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Dave Kenney’s Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing lists a house called the Elite Theatre operating at 2517 27th Avenue S. from 1912 to 1929, and lists the Metro Theatre at 2519 27th Ave. S. from 1931 to 1952. He doesn’t list them as aka’s for each other (he usually does list aka’s), so, if he’s correct, the Elite must have been demolished to make way for the Metro rather than being remodeled to become the Metro. That seems quite an extravagance for economically depressed 1931, though. The roof on the Metro’s auditorium section is of a sort that might have been built in either period, so it offers no clue.
Dave Kenney’s Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing lists two houses called the Lyndale Theatre: this one, and one at 624 20th Avenue N., which he says operated from 1910 to 1913. I believe that the street name was changed at some point, and the modern address of the first Lyndale Theatre would be 624 W. Broadway Avenue. This site would be a few doors east of N. Lyndale Avenue, so the theater’s name would be plausible.
Dave Kenney’s Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing does list two locations for the Elite Theatre, and one of them is 2934 Lyndale Avenue South. Kenney says that this house operated from 1911 to 1915, but an item in Construction News of December 26, 1914, said that the foundation work for a new theater at 2932 S. Lyndale Avenue had been completed.
The Lyndale Theatre occupies the modern addresses 2932-2934, so if the Elite was on the same site it had been closed and demolished by late 1914. It’s also possible that it was on an adjacent lot and the addresses have drifted a bit over the years. Either way it was gone by 1916, but apparently it did really exist.
Kenney also lists the Elite at 2517 27th Avenue S., operating from 1912 to 1929.
Also, this theater has not been demolished. It still shows up in Google street view at its correct address of 2932 Lyndale Avenue South.
The foundation was in for the theater being built at 2932 Lyndale Avenue, according to an item in the December 26, 1914, issue of Construction News. The $31,000 project for the Calhoun Theater Co. had been designed by architect A.L. Garlough.
So it was definitely at 393 Selby by 1926, and probably before 1917 when it was renamed the Rialto.
The De Luxe Theatre probably went into operation in 1915. A Mr. Graham of the De Luxe Theatre in St. Paul was mentioned in the February 19, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World.
The issuing of the construction permit for the De Luxe Theatre, located on Maria Avenue between Third and Conway Streets and owned by C. L. Graham, was reported in the October 24, 1914, issue of The Construction News. The architect for the project was F. H. Ellerbe.
The firm Franklin Ellerbe founded at St. Paul in 1909 is, after a few name changes and mergers, still in operation as AECOM.
A number of American cities had theaters called the Blue Mouse, though the name was most common in the Pacific Northwest, where John Hamrick opened several. I’ve seen speculation that the name originated with a cabaret in Paris, but it is far more likely that all were named for a once-popular play of the name.
Originally written in German by playwrights Engel and Horst, The Blue Mouse was adapted for English-speaking audiences around 1908 by the popular American dramatist Clyde Fitch. Both Fitch and the play (which was considered quite scandalous in its day) are largely forgotten, but there is still a Blue Mouse Theatre in operation at Tacoma, Washington.
The Gem Theatre must have been at the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Smith Avenue. Part of a large community center operated by the Salvation Army, which uses the address 401 W. Seventh, now occupies the site of the Gem. The City of St. Paul allows block numbers to change anywhere along a block instead of only at intersections.
The Tacoma Public Library doesn’t provide permlinks for photos, so I don’t know if this will work, but if it does this photo should show the Colonial Theatre in 1920.
Two sources, a list of theaters in the 1915 St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press Almanac and Yearbook and a list in Dave Kenney’s book Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing both give the address of this Gem Theatre (the second of three St.Paul houses to use the name) as 18 E. Seventh Street. The Penny Parlor/Alhambra/Cameo Theatre was at 16 E. Seventh and the Blue Mouse Theatre was at 20 E. Seventh. This photo, looking east along 7th Street toward Cedar Street, probably in the late 1910s, shows the three adjacent theaters, with the Gem in the middle.
Given a choice between a directory published by the local newspaper and the listings in the FDY I’d usually go with the local directory, but in this case, as we have only the 1915 directory available, it remains possible that the Elk Theatre opened in a storefront at 392 Selby and then moved to a new location across the street after that directory was published.
As the Beaux Arts operated into the 1950s it’s also possible that there is still somebody around who remembers it, and will eventually find this page and confirm the theater’s location.
This house was actually called the Blue Mouse Theatre. It operated at 20 E. Seventh Street from 1914 to 1922, according to Dave Kenney’s Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing.
The February 19, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Calhoun Theatre had reopened on January 29 after being closed for an expansion. The project had almost doubled the seating capacity of the house to 1,430. The Calhoun had originally opened eight months earlier. Satellite View does show that the current building is considerably deeper than the building shown on the original floor plans which can be seen on our “Photos” page.
The February 19, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World noted that the new Majestic Theatre in Wyandotte had been designed by Detroit architect Christian W. Brandt.
Dave Kenney’s Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing (Google Books preview) lists the Cozy/Tuxedo/Gem Theatre at 389 W. Seventh Street. The Cozy is listed at that address in the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press Almanac and Yearbook for 1915 (Google Books scan) as well.
The St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press Almanac and Yearbook for 1915 (Google Books scan) lists the Elk Theatre at 392 Selby Avenue. I don’t know if that means the theater moved across the street at some point, the street was renumbered, or the Almanac made a mistake. The even-numbered side of the block has a building built in 1887 and a modern building, and I don’t know which would have the address 392.
This is the same theater already listed as the Beaux Arts.
Google Maps provides no street view for the Morris Theatre’s location, but Bing Maps has a decent Bird’s Eye View.
This history page at the Park Theatre web site says that the Jennings Theatre opened on October 4, 1916.
Construction had actually begun in 1913, and the house was to have been operated by the Switow Amusement Company of Louisville, Kentucky, but financial problems caused the suspension of the project when it was only partly completed. In 1916, a local company was formed to take over the project and finish it.
The North Vernon Amusement Company operated the Jennings Theatre until 1938, when it was leased to Albert Thompson, who renamed the house the Park Theatre. Howard Black took over the theater in 1960, but it was closed in March, 1962.
In 1997, local volunteers formed Park Theatre Civic Inc., bought the theater building for $35,000, and set about renovating it. The Park Theatre Civic Centre opened in 2003.
The May 12, 1916, issue of The American Contractor carried this item about the theater project:
“North Vernon, Ind.—Moving Picture Theater, Store & Club Bldg.: $25,000. 2 sty. 65x150. Archt J. H. Miller. Owner North Vernon Amusement Co.. R. H. Hudson, secy. Gen. contr. let to J. H. Miller.”
There is a tantalizing item in the “Building Operations” column of the July 15, 1905, issue of The Minneapolis Journal:
Charles S. Sedgwick, architect, is preparing plans for a two-story store and office building at Glenwood, Minn for J. H. McCauley. It will be 68x115, with pressed brick front operahouse.“
The only other connection between Sedgwick and Glenwood I’ve found is a 1902 item inviting bids for construction of a two-story brick commercial and office building at Glenwood that was designed by Sedgwick. That project might have been the McCauley Block, another building McCauley owned in Glenwood.
Here is a 1987 photo of the McCauley Opera House/Glenwood Theatre at Glenwood, Minnesota. The 1935 FDY lists the Opera House in Glenwood as part of the small regional theater circuit operated by B. J. Benfield (spelled Benefield in the book) which was headquartered in the Strand Theatre at Morris, Minnesota.
The McCauley Opera House was built by James H. McCauley, who was, among other things, vice president and cashier of the Glenwood State Bank. The Opera House was opened in 1906, an event that was noted in the February 6 edition of The Minneapolis Journal.
McCauley also built another Glennwood landmark, the Lakeside Ballroom, which opened in 1909 and operated until being destroyed by a fire in 2003.
This page at the Morris Theatre’s web site says that the Orpheum opened in 1912, and competed with the Strand into the mid-1920s, but then both houses were bought by B. J. Benfield and the Orpheum was shuttered.
Although the Orpheum ceased to operate as a full-time movie theater at that time, a local resident remembers it being used occasionally through the 1930s for traveling shows, local live events, and what he called “cowboy shows,” which took place on Saturdays and for which admission was ten cents.
I presume that “cowboy shows” means western movies. Larger towns often had a full-time theater that specialized in westerns, or westerns and adventure moves, while the town’s “A” house offered more varied fare. Morris was probably just too small to support two full-time theaters, but large enough to have both houses open on Saturday when the farmers and residents of smaller outlying settlements came into town.
I now think it very likely that the 1935 FDY entry I cited in my previous comment was already out-of-date. The same entry appears in the “Circuits” section of the 1950 yearbook, even though the only house in Morris listed in the “Theatres” section that year is the Morris Theatre. Local sources in Morris say that the Orpheum was shuttered in the mid-1920s and the Strand closed when the Morris Theatre opened in 1940.
Also, the FDY almost always gives the owner’s name as Benefield, while local sources (and at least one item in a rival trade journal) use Benfield. I suspect that this is a case where the FDY failed to update its listings, this time for at least a decade, as well as repeating a misspelling year after year.
I can find no evidence that B. J. Benfield was actually trained as an architect. In fact Benfield (or Benefield, as his name was usually spelled in the Film Daily Yearbook) was the owner of the Morris Theatre, and had previously owned the Strand and Orpheum Theatres in Morris as well as several theaters in other small Minnesota towns. It’s quite possible that he designed the Morris Theatre, as exhibitors did occasionally design theaters for themselves, but he probably had to have hired a licensed architect or engineer to draw up the plans.