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The web site Lost Memory linked to above says that Gordon Smith designed this theater. Smith was a partner in the firm of Smith, Pitts & MacPherson, with DeHaven Pitts and Charles T. MacPherson. The slightly earlier It Theatre in Mathis, Texas, another quonset-type house, is attributed to DeHaven Pitts.
An article headed Final Days of Old Nashville Bijou appeared in Boxoffice of August 10, 1957. It has a brief history of the theater, and some information about the Bijou Amusement Company.
The Bijou circuit served African-American audiences, but was not African-American owned. It was founded by Milton Starr, and various members of the Starr family were involved with its management for several decades. The circuit was quite extensive, operating theaters from the Carolinas all across the south and into Texas and Oklahoma. At its peak there were more than fifty houses in the chain. The headquarters was in Nashville.
There were two theaters called El Cajon, this one being a 1946 replacement for a house that had burned the previous year. Boxoffice of July 20, 1946, ran a double-page spread on the new El Cajon, which had opened on April 24.
The El Cajon Theatre was designed by architect Robert Halley Jr. (one of his last works, if not the very last) and his associate James Wheeler. James Wheeler might have been related to William Henry Wheeler, architect of the Balboa Theatre in San Diego (and former partner of Robert Halley jr.), but I’ve been unable to confirm a connection.
Both the first and second Luez theaters were originally owned and operated by Louise Mask. A January 18, 1941, Boxoffice item gives the origin of the theater’s unusual name. Ms. Mask wanted a name with only four letters, and when building the first theater held a naming contest for it. The name Luez, a phonic contraction the name Louise, was the winning submission. I’ve found Louise Mask mentioned in Boxoffice as operator of the Luez as late as 1967.
Original owners Jerry and Edith Drake opened their new Drake Theatre on March 11, 1948, said Boxoffice of March 20. The Drakes had, since 1929, operated the smaller Ritz Theatre in Bolivar, which they planned to continue operating after the new house opened, though on a weekends-only basis. The plans for the Drake Theatre had been prepared by early 1946, and construction might have started that year, but completion of the house appears to have been delayed, probably by post-war shortages of materials.
Boxoffice of December 15, 1945, had an article about the Drakes and their plans for the new theater and for the renovation of the Ritz which would follow the opening of the Drake. Both projects were designed by Robert Boller, but I’ve been unable to find out if the plans for the Ritz were carried out. I don’t find the Ritz mentioned after 1948.
The Drakes were still operating the Drake Theatre at least as late as 1968, when the September 9 issue of Boxoffice reported that they had closed the house for a few days in August while visiting relatives in Colorado.
I’ve been unable to find any references to this house as the Esquire in Boxoffice, or to discover when B&B took over operation.
The 1958 closing of this theater must have been temporary. Boxoffice of January 7, 1974, said: “The Oriel Theatre in Glencoe has shuttered for an indefinite time.” I don’t find it mentioned in any later issues of the magazine, so late 1973 or early 1974 for the final closing of the Oriel seems likely.
The Oriel might have opened before 1935, too, though perhaps under a different name. Movie Age of August 31, 1929, said that Charles J. Novak, a local theater manager, would begin construction on a new theater at Glencoe in a few days.
The October 11, 1971, issue of Boxoffice said that Les Schultz had taken over the Oriel Theatre from Tom Novak, who had operated the house “…for some forty years.” That indicates a possibility that the Oriel was the theater Charles Novak was planning in 1929. It’s likely that Tom Novak was his son, or other relative.
Though a few items in Boxoffice refer to the “New Crystal Theatre” in Glencoe, I can’t find any items saying that the original Crystal Theatre there was ever replaced with a new building. There was a Crystal Theatre operating in Glencoe at least into the 1970s, and it was run by members of the Gould family throughout its history to that time. The magazine did mention the Crystal Theatre many times, though. Here’s a sampling of some of those that I found revealing.
The Crystal Theatre in Glencoe was the subject of a brief article in Boxoffice, January 3, 1953. 85-year-old Kate Gould was then still working ar the Crystal, which had been opened by her family in 1909 (though this item says it opened in January, 1907, later Boxoffice items all give what is apparently the correct year.) There’s no photo of the theater itself, but the shot of Mrs. Gould doing a bit of embroidery in the box office is downright Rockwellesque.
If an 85-year-old theater cashier is not sufficiently remarkable, this later article (somewhat longer, but lacking a photo) from Boxoffice of January 2, 1961, says that she had taken a few months off from her job at the Crystal, but intended to return to work in the box office. She was then 93. This items also notes that it was her son, Jay, who had opened the Crystal Theatre in 1909.
Boxoffice of November 7, 1966, took note of Kate Gould’s 99th birthday, and said that she had finally retired as the theater’s cashier a few years earlier, at the age of 94.
Boxoffice of October 9, 1967, published Jay Gould’s death notice, mentioning that Kate Gould would be 100 years old the following Monday. The Crystal Theatre was still open at his time, and had for decades been under the management of George Gould, Jay’s brother.
George apparently handed over the theater to another brother, Howard, for a while, as Boxoffice of June 9, 1969, said that George Gould was resuming management of the theater following the death of his brother Howard. The item said that Kate Gould would be 102 on her next birthday.
A brief item in Boxoffice of December 16, 1974, said that George Gould of the Crystal Theatre at Glencoe had been hospitalized for tests and observation. Another Gould, 79-year-old Mrs. Florence Gould, was admitted to a hospital for tests and observation in 1976, reported Boxoffice of October 25 that year. The Crystal must have still been open, as the item said she was “…still active with the Crystal Theatre, Glencoe….” Kate Gould was not mentioned in this item.
I’ve been unable to find a Boxoffice obituary for Kate Gould. Given the frequency with which she was mentioned in the magazine, I find this odd. Perhaps they ran one, but the issue containing it is missing from the online database.
Another odd thing is that an Internet search on “Crystal Theatre, Glencoe” brings up many listings (usually under the classification movie theaters) for something called The Crystal Theatre Company, with an address of 1706 Judd Avenue North, Glencoe. Google Maps satellite view shows this to be an entirely residential neighborhood. I have no idea what to make of this.
Chuck, Mike seldom cites his sources, so I don’t know where the unquestioned dates he uses come from. The dates (and other bits of information) with question marks must be his surmises, or are taken from sources he thinks might be unreliable. I’ve often found his lists very useful, though I usually try to double check his information before I cite it here.
The multiple listing of individual theaters under their different aka’s can be confusing, but can also be useful because they are arranged alphabetically. I’ve sometimes used Mike’s list to track down aka’s that are missing from Cinema Treasures pages.
As for seat counts, I’ve found just about everybody’s to be questionable. It’s not only because the original sources (managers, owners, Boxoffice stringers) are sometimes unreliable, but because seat counts often changed even in houses that hadn’t been fully reseated or remodeled. A theater with declining business might close a balcony to save on upkeep costs (or to avoid hiring two projectionists), leading to a sudden drop in reported capacity; or seats from the front of the house might be moved to replace broken-down seats farther back (a fairly common practice) leading to a creeping reduction in overall capacity.
In more recent times, a drop in capacity of a dozen or so could be the result of retrofitting the house for wheelchair spaces. But seat counts are useful primarily to give an idea of the general size of a theater anyway, so if they are off by a handful I don’t think it’s a big problem. If they are off by hundreds, I’d like to know why.
Also note that Mike does revise his lists, making corrections and filling in gaps, often incorporating information that he finds at Cinema Treasures or CinemaTour (a couple of times he’s even quoted from posts I’ve made here.) Cinema Treasures (and to a lesser extent CiemaTour) can update with corrections and new information more quickly, though, as they both have numerous contributors, while Rivest’s Lists are apparently a one-man project.
I found the Milda Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice as recently as the issue of October 23, 1961, so it was apparently still in operation at that time. Here’s the whole one-line item: “John Semadalis, owenr of the Romova and Milda theatres, returned from a visit to Greece.”
Boxoffice frequently misspelled the name of the Ramova Theatre, but it’s interesting that as far back as the 1930s, the Milda and Ramova were frequently mentioned together, and were apparently for much of their history under the same ownership.
Chas: Mike Rivest’s list of Cleveland-Akron area theaters can be viewed online here at Scribd.
You can also download it in Excel spreadsheet format from a link on this page at Mike Rivest’s web site.
On January 21, 1974, Boxoffice reported that the Irvin-Fuller circuit’s Merrimon Twins had opeend on December 21, 1973, with “Robin Hood” the initial feature in both auditoriums.
Owners Sam Irvin and Jack Fuller had been operating theaters for over 20 years, and the opening of the Merrimon Twins brought the total number of screens in the Irvin-Fuller circuit to 14, with locations in Asheville, Columbia, and Spartanburg. The circuit also operated the Plaza I and II in downtown Asheville.
Boxoffice of August 22, 1942, said that the new Wink Theatre was scheduled to open on September 10. The September 5 issue of Boxoffice said the formal opening would take place the following Monday. The first manager was named Ed Barber.
Hugh Manning and Herman Wink were partners in Manning & Wink, operators of the Wink and Crescent theaters at Dalton, and theaters in several other towns in Georgia and Tennessee.
After Herman Wink died, the M&W chain of nine houses was sold to Martin Theatres, as reported in Boxoffice of October 9, 1943. The other Georgia theaters sold in the deal were the Gem at Calhoun, Grand at Carterville, and the Strand and Cobb at Marrietta. M&W’s Tennessee houses were the Gage in Etowah and the Strand and Athens theaters at Athens.
A June 28, 1941, Boxoffice item indicated that a new theater planned at Dalton would be built to replace the Shadowland Theatre, which was being demolished. Information about the Shadowland is sketchy, but Manning & Wink had reopened it in 1938, and it was still operating in 1940. As it was demolished before construction on the Wink Theatre began, it’s possible that it had occupied the same location, but Boxoffice doesn’t say.
Boxoffice of August 11, 1956, reported that the Strand Theatre in Canton would be closed before the end of that month, and would be demolished to make way for a parking lot for Canton National Bank. Joseph Calla, manager of the house for several decades, said that there were still about ten years to run on the theater’s 50-year lease, so the Strand must have been open by about 1916.
In the 1920s, the Alhambra was operated by the Variety Amusement company, a large regional circuit operating mostly in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. In the mid-1930s, the Alhambra was taken over by Warner, and was renamed the Ohio Theatre in 1936 or 1937.
The Ohio Theatre continued under Warner or Stanley Warner operation until 1965, when the company was granted permission by a Federal judge to build a new theater at Canton provided they gave up the lease on the Ohio.
In 1965, When Stantley Warner opened their new McKinley Theatre, the Ohio was taken over by Reinco Theatres, operated by members of the Reinhart family, who had been in the theater buisness in Canton since at least the mid-1920s. Under Reinco management it was a first-run house.
In 1969, the Ohio Theatre was severely damaged by fire, but was restored and reopened by Reinco, still operating as a first-run theater.
I had Boxoffice citations for this information, but the crappy laptop I’ve been stuck with for the last couple of months devoured the whole post before I could submit it, and I don’t feel like looking everything up again.
On the Plaza Theatre page, Chuck gives the address of the Ohio Theatre as 332 Market Avenue North.
Boxoffice of February 23, 1957, said that the renovated Valentine Theatre had reopened as the Towne Theatre. It was being operated by Irving Reinhart when mentioned in Boxoffice of April 18, 1960, the last mention I’ve found of it in that publication.
Boxoffice of December 7, 1964, said that Stanley Warner Theatres had been given permission by a Federal judge to build a new theater in the McKinley Plaza shopping center at Canton, provided the circuit gave up the lease on their Ohio Theatre in downtown Canton. The Ohio had been a Warner house since the mid-1930s.
This theater opened as a first-run, single-screen house, as reported in Boxoffice of September 27, 1965. It had 1,182 seats, 831 on the mainfloor and 351 in the balcony. The screen was 25x60 feet. The McKinley Theatre was designed by architect Drew Eberson.
The Variety Theatre at Cleveland was opened by the well-established regional circuit, the Variety Amusement Company. On opening it became the company’s largest and most lavishly appointed theater. A 1927 issue of the Auburn, NY, Citizen ran an article about the Cleveland Variety’s new resident manager, Edward J. Wise, who had previously been manager of the palace Theatre in Auburn.
I’m not sure when Warner took over operation of the Variety (though it was certainly by 1938, when it was mentioned in the March 19 issue of Boxoffice), but I know that they took over another Variety Amusement Co. house, the Alhambra Theatre at Canton, Ohio, in the mid-1930s. It’s difficult to find information about the company, which is seldom mentioned in Boxoffice in later years, and then usually in the magazine’s “Twenty Years Ago” features. It appears to have gone into decline during the depression years.
The Variety Amusement Company is mentioned in connection with several Ohio theaters in Mike Rivest’s list of Cleveland theaters. The web site of the Lorain Palace Civic Center says that the company “…operated many theaters, primarily in Pennsylvania and Ohio, with 16 others in Northern Ohio alone.”
The Mozart Theatre was closed in 1954 and demolished the following year to make way for a parking lot, according to Boxoffice of November 5, 1955. It was last operated by Jerry and Irving Reinhart, sons of Harry Reinhart, who had taken over the house in 1931.
The designated landmark list of the Cleveland City Planning Commission gives a 1927 construction date for the La Salle Theatre, and names the architect as Nicola Petti, who also designed the Variety Theatre, opened the same year.
This theater is mentioned in Boxoffice dozens of times from early 1963 until 1976, and is almost invariably called the Windsor Cinerama Theatre, even long after it was no longer showing Cinerama films. Windsor Cinerama Theatre should be listed as an aka.
The last mention I find of the McKinley Theatre in Boxoffice is in an item about the hospitalization of Jerry Reinhart who, the item said, had “until lately” been owner of the Mozart and McKinley theaters. This appeared in the issue of February 18, 1956. The McKinley had apparently been closed the previous year, along with the Mozart.
Jerry Reinhart’s father, Harry Reinhart, had died in 1946, and his death notice in Boxoffice of September 28 that year said that he had bought the McKinley Theatre about 20 years before, so it had to have been in operation by the mid-1920s.
A later McKinley Theatre opened at a different location in Canton about 1965, and was originally a Stanley Warner house.
This house opened as the Parkway Twin in early 1973. It was located on the former site of the Parkway Bowl, according to Boxoffice of February 5 that year. The original configuration was one auditorium seating 242 and a second auditorium seating 484. Boxoffice gave the address as 1280 Fletcher Parkway.
Boxoffice of October 2, 1937, reported that the new Frederic Theatre had recently opened. It replaced a theater of the same name that had been destroyed by fire in March. The operator of the Frederic, Ralph “Clint” Norine, continued to operate the theater into the 1970s. His death was reported in Boxoffice of February 19, 1979. The death notice didn’t say that the theater had closed. It had still been open when mentioned in Boxoffice of April 17, 1972. It isn’t mentioned after 1979.
A second theater at Frederic, the Milltown, was opened in 1947, but soon closed. Boxoffice of October 16, 1954, reported that the Milltown Theatre building had been sold and would be converted to other uses. The theater had been dismantled some time before, according to a Boxoffice item of September 11, 1954.
Boxoffice of September 27, 1941, said the new Sunrise Theatre at Southern Pines had been opened the previous week. This item says the first operator of the house was W. P. Benner, who had theaters at Carthage and Hemp. Everett and Stewart are first mentioned in connection with the Sunrise in Boxoffice of December 2, 1944, in an item saying they would take over the house on Decmeber 3.
The Carolina Theatre was long operated by Charles Picquet. A March 10, 1956 Boxoffice item about his 72nd birthday said that he had gone “…to Pinehurst to operate a theatre there and at Southern Pines in the early twenties.” He had become head of the Theatre Owners of North and South Carolina as early as 1923, so there must have been a theater in operation at Southern Pines by that year.
The article doesn’t mention names for the theaters he was operating in the early 1920s, but the Pinehurst and Southern Pines houses he ran in later years were both called the Carolina Theatre. Cinema Treasures doesn’t currently list any theaters at Pinehurst.