recall).
When the theatre was demolished a year ago, stenciled walls came into view behind the rotted fabric. These stencils are still visible on the north side wall common with the building next door.
The new 14 plex is under construction and will, in time cover up these stencils. The outline of the former balcony is also visible on this wall.
I understand the facade WAS to have remained. When this facade was demolished, a major project investor pulled out in disgust over the facade destruction.
The proscenium arch WAS NOT lined with exposed light bulbs as I mentioned in an earlier posting. The walls/columns of the arch appeared to be wood. The exposed light bulbs were on a movable frame that outlined the picture sheet.
I took many digtal photos of the Crystal’s destruction.