Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sabine Theater on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:42 am

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 25, 2009 at 12:58 am

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 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

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companies, and doesn’t yet have a reliable and economical means of checking them all for accuracy and discarding any outdated results, so I give them a pass on that.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 24, 2009 at 7:52 am

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 24, 2009 at 7:07 am

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 24, 2009 at 5:52 am

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 24, 2009 at 5:21 am

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 23, 2009 at 7:15 am

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 23, 2009 at 6:49 am

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Holly Theatre on Sep 23, 2009 at 6:03 am

It’s Henry, not Henty, Jensen. Still, the California Index at the L.A. Library’s web site has only one card citing a Times article naming Henry Jensen, and that’s an article from June 21, 1914, about the Palace Grand Theatre in Glendale. All the other cards mentioning Jensen cite articles in Southwest Builder & Contractor or other publications. The name Theaterium does not appear in the Index at all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Woodland Theatre on Sep 23, 2009 at 5:38 am

crackdog is right. The distinctive cornice line of the theater is on the building at 608 NW 65th Street. The Woodland was not in the building Molly Maguire’s is in now, and where the confectionery was located in the 1932 photo, but in the building next door.

From the satellite view and from the Google street view along 6th Avenue NW, it’s clear that this narrow section of the building was only the entrance to the theater, and the auditorium was at right angles to it, with its rear exits on 6th Avenue. The auditorium is still there, and is probably used by Advanced Sign Design, Inc., which occupies all the storefronts from the former theater entrance to the corner.

In any case, whatever the address of the Woodland was in historic times, the former entrance is now clearly numbered 608 NW 65th Street, as can be seen in the Google street view.

I’ve found the Woodland Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice Magazine a couple of times. The December 16, 1950, issue said that Ted H. Wilson had bought the Woodland from John Danz of Sterling Theatres. Then the January 13, 1951, issue said: “Don Wilson, former owner of the Kent (Wash.) theatre, purchased the Woodland in Seattle.” Then on July 14, 1951, came the notice that “Walter Timm, who recently purchased the Woodland Theatre here from Ted Wilson, was on the row….”

The next mention of Walter Timm I can find is from 1957, by which time he was operating a theater in Portland, and there’s no mention of the Woodland. I’ve been unable to find any references to the house when it was the Olympic.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about San Carlos Theatre on Sep 22, 2009 at 8:13 am

I misstated the original seating capacity of the Palace in my comment above. That line in paragraph 2 should read “…increasing the theater’s total seating capacity from a little under 600 to 825.” The article said that “about 250” seats had been added in the remodeling. The figure currently at the top of this page (571) was probably accurate for the Palace. I’m guessing Bryan found the theater in the listings in an FDY published before the 1952 remodel and renaming.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theatre on Sep 22, 2009 at 6:06 am

The Bijou was indeed built as the Lakeside Theatre in 1937. The Lakeside was renamed the Bijou in 1981 by new owner Judy Mace, who sold the house to Keith and Betsy Altomare in 1996. Boxoffice Magazine’s special ShoWest edition, published April 1, 2000, had an article about the Bijou and the Altomares.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about San Carlos Theatre on Sep 22, 2009 at 1:41 am

I’ve found this theater referred to as the Palace in Boxoffice as far back as 1937, but never more recently than 1951. The July 11, 1953, issue of Boxoffice ran an article about the Palace being renamed the San Carlos Theatre when a major remodeling and expansion of the house had recently taken place. The theater was operated by Miami showman Milton Frackman and his local partners, A.W. Castro and Gerald Abreu.

Among other changes to the theater, a small shelf balcony had been enlarged into a full balcony, increasing the theater’s total seating capacity from a little over 600 to 825. The article did not give a name for an architect of the remodeling, but the decoration was by Eugene Vitanza, of Miami. An interesting sidelight mentioned int he article is that Ernest Hemingway occasionally attended this theater when he lived in Key West.

The last of the partners who had operated the San Carlos since the early 1950s, Gerald Abreu, gave over the operation to Marshall & Rode Theatres of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1968, according to Boxoffice of April 15 that year. That’s the last mention of the San Carlos I’ve found in Boxoffice, and I’ve been unable to find the house mentioned under its later name of Cinema II at all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lux Theatre on Sep 21, 2009 at 7:51 am

The DeRay’s vertical and marquee can be seen in this 1941 photo of Joplin’s Main Street. The theater also had a large rooftop sign at this time, but it is facing the other direction. The vertical signs of the Fox and Paramount can also be seen, down the street on the left side.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lux Theatre on Sep 21, 2009 at 3:01 am

This theater should be listed under its final name, the Lux Theatre. It also had at least one name between Lyric and Lux. From the 1930s until 1952 it was the DeRay Theatre.

The Lyric Theatre opened after 1900 and was in operation at least as early as 1906 when it was shown on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of Joplin. Though it was a narrow house it had a fairly deep stage, and may have presented legitimate stage productions, though it was not the town’s largest theater. The Lyric was more likely a vaudeville house before movies became popular.

I’ve been unable to find out anything about the house between the 1900s and the 1930s, but at least as early as 1937 it was being operated as the DeRay Theatre by the Fite brothers, whose small regional movie house circuit consisted of five theaters in Kansas and Missouri.

In 1952 the DeRay was acquired by Dickinson Theatres, and was completely remodeled and reopened as the Lux Theatre. Dickinson operated the Lux for two decades, and it appears to have been a first-run house the entire time.

The Lux closed when Dickinson opened their new Northpark I & II Theatres at Northpark Mall in 1972. The Lyric Theatre building has since been demolished, along with everything else on its block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Eastgate 5 Theatres on Sep 21, 2009 at 12:51 am

The January 15, 1979, issue of Boxoffice said that the Eastgate opened as a twin in 1971, and was acquired by Dickinson Theatres in 1974 when the addition of a third auditorium was underway. The Boxoffice item was about Dickinson’s plans to add two more screens to the complex.

As a triplex the Eastgate had provided 861 seats, and the two additional screens would bring the total capacity to 1,463. The alterations were to be substantial, including the addition of a new lobby, a new front and signage, and redesigning the existing parts of the complex to be wheelchair accessible.

The expansion project was designed by Denver architects Mel Glatz & Associates.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carib Theater on Sep 20, 2009 at 6:57 am

Last line of paragraph two in my last comment should start “If it’s the same guy….”

I’ve got typoid fever tonight.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carib Theater on Sep 20, 2009 at 6:54 am

Note: I misspelled Heinemann in my comment above. I can only plead that my computer has a surplus of n’s and wants to get rid of as many as possible.

If it’s the same Peter Heinemann, he’s become a fairly well-known artist and a number of his paintings, often featuring images of cats and birds (as in this one), can be seen at various web sites. The painter Peter Heinemann was born in 1931 and would have been about 23 years old when the Clearwater Carib was built. I believe he is still living. It it’s the same guy, maybe he’ll find this page and tell us about the murals.

I’ve been unable to find out who created the very similar but more elaborate mural on the facade of the Miami Carib, but if it wasn’t Cohen and Heinemann (or at least Cohen, as Heinemann would have been about 19 in 1950) then the Clearwater mural was a pretty blatant imitation. I’d be inclined to blame the owners of the project. They must have had a case of mural envy. Interestingly, the name of the company they formed to build the Clearwater theater is from the initials of their surnames, N and V, but spelled out as En Vee, Inc. Freudian, perhaps?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carib Theater on Sep 20, 2009 at 6:10 am

The Carib Theatre in Clearwater opened in 1954, and was the subject of an article in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of March 6 that year. Considerably smaller than the Miami Beach house of the same name, it had 1,194 seats on opening, and was the first Florida theater built to accommodate a CinemaScope screen from its opening day.

Despite any similarities it may have with the Miami Beach Carib, which was designed by architect Michael DeAngelis, the Clearwater Carib was designed by architect James E. Casale. The murals in the auditorium and on the theater’s facade were the work of artists Peter Cohen and Peter Heinnemann.

The Carib was originally operated under lease by the Bay-Lan Theatre Corporation of Tampa (the Miami Beach Carib was a Wometco house), though the building was owned by two men who had winter homes in Clearwater; Anast Notopoulos, the head of a Pennsylvania theater circuit, and Philip Voulis of Chicago.

Boxoffice article here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about El Dorado Theater on Sep 20, 2009 at 5:07 am

An August 20, 1938, Boxoffice item that reported the sale of the Empire and El Dorado theaters to Fred and Lee Naify said that the El Dorado had 300 seats and the Empire 600 seats. Both figures were probably rounded off.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on Sep 20, 2009 at 4:26 am

Ken Walter: Belated thanks for posting the photo links. I didn’t get a notification for the page update back in April.

Thomas2: The Palace was located at 540 E. C Street. There are links to a couple of photos of it (thanks again to Ken Walter) on its Cinema Treasures page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about DeKalb Theatre on Sep 20, 2009 at 4:06 am

The increased seating capacity in 1950 over 1941 was probably the result of a rebuilding that took place in 1950. The January 7 issue of Boxoffice said that the DeKalb was being “torn down” to make way for a new theater that was expected to open within four months. The project apparently took longer than expected, as Harry Hart’s column in the August 26 issue of Boxoffice reported that the DeKalb was expected to open about August 31.

From the various photos linked above I suspect that the building was not torn down, and that the new theater was probably built within the existing walls. That classic facade looks like it would date from the 1920s or earlier, though in parts of the south old styles lingered long after they were discarded in most other places, so maybe it really was rebuilt to look like that in 1950. Harry Hart’s column said the rebuilt DeKalb would have a porcelain front, but that must refer to the panels on the ground floor. The upper part of the building appears to be faced in terracotta.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Sep 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

There’s something extraordinarily weird about Baxter Springs. The numbers on North Military Avenue get larger as you go south, instead of smaller as you would expect. Then, after the 300 N. block, the street name suddenly becomes just Military Avenue, with no north or south. But the numbers keep getting larger as you go south. Perhaps the city fathers of Baxter Springs were a bit confused about the concept of direction?

I think Phantom Screen was right the first time about the location of the Ritz. It must have been in the building with the boarded up restaurant on the northwest corner of Military and 12th, but the address of that building is not 1190, despite what Google Maps says. If you look at the building directly across the Avenue from it, there’s an establishment called Hatbox Photography. Looking up Hatbox Photography on the Internet, I found its address to be 1144 S. Military Avenue. Thus, the building across the street must be 1145 Military Avenue, the former home of the Ritz Theatre.

The Ritz was opened in 1926. The April 10 issue of The Reel Journal reported that the building, owned by John I. Cooper, was under construction and would be completed about May 1. (I think the building looks a bit too old fashioned to have been newly built in 1926, and was probably a conversion from some other use, but perhaps Mr. Cooper just had a very old fashioned sense of style.) The theater was being outfitted by Yale Theatre Supply Company, and would have “…416 upholstered seats, according to J. H. Toler, of the Yale Company.” Other issues of the magazine indicate that the Ritz was originally operated under a lease by C.A. Rehm.

There were also theaters called the Elite and the Majestic in Baxter Springs at the time, mentioned in issues of The Reel Journal as far back as 1925. I haven’t found the Majestic mentioned after that, but the Elite was mentioned as late as 1929. It’s possible that one or the other of them became the New Baxter Theatre.

A report on a fire at the Ritz in the July 15, 1944, issue of Boxoffice referred to the theater as “…the Commonwealth second house in Baxter Springs….” Commonwealth also operated the New Baxter Theatre at the time.

The March 7, 1957, issue of Boxoffice has an item that says “The building of the Ritz Theatre at Baxter Springs, Kas., has been sold and will be remodeled for a restaurant operation. The purchase was made from the Cooper estate.” As the item specifies the building rather than the theater being sold, it sounds as though the Ritz might already have been closed for some time before the sale took place.

Baxter Springs gets a surprising number of mentions in the trade publications, and it would take quite a while to sort through the lot of them. This comment is stuff gleaned from a handful of them that looked most significant to me. Maybe I’ll have time to dig up more about the town’s theaters at some future date.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lone Star 4 Theater on Sep 18, 2009 at 1:09 am

Drat! I forgot to link to the other Gedney photo with the location identified.