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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.
This theater was originally called simply the Squire Theatre, though a facade sign read “Shellmel’s Squire Theatre.” Boxoffice of October 11, 1965, said the Squire was scheduled to open on October 13. It was Fresno’s first new theater in 20 years, Boxoffice said. They must have meant indoor theater. I’m pretty sure drive-ins had been built in Fresno during that period.
By 1968 it had been renamed the Country Squire Theatre, and was being operated by Trans-Beacon Theatres, according to Boxoffice of February 19. Simon Korenbrot was noted as owner and builder of the theater in the 1965 item, and in the 1968 item William Korenbrot was mentioned as head of Trans-Beacon.
A photo of the Squire was featured as the frontispiece of the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice, December 13, 1965.
An 868-seat single-screen house called the Merritt Theatre was in operation at Merritt Island by late 1965. Here’s an article about it in Boxoffice of December 13 that year. There are two photos, but both are interior shots. Does anybody from the area remember this theater, or know how long it survived? I can’t find it mentioned in Boxoffice after 1967. I’m just wondering if this building might have been incorporated into the AMC project.
The earliest mention I can find of an AMC multiplex at Merritt Island is in Boxoffice of October 19, 1970, which mentioned the project briefly, though a September 15, 1969, item had said that a six-screen “American Royal Cinema complex” was being developed by the Alpert Investment Corp. of Jacksonville at the Merritt Island Shopping Center. The recent opening of the AMC six-plex was announced in Boxoffice of November 16, 1970.
A December 4, 1937, Boxoffice magazine obituary of Atlanta showman Louis Bach says that he built the Hilan Theatre in 1933.
Fox West Coast gave up the United Artists in Pasadena in 1950 as part of the consent decree. Boxoffice of February 2 that year listed twelve FWC houses in California that had gone to UA, finally severing the relationship that had existed between the two chains. The other eleven houses were: State and United Artists, Los Angeles; Capitol and California, Glendale; United Artists in Inglewood, Long Beach, and Berkeley; Long Beach in Long Beach; Mission, San Jose; Varsity, Palo Alto, and California, Richmond.
FWC was operating the Pasadena UA at least as early as 1937, according to items I’ve seen in Boxoffice, but I’m pretty sure it was a UA-operated house from 1950 until it closed. I also recall the Washington Theatre in Pasadena being a UA house in the 1960s.
The description currently says that this theater originally presented movies and vaudeville, but I remember the building quite well and it had no stage house. Despite its fairly lavish proscenium, I don’t think the stage was very deep, and it certainly had no fly tower. The theater was built as a movie house, and its minimal stage facilities could have accommodated only the simplest live events.
However, there is enough room at the back of the lot that a proper stage house could be added on to the building, should anyone with very deep pockets want to convert the place into a regular live theater— though in a town that was unable to save the Raymond Theatre, which already had a generous stage, I don’t know who would want to make such a commitment to the old Egyptian.
Here is an article about the reopening of the Melba as the Capri in Boxoffice of May 9, 1960. There are two small photos. This article doesn’t give the date the house had reopened, but an April 18 Boxoffice item had said that the conversion had taken place that winter, and that as part of the project the Capri had been equipped for 70mm projection.
The Melba had ended its four-year run as a Cinerama house in 1958, when Tans-Texas Theatres renovated and reopened it as a first-run house. Boxoffice of June 8 that year said the first feature shown was William Castle’s “Macabre.”
The Astro Theatre was expected to be completed in time for a Thanksgiving Day opening in 1967, according to Boxoffice of August 28 that year. The 700-seat, single-screen theater would feature D-150 projection, and was being erected at a cost of $350,000. The architect of the Astro Theatre was Joe W. Hiller.