Showing 26 - 50 of 113 comments
When Wesley “Andy” Andrews and Charlie Smith bought the Aztec, all of those one-sheets and stills were gone. In fact, apart from a lot of old junk, the basement was pretty much empty. Andy and Charlie started their own collection when they reopened the Aztec in January of 1974. I remember Mr. Sorenson and also Preferred Theatres. Royal Fox Walker, who had been the manager of the Plaza Theatre, worked for Walnut Properties as their maintenance man for a long time.
I am just delighted to know that the organ here speaks again. I attended several concerts back in the early 1970s which were sponsored by the American Theatre Organ Society. Dennis James was here twice and they were all wonderful concerts. I understand that there are plans to add more ranks so that the organ can also be used for classical music. This is great news.
This house was in the same block as the beautiful old Tower Bowl (Tower Bowl on one side, Effie’s Liquor on the other). I sure wish some more history about it would turn up. When I was working for Wesley “Andy” Andrews and Charlie Smith at the Aztec, they wanted to buy this theatre and I was all excited because of the rear-screen projection; they never bought it though. Also, Andy used to work at Effie’s Liquor.
Great news!!! That’s a beautiful instrument and I’m happy to know that it speaks once again.
It just thrills my soul that people are finally discovering what I’ve known for many, many years: that the Balboa acoustics are very nearly perfect (see the article at the link below).
To Steve Karo
Now I do remember that partial blueprint that was on the wall in one of those rooms we think were antiphonal chambers for the organ, but I sure don’t remember what was on it. This getting old is for the birds.
Oops; I wasn’t paying attention. I thought the Hal Holbrook thing had already happened. I see now that it’s January 19th. Steve, I’m really surprised you won’t be there. They really should let you in free of charge. It’s mainly because of you that this thing is going to happen.
Hi Steve Karo
Did you go to opening night at the Balboa? Are the acoustics still perfect? I sure wish I could have been there.
Hmm, I don’t remember that. Oh well, I’m getting old. I have a friend in Oceanside who worked many years as an organ builder. I think I’ll ask him what he thinks about those two rooms. I’m am so happy that this wonderful house is alive again.
I’m still very confused at to the purpose of those wooden shafts that led from the floor of both those chambers to the ornamental grille work in the ceiling of the upstairs lobby. I know that’s where they went as I climbed through one. I just don’t understand what they were for. They couldn’t possible have supplied wind to pipe ranks. The only thing they could have done is channel sound from the theatre auditorium to the upstairs lobby. I wonder what they’re labled as in the original blueprints?
I must make a correction. I just watched the channel 39 slideshow again. It looks to me like both of the rooms we always thought were the antiphonal chambers for the organ are not only still there but their grille work is still there as well. They are very visible on either side of the projection booth.
An old friend in San Diego just called me and said that channel 39 had just done a piece on the Balboa and that I should go to their website and look at the pictures. I did and they are just wonderful. It looks as though they are doing a beautiful job. I am so happy to see it! Steve, it looks like those two rooms on either side of the projection booth that we think were antiphonal chambers for the organ are still there but the grille work that used to be on the walls to either side of the doors is gone; it does look as if the rooms themselves are still there though. Folks, go to the channel 39 website, search for Balboa Theatre and look at the 46 picture slide show they have. It’s really great.
I learned to run the booth in this house in November of 1972 and stayed in the business ‘til December of 2000. It was then leased by Walnut Properties/Pussycat Theatres who held it 'til it was closed and demolished for the new Horton Plaza (they also had the Plaza Theatre which was immediately next door and, I believe, was earlier called the Owl). In 1972 they were running it as a grindhouse; three featrues that changed twice a week for .99 cents admission. It opened at 9:30A and ran 'til 5:30A. The janitors had four hours to clean the place and then it was back on screen. They later changed to first and second run movies with two features and the operating hours changed from 'noon to 5:00A and then 'noon to midnight. The projector heads were the original Simplex XL (with pure white interior and black crinkle finish), the sound heads were RCA MI-9030, the lamphouses were Peerless Magnarc, the rectifiers were McColpin-Christie selenium stack types, the sound system was a tube-driven RCA PG-230, the splicer was a Griswold R-2, the rewinder was a Golde and there was a Clint Phare cue scriber. This was a house which I was lucky enough to be able to explore from roof to basement (the Balboa, just down the street, was another). Though they’re cut off in the old photos, there were three floors of offices above the theatre. There was an old Civil Defense room in the basement which still had some ancient Civil Defense rations in it (biscuit, anyone?). There were boxes and boxes of stills and one-sheets going back who knew how far. The booth ran the classic way with the 2000’ reel changeover system ‘til we installed Xetron Maxi-7 automation and Christie xenon lamphouses some time in 1979 or 1980, and then it ran with 6000’ reels and changed over and did the show start/end cycles automatically. That beautiful arch seen in those old photos was covered up by the time I came along, but you could still see remnants of it if you climed through a crawl space found in the ceiling of a storeroom outside the office and across from the men’s room. There was an old fuse box in the basement marked “organ feeder”, but I’ve never found any mention of an organ being installed in this house. This theatre taught me my trade and I’ve never forgotten it.
That’s too bad. Those chambers were very interesting. The one on the 4th Ave. side had been reduced to housing the rectifiers for the lamphouses; the one on the other side had collected old junk. I wonder if they ever had any pipes in them? I looked, but could never find, any wind trunks going to them. There were square holes in the floor of both which led into these curving wooden shafts that ended at, and opened onto, the ornamental grilles that were in the ceiling of the upstairs lobby (I climbed through one of those shafts just to see where it went). The main pipe chambers were above the stage; in fact, the grille work above the proscenium was where their sound would have come from. There was a large wind trunk that went from the basement all the way up to those chambers. I wonder if those are still there?
They actually did some work!! Great. Looks like the boxoffice is now gone. That’s no good.
A question for Steve Karo please: Is the projection booth going to be re-equipped?
Cinemark is in Plano, Tx., not very far away from where I live in Irving. Talk about freaky!! I hadn’t thought of the name Syufy in years, and now here they’ve sold out to someone right in my neighborhood. The world sure is a strange place indeed.
Ah. Thank you for the info and for the correct spelling.
There are two names famous in San Francisco movie theatre circles. One was Naify, the other Suyoofie (I’m positive I’ve misspelled the name; I’m just spelling it as it sounds). What happened to these two movie theatre families?
Oops!! I sure was wrong and apologize to all for pontificating. So much for assumptions and jumping to conclusions. Perhaps some day they’ll make that instrument at Symphony Hall speak again; it’s a 4 manual 32 rank Robert Morton and sounded very nice.
That’s correct. Now that organ is coming home after all these years. Good. I was sad that it had fallen into disuse at the old Fox (now Copley Symphony Hall). The ATOS (American Theatre Organ Society) used to put on concerts at the Fox back in the early ‘70s and I attended many of them. Dennis and Heidi James were my favorites. I’m very glad the instrument will be heard again.
In its final days, Walnut/Pussycat ran both theatres (Guild/Centre) using one projectionist. The projection booth doors of both houses opened into the hallway of the office building above. I explored that whole place all the way down to the basement.
I think I noted on the page for the Guild (which was immediately next door to this house) that Lippert had offices, perhaps their main headquarters, in the office building above the Guild on the 4th or 5th floor. You could easily see that they had been very nice offices.
I’d just like to remind everyone that this grand old house would have been toast a long time ago if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Steve Karo.
He sure did. He’s the man who started it all as far as the Lippert business is concerned. The address (or better yet, edress) below will take you to a text page that tells about him. You’ll have to type the entire edress into your browser as I don’t know how to make it a hpyerlink at this website.