Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about B. F. Keith's Theatre on Dec 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

Here is a black and white nocturnal photo of Tremont Street, with Keith’s Theatre at left. It’s from the November, 1906, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about West End Cinema on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

The original owner of the Lancaster Theatre was a 1900 Harvard graduate named Kenneth Sherburne. In a 1921 volume containing autobiographical material from the class of 1900’s members, Sherburne’s section includes these lines: “…in 1916 I built and am still operating the Lancaster Theatre in Boston. It has not been a howling success financially so far, but is coming along as well as could be expected. It keeps me busy seven days a week, and is the best fun I have ever had.”

This Lancaster’s age precludes it from being the proposed theater mentioned in a 1932 issue of The Bridgemen’s Magazine, a trades union journal. The item said “Boston — North Station Theatre Co., c/o Boston & Maine Ry. Co., North Station, bids in April, 1 story, brick theatre, at end of concourse at North Station, Causeway St. $150000. Funk & Wilcox, 26 Pemberton Sq., archts.“ Does anyone know if this theater was built, and if so what it was called? It would have been in the same neighborhood as the West End Cinema, which was about two blocks from North Station.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Theatre Unique on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:38 am

An article titled Light and the Moving Picture Show appeared in the February, 1908, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer. Several paragraphs are about the Theatre Unique, though for some reason the magazine chose to call it by the slogan that appeared on its vertical electric sign, “The World in Motion” instead of by the name arched over its entrance. There is one photo of the theater, but it is only a daytime view so we don’t get to see the lighting which the article describes so admiringly.

Among the details about the house the article reveals is that the main floor seated 514 patrons, and there was a mezzanine that provided an additional 150 seats. Admission to the main floor was ten cents, but a seat in the mezzanine cost twenty cents.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gateway Theatre on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:20 am

The Theater Catalog atmos cited in the previous comment was mistaken about the year the Harris Theatre was opened. The Project Index of the Wolfsonian’s Eberson Archives lists the project as “Alvin Theatre Building & Alterations” and gives the year as 1941. A 1938 opening for a theater on the site of the Alvin would flatly contradict the 1940 item in Boxoffice that I cited in an earlier comment, which said that the roof of the fifty-year-old Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh partially collapsed that year.

I’m not sure how much of the 1941 theater building was new. The fact that the archives uses the word “alterations” suggests that at least part of the old structure must have survived. As only the auditorium roof had collapsed, it’s possible that only the auditorium interior was completely rebuilt, and the remainder of the structure was merely remodeled. The original walls of the auditorium might have been retained, as was often the case with theater rebuilding projects.

A 1900 biographical sketch of actor, playwright, and theatrical manager Charles Lindley Davis said that he built the Alvin Theatre in 1891. It was named for the title character in a play he wrote, produced, and starred in, “Alvin Joslin.”

The Alvin Theatre was listed in the 1897 edition of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide as one of four major theaters in Pittsburgh. Cahn gave the seating capcity as 2000, so it was a bit smaller than the Harris. Most likely, Eberson’s design incorporated some or all of the Alvin’s large stage into the rebuilt auditorium (Cahn said the stage was 48 feet deep from the footlights to the back wall.)

B.F. Keith bought the Alvin Theatre in 1900 and made it part of his vaudeville circuit, according to Lynn Conner’s book “Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater” (Google Books preview.) Conner also says that the house was renamed the Shubert Alvin Theatre in 1920, and became the Harris Alvin Theatre in 1934.

An advertisement for Philadelphia building contractors R.C. Ballinger & Co. in a 1907 edition of Sweet’s Catalog of Building Construction listed the Alvin Theatre among the projects the company had built, and said that the house was designed by an Indianapolis architectural firm called Reed Brothers. I’ve been unable to find any other references to that firm on the Internet. This biography of Indiana, Pennsylvania, architect Thomas R. Harley, who also operates the local Indiana Theater, says that at Carnegie-Mellon University he wrote his master’s thesis on the Alvin Theatre. Maybe he found out who the Reed Brothers were. Unfortunately, his thesis is not available on the Internet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Indiana Theatre on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:14 am

According to his biography, it was local architect Thomas R. Harley who reopened the Indiana Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Woodward Arts Theatre on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:45 am

I think that the article in Oklahoma Today, cited in a comment above by Cosmic Ray, got the architect’s middle initial wrong. Interent searches for an architect named Leonard S. Bailey provide no results that are not related to that magazine article and this theater.

However, the career of noted Oklahoma City architect Leonard H. Bailey is well documented, and provides many Internet search results. At least one theater, the Liberty in Oklahoma City, is attributed to him. Surely it must have been Leonard H. Bailey who was the architect of the Woodward Arts Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carmike 15 on Dec 3, 2010 at 6:31 am

The Carmike 15 in Columbus was designed by the Chattanooga architectural firm Artech Design. Photos can be seen in the entertainment projects portfolio at their web site (click on the fourth thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.) The text says that the project was a new prototype for the Carmike chain, and that the design and construction were both fast-tracked to meet a tight deadline. That might account for the under-designed look Joel Weide found displeasing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dos Lagos Stadium 15 on Dec 3, 2010 at 6:12 am

The Krikorian Premier Theatres in Corona was designed by the Chattanooga-based architectural firm Artech Design. Photos of it can be seen in the entertainment projects section of their web site’s portfolio (for this theater click on the fifth thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carmike Majestic 12 on Dec 3, 2010 at 5:09 am

The web site of Artech Design, architects of the Majestic 12, says that this was the first theater ever to receive LEED certification. The web site has several photos of the Majestic and of six other theater projects the firm designed (for the Majestic, click on the second thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.)

The front of the Majestic is a nice, shiny bit of Postmodernism, but I have to say that the back section, where the auditoriums are, which was made to look like an old warehouse with its windows sealed up, looks just plain ugly to me. They could have done better.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Emagine Palladium on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:27 am

The Palladium Theater was designed by JPRA Architects, of Farmington Hills, Michigan. There is a description of the theater, and three photos, on this page of the firm’s web site. It’s an interesting building, with a strong neo-Regency influence, but topped by a mansard, of all things. I can’t decide if I find it handsome or ridiculous. Maybe a bit of each.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Emagine Novi on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:22 am

The Emagine megaplex in Novi has 4000 seats, according to this page at the web site of JPRA Architects, designers of the project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Showcase Cinemas Bluewater on Dec 3, 2010 at 4:17 am

This page at the web site of JPRA Architects lists five theater projects the firm has designed, and one of them is Hoyts Cinema, Bluewater, Kent, United Kingdom. Unfortunately they offer no information or photos for this project. JPRA is headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, outside Detroit. In the U.S., the firm designs mostly mixed use projects and shopping centers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Aurora Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 6:59 am

Here is a link to several photos of the fire that destroyed the Aurora Theatre building in 2007. Bits of the building’s facade can be made out through the smoke and flames in a couple of the shots.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theater on Dec 2, 2010 at 6:35 am

The October 7, 1908, issue of the trade journal Engineering-Contracting had an item, partly unreadable in the scan, in its “Contracts Let” column that said (questionable words in parentheses): “San Antonio, Tex— Theatre.â€"P. T. (Shirly?) for erecting Royal Theatre for H. J. (Moore?) H. L. Page, Architect."

The arch in the photo that CWalczak linked to appears to be an example of the Moorish style that was briefly in vogue around the turn of the century. I notice that a somewhat Spanish-Moorish-looking geometric design also decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. That must have been the style Mr. Page was going for. I’m surprised they didn’t call the theater the Alhambra.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Community Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 5:53 am

When Walter Reade launched his new circuit, American Community Theatres, in 1936, he intended all of the houses in the chain to share a single architectural style, that being Colonial Revival. Several of the new theaters were opened in 1937, and these were designed either by William Hohauser or by Thomas Lamb.

Because Reade exercised such close control over the design of these theaters, it is sometimes difficult to tell from appearance alone which of them were designed by Hohauser and which were designed in Lamb’s office. However, in the case of the Morristown project, despite the fact that I’ve been unable to find a source identifying which architect designed the house, we do have a comparable theater opened the same year in Tom’s River, New Jersy, which is definitely a lamb design. Compare the photo of the Morristown Community linked in Justin Fencsak’s comment above with this vintage photo of the Community Theatre in Toms River, New Jersey. They look virtually identical to me.

The only Hohauser-designed Community Theatre I can find a photo of is the one at Hudson, New York, pictured in this photo from the Library of Congress. The Hudson house was larger than the New Jersey houses, which might account for some of the differences, but the entrance treatment and decorative details are handled quite differently in Hohauser’s Hudson design than they are in Lamb’s Toms River project. If I were laying a bet, I’d say the Community Theatre in Morristown is a Thomas Lamb design.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Allen Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 5:09 am

A unique feature of the Allen Theatre in its early years was a soda fountain called the Tea Room, located on the main floor and open to the auditorium. The facility was for the exclusive use of theater patrons, and was without a separate entrance from the street.

The July, 1922, issue of a trade journal called The Soda Fountain featured this article about the operation. There is one photo. The article says that the idea for the Tea Room came from the theater’s architect, C. Howard Crane.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mister Smith's Theater on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:56 am

Mister Smith’s Theatre (the way the name was presented in the ads for the house) was operated by S. Barrett McCormick, manager of the Circle Theatre, which was then the leading movie palace in Indianapolis. The November 8, 1919, issue of Motion Picture News ran an article about Mister Smith’s, accompanied by four examples of the theater’s advertising.

The article doesn’t mention the story about the origin of the theater’s name that appears in the description above. I wonder if that could be a local urban legend? Or perhaps somebody opened a restaurant called Mister Smith’s in the space after the theater closed, and the tale has gotten reversed over the years? This is one of those times I wish more old city directories were available on the Internet. They could answer such questions quickly enough.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Regent Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:44 am

I’ve found that, after a number of years practicing in Winfield, and not long after designing the Opera House, architect Willis Ritchie moved to the state of Washington, settling in Spokane in 1892. There he became one of the most successful architects in the Northwest, designing buildings throughout the region, from Vancouver, Washington, to Anaconda, Montana, as well as the Washington State Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ace Theater on Dec 2, 2010 at 4:11 am

This list of theaters in Wilmington gives the following series of names for the theater at 305-307 Maryland Avenue:

The Polonia (1921-1923)
Avenue Theater (1923-1936)
Ace Theater (1936-1963)
Capri Art Theater (1963-1970)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivoli Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:32 am

William Speck’s book Toledo: A History in Architecture says that the Rivoli was built in 1920. I have found references to the theater being in operation during the 1920s. The Wolfsonion collection’s index of John Eberson’s work lists the Rivioli only as a 1930 remodeling project, so he must not have been the original architect. So far, I’ve been unable to discover who did design this theater.

In the absence of interior photos, I don’t know how extensive the 1930 remodeling was, but the only exterior feature of the theater that was ever changed appears to have been the marquee. As the house was only ten years old in 1930, I doubt there was much alteration of the interior either. The ground floor front eventually got a streamlined update, with vitrolite panels and new metal door hardware, but this is not seen in photos from the mid-1930s, and so must have been done quite some time after Eberson worked on the house.

The facade at least was never Art Deco, except for that marvelous zig-zag marquee, as numerous photos such as this one show the building’s classical details such as fluted pilasters with ornate, composite capitals, swagged garlands with festoons, a denticulated cornice, and balusters along the parapet, which is surmounted by four pairs of urns. This decor was all intact until the theater was demolished. Whoever the original architect was, he had probably attended the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, or had studied with someone who had.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colony Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:29 am

William Speck’s book Toledo: A History in Architecture confirms that the Colony Theatre opened in 1941, but says that it closed in 1981. It also says that the theater suffered a fire in 1984, and was demolished the following year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Greenwich Theater on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:26 am

classictheaters: The Greenwich Theatre you’re thinking of is the one listed as the Art Greenwich Twin.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lewis & Clark Theatre on Dec 2, 2010 at 2:48 am

Google Maps will fetch the address for the theater that Chuck gave, but only if you write the street name as Lewis and Clark. Apparently an ampersand confuses their software.

In the street view from Lewis and Clark Boulevard, the theater building is hidden by a long row of shops. You get a pretty good view of the theater across a parking lot from 2568 Chambers Road, if you use the zoom feature. It’s a rather plain and boxy Midcentury Modern structure, but it looks to be in pretty good shape, at least on the outside.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Nov 30, 2010 at 5:33 am

Prior to the construction of the Graham Opera House, Washington was served by the Everson Opera House, a second-floor theater that was later converted to other uses. A 1909 book, “History of Washington County, Iowa” by Howard A. Burrell (Google Books fullview), has a photo of the Everson and drawing of the Graham, both probably from the late 19th century.

Here is an article from the Washington Evening News giving some historical background on the State Theatre. It’s dated November 18, 2010, and being a newspaper article it might not remain available on the Internet for very long.

The article says that the building was erected in 1893 to replace the first Graham Opera House (located at the opposite end of the same block) which had opened in 1886 and was destroyed by fire in 1892. Movies were exhibited in the Graham Opera House as early as 1897, but it was not renamed the State Theatre until 1931, at which time it became exclusively a movie house.

Judging from the photos of the State linked in earlier comments, the current facade probably doesn’t date from the 1931 remodeling and conversion of the opera house into a movie theater. That flat, plain style indicates a later remodeling project, probably from the 1940s or 1950s. The brick on the ground floor looks like it might even date from the 1970s.

Washington had at least one regular movie house in 1919, when an ad for the Motiograph company ran in the November 8 issue of Motion Picture News. It featured a letter from a “Mr. C.A. Pratt of the Electric Theatre Co., Washington, Iowa; Fox Theatre, Washington, Iowa and Pratt’s Theatre, Winfield, Iowa….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Regent Theatre on Nov 30, 2010 at 5:27 am

This page should be titled Regent Theatre, with the aka Winfield Grand Opera House. There is already another Cinema Treasures page for the Winfield Cinema, under its earlier name of Fox Theatre. It has the correct address. The address on this page is for the Regent Theatre, aka Winfield Grand Opera House (as listed in Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide), but several of the comments after the first five about the Fox/Winfield Cinema.

Here is a page with several photos of the Regent Theatre (click on the thumbnails) including a number of interior shots. The Opera House was opened in 1887, and was designed in the Romanesque Revival style by local architect Willis A. Ritchie.

Here is a large web page about Willis Ritchie, with contemporary news articles about his projects an numerous photos of various buildings he designed.