Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granby Theater on May 5, 2015 at 10:02 pm

I finally discovered what happened to the original Granby Theatre that Jake Wells built in 1900. On January 1, 1918, a fire that started in the theater destroyed almost two blocks of downtown Norfolk, including the Monticello Hotel. A New York Times story about the disaster can be read at GenDisasters.

The theater had apparently been closed for some time prior to the fire. The new Granby Theatre was built in 1916, according to this paragraph from a brochure for a self-guided tour of Norfolk:

“(B. 1916) The Granby Theater was designed by local architectural firm Neff & Thompson to replace a 1901 vaudeville house of the same name located behind today’s Federal Building. The Granby Theater was originally affiliated with Paramount Films. Patronage declined in the mid-20th century, and the theater closed in 1987, however it was reopened in 2005.”
The partnership of architects Thomas P. Thompson and Clarence A. Neff was established around 1902 and was dissolved in 1933.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on May 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

A 1907 guidebook called Illustrated standard guide to Norfolk and Portsmouth and historical events of Virginia 1607 to 1907 describes the Colonial Theatre briefly:

The Colonial Theater is located on Tazewell Street, between Granby and Boush streets. This is a new and modern playhouse, where only the highest class attractions are presented. This is one of the Schubert [sic], Belasco theaters, which insures only the very best productions of musical comedies, operas, and dramas. Prices of admission range from $2.00 to 25 cents according to location, and the seating capacity is about 1,800.“
A hotel was to be part of the Colonial Theatre project from the beginning, as noted in the October, 1905, issue of Engineering News:
"Norfolk, Va.—The Colonial Theater Co. has been organized by G. A. Woodward, R. W. Cooke and W. C. Cobb, to erect a combination theater and hotel at a cost of $150,000.”
The November 23, 1905, issue of Manufacturers' Record had another item about the project:
“Norfolk, Va.—Theater and Hotel.—The Colonial Theater Co., previously reported incorporated to erect theater and hotel, is having plans prepared by Albert Swazey [sic], New York, for the erection of seven-story building, to cost $100,000: the theater to have a seating capacity of 2000. C. A. Woodward is president.”
The December 14 issue of the same publication had a notice that J. H. Pierce had the $125,000 contract to erect the theater. Architect William Albert Swasey designed some thirty theaters in New York City alone, and numerous houses in other cities.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on May 5, 2015 at 12:15 am

The theater in the Arcade Building was an early house called the Unique, 9 S. Capitol, which opened around 1906. I haven’t been able to discover how long it remained in operation. Also, the Capitol was not rebuilt in 1928- it was demolished and the Pekin Theatre built in its place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Strand Theatre on May 3, 2015 at 8:51 pm

The web page Broan linked to in the first comment on this theater is gone from the Internet, and now the only web pages anywhere that mention an architect named J. H. Gernfeld are those at Cinema Treasures. As LouRugani noted, The Moving Picture World (December 1, 1917) attributed the design of the Broadway Strand Theatre to architect A. L. Levy. As Broan’s first comment on the Marshfield Theatre page notes, Levy designed that house too.

There is a surname Gernfeld, but as far as I can discover there was never an architect of that rare name in Chicago or anywhere else. Maybe J. H. Gernfeld was someone from Levy’s office (a clerk or draftsman perhaps) whose name was on a document where it shouldn’t have been, and somebody from the Historic Preservation Office got confused by it. Alexander L. Levy should be listed as architect of the Broadway Strand Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on May 3, 2015 at 7:17 am

The Crystal Theatre that was operating in 1943 (current second paragraph of introduction) must have been the one at 31 Market Square, which was called the Crystal from 1935 to 1946. If, as Ron Allen said, there was a Ritz Theatre on Western Avenue in 1935, then this house on Gay Street, which became the Ritz in 1930, must have closed by 1935, unless it operated later under yet another name.

Unfortunately, the web page with Ron Allen’s research that Will Dunklin linked to is gone. I can’t find it anywhere else on the Internet. This weblog post by Jack Neely says that Allen died in June, 2011. WorldCat lists only five libraries that have copies of his book, A history of theatres in Knoxville, Tennessee 1872-1982. Google Books doesn’t list any booksellers with copies for sale, so those five libraries might be the only source currently available.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ideal Theater on May 2, 2015 at 9:52 pm

The rebuilt Ideal Theatre opened on January 7, 1918, as reported in the following day’s issue of the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light. The opening attraction was the musical comedy Have a Heart, with book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse and music by Jerome Kern.

The expanded theater featured three levels of seating, with both a balcony and a gallery. Dressing rooms for performers were under the stage. The organ console was located in the orchestra pit, along with a piano.

The article doesn’t mention the make of the organ, but in 1924 it was replaced by a two-manual, nine-rank Reuter organ, opus 134.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theatre on May 2, 2015 at 8:17 pm

While the caption of Randy Carlisle’s photo (linked in the previous comment) says that the Rio Theatre was at 227 N. Beaton Street, Google’s street view shows it at 202 N. Beaton (west side, second building north of 5th Avenue.) It is currently occupied by the local offices of a medical services company called Family Care of Texas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Terminal Theater on May 1, 2015 at 9:27 pm

This photo of the Terminal Theatre from the Library of Congress features the 1937 movie Dangerous Number on the marquee. It’s not the same marquee that appears in later photos.

As near as I can figure, the Terminal Theatre was part of an annex added to the original 1907 terminal building in 1936 and designed by architectural firm Simon & Simon. An item in the March 31, 1937, issue of The Daily Sun from Hanover, Pennsylvania, makes reference to “…William Goldman Theatres, Inc., Philadelphia, an independent theater organization, operating many theaters in the Philadelphia area, including the recently opened Terminal theater, Upper Darby….”

This page at Philadelphia Architects and Buildings cites a January 15, 1936, Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide item referencing the project as “Phila. & Suburban Terminal Corporation / New Terminal Building and Theatres.” The plural “theatres” was probably a typo. I think there was only ever one in the building.

Edward Paul Simon would have been the lead architect on the project, as his brother, Grant Miles Simon, had withdrawn from the firm in 1927, though the firm name Simon & Simon was still in use as late as 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Cinema on May 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Here is a YouTube video with some footage of the Palace Cinema in Sun Prairie during the last stages of construction. The project was designed by TK Architects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crystal Theatre on May 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Here is a a frontal view of the Rialto. The posters advertise The Hollywood Review, the 1929 MGM release that showcased a number of the studio’s biggest stars along with some of the era’s popular vaudevillians in a series of musical numbers and comic sketches. It premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on June 10, 1929, so it probably reached Knoxville later that year, but the smallish Rialto was likely a sub-run theater so the photo might date from 1930.

The facade of the building that housed the Rialto is remarkably unchanged today.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crystal Theatre on May 1, 2015 at 7:14 pm

This undated photo shows the west side of Market Square just south of Wall Avenue, probably in the late 1920s. The Rialto was in the fourth storefront from the corner. The space is currently occupied by a retail clothing shop called Bluetique. The address is 31 Market Square.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Arcadia Theater on Apr 30, 2015 at 4:37 am

This page about the Arcadia Theatre from The Cinema Data Project says that it was located on the second and third floors of the building and opened in the late 19th century. The original theater space has been converted into offices.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Albert Theater on Apr 30, 2015 at 4:16 am

This web page has information about the Albert Theatre with pictures of both the original four-story house built in 1905 and opened in January, 1906, and destroyed by fire in November that same year, and its three-story replacement opened in March, 1910, and gutted by a second fire that November. The house opened for the third time in January, 1911. The two lower floors of the facade are the same in both photos, so something of the original theater survived the 1906 fire.

A newsletter published by the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism Development in 2012 had this item:

“Albert Theatre, Berlin- 20,000 square feet is going to be redesigned as an entertainment center providing actives for families and children of all ages. Entertainment such as 18-hole indoor mini-golf, bumper cars, climbing wall, laser tag and much more will be available starting fall of 2012.”
This article from the August 20, 2012, issue of the Union Leader has a few photos. I haven’t found any indication that the conversion of the building into an entertainment center that was then underway has been completed.

The article says that the theater was converted into a retail store for the W. T. Grant Co. in 1957. The building appears to have been gutted and reconfigured at that time, removing all trace of its theatrical history. While the exterior has been restored to something very near its original appearance, returning the building to use as a theater would require building an entirely new theater within the shell, which seems very unlikely to ever happen.

This page from The Cinema Data Project indicates that the Albert Theatre was a Paramount-Publix house (Maine and New Hampshire Theatres Co.) from 1928 to 1956, which probably means until closing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Arcadia Theater on Apr 30, 2015 at 3:13 am

From the Library of Congress, here is a 2009 photo of the Arcadia Theatre by photographer Carol M. Highsmith.

The Arcadia Theatre had a two-manual, seven-rank Reuter organ, opus 288, installed in 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Halcyon Theatre on Apr 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm

“Drive” Google Street View south and turn right on Park Street for an excellent view of the south side and the back of the building. That upstairs structure is certainly old. I suspect that the Halcyon might have had its stage in the boxy structure at the Main Street end of the building and at least part of the auditorium under the gabled roof seen from Park Street.

The ground floor has been expanded at some point, probably more than once. This vintage photo from the Penobscot Maritime Museum shows that the Halcyon once had a three-story classical revival front set back from Main Street. At the time the photo was taken there was an automobile agency on the ground floor. The modern ground floor is considerably wider and extends all the way to the street. The gabled section of the building has also been widened, with the gable extended downward on the south side and a combination of flat and shed roof along the north side.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Halcyon Theatre on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:51 pm

The Cinema Data Project provides this web page about the Halcyon Theatre. It gives the opening year as 1912. The Halcyon was an upstairs theater with a large stage and dressing rooms. The page says that “[i]n 1991 the Halcyon is upstairs in the Prescott Farms Supermarket building. Pressed tin or decorated ceiling still visible, slanted floor still there.”

Looking at the building from the side in Google street view, a large upper floor without windows can be seen. I can’t think of any reason why a modern building would have such a structure put on it, so this must be the original building, with the long-closed Halcyon Theatre still marooned atop it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Jax Theatre on Apr 29, 2015 at 8:28 pm

There’s slightly different information on this page from The Cinema Data Project. The page says that the opening date of the Jax Theatre was September 1, 1938, with Love Finds Andy Hardy. The house closed in the fall of 1957 but reopened on April 27, 1958. The Jax closed for the last time in December, 1973. The last movie shown was Godspell.

Another house built by John B.“Jack” Eames, the Jax Jr. Cinema, is still in operation at Littleton, New Hampshire.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olive Theatre on Apr 29, 2015 at 1:51 am

This article from television station WTVY says that the Olive Theatre was opened in 1928, and was named for Olive Dunn. After the house closed in housed a variety of businesses, the last being a furniture store. In the 190s it was donated to the Arts Council which restored it for use as a live theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alameda Theatre on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:13 am

The Alameda Theatre was located in the 800 block of W. Zavala Street. The building was still standing when Google’s camera car last passed by, but the theater and everything else on its block looked abandoned.

Photo here (© Andrew Butler.) The building appears to have been used as a Spanish language church for a while, as the world “Templo” appears near the doors, but I can’t make out the rest of the words. The building is boarded up in Google street view, which is apparently more recent than Butler’s photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Joy Theatre on Apr 28, 2015 at 7:20 pm

There are quite a few references to the Joy Theatre at San Antonio in various issues of The Billboard from the early 1940s, mostly concerning vaudeville or burlesque acts, but at least one mentioning a stock company. The Joy apparently featured live entertainment as well as movies in its early years.

There was also live entertainment in later years. The Joy might have closed in 1957, but might have reopened fairly soon after that, probably as a Spanish language house. Latina Performance: Traversing the Stage, by Alicia Arrizón, in a chapter about Mexican American comedienne Beatriz Escalona, who went by the stage name La Chata, says that Escalona performed at the Joy Theatre in 1976 when the house was presenting Mexican vaudeville on weekends.

I can imagine the Joy thriving for many years with Mexican movies and vaudeville, as did the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles. Over on our National Theatre page, CT member kingfish left this comment which mentions vaudeville at the Joy Theatre, though no year is mentioned.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theatre on Apr 28, 2015 at 5:29 am

The photo CSWalczak linked to in the previous comment is gone, but I suspect that it might have been the photo referred to in a correction at the end of the MPW article I linked to three comments earlier, which said:

“[As the above description was published on page 1017 of the issue dated June 7, with a photograph of the Rex theater in Spokane, Wash., we are republishing it with a view of the right Rex theater]”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Victory Theatre on Apr 26, 2015 at 10:35 pm

The March 29, 2014, issue of the Poteau Daily News said that the Victory Theatre was one of the buildings destroyed by a fire that swept much of the town’s business district in 1981.

This comment on a NitrateVille message board says that the Victory was the same house as the Comet Theatre, which I’ve found mentioned in the 1910s. The earliest mention of the Victory I’ve found so far is from 1924.

The name Comet Theatre dates back to 1911 or earlier in Poteau. That year the March 17 issue of the Mulhall Enterprise ran a brief item saying that a $15,000 theater was to be built in Poteau by Blair & Miller, operators of the Comet Theatre there. Either the old or the new building might have been the house that eventually became the Victory.

Scroll up on the NitrateVille page to see a ca.1916 photo of a theater that might have been the Comet/Victory.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about San Carlos Theater on Apr 26, 2015 at 8:09 am

Thanks for the comment, Dale. Information about the theaters in Coolidge has been pretty sparse so far. We don’t have a page for the Studio, but we do have a page for a Mauk Theatre that opened in the mid-1930s. We haven’t been able to find out very much about it.

My first comment on the Mauk’s page has a link to a photo of it. I have been wondering if the Mauk was the theater that later was renamed the Studio. Perhaps you could take a look at the photo and let us know if it was the Studio or not (assuming it hadn’t been remodeled and become unrecognizable before you saw it?)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sho-To-All Theater on Apr 25, 2015 at 9:12 pm

I don’t believe the Sho-To-All Theatre building has been demolished. If you compare Idc’s 1914 photo with the building at the southwest corner of Main and 4th you can see a distinctive transom window still intact above a disused door on the Main Street side. The theater was next door to that building, and its building and two other buildings along Main Street have had their upper floors covered by a grille of some sort, but the old brick fronts and windows can be seen through the grille. That has to be the old theater building, though the only door in it currently has the address 109.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on Apr 25, 2015 at 8:54 pm

I suspect that the only original parts of the theater building still standing are the facade and the common wall shared with the narrow shop next door. Most of the wall along Chamberlain Street appears to be of concrete rather than the brick that would have been used in the original 1893 structure. That wall, and probably the back wall as well, must have been part of the 1970 post-fire rebuilding by J. C. Penney’s.