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The August 18, 1969, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Cobb Cinema in Smyrna had recently opened. The item also said that the Cobb was the first theater in Georgia to have automated projection equipment installed. The seating capacity was given as 350.
Here’s a brief item from the January 21, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “Port St. Joe, Fla.â€” The Port Theatre, which opened last June, reports good business at this point. The house seats 964 persons and is managed by Roy Williams. It is owned by R. E. Martin Jr., E. D. Martin and Hugh G. Martin. The same three also own a house at De Funiak Springs."
That’s the earliest mention of the Port I can find. I was hoping for something earlier that might give the name of the architect.
Several later mentions of the Port in various issue of Boxoffice are mostly trivial, though one from March 18, 1950, said that a cross had been burned in a vacant lot across from the theater, and the following day manager C.J. Brown received a threatening, anonymous note warning him not to show the racially-themed movie “Pinky” or to “…suffer the consequences.”
A June 28, 1965, item said “David Smith has acquired the Port Theatre at Port St. Joe, a former unit in the Martin circuit.” A December 19, 1965, item said that the Port had been closed by its owner, D. Rollyn Smith. A May 1, 1967 list of theaters reopened during 1966 included the Port. No word on how long Mr. Smith had kept the theater closed. After that, there are no more mentions of the Port that I can find.
An article about Oscar Lam in the June 26, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine mentions that he operated both the Rockmart and the Joy Theatres in Rockmart. I’ve found no mentions of a Palace Theatre in Rockmart as yet, but perhaps it became the Joy.
A mention of the Rockmart Theatre in the April 2, 1973, issue of Boxoffice says that it had been remodeled and would reopen early that month.
The Cedar Valley Drive-In had only recently opened when it was featured in an article for the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 1, 1949. The drive-in was designed by the noted Atlanta firm of Tucker & Howell, architects of many theaters in the region.
Photos accompanying the article showed the Southern Colonial style of the buildings which, to my eye, presented a rather alarming contrast with the 60-foot screen tower- as though some bucolic plantation house had inexplicably collided with a boxy Midwestern grain elevator, perhaps carried thither by a tornado.
The Cedar Valley Drive-In could accommodate 500 cars, and featured a landscaped playground, an outdoor seating area for patrons who might enjoy watching movies from beach chairs, and a pair of small artificial lakes flanking the entrance, romantically reflecting the lighted buildings and screen tower by night.
The formal opening of the Eastland Twin East and West Theatres took place on November 21, 1968, according to an article in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of December 16 that year. The owners and operators were Tulsa-based Snyder-Ashley Enterprises. The new twin, like the earlier Boman Twin Cinemas and the later Park Lane Theatre, both in Tulsa, was designed by the Tulsa architectural firm of Whiteside, Schultz, & Chadsey.
The Eastland Twins occupied a contemporary styled building with a two story glass facade flanked by tall pillars. The east auditorium had 717 seats, and the west auditorium 528 seats. The lobby featured a terrazzo floor and walnut paneling. Each auditorium had its own carpeted lounge area, and there was a pair of rest rooms for each side of the theatre.
The screens were 18x36 feet, and each auditorium had its own projection booth. There were custom-designed Voice of the Theatre sound systems in each auditorium, and 8 foot deep stages were provided so that the theaters could be used for meetings and special events by various civic organizations.
The Park Lane Theatre opened as an 896 seat single screen house, on Friday, March 27, 1970. The contemporary-styled house was designed by the Tulsa architectural firm of Whiteside, Schultz, & Chadsey, who had earlier designed the Boman Twin in Tulsa and the Eastland Twins in Bartlesville.
As described in an article in Boxoffice Magazine, on April 13, 1970, the Park Lane was designed to serve as a roadshow house, and to accommodate other long-running movies, and had both 35mm and 70mm projection equipment. The lobby was large enough to hold a waiting crowd equal to the house’s seating capacity. The screen was 65x25 feet, and had side masking. The house was built for General Theator (that’s the way Boxoffice spelled the company name) to replace their Tulsa Theatre, which had been lost to an urban renewal project.
The recently opened Boman Twin Cinemas (the correct spelling), in the Boman Acres Shopping Center, was the subject of an article in the July 26, 1965, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was built for the Family Theatres circuit, and the two auditoriums were called the Boman West (with 800 seats) and the Boman East (which had 900 seats.) The theater was designed by the Tulsa architectural firm of Whiteside, Schultz & Chadsey, who would later design at least two other Oklahoma theatres (the Eastland Twin Theatres in Bartlesville, opened 1968, and Tulsa’s Park Lane Theatre,opened in 1970.)
From the Boxoffice article’s description, the Boman Twins were quite lavish for the time. Both featured screens 42 feet wide by 18 feet 6 inches high. The Boman East was decorated with beige walls and draperies, turquoise seat upholstery, and a Havana brown waterfall curtain. The Boman West had turquoise walls and draperies, brown upholstery on the seats, and its waterfall curtain was gold. Lobby decor included walnut paneling, and carpets throughout the theatre were at least an inch thick. Rest rooms were placed between the auditoriums.
Both auditoriums had Simplex projectors and Altec Lansing sound systems. Plans were afoot to install 70mm projection equipment and six-track sound in the west auditorium by December of 1965.
On the theater’s opening, the Tulsa World published a 12 page section devoted exclusively to features and advertisements relating to the theater. Maybe somebody in the area can dig up a copy.
The Crest Theatre in Affton opened on July 20, 1948, according to Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 30 that year. In October, the operators of the house were seeking to make permanent an injunction against the St. Louis Theatrical Brotherhood, Local 6, lATSE, whose members had been picketing the theater due to the operator’s hiring of a non-union projectionist.
There’s an earlier article from Boxoffice, October 18, 1947, which might be about the Crest. It says that the Affton Theatre Company had plans to build a new theater on Gravois Avenue near Arthur Avenue. Google Maps finds an Arthur Avenue in Affton, but it’s nowhere near Gravois. The article also says that a rival company was planning a new theater on Gravois at Elgin Street, a short distance from the first theater’s location. There is an Elgin Avenue just a couple of blocks west of the Crest’s address.
If somebody can dig up an old map of the area, maybe they can see if one of the streets near the Crest was formerly called Arthur Avenue (though it’s possible that Boxoffice just got the street name wrong.) If one was, then the first theater mentioned in the 1947 article probably was the Crest. The proposed house was described as being 60x154 feet, with a concrete foundation and a steel roof. It was designed by St. Louis architect Bernard Bloom.
The second proposed theater, at the corner of Elgin Street, which was to have been called Ronnie’s Affton Theatre, and was to have been operated by the Wehernberg circuit, might have remained unbuilt.
I noticed that photo before, Ken, and it’s not the Ventura Theatre. I think it might have been an older theater called the Mission. According to a couple of cards in the California Index, the Mission Theatre in Ventura was being operated by a woman named Jenne Dodge as late as 1939, and she had been running it for several years at that time.
My mom lived in Ventura in the late 1920s and remembers going to the movies there, but doesn’t recall the name of the theater and can’t recall much about it, other than that it was a fairly small place in an older building, with a small candy shop next door. She doesn’t even remember which street it was on. If she still had good enough eyesight I could show her the photo and she might recognize it, but she can barely see now.
The Google Maps link above fetches something in the 800 block of El Segundo Blvd. If you change the city to Compton, and change the zip code to 90222, Google finds the right location. Willowbrook is an unincorporated community, not part of the city of Los Angeles, so this lot might have been annexed by Compton, or might just be served by the Compton branch post office.
Ken, I think you’re probably right about the church being the former theater. The County Assessor’s office gives the address of this parcel as 2248 E. El Segundo, but the next parcel to the east has a Willowbrook Avenue address, so the church parcel must include everything from 2248 to 2252. The Assessor gives the construction date of the building on this site as 1925, with an effective year built of 1932. It certainly looks like a theater in the Live Search Maps bird’s-eye view, too, with a two-story commercial building in front and an auditorium about twice its size in back.
However, Boxoffice Magazine of September 30, 1939, carried an item datelined Willowbrook, Ca., saying “Frank Valuskis has begun construction of a 450 seat theatre to be known as the Valuskis.” Given the age of the building and the fact that the lot east of it fronts on Willowbrook Avenue and, judging from the parcel map, was probably too narrow for a theater, I’d say Valuskis was probably not putting up a new building but renovating an existing theater. This could have been the Willowbrook Theatre, but we’d need some evidence of the Willowbrook’s address.
The sign giving the admission price as 30 cents dates this photo to the 1950s. Until the Federal tax on theater tickets was repealed (I can’t recall the exact year, but it was in the early-to-mid 1950s), the Tumbleweed’s sign said 25 cents. Tickets had actually cost 30 cents with the tax, and when it was repealed Edwards simply added the nickle to his admission prices.
Here’s an item from the June 3, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, which may or may not be about this theater: “Lou Berkoff opened his new Cinema Arts Theatre in Hollywood with ‘Ballerina,’ a French production, as his first attraction. The de luxe theatre will play foreign ‘art’ films.”
The County Assessor’s office gives 1937 as the construction date for this building, but “Cinema Arts” isn’t listed as an aka for any theater in Hollywood or Los Angeles, so maybe this was it. Perhaps the house failed as a neighborhood operation and Berkhoff took over a year or so after it opened? I suppose the Assessor’s office could have gotten the construction date wrong, too.
The re-opening of the remodeled Maybell Theatre took place early in 1938. Here’s something from Boxoffice Magazine, February 5, 1938: “With the opening last week of Frank Valuskus' new Bell Theatre in Bell, Fox West Coast is rushing work on its new Bell house, now almost completed. Valuskus, operating at ten cents, will have two FWC houses as competition, the circuit’s Alcazar also coming in that zone.”
(Note: The correct spelling of the name of the owner of the Bell Theatre was Valuskis.)
From the January 29, 1938, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “The new Bell Theatre, recently completed by Frank Valuskus, was opened Sunday, January 23, with Mr. Valuskus in charge. The house will operate on the ten-cent break.”
(Note: The correct spelling of the owner’s name is Valuskis.)
From the January 29, 1938, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “Construction on the Pacific States Theatres new San Clemente Theatre is being rushed for the February 11 opening set by Mike and Abe Gore, owners of the house.”
Also, the article mentions that the style of the Stillman was inspired by the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London, as redecorated by the Adam brothers in 1775, and the photos reveal what I would certainly call an Adamesque design.
The architects of the Stillman Theatre were George B. Post & Sons, with Thomas Lamb as theater consultant. The Stillman was the subject of an extensive illustrated article in a 1918 issue of Architectural Record, which begins on page 309 of this digitized volume available at Google Books.
As part of a “Portfolio of Some Recent Architecture in San Francisco and Vicinity”, the September, 1920, issue of the magazine “Western Architect and Engineer” published two photos and a floor plan of the Majestic Theatre, and named the architect as James W. Plachek. Plachek was also the architect of the UC Theatre in Berkeley.
Judging from the Google Maps satellite and street views, the building certainly looks as though it could have been a neighborhood movie theater before becoming the Beulah Church of God in Christ Jesus Inc. (one of the most entertaining church names ever.)
The post-depression re-opening of the Ohio Theatre as a movie house (paragraph 2 of the intro above) apparently took place in 1943. Here are extracts from an item in the July 17, 1943, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “CLEVELAND— Reconstruction work at the Ohio Theatre, long closed, is going on apace. …it is understood that this 1500 seat house… will adopt a motion picture policy. Rumor has it that the house will open about Labor Day with ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.’”
Great Eastern Theatre Co. took over operation of the Cla-Zel Theatre in 1987, according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine’s November issue that year. The former operator, Armstrong Theatres, had gone out of business. On assuming operation, Great Eastern refurbished the Cla-Zel with new carpets, a new sound system, and other embellishments.
Great Eastern took over Armstrong’s Maumee Theatre at the same time.
The Maumee Theatre was taken over by the Great Eastern Theatre Co. in 1987, according to an article in Boxoffice Magazine’s November issue that year. The former operator, Armstrong Theatres, had gone out of business. Great Eastern took over Armstrong’s Cla-Zel Theatre in Bowling Green, Ohio, at the same time. Various other Armstrong houses were taken over by other operators, or closed down.
In 1987, the seating capacity of the Maumee was 750, according to the Boxoffice article.
From Boxoffice Magazine, November, 1987: “Cineplex Odeon… plans to open a theatre with up to six screens in Waverly Place, a shopping center under construction in south Cary…. Cineplex has signed a lease with Waverly Place’s developer, H.S. Lichtin Developer Co. in Raleigh.”
DriveinMovie.com says Tal’s Drive-In was opened in 1949 and last operated on September 17, 2000. Small photo on this page.
The owners must have been Talmadge “Tal” Richardson and Pearl Richardson, who operated the Midland Theatre in Coffeyville beginning in 1960.
Plus, the Midland Theatre Foundation now has an official web site.