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Boxoffice reported on June 5, 1952, that the Ritz was being converted into 19 apartments. It was just one of half a dozen quad cities theaters that had recently been closed, according to Boxoffice. The others were the LeClaire and Hiland in Moline, the Majestic in East Moline, the Spencer in Rock Island, and the Iowan in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Leo Yassenoff, the Y in F&Y, was also the head of the Academy Theatres Circuit. F&Y designed and built the theaters Academy had built, and remodeled many that the circuit acquired from other operators.
I’ve tracked down quite a few theaters designed by F&Y and posted comments on their pages here, but the only one that’s been updated with the information is the Geauga Cinema. I think maybe I make most of my comments at the wrong time of day for them to get noticed.
A rather grim sidelight about Leo Yassenoff that I ran across on the Internet is that he was the great-grandfather of Dylan Klebold, of Columbine High School infamy.
The architectural firm of Pearson & Wuesthoff designed the 400-seat second auditorium opened at Edwards Newport in 1971. This was reported in the August 24, 1970, issue of Boxoffice. They might have designed the Newport itself, though I’ve been unable to track down any confirmation of this. The same firm designed Edwards Harbor Twin Cinemas in 1970, and a number of other theater projects during that period.
The Edwards Harbor Twin Cinemas was designed by the firm of Pearson & Wuesthoff according to the report in Boxoffice Magazine, August 24, 1970.
NRHP’s web site is more reliable than many, but I’ve found typos and misspellings there before, and have probably failed to recognize a few others that I’ve seen. The F&W/F&Y mistake was easy for me to spot because I’ve seen so many references to F&Y in Boxoffice.
The November 13, 1948, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Melody Theatre would be ready to open in about two weeks. The owners were Gene Higginbotham, Leroy Carter, and John T. Hanni.
The problem is that there’s no convincing evidence that there was a Holiday Drive-In at Springfield in the 1950s. Nobody claims to have seen it, or even to have seen ads for it. Everybody is repeating second-hand reports of its existence.
The reports in Boxoffice all point to new construction on a virgin site in 1969 for the Holiday, and the complete absence of any mention of the Holiday in earlier issues of the magazine, when three other drive-ins in town were all mentioned more than once, also makes me skeptical of its existence. Somebody will have to dig up an ad or a directory listing from before 1969, or an eyewitness who actually saw the place before 1969, to convince me that there was an earlier Holiday Drive-In in Springfield.
The Livingston Theatre was designed by the Columbus firm of Alcox & Stritzel (Larry Alcox and Fred W. Stritzel.) The August 10, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported that the house was nearing completion and was expected to open that fall.
The Livingston was to be operated by Fred W. Rowlands, president of Livingston Enterprises, who operated a chain of suburban Columbus theaters including the Main, Columbia, Parsons, and Hollywood.
The contractors on the project were Mulligan & Case, of Columbus, who also designed and built the Main Theatre.
The Auditorium Theatre, then operated by Shae Theatres, was to be closed on May 5, 1947, for an extensive remodeling, according to Boxoffice Magazine of April 26. The project was to include an expansion of the auditorium to increase seating from 800 to 1,160.
The original plans for the project had been done by Columbus architect Harry Holbrook, who died before the project began. The completion of the project was handled by Larry Alcox and Fred W. Stritzel of the Columbus firm of Alcox & Stritzel.
The January 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice reported that Shae’s Auditorium Theatre in Newark was open again after having been closed for almost a year for a complete rebuilding.
This house was designed and built by the theater division of F&Y Construction, later known as F&Y Building Services. Boxoffice Magazine of November 9, 1940, reported that construction had begun, and the theater was expected to open by March 1, 1941.
The copy from the National Register of Historic Places posted by Lost Memory on Feb 4, 2007, contains an error. F&W Construction should read F&Y Construction (known as F&Y Building Services beginning in 1942.) The November 9, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that ground had been broken for Willis Vance’s new theater, to be called the 20th Century. Both the design and the construction of the house was being done by the theatre division of F&Y Construction.
There’s an F&W Construction Co. operating in Ozark, Alabama, but I can’t find any company of that name connected with Cincinnati. F&Y, however, designed dozens of theaters in the Ohio area.
The individual architect to whom NRHP attributes the 20th Century Theatre, Fred W. Stritzel, might have been working at F&Y during the period when the theater was built. After WWII he formed the Columbus, Ohio, firm of Alcox & Stritzel with architect Larry Alcox. That firm designed at least two theaters, the Livingston in Columbus and the 1947 rebuild of the Auditorium in Newark, Ohio. I’ve been unable to discover anything else about Fred Stritzel.
The earliest mentions of the Guild Theatre in Boxoffice are in 1949, when it was already running foreign films. The most recent mention of the Eden Theatre I’ve found is from March 30, 1946.
The November 16, 1935, issue of Boxoffice reported that Willis Vance would open a new theater at Peebles Corner to be called the Eden. It was to have about 300 seats.
I think this page might duplicate this older one, which lacks an address for the theater. If so, then the Historical Society magazine got the opening year wrong. The theater opened in 1969.
This Commonwealth circuit theater was designed, as usual, by Milton Costlow & Associates.
Conversion of the Avenue Theatre into the Cameo Theatre by the Commonwealth circuit took place in 1969. The May 19 issue of Boxoffice said that the changes included a radical floor redesign and a complete redecoration. A new facade was installed as well. The architects for the project were Commonwealth’s usual choice, Milton Costlow & Associates.
The May 22, 1967, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Commonwealth’s new Ruskin I and II would be located in an existing building which had formerly been a bowling alley. The two-screen house was to have 744 seats, divided 364 and 380. Construction was slated to begin June 1.
The Varsity opened on February 26, 1969, according to the March 17 issue of Boxoffice. The opening feature was “Romeo and Juliet.” Like most Commonwealth circuit theaters of the period, it was designed by Milton Costlow & Associates of Overland Park, Kansas.
The Holiday Drive-In never got mentioned in Boxoffice Magazine prior to 1969, though three other drive-ins operated in that town by Commonwealth were. I don’t think the Holiday dated from the 1950s.
The May 26, 1969, issue of Boxoffice ran an item about the proposed two-screen Holiday Drive-Ins in Springfield. The item said that the Holiday would be Commonwealth’s fourth location in Springfield. The circuit already had the Springfield Drive-In, the High-M Drive-In, and the Sunset Drive-In. A 20-acre parcel had been purchased for the Holiday Drive-Ins, one mile east of Kearny and Glenstone Junction. There was no mention of an earlier Holiday Drive-In.
The item also mentioned that Commonwealth was planning the Queen City Twin Drive-In at the same time. Both projects were designed by Milton Costlow & Associates.
However, after the Holiday Drive-In opened (on August 13, 1970) an item about it in the August 31 issue of Boxoffice made no mention of two screens. The opening feature was “Paint Your Wagon.” The item again mentioned the other three drive-ins that Commonwealth operated in Springfield.
An interesting sidelight to the Holiday Saga is revealed in an item in Boxoffice of August 26, 1968. It said that Commonwealth had begun the construction of a screen tower and other work for a fourth drive-in at Springfield, an 800-car situation to be located on the south side of Sunshine (misspelled Shushine in the item) between Ingram Mill and Blackman roads. This project was apparently not completed.
Boxoffice announced in its issue of May 7, 1973, that construction had begun on the Queen City Twin. There was a small photo of the groundbreaking featuring three Commonwealth Theatres executives. The plans for the project were by Milton Costlow & Associates.
Plans for the proposed Crest Theatre were announced in Boxoffice Magazine, February 1, 1965. The project was designed by Milton Costlow & Associates, architects of many theaters for the Commonwealth circuit.
An item about the Grand Island Twin appeared in the April 17, 1972, issue of Boxoffice. It was apparently a second screen added to Commonwealth’s existing drive-in. The Boxoffice item said that the project would “…add 450 speakers to the present service.” It also said that a new concession area and restrooms would serve both theaters. The project was designed by Milton Costlow & Associates.
The Shore Theatre was designed by architect Paul Matzinger. An article about the recently opened house appeared in the May 27, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.
The Antioch was built for Commonwealth Theatres in 1966. The May 9 issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported that the house would have 910 seats, and was designed by Milton Costlow & Associates. Construction was slated to begin June 15, and completion was expected by November 1.
The Varsity underwent major remodeling in 1965, after the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy, sold the house to the Commonwealth Theatres circuit.
Boxoffice Magazine of October 4 reported that the Kansas City firm of Milton Costlow & Associates designed the $100,000 project, which involved the demolition of the proscenium to expand the auditorium into the former stage area, the removal of the original ceiling, and the rearrangement of the lobby and foyer.
Space formerly occupied by tenants in the building would be used for theater facilities as well. The house would be entirely reseated and carpeted, and the booth would be equipped for both 35 and 70mm projection.
Boxoffice published the obituary of J.M. Ensor in its issue of July 3, 1937. It credits him with being one of the organizers of the Tri-State Association of Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America and an early member of the Independent Theatre Owners Association of Arkansas. He died on June 25, at the age of 67. He had operated the Crescent Theatre for 22 years.
The January 28, 1956, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Crescent Theatre had been closed and would be demolished to make way for a bank’s parking lot. The Crescent had been in operation for forty years.