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The October 18, 1952, issue of Motion Picture Herald had this news from Louisiana:
“Billy Fox Johnson’s Joy in Marksville burnt to the ground, October 9, the same night he and his family were at the opening of their new drive-in, the Fox, in Bunkie, La.”
The “Construction” column of the November 29, 1952, issue of Boxoffice reported that construction of the Kenmore Drive-In was scheduled to begin on February 1, 1953, with a target date for completion of April 1. There must have been delays, as Drive-Ins.com’s page for the Kenmore says it opened on May 20, 1953, with a double feature of Ma & Pa Kettle At The Fair and Destination Gobi. The theater was demolished in 1985.
Boxoffice of May 5, 1956, reported that a fire had damaged the long-closed Powhattan Theatre in Maplewood on Friday, April 27. This item, like several other sources, gives the address as 3111 Sutton. I suspect that there might have been more than one Powhatan Theatre on this block, the one at 3111 replacing the older one at 3107.
The Strand of 1944 must have been either a rebuild of or replacement for an earlier house of the same name which was in operation by 1932. The Strand’s manager, Adam P. Howell, was quoted in the January 14, 1933, issue of Universal Weekly saying that attendance for the studio’s movie “The Mummy” had broken his house record for 1932.
The Hartselle Enquirer has frequently published a column called “A look back” which often mentions the town’s theaters, but the earliest mentions of the Strand are from 1937, and there are no items about a rebuilding or a new theater in 1944.
In its later years the Strand became the Rodeo Theatre, as noted in this item:
“June 18, 1956 -The Strand (soon to be the Rodeo) Theatre is getting a $50,000 interior overhaul and redecoration. A new cry-room has its own speaker so that the baby tender can keep up with the picture if she can hear the sound above her babe.”
Hubert R. Mitchell bought the Strand in 1955, but had lived in Hartselle for quite some time and was noted in the October 13, 1956, issue of Motion Picture Herald as “…the owner of Hubert Mitchell Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of stage fittings, decorations and props, as well as theatre auditorium drapes, seat cushions and accessories.” His company, which had two factories, also manufactured something called Bowline Screen Frames, which are mentioned now and then in theater industry trade journals of the period.
The newly-opened Ranch Drive-In at Hartselle was listed in the “Construction” column of the November 29, 1952, issue of Boxoffice, which noted that the drive-in’s kiddie playground had been completed, along with a four-room apartment at the base of the screen for the manager.
The November 29, 1952, issue of Boxoffice said that the College Drive-In was under construction at Fort Valley, Georgia, and was expected to open around December 25. The project would accommodate 300 cars, and would have 250 seats for walk-in customers. The owners were Lee Hancock and Greer Grace.
If the rebuilt Roxy expanded onto the site of the adjacent building then the original theater’s sidewall could not have been incorporated in the project, and that makes it unlikely that any of the original back wall was saved either.
This paragraph about the Manhattan Theatre’s owner, William Gane, is from Robert Grau’s book The Business Man in the Amusement World, published in 1910:
“As a manager Mr. Gane began his career at the Manhattan Theatre, since razed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he presented moving pictures. His success there was marked by crowded houses, and when he was forced to vacate he built the present Manhattan Theatre at Broadway and 31st Street.”
According to an index card in this PDF from the Theatre Historical Society, the Theatre Brighton opened in 1873 in a building converted from a saloon. It was later renamed the St. James Theatre. The house was rebuilt in 1883 to plans by John McElfatrick, and opened on December 5 as the Bijou Opera House.
Alterations were made by architect Thomas Lamb in 1908, and additional alterations designed by architect W. G. Masarene in 1910. The building was demolished in 1914, and the card doesn’t mention any alterations by Stuckert & Sloane, so perhaps their 1913 project was for the only other theater on Broadway near 31st Street, Gane’s Manhattan.
According to an index card in this PDF from the Theatre Historical Society, the Imperial Music Hall opened in 1892 (on Monday, October 24, according to the October 26 issue of The New York Sun.) It became Weber & Field’s Music Hall in 1896, Weber & Ziegfeld’s Music Hall in 1905, and simply Weber’s Theatre in 1906. Alterations made in 1908 were by Thomas Lamb, and additional, though minor, alterations made in 1914 were designed by Emery Roth. The theater was demolished in 1917.
According to an index card in this PDF from the Theatre Historical Society (as well as in the AIA Guide to New York City), this long-time movie house (last operated as the Chuan Kung Theatre according to the AIA guide) began in the late 19th century as a three story store building designed by none other than McKim, Mead & White, one of New York’s most famous architectural firms.
The index card says that plans to alter the building to accommodate a movie theater were submitted in July, 1913, (Louis Sheinart, architect) and the Universal Photoplay was in operation by 1914.
The house was altered several times over the years, with its listed seating capacity increasing from 281 in 1925 to 450 in 1931 and 546 in the 1940’s, but the only alteration credited on the card is a marquee installed in 1941 by architect Sol Oberwager. The house was renamed the Music Palace in the early 1970s.
According to an index card in this PDF from the Theatre Historical Society, the building that became the New Atlantic Theatre was in operation as the Atlantic Garden by 1870, and was altered for use as a concert hall in 1883 with plans by architect Julius Kastner.
There was an aborted plan to build a new theater and 8-story office block on the site in 1911. Instead, it was remodeled in 1916 with plans by architect Henry (the card erroneously says Harry) Regelmann (plans for this project were noted in the November 17, 1915, issue of The New York Times.) Operated during its last years by the M&S Bijou circuit, the building was demolished in March, 1929.
This PDF from The Theatre Historical Society contains index cards (possibly from library files, though it doesn’t specify) with information about Manhattan’s theaters. This is the contents of the card for the People’s Theatre on the Bowery:
“199-201 BOWERY e/s n of DELANCEY ST PEOPLE’S THEATRE, Was HOYM’s (1858), then TONY PASTOR’S OPERA HOUSE (1865-75), Became PEOPLE’S Sep 3, 1883, ALTS 692/1883, $12,000, acht Wm Graul, Owner: Henry Miner, Seats: 1454 (PHOTO: Lin Center MWEZ 7229), ALTS 1908, archt: Louis Maurer, ALTS, Sep 1916, $5000 archt: R. Thomas Short Yiddish plays presented 20’s, opera GABEL, Demolished 1945.”
A brief article in the October 1, 1932, issue of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said that plans for the new theater to be built by the Schwartz Amusement Company on Merrick Road in the village of Baldwin were being drawn by architect R. Thomas Short.
The article noted that the theater’s site, which Schwartz had purchased six years earlier, was west of the Baldwin M.E. Church. The church now displays a sign reading First Church Baldwin United Methodist.
The modern address of the theater’s lot, displayed on the front of the Baldwin Office Plaza, is 865 Merrick Road.
This web page from Brownstone Detectives says that the Halsey Theatre was built in 1912. The adjacent Arcadia Dance Hall and Broadway Arena flanking the theater were built around the same time by the same developer. The page notes that the Halsey closed in 1943 and was occupied through the late 1940s by a company that made cardboard leis and party favors. The arena next door was the boxing venue. All three structures were demolished around 1967 to make way for a New York City Housing Authority senior citizens housing project.
The caption of one of the photos in the January, 1913, issue of the trade journal Architecture and Building to which I linked in an earlier comment says that the Halsey Theatre was designed by the architectural firm Harde & Short. However, a biographical sketch of the firm says that the partnership was dissolved in 1909 (confirmed by this article in The New York Times from December 1, 2005), so unless the theater was designed some two to three years before it opened it was more likely one or the other of them who completed the project. I suppose it’s possible that the design was done late in 1909 and construction began in 1911, but I haven’t found the opening date of the theater, nor the exact date on which the partnership of Harde & Short was dissolved.
Herbert Spencer Steinhardt (later shortened to Harde) and Richard Thomas Short are remembered for a number of lavishly decorated apartment buildings completed between 1904 and 1909. Short went on to design a large number of theaters, mostly in Brooklyn, under the professional name R. Thomas Short.
A spectacular photo of the Pioneer Building in flames can be seen on this web page from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
There was a theater operating at Tilden in 1944, though this item from the March 4 issue of Motion Picture Herald doesn’t give its name:
“Sells Nebraska House
“Melvin Krouse has sold his theatre at Tilden, Neb., to M. T. Rethwisch, of Tilden.”
“Melvin Krouse has sold his theatre at Tilden, Neb., to M. T. Rethwisch, of Tilden.”
The obituary also says that the Rethwischs were partners with another couple in operating the Tilden Bowl from 1962 until 1984, so it’s possible that the Victory was converted into a bowling alley when the theater business declined. Tilden still has a bowling alley, Bob’s Bowling, at 208 E. 2nd Street (the main commercial streets on the map in Tilden are Center Street, running north and south, and 2nd Street, running east and west, but the City of Tilden calls 2nd Street Main Street.) Bob’s has only four lanes, so is probably in a building about the same width as a 200-seat movie house would occupy.
The Granada Theatre and Allen Gardner were mentioned in the August 11, 1931, issue of Motion Picture Herald, and again in the April 2, 1932, issue of the same journal.
I’ve found more mentions of this house in the trade journals (Moving Picture World July 1, 1916; Motion Picture News April 7, 1917) and in the newspapers (The San Francisco Call October 30, 1912; Paramount Pictures ads in the Mill Valley Record various issues in June, 1916) as the Oakland Photoplay Theatre than as the Oakland Photo Theatre (San Francisco Call July 22, 1913; The Edison Kinetogram September 1, 1912.) The vintage photos do all show both “Photo” and “Play” on the marquee, separated by the name Oakland Theatre. Butt hen it did get listed as the Oakland Photo Theatre in the 1916 Polk guide. It would be helpful if someone could find one of the weekly or monthly programs the house probably issued,or at least a display newspaper ad for it.
A survey of Addison’s businesses published in 1935 (PDF here; page two, first column, paragraph six concerns the theater) indicates that the Merry Land Theatre was in the building next door to the old filling station that is still on the northeast corner of Main and Steer Streets. The narrow, free-standing theater building is also still there, though its ground floor door and windows are boarded up.
According to the Ed Blank article 71dude linked to earlier, the Regent Square Theatre opened on December 15, 1936.
Here is an additional item about the Ritz from a later issue of Motion Picture News:
“The Farmington Entertainment Company, headed by Dr. C. A. Tatley, is taking bids on a new house for Farmington. J. Hal Lynch & Son, 412 Dolph building, St. Louis, Mo., has prepared the plans for the new theatre. It will be one story, 65 by 111 feet, and of reinforced concrete, brick and new construction.”
Though the entrance building of the Ritz Theatre had to be rebuilt following the 1964 fire, the auditorium has survived and the side of the building can be seen along South Washington Street, with the stage house extending along Harrison Street. It is occupied by a school of dance, the Ballet Arts Center, though the school uses a Jefferson Street address, with a new entrance cut into the building, facing the parking lot on that street.
The site of the theater’s former entrance and the adjacent storefront is now utilized for a music store and school called Music Makers, with multiple studios and a repair facility specializing in stringed instruments. Their web site features several photos of the theater in its heyday.
Plans for a new theater in Farmington were announced in the May 13, 1927, issue of Motion Picture News:
“The Farmington Entertainment Company of Farmington, Mo., of which Dr. C. A. Tetley is president, has had plans prepared by J. Hal Lynch & Son, 412 Dolph building, St. Louis, Mo., for a new theatre. Construction plans will be prepared at once, as preliminary sketches have been approved.”
A brief history of Harrisburg’s theaters published in the June 28, 1965, issue of the Eldorado Illinois Eldorado Daily Journal said that the Grand Theatre was originally built in 1914, opening on December 23 with 585 seats. It was remodeled and expanded to accommodate 900 seats in 1925.
Oscar L. Turner, Sr. was in the theater business in Harrisburg from September, 1908, when he and his brother W. T. Turner took over operation of the Star Theatre. S. M. Farrar’s connection with Turner began with the formation of the Colonial Amusement Company in 1912. Turner-Farrar Theatres was incorporated in 1945, the successor to several corporations Turner and/or Farrar had been involved with that had operated theaters in the region.
The rebuilt Orpheum of 1929 was actually the third Harrisburg house of that name. A history of Harrisburg’s theaters published in the June 28, 1965, issue of the Eldorado, Illinois Eldorado Daily Journal said that “[i]n 1911 the old church building housing the Orpheum was torn down and in its place was constructed a new Orpheum to seat 600 people.” The same article said that the original Orpheum had been opened by the Turner brothers in the converted church in December, 1908. It also notes that the Colonial Amusement Company expanded the second Orpheum to a seating capacity of 887 in 1917. The 1929 post-fire rebuilding is also mentioned.