Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Forest Hills Drive-In on Sep 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Forest Hills should have only one “r” in it. An article about the Forest Hills Drive-In appeared in Boxoffice Magazine of September 5, 1953. Several small photographs were included.

Here’s the article (if the link works.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Skyview Drive-In on Sep 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Boxoffice Magazine announced the start of construction on the Skyview Drive-In at Augusta in its issue of April 2, 1949. It was located on Olive Road near Milledgeville Road. The architect was Barney Dunbar. The August 13, 1949, issue of Boxoffice said that the Skyview Drive-In had recently opened.

The Skyview was built by Harold M. Boardman, a local automobile dealer, and originally managed by his son Donald. Not long after opening, the Skyview got a visit from Boxoffice columnist Harry Hart, who wrote about the operation in his column in the October 1, 1949 issue:

“Stopped at Augusta, GA., to see Harold and Donald Boardman of the Skyview Drive-In, a 670-car situation which opened earlier this year. The tower is all brick construction and the office is finished in natural pine, with hand-made furniture to match. The Boardmans certainly are hustlers and have been playing to a full house. They’ve had to put in seats besides the car space. The have carts to send out from the concession stand with ice cream, hot dogs, pop, and popcorn. Their setup is the result of a year’s study before opening, illustrating that the better the planning the better the success.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Richardson Theatre on Sep 26, 2009 at 3:53 pm

The Cinema Centre was probably the theater mentioned in August 16, 1971, issue of Boxoffice: “Leibrand & Halvorson, contractors, report that construction of the theatre here has reached the midway point. They anticipate completion in three weeks.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theater on Sep 26, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The Rex building got moved twice. The August 1, 1953, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Rex had been closed after the owners had opened the Riv-R-Vue Drive-In south of town. The Rex had by then operated as a theater for nearly forty years.

The building had been moved to the townsite somewhat earlier and at first had been used to store flax. It became a theater soon after, originally presenting traveling shows. The Boxoffice item does not give the year movies were first presented at the Rex, but it must have been in the 1910s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Daniel Village Theatre on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:53 pm

If your date is correct, then Boxoffice has provided the most extreme examples of delayed reporting I’ve found yet. Announcing a groundbreaking when the building has already been completed is pretty drastic. Maybe somebody at Georgia Theatre Company was slacking off and sending the press releases out months late.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colfax Theatre on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

A correction to my previous comment: The February 14, 1954, issue of Boxoffice said that Reggie Gannon, son of the late E.G. Gannon, had bought the Colfax Theatre with the intention of closing it. The Colfax is only mentioned retrospectively in Boxoffice after that. Reggie Gannon continued to operate the Sky Theatre until 1962, when he moved to Arizona.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Campus Theater on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Identical seat counts of a non-round number, coupled with the other information I dug up, seems good enough to me. I think the aka of Varsity Theatre should be restored. As the theater opened in 1926 and is in a college town, it’s likely that Varsity was its opening name. It was a very popular name for movie theaters in the 1920s. It probably saw its fair share of raccoon coats, hip flasks, and co-eds in cloche hats sneaking smokes in the ladies room.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Y-Knot Drive-In on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Both the West Theatre and the Y Not Drive-In were operated by Donald Johnson’s Johnson Theatres from 1966 until 1974. They were offered for sale in the classified section of various issues of Boxoffice in 1973, and the July 8, 1974, issue ran an item saying that both theaters had been sold to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Reese, effective June 2.

The item also said that when Johnson bought the theaters from in 1966, the West Theatre had been called the Rivola. He remodeled and renamed it, and also updated the drive-in, and both theaters were operated until 1973 by his brother, Franklin Johnson.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sky Twin Theatre on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:22 pm

The July 3, 1948, issue of Boxoffice said that construction had begun in Schuyler for a new theater for E.G. Gannon. Gannon had become the operator of the Avalon Theatre at Schuyler in 1945.
Boxoffice mentioned the recent opening of the 600-seat Sky Theatre at Schuyler in its issue of November 20, 1948. E.G. Gannon reported an overflow crowd for the opening movie, Northwest Stampede.

The October 7, 1950, issue of Boxoffice reported that Edward Gannon had died suddenly. After that, the Sky Theater was operated by his son, Reggie Gannon. The February 14, 1954, issue said that Reggie Gannon had bought the rival Colfax Theatre, which he planned to close. He operated the Sky until 1962, when the June 11 issue of Boxoffice reported that he was moving to Arizona and that Don Johnson of Lynch, Nebraska, would take over the Sky Theatre.

The November 22, 1965 issue of Boxoffice said that Mr. and Mrs. Donald Johnson had sold their Lynn and Boyd Theatres in Lynch, Nebraska, and would move to Schuyler to operate their Sky Theatre which had lately been under the management of Don Johnson’s brother.

The August 5, 1968, Boxoffice said that Don Johnson was planning an extensive remodeling job at his Sky Theatre. There’s no mention of twinning at this time, though.

The February 12, 1979, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Chicago Used Chair Mart had finished a chair renovation project at the Sky Theatre in Schuyler. The house was still being operated by Johnson Theatres. That’s the most recent mention of the Sky I’ve been able to find.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colfax Theatre on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:33 pm

This house was known as the Strand Theatre until 1940. The August 24, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that Harold Bowers and Carl Mansfield had taken over the Strand at Schuyler and would remodel it. The November 2 issue of Boxoffice said: “Harold Bowers has opened his Colfax at Schuyler, Neb., and the theatre will be operated by his father-in-law, Carl Mansfield.”

The September 11, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said that Joe Swoboda’s Avalon Theatre Corp.,operators of the Avalon and Strand theaters in Schuyler, had taken over another Strand Theatre at Pierce, Nebraska.

Schuyler had a Favorite Theatre in 1926 (The Reel Journal, September 18, 1926,) and Dome Theatre in 1930 (Boxoffice “Twenty years ago” feature on June 17, 1950.) These might have been aka’s for the Avalon and/or Strand/Colfax.

An E.G. Gannon took over the Avalon Theatre in 1945, and apparently operated it until he built the Sky Theatre in 1948 or 1949. Carl Mansfield was still operating the Colfax into the late 1950s, per various issues of Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Campus Theater on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I never saw this CT page before tonight, so I don’t know what information might have been in Lost Memory’s original introduction and later removed, but sarakali might have been mistaken about the Campus/Sosna never having been called the Varsity Theatre. There was an earlier Varsity Theatre in Manhattan, unrelated to the house that opened in the 1960s. The earlier Varsity Theatre was listed in the April 14, 1932, issue of New England Film News as one of the theaters that had recently installed RCA sound equipment.

An obituary of Sam L. Sosna in the February 8, 1960, issue of Boxoffice said that he had operated the Sosna Theatre at Manhattan from 1931 until his retirement in 1946, at which time he sold the house to the Griffith circuit. While this might indicate that the theater had been renamed the Sosna before the 1932 mention of the Varsity was published, it’s possible that Sam Sosna didn’t rename the theater immediately, or perhaps he was just thrifty and ordered the sound equipment using a remaining Varsity Theatre letterhead soon after acquiring the house in 1931.

This is a fairly tenuous surmise, though, so I wouldn’t add Varsity as an aka without confirmation from some other source.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Daniel Village Theatre on Sep 24, 2009 at 11:45 pm

The opening date currently given in the intro doesn’t match up with the information published in Boxoffice Magazine. The October 9, 1964, issue of Boxoffice had an article about the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Georgia Theatre Company’s new theater in Daniel Village which had recently taken place.

Various issues of Boxoffice over the next several months mention the project, and an article about the recent opening of the Daniel Village Theatre was published in the May 10, 1965, issue. The latter article did say that the movie the house opened with was Mary Poppins, which must have then been going into wider release following its initial road show run.

I can easily imagine Boxoffice publishing one or two items about a project late, but not every one of a whole series of items about a single project.

The 1964 item listed the architect of the theatre as Lowrey Stulb, and the 1965 item about the opening attributed the design to the firm of Eve and Stulb. Eve and Stulb had drawn the plans for the entire Daniel Village Shopping Center.

I believe that H. Lowrey Stulb is still living. In 2007, he wrote this letter to the Augusta Chronicle about the Augusta Library, another of his works.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sabine Theater on Sep 24, 2009 at 9:43 pm

It’s a tiny town. I doubt it ever had two theaters. The building in the photo must be the Sabine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about May Theater on Sep 24, 2009 at 8:31 pm

A brief obituary of 78-year-old C.W. Docter was published in Boxoffice of October 26, 1946. It said that he had built the May Theatre, the town’s first movie house, but did not indicate the period when it had opened. The earliest mention of the May Theatre in the trade publications I’ve found is in the May 4, 1929, issue of Movie Age. It said that C.W. Docter was planning to install sound equipment in the house soon.

Google Maps has the address off quite a bit again, placing it at least 200' south of where it actually is. A sign reading MAY in vertical letters still hangs between two windows on the second floor above the entrance to Lloyd’s Appliances.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:41 pm

The original Majestic Theatre at Hebron was destroyed, along with most of Hebron’s other major buildings, when the town was swept by a tornado in the summer of 1953. The opening of the rebuilt house eight months later was noted by Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of January 23, 1954. A small photo of the new Majestic accompanied the article. The theater was owned at that time by Harold Struve.

At the time of its destruction by the tornado, the Majestic had been in operation since at least 1920. An item about then-owner Arthur H. Records which appeared in Boxoffice of July 15, 1944, said that Records had owned the Majestic for 24 years.

Mr. A.H. Records of Hebron, Nebraska, was listed among purchasers of Reproducto Player Pipe Organs in an ad for Jenkins & Sons Music Company of Kansas City, published in the September 18, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Priest Theater on Sep 24, 2009 at 7:04 pm

MCM Theatres bought the Priest from its previous owner, Mrs. Mary Priest Logan, in 1953. The Boxoffice item about the transaction, published in the issue of November 7, said that MCM had already been operating the theater under a lease for more than seven years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sabine Theater on Sep 24, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Google Maps shows a Hennigan Street in Merryville. It crosses Main Street. The theater is probably at the corner. There are no street views for Merryville.

The Sabine is mentioned rarely in Boxoffice. The July 4, 1953, issue mentions it in passing, and the February 16, 1959, issue names it among theaters recently closed. The February 22, 1960, issue lists it among theaters recently reopened.

The January 6, 1964, issue said “R.E. Almand reopened the Sabine Theatre in Merryville, which had been dark a couple of months.” That’s the last mention of it I’ve found.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lake Theatre on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:58 pm

I’ve found the Gem mentioned in issues of Boxoffice as early as 1936. A couple of times it’s called the New Gem. The earliest mention of the Lake is in 1950.

There was also an Alcazar Theatre in Brocton at one time, mentioned in the November 24, 1931, issue of Exhibitor’s Forum. I don’t know if this was an earlier name for the Gem/Lake or not.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Google returns results from all the web sites out there, including those that haven’t been updated (yellowpages.com, kudzu.com, etc.) but Google Maps itself doesn’t have a “businesses at this address” link for the address, so their information is more up-to-date than the chaff from ordinary search results. Google doesn’t have any control over web sites operated by other companies, and doesn’t yet have a reliable and economical means of checking them all for accuracy and discarding any outdated results, so I give them a pass on that.

The inaccurate street numbering problem is usually the result of insufficient data. To fix it they’d have to gather and store the highest and lowest street numbers on every block everywhere, or gather and store GPS coordinates for every address everywhere, either of which would be another Herculean task. I expect they’ll get around to it eventually. In the meantime, I always heed the warning that pops up on every street view image “Address is approximate.”

As for FDY’s error, they must have relied on the operators of theaters to provide them with such information as addresses and seat counts. It might have been that some careless typist at Commonwealth got the names and addresses mixed up.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Sep 23, 2009 at 11:52 pm

There is no 1170 Military Avenue. The numbers don’t go that high in that block, and the next block is 1200. If 117 Military Avenue was a misprint (rather than just the wrong address altogether) it would have to be a different misprint.

I checked the photo of the Blue Castle in Phantom’s link and there’s no mistaking that it’s the building at 1145 Military Avenue. That row of windows above the sign is distinctive.

Here’s an informative 2007 article about a couple who were planning to open a gift shop, tea room, and banquet room called the Ritz in the building at 1145 Military. The reason for their choice of the name is that, when doing work for the renovation, they found the name “Ritz” spelled out in small tiles at the building entrance.

All the evidence points to the 1145 Military Avenue being the building that the Blue Castle moved into in 1957. The link I just posted gives some history of the building, and to me it looks conclusive that 1145 Military Avenue was the location of the Ritz, not the New Baxter.

One more bit of evidence is an item in Boxoffice of October 16, 1961: “Marion Nichols is reopening the New Baxter Theatre in Baxter Springs, Kas., on a weekend policy. Fred Harpist is doing the booking and buying for the house.” The New Baxter could not have reopened in a building then occupied by the Blue Castle restaurant.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Sep 23, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Boxoffice published an obituary for Phil Reich on February 20, 1961. One line says “His career goes back to vaudeville days and silent movies at his State Theater here.” The item also said that he had leased the State to Larry Lowstuter for 11 years, but had resumed operation of it.

Various items from Boxoffice over the years reveal some of the history of this theater. It was called Reich Auditorium early in its history, though the 1938 Boxoffice items that announced its renovation and reopening all spelled the name as Reicht. One of these items said that the auditorium had not been used as a theater for several years. It reopened as the Meyersdale Theatre in 1938, but had been renamed the State by 1939.

I can’t find anything about Phil Reich actually operating the house when it was called the State, prior to the last two years of his life. It was operated by several different lessees. In 1964 Larry Lowstuter, who had leased the house from 1942 until 1953, bought the State from Phil Reich’s widow. I don’t find it mentioned after that.

This reminiscence of life in Meyersdale in the 1920s contains the lines “My school days at Meyersdale High were typical. Basketball was played in Reich’s Auditorium because we had no gym.”

Meyersdale had another theater, called the Main, which was renamed the Roxy in 1931. It was in operation as late as 1958, but apparently closed by 1961 when a classified ad in Boxoffice offered the State for sale (for $27,000) and said that it had no competition in the town.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avalon Theater on Sep 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

The Avalon was in operation by the late 1920s. An item in Boxoffice of October 13, 1945, said that its owner of 17 years, E.R. Adams, had recently sold the house. The side walls of the building do look quite old. The zig-zag decoration on the facade was undoubtedly the result of a later remodeling, but I can’t find anything in Boxoffice indicating when that took place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Baxter Theater on Sep 23, 2009 at 9:21 pm

The Building at 1145 Military Avenue was converted into the Blue Castle restaurant in 1957. An item in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 16, 1961, says “Marion Nichols is reopening the New Baxter Theatre in Baxter Springs, Kas., on a weekend policy. Fred Harpist is doing the booking and buying for the house.” As in 1961 the Blue Castle was firmly established in the building at 1145 Military Avenue, that could not have been the address of the New Baxter Theatre. It had to have been the address of the Ritz.

The building at the corner of 12th street would not have been large enough for the seating capacity of the New Baxter. Numerous items in Boxoffice from the 1940s and 1950s made it clear that the New Baxter was Commonwealth’s “A” house in town, and the Ritz their smaller “B” house.

There is a building at 1117 Military Avenue currently occupied by the local branch of Westco Home Furnishings. In Google satellite view it looks like it might have had a small stage area, though without a fly loft. It’s large enough to have housed a theater of 786 seats, too. I wonder if that might have been the location of the New Baxter, and FDY not only conflated it with the Ritz, but also misprinted the address of what it thought was the Ritz but was actually the New Baxter as 117 Military Avenue?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about National Theater on Sep 22, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Well, in addition to correcting my misspelling of Nayfach, I should have done more searches before posting the comment above. The June 24, 1939, issue of Boxoffice says that N. Straus Nayfach was the architect of an addition and other work being done at the Nacional Theatre in San Antonio. Among planned improvements were a Spanish tile front, indirect lighting, and new auditorium equipment (by which I suppose they meant seats and such.)

In 1945, N. Straus Nayfach joined the advisory board of Boxoffice’s Modern Theatre Planning Institute. An item introducing him to Boxoffice readers was run in the February 3, 1945, issue, and it said that he had “…planned approximately 20 commercial and theater structures….” and that he was “…working on a very large postwar theatre program….” Though I’ve looked for other theater projects Nayfach designed, I’ve been unable to identify any.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about National Theater on Sep 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm

This theater might be the one that was one of the subjects of an article in the March 3, 1945, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The article, by Helen Kent, was about theater designs, and featured a San Antonio house called El Nacional along with a few Canadian movie theaters. There is a rather vague night photo which looks as though it is this theater, though it appears to have a different marquee than the one it sports in either the older or newer photos Lost Memory linked to, and the descriptions in the text of the article don’t entirely match the information about the National here.

The article says that the El Nacional was “…erected in 1940…,” and had 2000 seats. A photo of the auditorium shows a space large enough to accommodate far more than the 500 currently cited above, but even with a large balcony 2000 seems an exaggeration. Just going by the photo I’d have guessed a capacity of somewhere between 1200 and 1500. The article does say that the house was designed to serve the Spanish-speaking population of San Antonio, and presented Mexican and other Spanish language movies as well as American films.

See the Boxoffice article here.

Either there was another Nacional Theatre in San Antonio or Ms. Kent was mistaken about the house being built in 1940, and it was actually this older theater, and it was remodeled in 1940.

In any case, the article says that the architect of the El Nacional was N. Straus Neyfach (later to be the architect of the Alameda Theatre) and says that he was then preparing the designs for another large Latin American theater in San Antonio to be built after the war. So far I’ve been unable to discover if that project was ever carried out.