Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garrick Theatre on Jun 20, 2010 at 3:54 am

This 1907 Orpheum was designed by the architectural firm of O'Brien & Werner (Matthew O"Brien and Carl Werner) It was one of five San Francisco theaters they designed that were listed in an ad for the firm in the 1907-1908 edition of Henry’s Official Western Theatrical Guide.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Victoria Theatre on Jun 20, 2010 at 3:51 am

This house was listed as the 16th Street Theatre in an ad for architects O'Brien & Werner (Matthew O'Brien and Carl Werner) that appeared in the 1907-1908 edition of Henry’s Official Western Theatrical Guide. The ad listed five theaters designed by the firm. The other four were the Orpheum, Valencia Street, Mission, and Princess theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Mission Theater on Jun 20, 2010 at 3:49 am

An earlier Mission Theatre was operating in San Francisco in 1907. Did the New Mission replace it? The earlier Mission was listed in an ad for the architectural firm O'Brien & Werner in the 1907-1908 edition of Henry’s Official Western Theatrical Guide. The Mission was one of five O'Brien & Werner designed houses listed in the ad. The others were the Orpheum, Princess, Valencia Street, and 16th Street theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mid Island Triplex on Jun 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

The Mid-Island Theatre was a Prudential house when it opened in 1961. Boxoffice of November 13 said the Mid-Island had opened on the 10th. There were 600 seats in the original single screen house. I’ve been unable to discover how or when the triplexing was done, but it probably changed the capacity.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mall Theatre on Jun 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Boxoffice of April 25, 1960, has a rendering of the Mall Theatre and says that it was being designed by architect Drew Eberson.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Menlo Park Twin Cinema on Jun 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm

A brief article about the Cinema at Menlo Park appeared in Boxoffice of November 13, 1961, not long after it had opened. There is a single photo of the exterior. The 1,600-seat house was operated by the General Drive-In Corporation, which was soon to become General Cinema Corporation.

The article says that the Cinema was “Conceived by designer Elliot Willensky, now head of the Architects Design Group, New York City….”, though the architect of record for the building was Lathrop Douglass. Willensky went on to write a number of books on architecture, most notably “The AIA Guide to New York City” first published in 1968. Lathrop Douglass is best known as an architect of shopping centers, and might have been the architect of the Menlopark Mall.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Embassy Theatre on Jun 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Southwest Builder & Contractor of May 18, 1928, said that H. L. Batey was building a theater on the west side of Vermont Avenue between 153rd and Magnolia Street in Gardena (153rd Street is now Redondo Beach Boulevard.) The entire 15300-15400 block now shows as a single parcel on the Assessor’s office web site, with a construction date of 2001. But Mr. Batey’s 1928 project (probably completed in 1929) must have been the Embassy.

Boxoffice of October 5, 1940, said that Laraine Valuskis had taken over the Embassy Theatre at Gardena from J. Reese. That’s the only mention of the house I’ve been able to find in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sandia Theater on Jun 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The photo Lost Memory linked to is a pretty close match to the rendering of the Sandia Theatre by architect Jack Corgan, published in the “Just Off the Boards” feature of Boxoffice for December 7, 1946.

Despite its appearance in this feature, the Sandia was not “just off the boards,” but had in fact already opened on May 7, as noted in Boxoffice of June 1, 1946.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gardena Theatre on Jun 19, 2010 at 4:07 am

A couple of issues of Boxoffice in the mid-1940s mention the Gardena Theatre (it suffered a fire in 1945) operated by Harry Millstein and Harry Mellenkoff. It was most likely the unnamed theater being built for Mellenkoff that was mentioned in Southwest Builder & Contractor of October 28, 1938.

This 800-seat house was designed by architect C. E. Noerenberg, best known for designing a number of branch libraries for the City of Los Angeles, and for Dorsey High School, which he designed in partnership with Hollywood architect H. L. Gogerty.

Are we certain of the address for this theater? The L.A. County Assessor (not always reliable) doesn’t list 1002 W. Gardena, but gives an original construction date of 1924 and an effective construction date of 1940 for the 4625 sq. ft. building on the corner lot at 1004 Gardena, and those dates don’t match the 1938 construction and 1945 reconstruction of the Gardena Theatre.

This is the southwest corner of Gardena and Vermont, by the way. The lots on the east side of Vermont are in Los Angeles which has a different numbering system, so that’s the 800 W. block of Gardena Blvd. as it runs east from Vermont.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on Jun 17, 2010 at 2:06 am

If this house opened as the Palace in 1935, it might have operated under a different name for a decade or so before that. A July 7, 1956, article about the rebuilding of the Palace said that it was then about 30 years old. Before and after photos show that the building was quite old. The article says that only two walls of the original building were incorporated in the rebuilt Palace.

The architect for the rebuilding was Rufus Bland.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Jun 17, 2010 at 2:01 am

The Liberty was one of two theaters lately remodeled by Martin Theatres which were featured in Boxoffice of July 7, 1956. Before and after photos illustrate the article. Both projects were designed by architect Rufus E. Bland.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Leachman Theatre on Jun 17, 2010 at 1:16 am

Architect Jack Corgan’s rendering of the proposed Leachman Theatre appeared in Boxoffice’s “Just Off the Boards” feature for March 29, 1947. The theater as built differs somewhat from Corgan’s original design, which included an auditorium the full width of the building that would have seated 1,300.

A later issue of Boxoffice gives the house’s seating capacity as 1,100, but given that the width of the auditorium as built appears to have been reduced by almost a third from the original proposal, that seems a bit exaggerated.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Middleton Theatre on Jun 17, 2010 at 12:53 am

The Middleton Theatre was a quonset structure designed by architect Myles Belongia, of the firm Peacock & Belongia. The firm designed the prototypes for the quonset theaters erected during the postwar period by Poblocki & Sons, a Milwaukee signage company that branched out into theater construction.

An article about the Middleton, with photos theater during and after construction, appeared in Boxoffice of March 29, 1947. Boxoffice of November 9, 1946, said that the Middleton Theatre had opened the previous Wednesday. It was first operated by a regional circuit, M&E Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Madison Theater on Jun 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

A photo of the auditorium of the Madison Theatre illustrated an ad for Thortel Fireproof Fabrics in Boxoffice of March 29, 1947.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jun 16, 2010 at 5:26 am

The November 12, 1949, issue of Boxoffice reported that Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Sosna had leased their Sosna Theatre at Moberly to the Dubinsky Brothers chain, but it also said that they “…had entered the theatre busines here in 1936, and the present Sosna Theatre was opened in July, 1946.” So the Sosna/State was their second theater in Moberly. If the aka’s given as CinemaTour are correct, the first Sosna in Moberly was the house currently listed at Cinema Tresures as the Princess.

I’d guess the name State was chosen by the Dubinskys because it’s the same length as Sosna and shares two letters in common, simplifying (and making less costly) the changing of name on the marquee.

Boxoffice of February 4, 1950, reported that the Sosna Theatre in Moberly had reopened as the State Theatre.

Two years after Louis Sosna returned to Moberly and reopened the house, Boxoffice of January 15, 1962, reported thet the Sosna State Theatre had been acquired by Elmer Bills.

If this house was built in 1922, as the introduction currently says, then it must have had at least one aka that is currently missing. Boxoffice gives no clues as to what it might have been.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jun 16, 2010 at 5:23 am

Given that the theater at this location was called the Halloran Theatre for only ten years, from 1903 until 1913, and the Grand Theater from 1913 until closing in 1960, it ought to be listed as the Grand Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Jun 16, 2010 at 5:10 am

If the aka given for this theater at CinemaTour is correct, from 1936 until 1946 this house was called the Sosna Theatre. It was the first of two houses using that name in Moberly.

A photo of the first Sosna can be seen at upper right on this page from Boxoffice of June 27, 1936. The caption indicates that the front was new at that time. (The second Sosna at Moberly opened in 1946, according to a Boxoffice item from 1949, and became the State Theatre in 1950.)

The first Sosna became the Dickenson Theatre when it reopened in 1946. In 1960, it was taken over by Elmer Bills and renamed the Amy Lou Theatre, which the February 29 issue of Boxoffice said had opened on February 9. The January 29, 1962, issue of Boxoffice said that the Amy Lou Theatre had been condemned by the city of Moberly to make way for additional parking, but would continue to operate until demolition was ready to begin. I haven’t found when the theater actually closed.

This house must have been called the Princess before becoming the Sosna in 1936. CinemaTour also lists Rialto and Baby Grand as aka’s, but Baby Grand at least, and perhaps both, might be mistakes. A 1925 Reel Journal item about the destruction of the Grand Theatre by fire said that while it was being rebuilt, the management had taken over an old theater on 3rd Street and woule operate it as the Baby Grand. Unless the magazine was mistaken about the location, the Baby Grand could not have been this house on Williams Street. I don’t see a Cinema Treasures listing for a theater on 3rd Street.

Louis Sosna and his brother Sam opened a Sosna Theatre at Mexico, Missouri, in 1940, which a Boxoffice item of that year says was designed by Moberly architect Ludwig Abt. This makes me wonder if the two Sosna theaters at Moberly might also have been designed by Abt. The two houses closely resemble each other, and were probably both done by the same architect, and it could have been Abt. I haven’t found confirmation of this surmise, though. Maybe somebody local would know for sure. Also, if somebody could come up with a photo of the Sosna at Mexico we could see if it resembled the two Moberly houses.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Jun 15, 2010 at 4:24 am

Boxoffice of June 3, 1939, said that the Grand Theatre at Torrance had opened. The house was operated by Pacific States Theatres, a company controlled by Adolph Ramish and the Gore brothers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coronado Theatre on Jun 15, 2010 at 4:12 am

Mrs. S.E. Allen expected her new Coronado Theatre to be opened around the 15th of January, 1948, according to an item in Boxoffice of November 22, 1947. I don’t know if the target date was met or not. The earliest mention I can find of the Coronado as an operating theater is in Boxoffice of October 8, 1949.

Mrs. S.E. Allen was mentioned as operator of the Coronado Theatre in Boxoffice of August 12, 1968. Early in 1970, her daughter-in-law took over booking for the house when the elder Mrs. Allen was injured in a fall, according to Boxoffice of February 16.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Georgia Twin on Jun 14, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Here is a rendering from an aerial perspective of Martin’s Georgia Theatre, published with a brief article in Boxoffice of July 27, 1964, about the time construction began.

I’ve been unable to find an article devoted to the opening of the house, but Boxoffice of March 29, 1965, said that the Georgia Theatre was scheduled to open with the roadshow of “The Greatest Story Ever Told” on April 14. July 19, 1965, Boxoffice item said that the Georgia Theatre had opened during Holy Week, following a four-week delay caused by weather-related construction problems. The same item said that “Hallelujah Trail” was set to open at the house on July 29.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Centre Theatre on Jun 14, 2010 at 3:59 am

A photo of the auditorium of the Centre Theatre was featured on the frontispiece of Boxoffice magazine’s Modern Theatre section of August 6, 1955. The curved screen was 28 feet high and 60 feet wide.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Golden Mile Plaza Theatre on Jun 14, 2010 at 2:33 am

An article about the Golden Mile Theatre appeared in Boxoffice of August 6, 1955. There are several photos. The article failed to give the name of the architect.

Photos of the Golden Mile after its coversion to a twin appeared in Boxoffice of September 18, 1978. The architect for the conversion was Mandel Sprachman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Plaza North and South on Jun 14, 2010 at 12:47 am

This theater had to have been one of the earliest twin theaters built in the United States. Boxoffice of December 9, 1963, said that ground had been broken for the 2000-seat twin theater being built by Town & Country Theatres at the Mid-Island Shopping Plaza in Hicksville. An earlier item in the issue of October 14 had said that the architect for the project was Leon Miller.

So far I’ve been unable to find any Boxoffice items about the opening, but the Twin Theatre was in operation by spring of 1965, when it was the site of a wedding arranged as part of a promotion for the movie “Marriage Italian Style.” Boxoffice of April 5 has a photo of the happy couple with part of the theater visible in the background.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Americana Theater on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:51 am

The Americana began as a single-screen theater, and a four-screen addition was opened in 1970. Here is an article about it in Boxoffice of April 20, 1970. The architect for the expansion was Gale Santocono. Most likely he did the original theater as well, since he designed so many of Robert Lippert’s theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about San Pablo Showcase on Jun 13, 2010 at 4:20 am

This house was originally called the Showcase Cinemas I and II, and was opened by Robert Lippert’s Transcontinental Theatres in May, 1970. As described in Boxoffice of June 1, each auditorium had 400 seats, and to maintain proper decorum, nobody under 18 would be admitted to the theater after 6:00 PM unless accompanied by an adult.

Boxoffice of September 21 that same year gave the seating capacity of the house as 900. Another item in Boxoffice of April 12, 1971, dropped the seating capacity to 700. At least these conflicting reports average out to the 800 given by the June, 1970, item.

As Georob noted in a comment above, this house was never a Jerry Lewis operation. However, by 1974 it was being operated by Chuck Boening who, according to Boxoffice of February 4 that year, had operated the Jerry Lewis Cinema in El Cerrito for nine months before closing it the previous June. The Jerry Lewis Cinema had opened in 1972, and was located at 10624 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito.

This list of theaters operated by Robert Lippert includes seven bearing the name Showcase. I don’t think any of them were ever operated by Showcase Cinemas, Sumner Redstone’s company, which used the name for many theaters in the eastern United States.