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Boxoffice Magazine reported on January 24, 1942, that Lou Bard had sold his Colorado Theatre in Pasadena to Fox West Coast. The house was to be closed soon for “extensive alterations.” The recent opening of Fox West Coast’s refurbished Academy Theatre was announced in Boxoffice of July 11, 1942.
I’ve always had the impression that the Academy lost its original Egyptian style and got its modern interior at the same time the exterior was remodeled in 1957, but the photo of the mezzanine lounge in this Gulistan Carpet ad in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice shows that at least this part of the interior had already been redone in the art moderne style by then. It’s possible that the interior was entirely modernized during the Fox project in 1942, and the carpeting touted in the Gulistan ad could have been part of a later refurbishing.
An article featuring photos of Shea’s Theatre in Ashtabula was published in Boxoffice, April 1, 1950. Written by the theater’s architect, Michael DeAngelis, and Roy Anderson, the acoustic engineer on the project, the article delves into the methods of providing proper acoustics in movie theaters, with particular emphasis on how the problem was dealt with in the design of Shea’s.
In 1950, the Madison Theatre was owned by the local volunteer fire department and operated under lease by Mrs. Regina Steinberg. That year, the February 25 issue of Boxoffice reported plans to enlarge and remodel the theater, with plans by architect/engineer Samuel Sanner. A May 13, 1951, Boxoffice item said that the Steinberg family had been operating the Madison for 21 years.
The enlargement of the house is not mentioned in the February 17, 1951, Boxoffice item about the reopening, which was to take place on the 14th. But one Boxoffice item about the project said that the building was to be extended to reach the alley behind it, and a 1971 view of the area at Historic Aerials shows one building on that section of 3rd Street that reaches the alley, and the rear portion has a different colored roof than the front portion. It that was the theater, then the expansion must have happened.
The renovation was extensive, in any case, and included building a new floor, reconditioning the seats, complete redecoration, and other improvements. The house was closed from January 6 until February 14.
An April 23, 1955, Boxoffice item said that Mrs. Steinberg had sold the Madison. After that I can’t find it mentioned in Boxoffice, but there are probably a dozen American towns called Madison, and all of them seem to have a namesake theater, so it might be hiding in there somewhere.
The Main Theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary on February 9, 10, and 11, 1965. Boxoffice of February 22, 1965, reported that operator Joe Blum, son of Peter Blum who had opened the house in 1915, on those nights presented three admission-free movies which had been chosen by the theater’s patrons. The three movies shown on successive nights were “Muscle Beach Party,” “McLintock,” and “PT 109.” The 300-seat house was packed each night.
Fox Midwest’s Rockhill Theatre had been closed for over a year when, in 1956, it was purchased and reopened as an art house by Louis Sher and Edward Shulman. A $75,000 renovation and redecoration was carried out by the Teichert Studios of Chicago. The seating capacity was reduced by nearly half, to 720, with new 21-inch seats in 44-inch rows. Decoration throughout the house was simplified, and a coffee bar was installed in place of the lobby concession stand. The new screen had a 3 degree curve and flexible masking to accommodate a variety of aspect ratios.
Boxoffice Magazine of September 1, 1956, announced that the renovation project had been completed ahead of schedule and that, after a benefit premier on September 5, the Rockhill would have its public opening the following day with “The Proud and the Beautiful.” On the 19th, the house would participate in the world premier of “Lust For Life,” the Vincent Van Gogh biopic which featured paintings loaned from the collection of the nearby William Rockhill Nelson Art Gallery.
L.L. Thatcher penned a three-page article about the Rockhill’s renovation for Boxoffice of October 20, 1956. There are several photographs illustrating the article.
As reported in Boxoffice of October 20, 1956, when the Parkway Theatre was renovated and reopened as the 5 West Theatre the original seating capacity of 1,100 was reduced to a mere 440. The interior was gutted and rebuilt. A new concrete floor was poured for the orchestra section, and the balcony was re-stepped. The new seating rows were 48 inches back to back on the main floor and 64 inches back to back in the balcony. Additionally, the former standee area was enlarged and walled off from the auditorium to provide space for a new lounge.
The first film shown at the 5 West was the Alec Guinness comedy “The Lady Killers.” The theater was operated by the 5 West Amusement Company, Milton Schwaber, President. Three photos of the renovated theater appeared in Boxoffice Magazine, October 20, 1956.
The 5 West apparently began having difficulty operating as an art house as early as 1974, when the September issue of Boxoffice said that Schwaber Theatres had closed the house until further notice. I don’t know how long this closure lasted, but I haven’t found the house mentioned in Boxoffice again until July 26, 1976, when there was an item saying that Schwaber World Fare Cinemas had reopened the 5 West “…as a showcase for black exploitation films.”
As long ago as 1983, public involvement to revive the Parkway Theatre was being proposed. That year the December issue of Boxoffice reported that Baltimore city officials had applied for a $265,000 Federal grant which “…would be combined with $800,000 in private funds to build an entertainment center inside the Parkway Theatre….” Obviously nothing came of this proposal.
The “Related Website” link above is dead.
An item about the Myers Theatre in Boxoffice, November 2, 1957, said that the original Myers Opera House of 1870 had burned in 1889, two years after a complete remodeling, and the theater standing in 1957 was the replacement that had been built in 1889.
This book at Google Books has a 1908 obituary of the architect of the Myers Theatre, Oscar Cobb (put his name in the search box on the left side of the page and click Go.) It says that he designed about 200 theaters, and gives the names of a dozen or so.
The November 2, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said that the opening of the Hitching Post Theatre in Beverly Hills had been postponed from November 8 to November 22. The building was apparently new, as the item gave its cost as a quarter of a million dollars.
This being Beverly Hills, the grand opening didn’t lack for celebrities. Among those attending were Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Trigger, as well as lesser luminaries such as Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell. Trigger’s hoof-prints were immortalized in cement as part of the festivities. There are photos in the December 7, 1943 issue of Boxoffice.
The January 25, 1947, issue of Boxoffice said that the Hitching Post Theatre in Beverly Hills was adopting a newsreel policy to be in effect Mondays through Thursdays, but would continue to show western movies on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It would be the first newsreel operation in the Los Angeles area outside downtown and Hollywood.
The owners of the house, ABC Theatres (which I was a local partnership consisting of Buddy Adler, Horace Boos, and Gregory Carter, and was not related to the later nation-wide ABC circuit) renamed the house the Beverly Canon Theatre and switched its policy to single features and short subjects with newsreels in 1947, according to Boxoffice of April 19 that year. For a time, the theater continued to run two daytime shows of westerns for the local moppets on Saturdays and Sundays. Later Boxoffice items reveal that the Beverly Canon had gone to an art house policy by 1949.
ABC converted their Hitching Post in Hollywood into the art film Paris Theatre in late 1949. Their Santa Monica Hitching Post continued to run westerns for only a few months after the last of its companion theaters went highbrow on it, then after a brief closure was reopened as the Riviera Theatre, another art house.
The October 29, 1949, issue of Boxoffice carried a brief announcement saying “Hitching Post Theatre is to be renovated and renamed Paris for ABC Theatres.” The November 12 issue of Boxoffice said the Paris had opened that week with the British import “Passport to Pimlico.”
The ABC chain’s Hitching Post Theatre in Beverly Hills had been renamed the Beverly Canon Theatre in 1947. The Santa Monica Hitching Post was to abandon its western policy by May, 1950, and be renamed the Riviera.
ABC Theatres was a local partnership, not to be confused with the later nationwide ABC chain.
The McClurg Court project (two giant towers and associated structures) as a whole was designed by the firm of Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz, & Associates, though I’ve been unable to find any source specifically attributing the theater to that firm. The structure itself had to be of their design, though the theater interior might have been done by someone else. Cinema Treasures currently attributes the ICE 62nd and Western Theatre to Solomon, Cordwell, Buenz, & Associates.
The Art Institute of Chicago has this item which attributes the third McVickers Theatre to architect Thomas W. Lamb as well as Henry Newhouse.
As the Adler & Sullivan-designed second McVickers Theatre was demolished to make way for the third McVickers, shouldn’t it have its own Cinema Treasures page?
Here’s a ca1910 photo of the LaSalle Theatre from the Art Institute of Chicago web site.
This item from the Art Institute of Chicago might depict the Joy Theatre soon after its construction.
Looks like the name of this theater became detached over the years. The awning over the building entrance now reads “Le Rose” but I think the name was meant to be LeRose, without the gap. The name on the marquee in the old photos has no letter-sized gap in the name, though the cursive script of the two parts is not directly connected. The name of the house usually appears as LeRose in Boxoffice Magazine, and an Internet search reveals that people with the surname LeRose usually use the gap-less form.
Jerry J. Noaks' book, Jeffersonville Indiana, also uses the form LeRose.
The June 5, 1937, issue of Boxoffice ran an item datelined Jeffersonville which said: “John F. Gilooly has completely remodeled the LeRose Theatre here, which has been closed since the floods, and has reopened the house. Complete reseating was included in the job.” Gilooly was then the manager for Switlow Amusements, operator of both theaters in Jeffersonville.
Several early photos and a couple of drawings of the Capitol Theatre are on display at the web site of the Flaxman Library of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Use the name Capitol Theatre in the Keyword search box.
An interesting item form the October 7, 1974, issue of Boxoffice:
“Mr. and Mrs. Neil Haugen are interested in obtaining any information, pictures, or material anyone might have on the Garden Theatre, Frankfort. The house opened in 1923 as the Victoria Theatre. The Haugens wish to compile a history of the theatre and desire more background material than they presently have.”
The earliest mention of the Garden I’ve found in Boxoffice is in the June 10, 1939, issue which said the Mrs. Custer C. Carland was remodeling the house. A September 14, 1940, item said that the Garden had been acquired by the Ashmun Theatres circuit.
The Garden got another remodeling in 1947, reported in the May 17 issue of Boxoffice. There were to be 700 new seats, a new marquee, a porcelain sign, new flooring and carpeting, new concessions stand, redecorating, and some structural alterations including moving the box office.
The August 3, 1940, issue of Boxoffice mentions that “…the new Strand at Roscommon, opened by Bruce Freeman….” had joined the Mutual Theatres booking combine. As is often the case with brief Boxoffice items, you can’t tell for sure if Mr. Freeman had built a new theater or simply reopened and perhaps renamed an existing house.
The theater was called the Strand at least as late as October, 1974, per various mentions in Boxoffice. The first instance of the name Roscommon Cinema I’ve found is from July, 1996.
Boxoffice of May 1, 1948, had an item headlined “Start Work in Santa Fe To Replace Old Paris” which said the site of the Paris was being cleared for construction of a new 700-seat theater. The Paris, the item said, had been “…wrecked by fire three years ago….” The replacemnt house, the El Paseo Theatre, was open by late 1948 or early 1949.
As the Paris was on the same site as the later El Paseo Theatre, it probably had the same address of 123 W. San Francisco Street.
The May 1, 1948, issue of Boxoffice said that the site of the old Paris Theatre, destroyed by fire three years earlier, was being cleared for construction of a new 700-seat theater. This was entirely new construction, not a remodeled and renamed Paris Theatre.
I haven’t found an opening date for the El Paseo, but the January 15, 1949, issue of Boxoffice said that free holiday morning matinees had been presented at theaters in Santa Fe, and the El Paseo was listed among them, so it must have been open by late 1948.
A photo of the El Paseo appeared in Boxoffice of March 25, 1950.
The July 14, 1975, issue of Boxoffice reported that the El Paseo had been reopened as the New Mexico 2000 Theatre, named for a “…25-minute multimedia journey through 2000 years of New Mexico history….” which had begun an open-ended run at the renovated house after premiering on July 3. The production was the brainchild of David E. Wynne, and it might have been related to Wynne’s documentary, “New Mexico, The Enchanted Land,” released the same year. I don’t know how long the multimedia event ran.
An illustrated article about the Fox Theatre in Trona was published in Boxoffice, April 2, 1955. The new house had 648 seats and featured a curved screen 19x45 feet. No architect is named, but it was most likely designed by whoever the Fox West Coast circuit’s in-house architect was in 1954 (Carl Moeller, perhaps?)
Photos with the article show some art moderne touches in the lobby and the wall murals in the auditorium, but the auditorium ceiling showed exposed steel beams and the walls were of exposed concrete block. The facade was basic 1950s modern. The booth was equipped for CinemaScope, VistaVision, Magna, Todd-AO, and large screen television projection.
Link to article.
The remodeling of the Granada Theatre and its reopening as the Downtown Theatre was the subject of an article in Boxoffice Magazine, April 2, 1955. The limited-budget project, done in-house by the Famous Players circuit, included the removal of much of the Granada’s old decoration, but (unfortunately) not the columns supporting the ancient balcony. A number of the Downtown’s 853 new seats must have been virtually unusable due to these columns interfering with their view of the new CinemaScope screen.
A few before-and-after photos illustrated the Boxoffice article.
Forgot to link to the Boxoffice article.
Loews Orpheum VII opened on November 22, 1991. The seven auditoriums had from 225 to 450 seats, with a total seating capacity of 2,090, slightly smaller than the Loews Orpheum Twin which had previously stood on the site. The new theater was designed by Manhattan architectural firm Frank Williams and Associates as part of the commercial-residential development called The Gotham.
The May, 1992, issue of Boxoffice had an article about the Loews Orpheum VII. There were no photos, unfortunately.
The Dorsey was last known as the Johnstown Cinema, but I don’t know how long it operated under that name.
Boxoffice of May 15, 1972, reported that Charles Evans and Ed Cheatwood were updating the Dorsey Theatre and would reopen sometime in June. They had not yet decided whether or not to keep the old name.
The June 19, 1972, issue of Boxoffice said that the Johnstown Theatre at Johnstown, Ohio, had been opened Friday, June 2, after having been closed for a decade.
The February 18, 1974, issue of Boxoffice reported the sale of the Johnstown Cinema to Wes Matheny. The item was repeated in the March 4 issue, and after that I can’t find the theater mentioned ever again.
As the owner’s name was Benjamin Pitts, there should not be an apostrophe in the aka above.
The Culpeper house was one of several mentioned in an article about expansion of Benjamin Pitts Enterprises which appeared in Boxoffice of August 14, 1937. The Pitts Theatre in Emporia had recently opened, the Victoria at Fredericksburg was due to open by Labor Day, and the East End Theatre in Richmond was under construction. The as-yet-unnamed house at Culpeper was in the planning stage. I’ve been unable to find anything about the opening in Boxoffice, but it most likely happened in 1938.
R/C Theatres renovated the Pitts and changed the name to State Theatre in 1970, according to Boxoffice of September 21 that year.