Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Jan 14, 2012 at 2:49 am

This item from the February 17, 1915, issue of Engineering and Contracting could be about the Plaza Theatre:

“A theater costing approximately $100,000 will be erected by Edward W. McDonough on N. 7th St., near Orange St. Plans have been prepared by Henry Baechlin, architect, 665 Broad St., city.”
If Baechlin’s plans were used for the project, the theater should have opened by mid-1915, but I’ve been unable to find an opening date.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivoli Theater on Jan 14, 2012 at 2:37 am

Here’s an item from the March 20, 1920, issue of Real Estate Record and Builders Guide:

“Henry Baechlin, 665 Broad st Newark, has completed preliminary plans for a 1-sty brick, limestone and terra cotta moving picture theatre, 105x165 ft, seating 3,300, in Ferry st, between Polk and Merchant sts, for Joseph Stern, 207 Market st, owner. Cost, about $350,000.
I’ve looked for an opening date for the Rivoli, but haven’t been able to find one. If it opened not too many months after the date of the magazine item, that would be an indication that Baechlin probably also did the final plans.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Jan 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Ads in the November 21, 1916, issue of The Mansfield News include both the Arris and Grand Theatres, so Grand was probably never an aka for the Arris. The first Park Theatre was not listed, so that remains a possible aka for the Arris. The White Way Theatre was also advertised, so the Ritz building dates from at least that early. Other theaters advertised included the Opera House, Alvin and Royal, all showing movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Akron Civic Theatre on Jan 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

A number of earlier comments have noted the narrowness of the Akron Civic Theatre’s entrance, but I don’t think anyone has commented on why it is so narrow, or why it is designed in such a different architectural style than Eberson’s Moorish-Spanish theater. In fact, the theater’s entrance was designed by a different architect, C. Howard Crane, and it was built about a decade before the theater itself.

Originally, the current theater entrance was intended to be only one entrance to a large project called the Hippodrome Arcade, which was to have included a glass-roofed galleria lined with thirty shops as well as a theater with some 3000 seats. As told in this Akron Beacon Journal article, the Hippodrome Arcade Company was founded in 1917 by L. Oscar Beck, but the project proved to be too ambitious, and the company collapsed in 1921. Only the entrance building with its Italian Renaissance facade was completed.

In late 1926, Marcus Loew bought the property at a sheriff’s auction. Crane’s original plans were abandoned, and Loew’s Akron Theatre was built on part of the site that Beck had intended for the shopping arcade (the original plans had the Hippodrome Theatre at the far end of the arcade, adjacent to Water Street, where there is now a parking lot.) Crane’s original entrance building was only slightly modified when the new theater was built, and thus retains its Italian style.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Duplex Theater on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm

In most cases when a theater building’s owners took over operation of the business, it was because they were unable to find any reliable operators willing to lease the house from them, so that probably was the case with the Duplex. A tremendous number of theaters were built in Detroit during the 1910s, so the city probably had too many seats for several years, despite its rapid population growth.

This must have been true for the Duplex, which had to compete not only with other neighborhood theaters such as the Norwood, opened the same year, but with the Regent, a larger and more palatial house that opened nearby on Woodward Avenue in 1916.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Duplex Theater on Jan 12, 2012 at 7:01 am

I’ve rechecked the Crane project list in Ms. DiChiera’s thesis, and it looks like the Cary Duplex proposal dated from either 1912 or 1913. As project #96, it comes after the Comique Theatre (project #94,) opened in 1912, and before the Liberty Theatre (project #115,) which opened in 1913. Given the period, it wouldn’t have been the proposed theater on Gratiot Avenue announced in 1916.

Possibly the Cary Duplex project was an earlier proposal for a twin-auditorium theater that didn’t get built. The Duplex Theatre of 1915 was probably the project noted in this item from the September 5, 1914, issue of The Music Trade Review:

:“The Grand Boulevard Theater Co. which will build a picture theater on Grand boulevard, Detroit, has been incorporated for $100,000. The principal stockholders are Fuller Claflin, E. Henry Griffin, and Daniel H. Kerney.”
I don’t think that the Boulevard Theatre Company which was planning the 1916 project on Gratiot Avenue was the same outfit as the Grand Boulevard Theatre Company that built the Duplex. The Boulevard Theatre Company, which was headed by J. C. Ritter, operated the Boulevard Theatre, as well as the Rialto.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivola Theater on Jan 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

James C. Ritter’s obituary in the December 1, 1951, issue of The Billboard said that he was one of the organizers and an officer of the Co-Operative Theatres of Michigan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Boulevard Theatre on Jan 12, 2012 at 6:39 am

The obituary of James C. Ritter in the December 1, 1951, issue of The Billboard says that he built the Boulevard Theatre in 1911. A list of C. Howard Crane’s theater designs lists a “Ritter Theatre” as project #79, which would date it to about 1911. The house was most likely open by 1912.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Oakland Theater on Jan 12, 2012 at 6:34 am

The Oakland Theatre in Pontiac is on a list of theaters designed by C. Howard Crane as project #247. Plans for the Oakland Theatre were announced in the June 3, 1916, issue of Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record, which said that construction was underway. The article described the seating arrangement of the house as being “amphitheater” style. The Oakland was one of several Crane-designed houses from the 1910s which featured this type of seating.

The July 8, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Oakland Theatre had been designed in the “Adams” style of architecture, and said that the project was being rushed to completion, and the theater was expected to be open by early October. The rush was apparently in vain, as an item in the April 16, 1918, issue of Michigan Film Review said that the Oakland had been in operation for one year as of March 27, which would give an opening date of March 27, 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Jan 12, 2012 at 4:06 am

The Liberty Theatre was built within the shell of a former church, and was designed by architect C. Howard Crane. Photos of it were featured in an article on Crane’s theater designs in the September, 1914, issue of The American Architect, but I’ve been unable to find a digital version of that magazine online. Fortunately, some of the illustrations can be seen in The Theater Designs of C. Howard Crane, the Masters thesis of Lisa Maria DiChiera, available at The Internet Archive:

An exterior photo, along with a drawing of the church.

A floor plan of the theater as redesigned by Crane.

A photo fo the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Jan 10, 2012 at 2:47 am

chippy1960: Thanks for revealing the specific location of the Ritz, and for the photo. I was pretty sure it had to be on one of those two lots in the 100 block.

The caption of a photo of North Main Street in the book Mansfield in Vintage Postcards (Google Books preview) says that the Ritz Theatre was called the White Way Theatre during the 1920s. It was one of four theaters on North Main Street, the others being the Park, the Grand, and the Royal.

I found an address for the Royal, at 77 N. Main. The Arris Theatre, which was sold in 1918, was at 5 N. Main, and might have been renamed. possibly becoming either the Grand or the Park. By the 1930s, the names Grand, Royal, and Park had vanished from Mansfield theater listings, but a house called the Majestic had appeared. I can’t find an address for the Majestic, but possibly it was either the Grand, Royal, or Park renamed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on Jan 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

There was a Palace Theatre in operation at Cedar Rapids at least as early as 1908. It was mentioned in the October 24 issue of The Moving Picture World. Beginning in 1913, trade publications mention the Palace Theatre at Cedar Rapids being operated by A.J.Diebold.

Comments on the New Times 70 Theatre page say that the Palace was located on 2nd Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets, and that it was taken over by Roy Metcalfe, operator of the New Times 70 Theatre, in December, 1956. One comment also notes that the Palace has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midelburg Theatre on Jan 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Another photo, showing the rear of the former Midelburg Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midelburg Theatre on Jan 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Here is a more recent photo of the former Midelburg Theatre. A comment says that the theater was converted into a department store, but doesn’t say when. (A snippet view of the 1964 Motion Picture Almanac lists the Capitol, Logan and Midelburg Theatres at Logan, but I don’t know if all three were still open at that time.) At the time the Flickr comment was made (41 months ago) the building was vacant.

The obituary of Ferdinand Midelburg in the June 17, 1950, issue of The Billboard described him as the “…owner of a chain of Kentucky and West Virginia theatres, with headquarters in Logan, West Va….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midelburg Theatre on Jan 9, 2012 at 4:30 am

A Wurlitzer organ, opus 995, was shipped to the Midelburg Theater on April 2, 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Laguna Theatre on Jan 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

There is an inventory of historic buildings in Laguna Beach (available as a 9.8MB PDF file) put together by the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and it doesn’t quite match up with the information from the Laguna Beach Historical Society. The section of the document about the South Coast Theatre says that the Lynn Theatre building on Coast Highway was built in 1915.

It also says that the building itself was moved to the Ocean Avenue location so that the Lynn could continue to operate while the new theater on PCH was being built. The two lots are pretty close to each other, so the move would have been short, and it does seem plausible. Moving buildings, even large, substantial ones, was much more common then than it is now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theater on Jan 6, 2012 at 5:14 am

For some reason, Google Maps is putting this theater on South Saginaw Street instead of North Saginaw.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jan 6, 2012 at 3:53 am

The Water Winter Wonderland page for the Savoy says the theater opened in 1908. A Savoy Theatre at Flint suffered a fire on May 13, 1913, according to a list of theater fires in the September, 1913, issue of Safety Engineering. It didn’t reveal the extent of the damage, but if it was considerable and substantial repairs had to be made, that might explain why the theater was called the New Savoy for a while.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jan 6, 2012 at 3:08 am

Chuck: The State replaced the Orpheum at 513 S. Saginaw in 1924. The small building you refer to was in between the Strand and the Orpheum/State.

The Orpheum and the State were on the lot where Blackstone’s is now. Every web site on the Internet lists Blackstone’s at 531 S. Saginaw. It looks like Flint has shifted its addresses, so the current one doesn’t match up with the historic one of 513 S. Saginaw, or maybe somebody at Blackstone’s is dyslexic and gave out an address with the 1 and the 3 reversed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empress Theater on Jan 6, 2012 at 3:03 am

The 1918 Flint City Directory lists three theaters on this block of S. Saginaw Street, all on the same side: the Strand, at 507-509; the Orpheum, at 513; and the Empress, at 521. The State Theatre replaced the Orpheum in 1924, and its site is now occupied by Blackstone’s Pub and Grill. Multiple web sites list Blackstone’s as being at 531 S. Saginaw, which doesn’t match the historic address, but the building was just about mid-block, so 521 must have been very near the corner of 2nd Street. That’s open space now, so the Empress has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theater on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:53 am

The Google Maps pin is a bit off. This page from the Oneida County Historical Society says that the Orpheum was at the northeast corner of Lafayette and Washington Streets. It was a second-floor house converted from an assembly room that had been part of the 1900 project which rebuilt the 1871 Utica Opera House as the Majestic Theatre.

The Orpheum, opened on January 19, 1901, was leased to the Wilmer & Vincent vaudeville circuit for most of its history, and only became a movie theater on May 1, 1915. On March 20, 1917, the building was extensively damaged by an early morning fire, and the Orpheum was never reopened as a theater.

The architect for the rebuilding of the Utica Opera House as the Majestic and Orpheum Theatres was Fuller Claflin, at that time still an associate of the firm of J. B. McElfatrick & Son.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:52 am

The Majestic Theatre was an extensive rebuilding of the Utica Opera House, which had been built in 1871. When Sam Shubert took over the lease on the Opera House in 1900, he had the building largely gutted and expanded to create a space for a more modern theater. In addition to the new Majestic, the building housed a second-floor assembly room at the Washington Street corner of the structure, and this was converted into the Orpheum Theatre in 1901.

The December, 1900, issue of Engineering Review featured an article on the rebuilding project, focusing largely on the heating systems of the new theater. It noted that the architect for the project was Fuller Claflin, of the New York firm of J. B. McElfatrick & Son.

This page from the Oneida County Historical Society web site has details about the Majestic and Orpheum Theatres, as well as three early photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jan 5, 2012 at 3:27 am

The Orpheum Theatre in Sheridan was listed in the 1913-1914 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide. The ground-floor house then had 530 seats in the orchestra, 176 in the balcony, and 84 in the gallery.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Jan 5, 2012 at 3:01 am

The Strand Theatre opened on December 17, 1917, and was designed by architect Frank W. Moore. It was built for Evanston exhibitor Arthur R. Bowen. Information about the Strand is included in a biographical sketch of Mr. Bowen that appears in volume 2 of the S.J. Clarke Publishing Company’s History of Wyoming, published in 1918 (scan from Google Books). Here are the passages relating to the Strand:

“Arthur R. Bowen is well known in theatrical circles, especially in western Wyoming, where for a number of years he has been identified with the Wyoming and Strand theatres, the latter a new venture which in architectural construction and equipment is equal to any theatre to be found in this section of the country. In the conduct of his places of amusement Mr. Bowen has displayed the most enterprising spirit and has kept in touch with the trend of progressiveness along that line.

“In 1917 he began the erection of the Strand theatre which opened December 17, 1917. It was built and equipped at a cost of fifty thousand dollars and is one of the most attractive and modern theatres to be found anywhere in the west. The architect was Frank W. Moore, of Salt Lake City, who is an expert in theatre building and who has combined in the Strand all of the latest conveniences and attractive designs known to the theatrical world. The Strand has a seating capacity of eight hundred, including main floor and balcony, with orchestra space and a large, commodious stage with ample dressing rooms for the use of traveling companies.”

The good news is that, though the historic interior of the Strand Theatre was destroyed, the building has been stabilized and will be restored, according to this page from the City of Evanston web site. The page does not say if the building will be reopened as a movie theater or not, but as Evanston has an operating four-screen house (the Cinemajik Valley 4 Cinemas) it seems likely that a restored Strand would have to be used for other purposes.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Victory Theater on Jan 5, 2012 at 2:07 am

The Victory Theatre has had two different locations. The Photo lostmemory linked to shows the most recent location on J. C. Penney Drive, but the photo Don Lewis linked to shows the original location on Pine Street between Topaz and Sapphire.

All of the historic buildings on the block in Don’s photo have been demolished, the last of them, the Kemmerer Hotel on the corner of Pine and Sapphire, condemned and demolished as recently as 2004 when it was discovered that its stonework had grown unstable.

The fourth photo down this web page shows the original Victory Theatre, and says that in 2004 plans were first announced for a new Victory Theatre, but it doesn’t say whether or not anything came of those plans, or anything about when the Victory on Pine Street closed, and there’s no indication that the Victory on J. C. Penney is the house that was being planned in 2004, but I think it probably is.

I also think Don’s postcard might be from the late 1960s rather than the 1950s. Despite the prominent mid-50s car, a couple of the cars parked down the block look to me like post-tail fin era models from the late 60s.

There is a also strong possibility, which as yet I’ve been unable to confirm, that the Victory Theatre on Pine Street was actually the original Kemmerer Theatre, which opened in 1910 (I’ve found nothing about the Kemmerer Theatre on Antelope Street, which is listed at Cinema Treasures, but it was certainly not the original Kemmerer Theatre, as that neighborhood didn’t even exist in 1910.)

The only place I’ve found anything about the original Kemmerer Theatre is a history of Wyoming published in 1918. It features a brief biography of George Whitten, original owner of the Kemmerer Theatre. Just in case the Victory is the same theater renamed, I’ll quote the relevant parts of the biography here:

“George Whitten is the genial proprietor of the New Kemmerer Theater and is one of the most popular and best known citizens of Lincoln county. He is a theatrical manager of many years' experience, having conducted various theaters and moving picture houses in many sections of the country through a period of fifteen years. This has given to him a knowledge of public wants and demands in this direction and he is giving Kemmerer the best attractions that can be secured in film productions. In the conduct of his business he displays a most enterprising spirit and puts forth every effort to please his patrons, so that success naturally follows.

“He… opened what is known as the New Kemmerer Theater in 1910. It is a modern moving picture and vaudeville house with a seating capacity of two hundred and eighty. It has all modern appointments and equipment and the building has been erected especially for theater purposes. Mr. Whitten is conducting a most attractive place of refined amusement, catering to the better class of patrons, and he produces the best pictures which have been put upon the screen, thus bringing before his audience the leading actors and actresses of the country, together with many films that bring one into touch with the places of interest and the scenes of beauty in other lands.”

Perhaps someone from Kemmerer will be able to confirm or disprove my surmise that George Whitten’s New Kemmerer Theater of 1910 became the Victory Theatre. I’ve exhausted the sources available on the Internet.