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Boxoffice of July 6, 1964, ran a two-page spread about the Eric Theatre in Fairless Hills (link which might or might not last, Boxoffice being an unreliable online presence.) The 1,400-seat house featured a 28x60-foot curved screen and a box office located in an enclosed storm lobby.
The project was designed by the King of Prussia-based architectural firm Brugger & Freeman (John T. Brugger, Jr. and David Dean Freeman) who also designed the King Theatre in King of Prussia, opened a few months earlier than the Eric.
Samuel Shapiro had operated both indoor and outdoor theaters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for some time, but had only recently formed the Sameric Company and was rapidly expanding his operations. The King Theatre was the first in his new chain, and the Fairless Hills house was the first location to have the name Eric Theatre.
lushwoodland: I don’t doubt that the original King Theatre was in a different building than the Queen Four, but the King could not have been a Jerry Lewis Cinema when it first opened. Mike Rivest has uploaded to this theater’s photo page the King Theatre’s grand opening ad from June 26, 1963, and the ad displays the company name, Sameric.
There is also the fact that the entry for King of Prussia architect David Dean Freeman in the 1970 edition of the AIA’s American Architects Directory lists the King Theatre as one of his projects (it is listed as a 1965 project, so that is either a typo- these are not unknown in books as enormous as the AIA directories- or Freeman merely designed some alterations for the theater two years after it opened.)
Network Cinema Corporation and Jerry Lewis didn’t even form their partnership to create Jerry Lewis Cinemas until 1969. I don’t know when the King of Prussia Jerry Lewis Cinema opened, but I doubt it was any earlier than 1970. Most of the company’s houses were opened in the early 1970s, some of them as single-screens, more of them as twins, and a few as triplexes.
Presumably, it was when the Jerry Lewis operation failed later in the 1970s (the company was gone by the end of the decade) that Sameric took over the King of Prussia location and began operating it, renamed the Queen, as an adjunct to the King Theatre. What happened after that I don’t know. I wasn’t there and I haven’t found any articles about it on the Internet.
But I can guess, based mainly on the theater’s nomenclature (lack of solid information has never stopped me from making guesses, as I’m sure everyone at Cinema Treasures knows.) At some point Sameric took over the Jerry Lewis location and renamed it the Queen (it would not have made sense for them to renamed the Jerry Lewis the King and rename the King the Queen. Moving the signage alone would have been costly, and there was nothing to gain from it.) The King was twinned, either before or after the Jerry Lewis was taken over, and at some point two additional screens were added to the Queen twin, and the entire operation went by the name King and Queen Six until the twinned King was closed, after which the former Jerry Lewis location with its two-screen addition operated as the Queen Four. This is the only explanation that really makes sense to me.
The January 3, 1953, issue of Motion Picture Herald mentions both the Rose Theatre and the Welsh Theatre in this item:
“M. F. Welsh, who recently purchased the
Rose in Franklinton, La., from O. D. Myles, has put up a ‘closed’ sign, which leaves the town with one theatre, the Welsh, which has been operating for many years.”
Here is an article about the pending demolition of the Colony Theatre, from The Times-Gazette of May 11, 2016. The building had deteriorated so badly that it was deemed unsalvageable, mostly as result of water damage from the long-unrepaired leaky roof.
The Colony opened in September, 1938. Chakeres Theatres deeded the property to the city in the 1990s, and the city turned it over to a non-profit organization. It was operated as a live performance venue, but with little success. In 2014, by which time deterioration of the structure was already well advanced, ownership reverted to the city.
The Times-Gazette has uploaded this short video to YouTube, showing a minute of the demolition of the theater’s auditorium.
The Rialto is being operated as an event space. Here is their web site.
The apparent source for the Grand Theatre’s description says that the house had operated “…for approximately 29 years, nine under Douglas' ownership” at the time of the 1963 fire. Presumably written many years after these events, the article appears to have been mistaken about the length of the theater’s tenure. The Ohio section of the “Theaters Under Construction” column of The Film Daily for April 9, 1938, had this item:
“Dunkirk — Grand, 275 seats, Main St. (4-6-38); Architect: W. Burke; Operator: W. M. Day.”
I’ve found a single reference to a theater called the Star that operated in Dunkirk earlier. It was listed as a member of the American Motion Picture League in the December 20, 1913, issue of Moving Picture World.
The Key Theatre was one of the houses noted in the “Theaters Under Construction” column of The Film Daily of April 9, 1938:
“Middleboro — Key, 500 seats, 6 S. Main St. (4-17-38); Owners: Pat McGee and Roy Heffner; Builder: C. Brent; Architect: C. Brent; Cost: $21,000; Operator: Middleboro Amusement Co.”
The “Theater Openings” column of The Film Daily for April 9, 1938, noted the opening of the Beacon, February 5:
“Superior — Beacon, 650 seats, Tower Ave. (2-5-38); Builder: Dauplaise; Architect: R. C. Buck; Cost: $100,000; House Manager: Roy McMinn.”
The Rialto might have been either a replacement for or a rebuilding of a house called the Star Theatre, the demise of which was noted in the November 7, 1925, issue of Motion Picture News:
“The Star theatre in Mine-
ville, owned and operated by Mrs. Jennie Anderson, was burned to the ground in a fire that started in an ice house in the rear of the theatre, and which destroyed a hotel as well as a private residence.”
“Mineville— Rialto, 332 seats (3-3-38); Owner: Thomas Scozzafava; House Manager: Allen Sirrine; closed since 4-1-37.”
Street view is currently set a long way from Cineplex St. John- probably more than a quarter mile too far west (maybe I should say about half a kilometer.) As can be seen on the map, the cinema is at the northwest corner of McAllister Drive and Westmorland Road.
It’s hard to tell from the exterior, but I think the entrance is actually about halfway up the Westmorland Road side of the building, where there is a setback. It looks like the ticketing lobby is behind the windows to the left, with four entrance-exit doors facing the parking lot to the north.
This item from the July 3, 1915, issue of The American contractor probably is about the Harvard Theatre:
“Theater: 1 sty. & bas. 72x130. Massachusetts av. Cambridge, Mass. Archt Geo Nelson Jacobs, 6 Beacon st. Boston. Owner Harvard Amusement Co., Max Keezer, treas,. 12 Dover st., Cambridge. Gen. Contr. M. S. Williams, 19 Milk st.”
CinemaTour gives 146 Madison as the address of the Madison Theatre. I believe it is correct. The Madison’s entrance building is still standing at that address, recognizable, though altered, and occupied by a law firm.
The auditorium, or at least most of it (see satellite view) has been replaced by a parking lot. The building next door to the left in the vintage photo is also still standing, its front barely changed.
A “75 Years Ago” feature in the February 14, 2012, issue of The Oneida Daily Dispatch said that Kallet Theatres was planning to erect a new, $175,000 theater on Main Street, and that the ten-year-old Regent Theatre at 212 Main Street would be leased to a Dexter Robbins, who intended to convert it into a bowling alley.
75 years before 2012 would give an opening year of 1927 for the Regent, and a publication year of 1937 for the original newspaper article cited. The new theater being planned was the Kallet, now Kallet Civic Center, which opened in 1938.
Another “75 Years Ago” published a few weeks earlier on January 10 cited a 1937 article saying that Kallet Theatres planned to either remodel the Madison Theatre, reopen the Regent, or build a new house.
The address 212 Main means the site of the Regent was the parking lot just north of two old brick commercial buildings that survive on the west side of Main Street at the end of the block south of Lenox Avenue (NY 365 A).
The Grand must have been on the south side of Main Street, where the Burger King is now. The Crossroads Professional Building, on the north side of Main, has the address 70-74 Main Street on its doors.
From the April 10, 1939 issue of Motion Picture Daily: “Warners have leased the Steuben and Strand in Hornell, N. Y., and will begin operation of the houses April 15.”
It looks like AMVETS moved into this building in 2001. The October 31 issue of The Preston County Journal said that the organization would hold its first Veterans Day program in its new home on November 11, with a formal dedication of the new facility following.
The May 6, 1936, issue of Motion Picture Herald ran a brief item saying “Joe Priego has opened the Alavarado [sic]
theatre at Alvarado, Calif.”
Clickable link. I think you must be right, Seth. The building definitely looks like a former theater, and fits the description in the 1958 auction ad of a large brick building on a corner lot. AMVETS Mountaineer Post 37 is mentioned in a few articles in The Preston County Journal, but the newspaper’s archive web site isn’t working right now. I’ll try checking it again later to see if any of the articles mention anything about the building.
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.
This house originally opened as the Arcade Theatre on June 12, 1925. It had been renamed the Alpine Theatre by January, 1935.
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?
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.”
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.
I forgot to mention in my previous comment that the newspaper article said that the Alpine Theatre had been demolished in 1981.
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.”
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.