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The May 6, 1944, issue of Boxoffice mentions a T.M. Ellis, operator of the Majestic, State, and Rex theaters at Beloit. It says that he began his career as an exhibitor with the Majestic in October, 1919.
I’ve been unable to find any confirmation that the Three Stooges included Beloit on their 1948 tour, but they did spend a lot of time touring so it’s quite likely they made a stop there that year.
The Rex did have a stage. The October 8, 1938, issue of Boxoffice reported that it was among a number of Wisconsin theaters which had recently been presenting live performances along with movies. Most of the acts named were big bands, but the item didn’t name any acts that had appeared at the Rex in 1938, but the April 6, 1940, issue said that Dot Hackley’s Hollywood Cowgirls had recently made an appearance there.
The Rex suffered an estimated $10,000 damage in a 1951 fire which was prevented from entering the auditorium but nearly destroyed the women’s rest room and the foyer, according to Boxoffice of January 13.
I’ve found the Rex mentioned in the trade publications as early as 1929. The most recent mention I’ve found is from January, 1955, when CinemaScope was installed.
There were apparently two Mesa Theatres at Grand Junction, but there is muddled information about them in Boxoffice Magazine. The January 3, 1948, issue of Boxoffice published a drawing of Westland Theatres' new Chief Theatre, then under construction, and the caption said it was a replacement for the Mesa Theatre, “…which was converted into a store building.” However, the August 21 issue of Boxoffice the same year has an item dateline Grand Junction which says “B.V. Warren, manager of the Mesa Theatre here, was on a three-week vacation….” I’m not sure what to make of that. Maybe it was meant to say “former manager.”
Then there is a report of a Mesa Theatre being built in 1953. The February 21 issue of Boxoffice said that Westland Theatres would build a $150,000 theater to replace the Mesa. A drawing of the new Mesa appeared on the cover of the March 7 issue of Boxoffice. The design was by Boller & Lusk. The caption says that the theatre was being “rebuilt,” suggesting that it might not have been an entirely new building. The drawing does match the photos linked above, though.
Whether the original Mesa was converted to a store in 1948, or continued to operate until it was replaced or rebuilt, the current Mesa must be the house designed by Boller & Lusk in 1953.
The February 27, 1943, issue of Boxoffice has photos of the Admiral Theatre. The house got its nautical Moderne design courtesy of Omaha architect Frank Latenser.
The Brauntex Theatre was designed by architect Jack Corgan, according to Boxoffice, February 27, 1943.
The Whitehall Theatre was designed by architect Victor A. Rigaumont. Photos of the Art Moderne house appeared in Boxoffice Magazine, February 27, 1943.
This Georgian-Colonial style theater was designed by Chicago architect Erwin G. Fredrick. Photos of it appeared in the February 27, 1943, issue of Boxoffice. The house was originally independently operated by owners Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Cooper.
The West Virginia History page Lost Memory linked to says that Alex B. Mahood was the architect of the Pocahontas Theatre.
Mahood also designed a Jewell Valley Theatre in Jewell Valley, Virginia, which opened in 1944, according to Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of August 18, 1945. The 350-seat house was the first movie theater ever built with radiant floor heating. I don’t find the Jewell Valley Theatre listed at Cinema Treasures.
The May 23, 1942, issue of Boxoffice ran an article about the recent remodeling of the Commercial Theatre. The architect for the project was Hal Pereira. The marquee in the photo above was part of this project.
Chicago architect Edward Paul Lewin designed the Auburn Theatre according to Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of February 22, 1941.
The State Theatre was built in 1940 as a replacement for the Community Theatre. The February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice featured three photos of the State Theatre. An unusual feature of the design was the use of black light throughout the auditorium, including carpeting that fluoresced.
The May 8, 1961, issue of Boxoffice reported that new owner Howard Coddington was changing the name of the State Theatre to the Cinema. It was called the Cinema Theatre in various issues of Boxoffice as late as 1973. The first time it is referred to as the Elk Rapids Cinema was in 1974, after it was purchased by Joe Yuchasz.
The February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice published a photo of the new Florida Theatre at Fort Lauderdale. The theater was designed by Jacksonville architect Roy A. Benjamin.
The February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice published a photo of the Varsity Theatre in Carbondale. The caption attributed the design to St. Louis architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer.
A photo of the facade of the Crystal Theatre appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of February 22, 1941. The caption attributed the design of the house to the firm of Bennett & Straight.
Motion Picture Times of June 24, 1930, said that the new Liberty Theatre at Tyler, Tex., had opened on on June 18. The owners and operators of the house were Mr. and Mrs. William Shieldes. They had earlier operated the Queen Theatre in Tyler, but had sold it to the Dent circuit, which in turn had been bought by Publix. The opening feature at the new Liberty was “Blaze of Glory.”
The May 6, 1944, issue of Boxoffice said that William Shieldes had begun his exhibition career in Tyler in 1919, that he had operated as an independent until 1934, and had joined the Interstate Circuit in 1935. In 1944 he was city manager at Tyler for Interstate.
The August 10, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that the Tyler Theatre had recently opened to overflow crowds. The opening was attended by actor Brian Donlevy, star of the first feature shown at the new house, “The Great McGinty.”
Interstate had been planning the Tyler Theatre since 1937. According to the November 13, 1937, issue of Boxoffice, the circuit had hired architect W. Scott Dunne to design the new theater, but Dunne had died suddenly, delaying the project.
As with the Interstate Circuit’s Alabama Theatre in Houston, also put on hold by the Dunne’s death, the Tyler Theatre was ultimately designed by the firm of Pettigrew & Worley. Four photos of the Tyler’s Art Moderne auditorium were published in the February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice.
This theater must be the one mentioned in the November 4, 1944, issue of Boxoffice. The item said that the new theater owned by Louis Long and Walter Gregg was nearing completion at Third and Washington in Phoenix. The house was in a building converted from a garage. Plans for the conversion were drawn by the Phoenix architectural firm of Lescher & Mahoney.
I’ve found a reference to the Gila Theatre in Boxoffice Magazine as early as August 14, 1948, but don’t find it mentioned later than 1952. The area around 1914 W. Thatcher looks to be of fairly recent development, so it seems unlikely that the Gila would have been built out there so long ago, unless it was a drive-in (which I don’t think it was.) Nevertheless, CinemaTour places the Gila Theatre at that address. I think that’s probably wrong.
There’s currently a Walgreen’s on the south side of the street and an older-looking shopping center on the north side. Google Street View doesn’t get close enough to see if anything in the shopping center looks like it might have been a theater, and Bing Maps has no bird’s eye view of the location, but Google search brings up an address of 1970 W. Thatcher for the Mount Graham Shopping Center, and the October 16, 1972, issue of Boxoffice said that a single-screen Jerry Lewis Theatre had recently opened in that center, with 350 seats. This might have become the Cinema 1, but there’s a hitch with the location.
I find Cinema 1 popping up at the address 1914 Thatcher on a number of web sites, but there’s also a theater at the east end of town, at 555 Entertainment Avenue, currently operating as the Victory Discount Cinema, and its sign is visible at the side of Thatcher Boulevard in Google Street View. I’m pretty sure that sign says Cinema 1. The picture is probably a couple of years old. Could there have been two Cinema 1 operations in Safford?
There’s still a movie theater open in the Mount Graham Shopping Center, too. Boxoffice Mojo brings up a 5-screen, called the Sapphire Cineplex, at 1998-B W. Thatcher. From the address it doesn’t sound as though it would be the Jerry Lewis Theatre (possible Cinema 1) expanded.
Historically, Safford also had a Ramona Theatre, operated by Long’s Theatres, as late as 1949. There might also have been a Pima Theatre around 1960 (the Boxoffice reference is vague) and there is another vague Boxoffice reference to a new theater being operated by Long’s in 1974, with no name given. There was also at least one drive-in.
Anyway, Safford is one of those confusing places about which information is, if not scanty, often vague. For now, the address of the Gila Theatre remains one of the town’s many mysteries.
I just found a reference to the Gila Theatre at Safford in the August 14, 1948, issue of Boxoffice, so disregard my speculation that it was a later name for the Ramona Theatre.
A half interest in the Safford Theatre was acquired by Louis Long in 1926, according to an article about him in the May 14, 1949, issue of Boxoffice. It was Louis Long’s first venture into exhibition in Arizona. His older brother, J.G. Long, had been operating theaters in other parts of Arizona since 1919.
Safford was for many years the headquarters of the Long circuit, which had grown to 18 theater by 1939. After 1940, Long formed a partnership with Griffith Theatres which lasted a number of years. By 1945, he was operating 40 theaters.
Long also operated a theater called the Ramona at Safford. I’ve only found it mentioned in 1942 and 1949. Perhaps it was an earlier name for the Gila Theatre, which I’ve found mentioned in Boxoffice no earlier than 1951.
There have been at least two theaters called the Oasis in Ajo. The theater moved to a new location in 1948. The earlier Oasis was reported as a 550-seat house opened by Griffith Theatres on July 27, 1940, in the August 3 issue of Boxoffice that year. The August 14, 1948, issue of Boxoffice that year said that the Oasis Theatre had been closed and was being remodeled to become part of the New Cornelia Company store.
The August 28, 1948, issue of Boxoffice ran this story datelined Ajo:
“The 650-seat Oasis Theatre, built here by the Phelps Dodge Corp., opened recently with Mrs. Blanche Franck as manager. The Oasis boasts a large neon sign and a deeply wainscoted lobby with walls painted in ivory and green. Construction of the house included a cry room, waiting rooms, rest rooms and late model projection and sound equipment.”
The Oasis Theatre was, like the rest of the center of the town, designed in a Spanish Colonial/Mission style, and the new theater might have been put into a building already existing in 1948. The building is currently occupied by the Oasis Cafe. The address is 28 W. Plaza Street, Ajo, AZ, 83521. (West Plaza also appears on maps as Morondo Street, but Google Maps gives a more accurate location using the W. Plaza address.) CinemaTour has a slew of photos by Adam Martin. This blog post has two photos of the interior.
I’ve never seen either theater firsthand, so I couldn’t say anything about the interiors, but, judging from the photos, the exteriors (Brookhaven and Sayville) are quite similar.
Correcting my comment above: The issue of Boxoffice I cited used a variant spelling of the architect’s name. It should read Maurice D. Sornik.
Correcting my comment above: The 1966 issue of Boxoffice used a variant spelling of the architect’s name. It should read Maurice D. Sornik.
The August 30, 1971, issue of Boxoffice published an article about the UA Quartet. A cutaway drawing illustrating the arrangement of the new auditoriums was included. The architect for the conversion of the Roosevelt Theatre into the UA Quartet was Maurice Sornick.