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A three-page article about this drive-in starts on this page of Boxoffice, October 23, 1954. There are several photos, most of them depicting the unusual projection equipment.
The Buffalo Autoscope had 122 44-inch wide screens on its five acre plot, and the theater could be operated by three people. The article mentions the Smith brothers' smaller prototype Autoscope operation in Urbana, opened the previous year and accommodating a mere fifty cars.
Boxoffice of October 23, 1954, had a few before-and-after photos of the front and lobby of the State Theatre, which had been remodeled that year. Plans for the remodeling were by E.H. Geissler. Geissler was later one of the co-developers of the Ultra-Vision projection system that was installed in a number of Wilby-Kincey theaters starting in 1969.
There are photos of the front and the auditorium of the Fox Theatre in Boxoffice, October 23, 1954. Fox Intermountain’s in-house architect of the time, Mel C. Glatz, designed the theater.
A photo of the lobby of the Nortown Theatre appears in the lower left corner of this page of Boxoffice, October 23, 1954. The architect of the theater was A.G. Facey.
An additional photo is at lower right of this page of the same issue, and depicts the boxoffice and entrance to the theater.
The October 23, 1954, issue of Boxoffice featured a multi-page article about the remodeling of the Tivoli, beginning on this page. The entrance lobby was given a fairly sleek streamline modern style, but the other spaces retained much of the more traditional decor from the 1920s. Much of the Italian Renaissance detailing was stripped from the auditorium, but its basic outlines remained intact.
My impression from the photos is that the foyer and auditorium looked a bit cheesy after the remodeling, and the house would have been better served by a more thoughtful restoration of the original design, except for that spiffy moderne entrance lobby, which was quite an improvement. It’s too bad the entrance was in the part of the building that has been demolished.
The Vogue Theatre is sort of open. There doesn’t appear to be any web site for the theater yet, and I can’t find any events scheduled, but this article published in the local Daily Record on November 6, 2010, announced that the reopening of the house would take place on November 13. There’s an interior photo. The space looks pretty raw, as the complete renovation has been put on hold until the economy improves.
Another item in the Daily Record announced a December 4 appearance at the Vogue of the regionally popular country music group, the Dave Rawlinson Band. YouTube has a couple of videos from that performance. As far as I can find, there have been no events at the Vogue since then.
Carmike Theatres took over the Video Independent circuit in 1983, according to the Gale Directory of Company Histories. The Altus Times article I cited says that the Spears Trust and Griffith Realty each retained a half interest in the Plaza Theatre building until 1991. Carmike must have operated the house under a lease.
A photo of the entrance lobby of the Tivoli made the cover of Boxoffice, October 2, 1954.
Poblocki & Sons bought the run-down Plaza Theatre in 1953 and renovated it the following year to demonstrate Ben and Barney Poblocki’s contention that declining theater attendance was often the result of operators' failure to update their houses. As the Plaza is still open, perhaps there was something to their belief in the power of modernization.
This article in Boxoffice of October 2, 1954, has before and after photos of the Plaza’s front. The entire project, including design, was carried out in house by Poblocki & Sons.
I’m glad the Poblocki’s only modernized the lower part of the facade, and kept that delightful Gothic detail on the upper story.
Skirball Brothers Theatres had the interior of the Pantheon completely rebuilt in 1961. There are three photos of the completed project on this page of the October 2 issue of Boxoffice. The seating capacity was reduced to 808.
I think there might be information missing from the Glazer collection and this theater’s Philadelphia Buildings page regarding the original name of the house. The Moving Picture World of July 12, 1913, in an article about Philadelphia theater operator Marcus A. Benn says there was a Benn Theatre then operating at Woodland and 64th:[quote]“Marcus A. Benn, of Philadelphia, went into his first theatrical venture in 1908, after having been a manager of a sewing machine company for over fourteen years. Since that time he has built and promoted more than twelve theaters, all of which are now being operated successfully. He is the sole owner of the Benn Theater, at Sixty-fourth Street and Woodland Avenue, and is a stockholder in, and secretary-treasurer of, the A. B. C. Theater.
“At Eighty-fourth Street and Eastwich Avenue, Mr. Benn has a picture theater under way, and there is no doubt but that he will create quite a stir among motion picture men in Philadelphia when he announces the exact spot on Market Street, east of Broad, for the location of another enterprise.
“Mr. Benn has an eye for beauty as well as for architectural construction. This fact is particularly noticeable in his A. B. C. and the Benn Theaters. Between August 29 and September 18, 1913, a delegation of experts from all parts of the world will hold a convention at the A. B. C. Theater to discuss matters pertaining to the advancement of the motion picture industry.”[/quote]A biography of W. C. Fields says that his family home at 6320 (or 6328) Woodland was torn down in 1922 to make way for the Benn Theatre, so the Benn Theatre mentioned in the article was not demolished to make way for the Benn Theatre that still stands down the block. It seems most likely to me that the Benn Theatre of 1913 was the house that later became the Benson. Possibly it was renamed the Bell Theatre when the new Benn opened in 1923. The name Bell certainly would have easily fit on signage that formerly read Benn.
The Chronology page for the Bell Theatre at Philadelphia Buildings gives the construction date of 1912-1914 for the building, and names the architects as Anderson & Haupt (Julius J. Anderson, architect, and Max Haupt, engineer.) If the firm planned alterations the building after the theater opened, this house could have been in operation as early as 1912, rather than 1914. If it was indeed the original Benn Theatre, it was certainly in operation by July, 1913.
Here’s an item about the Crescent from The Moving Picture World, July 12, 1913:
“Wilson L. Augustine has opened a moving picture theater in the residential section of East Decatur, Ill. The building represents an investment of $6,000, and has a seating capacity of 500. Brick and concrete material were used in the construction, making the house fireproof. The name of the theater is the ‘Crescent.’”
The Plaza Theatre has been converted into a church by the Altus Christian Fellowship. Their web site says that the building is used primarily as their worship center, but is still equipped as a functional theater and is available for a variety of events. An exhibit of theater memorabilia is on display in the lobby.
The Plaza Theatre was in operation as recently as 2005, when the June issue of Boxoffice cited a letter from operator Richard Day. The Plaza was then charging a top admission price of two dollars, which was also the top price at the concession stand, but the business was still struggling.
I haven’t found the Plaza mentioned in any later issues of Boxoffice, so I don’t know exactly how long it remained open after that, but an Altus Times article, apparently from 2007 (the paper doesn’t give dates for its archived articles, but only a generic “…years ago” heading) says that Janice and Richard Day had sold the building to the church group in August that year. The article notes that the Days had bought the Plaza in 2002 and had reopened it on May 7, 2004, after it had been dark for twelve years.
An earlier Times article, apparently from early 2004, gave some of the theater’s history. The house was built in 1928, and opened as the New Empire Theatre. Beginning in 1931, it was operated under a lease by W.T. Spears' Consolidated Theatres. By 1936, Spears was operating the house in partnership with Griffith Theatres (succeeded by Video Independent Theatres in 1949.) In 1948, Spears and the Griffith Realty Company purchased the theater building, and he and Video Independent operated the house in partnership until Spears died in 1968.
Video Independent retained its half interest in the building until selling it in 1991. The house was operated by Jimmie C. Wiley during parts of 1991 and 1992. It apparently closed that year, and in 1993 the property was deeded to the local redevelopment agency, which owned the building until the Days bought it in 2002.
I would imagine that the Moderne remodeling of the theater was done in 1948 or shortly after that, after the building had been purchased from its original owner by Spears and Griffith. I have no clue when the name was changed from New Empire to Plaza. The earliest mention of the Plaza I’ve found in Boxoffice is from 1954, but I haven’t found either an Empire or a New Empire Theatre in Altus mentioned at all.
Boxoffice of March 20, 1954, reported that the Delta Theatre in Altus had been leveled by fire on the morning of Sunday, March 14. An adjacent drug store, where the fire had started, was also destroyed. Operator Video Independent Theatres reopened its State Theatre to show the first run films which had been programmed at the Delta. Video also operated the Plaza Theatre, the town’s “A” house.
The Boxoffice item said that plans to rebuild the Delta were tentative. I haven’t found any evidence that the house was ever rebuilt, though. As far as I can find, the Delta Theatre was never mentioned in Boxoffice again.
The State Theatre was closed for a time in the early 1950s. As reported in Boxoffice of March 20, 1954, the State was reopened as a first run house by Video Independent Theatres following the destruction by fire of the circuit’s Delta Theatre on March 14.
I haven’t found the State mentioned in any later Boxoffice items, so I don’t know how long its reprieve lasted. I’ve found no evidence that the Delta was ever rebuilt, either.
The Ritz Theatre of Altus was mentioned in Boxoffice as late as September 4, 1961, when the house was being operated by Bill and Viola Cleverdon. The Cleverdons were also operating a Ritz Theatre at Eldorado, Oklahoma.
The Related Website link still needs to be updated.
This multiplex opened as the Heritage Park 4 Cinemas in spring, 1990, according to an item in the December, 1990, issue of Boxoffice. Then, Boxoffice of September, 1997, said that Heritage Park Theatres planned to add three new screens to their five screen theater in Altus. As the theater now has seven screens, I suspect that the 1997 article got the number of screens the theater already had wrong.
The Colfax Theatre is no longer operating as a movie theater. This article in the Roseville Press Tribune, dated November 20, 2008, says that the Colfax had been closed, but would soon reopen as a venue for community events. I’ve been unable to find any events at the Colfax listed anywhere on the Internet.
The theater’s its My Space page is still up, with a few nice photos of the auditorium in its slide show, but the blog section hasn’t been updated since June 23, 2008. The main page apparently hasn’t been updated either, as it still gives admission prices.
The opening paragraph of the current Cinema Treasures description of the theater contains an error (and as the house is no longer an operating movie theater, pretty much the whole description is obsolete.) The Colfax Theatre opened in 1939, acording to both the My Space page and a 1990 article in Boxoffice (the 2008 Roseville newspaper article I linked to says 1940.) The earlier Colfax Theatre it replaced had been located on Depot Street, and had been destroyed by fire. Local businessman Oswald Marson built the entirely new Colfax Theatre on a lot he owned on Main Street. As far as I can discover, the Colfax Theatre has never had any other name. Since the 1980s renovation, it has had 250 seats.
The October, 1990, Boxoffice article tells about the renovation of the house by Wendell Jacob, and has a couple of small photos. Boxoffice says the style is Art Deco, but the numerous photos available show a much simpler style, so I’d say it would be better described as Streamline Modern. Most of the fixtures in the theater are vintage pieces that have been restored.
I’ve been unable to discover the original architect of the Colfax, but Boxoffice says that the 1988-89 renovation, which involved almost completely stripping the interior of the building, was designed by Sacramento architect Jay Hyde. Hyde’s LinkedIn profile reveals that from 1982 until 1994 he was Director of Design at SH2A Architects (now Rhetta Associates,) the Sacramento firm that also renovated the Crest Theatre in that city (1997) and the Varsity Theatre in Davis (1993.)
The Colfax Theatre is apparently still owned by Wendell Jacob’s granddaughter, Emma Mae Jacob, who has dropped her middle name and, having relocated to Nashville, has embarked on a career as a country music singer.
Here’s a fresh link to the November 15, 1952, Boxoffice article about the DeSoto mentioned in my previous comment.
A small photo of the Moorlyn’s facade and a slightly larger photo of one wall if the lobby can be seen at the lower left on this page of the March 7, 1936, issue of Boxoffice. The marquee in the 1936 photo was still there in the 1981 photo linked above, but it is gone in the more recent photo.
Here is a fresh link to the photos of the Square Theatre in Boxofffice, March 7, 1936.
If kidinkcmo is correct, this theater should not have the aka Algona Theatre. It should be listed as the State 5, with the aka State 3. As far as I’ve been able to discover, the only Algona Theatre in Algona was the one opened in 1951 at 216 E. State Street, on the site of the Call Theatre, which had opened as the State Theatre in 1936 and burned down in 1950.
A small and rather blurry photo of the Rye Playhouse can be seen on this page of Boxoffice, March 7, 1936.
Before and after photos of the Plaza’s facade on this page of Boxoffice, February 8, 1936, show the extent of the remodeling that had recently been carried out. The after photo shows the Art Deco marquee which was later replaced, as well as decorative detail that was later lost.
Here is a fresh link to the photos of the Virginia Theatre in Boxoffice of February 8, 1936.