Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Sep 14, 2009 at 8:27 am

The October 1926 article said that the planned remodeling would include an increase of the balcony’s seating capacity to 600, which would increase the total capacity of the house to about 1,700. The existing capacity was not given. Though 1,700 sounds like the usual promotional exaggeration, the Hippodrome must have already been a pretty big theater in the 1920s. The auditorium being across the alley from the entrance means it probably would have had a large footprint, like the Fox.

It’s too bad Historic Aerials doesn’t have anything more than a couple of years old for Joplin. We could see how big the auditorium was, and maybe find out roughly when it was demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Sep 14, 2009 at 1:56 am

The Hippodrome was often mentioned in the trade publications in 1925 and 1926, but I’ve found few references to it later. The April 24, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal said that Ben Levy was expending $40,000 on renovating and remodeling the Hippodrome. Half of this would go for a new Wurlitzer Hope-Jones organ. The theater would be closed for the first two weeks of June. The Reel Journal of July 21 said that the Hippodrome had reopened after extensive improvements.

An item in The Reel Journal of October 30, 1926, said that Levy was planning still more major improvements to the Hippodrome, to cost $100,000. The plans for an extensive remodeling were being drawn by Boller Brothers, and construction was slated to begin the following spring. I don’t know if this second round of improvements was actually carried out as I’ve been unable to find any announcements about it in the magazine. Also, the Hippodrome is not on the list of known Boller Brothers theaters (though the list is not exhaustive, so this doesn’t eliminate the possibility that the Bollers did design a 1927 remodeling of the Hippodrome.)

However, the item had the useful information that the plans included “…a bridge over the alley, linking the entrance with the main building, to the mezzanine floor.” Google satellite view shows that the entire west half of the block on which the Hippodrome was located is now occupied by a parking lot, so the auditorium of the Hippodrome has been demolished.

The Hippodrome is mentioned retrospectively in the “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” features in a couple of later issues of Boxoffice. The March 11, 1950, issue cites a 1930 item about the construction of the new Fox Theatre which mentioned in passing that the Midland circuit “…is operating the Fox Hippodrome in Joplin.” The name Ben Levy appears in quite a few issues of Boxoffice, but there’s no indication that any of these are about the same Ben Levy who operated the Hippodrome in 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 13, 2009 at 8:03 am

One more addition. The list of Boller Brothers theaters includes the Wasson in Joplin, and gives its construction date as 1906. Chuck gives the address as 1515 S. Main in a comment above, placing it almost opposite the South Main Street/Electric Theatre.

Also I’ve decided that the pre-1930 comments in trade publications that mention the Electric Theatre have to be about the downtown Electric/Paramount. Nothing else brings sense from the confusion. The current aka and the attribution of the architect should be removed from this page, and the aka South Main Street Theatre should be added, with a construction/opening date of 1927. The architect remains unknown.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on Sep 13, 2009 at 7:41 am

The October 18, 1965, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Paramount Theatre in Joplin was being demolished, but that no plans had been announced for future use of the property.

After examining the bird’s eye views of the location at Bing Maps, I think the Boxoffice report was correct. In the view toward the west, across the buildings on Virginia Street, the back wall of the shallow Main Street building north of the Paramount’s former entrance shows the outline of what was probably the theater balcony. The Paramount’s auditorium must have been aligned parallel to Main Street, with the entrance at the south end and the stage at the north end. Part of the auditorium footprint has some newer construction on it, but the rest of it looks like it’s used for parking. Apparently the part of the building fronting Main Street is all that remains of the Paramount. The auditorium was demolished in 1965.

Some of the earlier history of the theater is found in the trade journals. The March 13, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal carried an item announcing Grubel Brothers' intention to remodel their Electric Theatre at Joplin. The project included rearranging the mezzanine floor to accommodate new rest rooms and a lounge, reseating the auditorium, installing a new Wurlitzer organ, and complete redecoration, with new furnishings, carpets, and lighting. The projected cost of the project was $75,000.

Other issues of the journal from that year mention the project and credit the design to Boller Brothers, the original architects of the house. The October 9, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal reported that Grubel Brothers' New Electric Theatre had been opened on October 7.

The earliest mentions of the Paramount I’ve found in the trades appeared in 1931. One of them says that the house would be presenting Publix circuit vaudeville shows, but on Saturdays only. The last mention of Grubel’s Electric I know of is from 1930, so Publix must have taken over operation of the house in 1930 or 1931. Several years later it was taken over by Fox Midwest, and appears to have been operated by that chain until closing in the 1960s.

Finding the history of the Electric/Paramount has been somewhat complicated by the fact that the name Electric Theatre was adopted sometime between 1930 and 1935 by a smaller neighborhood theater, at 1514 S. Main Street, which had opened in 1927 as the South Main Street Theatre.

The Paramount Theatre should be given the aka’s Electric Theatre and Grubel’s Electric Theatre, and the aka and architect’s name should be removed from the page for the other Electric Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 13, 2009 at 6:44 am

I should add that the item about Grubel Brother’s Electric Theatre might actually apply to the theater that was later the Paramount, farther up Main Street. If that’s the case, then all the early trade magazine references to Grubel’s Electric would be about the Electric/Paramount, not this theater, and it would be likely that the Electric in the 1500 block was not designed by Boller Brothers and was not built in 1912, but was new construction for Harold Gibbons in 1927, and opened as the South Main Street Theatre and then was renamed the Electric Theatre sometime between 1930 and 1935. This would also account for the wildly different seating capacities reported. The 1930 FDY count of 1,522 would be for the theater that was the Paramount by 1931, and the 1935 count of 300 would be for this theater.

Seymour: The mystery theater in your second link might have been the Lyric. The same web site that has the picture has a collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps of Joplin, and the Lyric is shown at 308 S. Main Street on one of the maps from 1906. There were no other theaters on that block in 1906. I don’t know if the Lyric ever ran movies or not, though it had a small stage and must have dated from the pre-movie period.

The 1906 map also shows the New Club Theatre at 208 W. 4th Street. It was much larger than the Lyric, and apparently was Joplin’s biggest theater of the period. I can’t find the Schubert in 1906, so it must have been built later. The Ideal wasn’t open yet either. It looks like a storefront nickelodeon conversion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 13, 2009 at 2:04 am

I’ve found an item about the Electric in the March 13, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal. It’s an announcement of Grubel Brothers' intention to remodel the Electric Theatre. The project included rearranging the mezzanine floor to accommodate new rest rooms and a lounge, reseating the auditorium, installing a new Wurlitzer organ, and complete redecoration, with new furnishings, carpets, and lighting. The projected cost of the project was $75,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Five Points Theater on Sep 12, 2009 at 8:19 am

The October 22, 1938, issue of Boxoffice said that Erle Stillwell, architect of the Palmetto Theatre, was designing the new Five Points Theatre for Palmetto Amusement Inc.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Center Theatre on Sep 12, 2009 at 8:17 am

Even Boxoffice misspelled Erle Stillwell’s name on a couple of occasions, and he was a long-time member of the advisory board of the magazine’s Modern Theatre Planning Institute.

As for misspelling Stillwell, well, Cinema Treasures now misspells it, too. I’m pretty sure they had it right before. Just for the Record, Erle G. Stillwell is the most common spelling I can find for him. Boxoffice spelled it Stilwell twice that I’ve found, but most of the time they used Stillwell, just as the Henderson County Library web site does.

Also, this page at DocSouth says that he designed over thirty theatres in North Carolina alone. So far Cinema Treasures identifies only three.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cla-Zel Theatre on Sep 12, 2009 at 8:07 am

If somebody adds the Lyric, there were apparently two of that name, both owned by Clark M. Young. The second Lyric was opened in 1935, and an item in Boxoffice of September 21, a few weeks before the new house opened, said that Young was naming it the Lyric after his old theater which had been dismantled.

I’ve been unable to find anything about the State Theatre. The Bowling Greens in Kentucky and Missouri each had a State Theatre, too, which muddies the search results.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Soledad Theatre on Sep 12, 2009 at 7:59 am

As the original Soledad and the second Soledad were at different locations, they should certainly have separate pages at Cinema Treasures. Pages can only accommodate one address. The 1947 Soledad at 177 Kidder Street needs to be added.

The original Soledad Theatre on Front Street burned to the ground in 1946, according to an item in the October 5 issue of Boxoffice that year. The second Soledad on Kidder Street was a replacement for it. The owners of the original Soledad, Ernest Gnesa and Edward Franscioni, bought the lot on which the second Soledad was built, but sold it to A. Blanco, Ralph Martin and Frank Jaimes who completed the project and opened the new theater in mid-1947.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theater on Sep 12, 2009 at 7:53 am

In that case, the address currently listed for the Rio is wrong. 177 Kidder Street is the address of the second Soledad Theatre, and the Rio was on Front Street. Thanks for the clarification.

It also means that Cinema Tour misidentifies the photos on the page I linked to there on June 26, 2009. Those photos depict the second Soledad.

The Boxoffice items I cited in comments above do apply to the Rio, then. It was located on Front Street, opened about May 16, 1947, was originally owned by J.C. Friedrich, and was being operated at least as late as 1970 by Roy Martinez.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Meriden Twin on Sep 12, 2009 at 7:15 am

An article about the Meriden Theatre appeared in Boxoffice Magazine, October 8, 1949. It credited architect Mendel Baldessari of New Britain with the design. The new, independently-operated house opened with 928 seats.

An Internet search shows several results for an architect named Mendel Baldessari still practicing in New Britain. If it’s the same architect he must be at least in his eighties, but perhaps it is a son.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Sep 12, 2009 at 4:32 am

The Texas was a Robb & Rowley theater in the 1930s. R&R also operated a house called the Ritz in Hillsboro during this period. The Ritz was destroyed by fire on December 22, 1944, but must have been rebuilt, as it was mentioned in the October 25, 1952, issue of Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theater on Sep 12, 2009 at 4:30 am

The April 29, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times said that B.A. Lawrence had been operating the Majestic Theatre at Hillsboro for several years. The independent house was at this time one of three theaters in the town, the other two being the Ritz and the Texas, operated by the Robb & Rowley circuit.

A small photo of the entrance to the Majestic, decorated for Independence Day, appeared in the July 21, 1928, issue of Motion Picture Times.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avalon Theater on Sep 10, 2009 at 6:38 am

I’ve been unable to find out anything about the 1909 theater. It was probably demolished to make way for the 1924 building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Audion Theater on Sep 10, 2009 at 5:33 am

Here’s a brief item from the February 26, 1938, issue of Boxoffice: “Fire damaged Clarence Farrell’s new Audion Theatre in Ellensburg and the house will be closed for some time for repairs.” That’s the earliest mention of the Audion I’ve been able to find, and I can’t find the Colonial or Ellensburg mentioned at all.

A July 30, 1938, Boxoffice item said that Clarence Farrell was showing first-run movies at his Audion and Midstate theaters in Ellensburg. The Midstate had opened the previous year, according to an announcement in Boxoffice of December 18, 1937. The 1938 item also said that Clarence Farrell had been running a theater at Ellensburg for 17 years, and though the item didn’t give a name for it, it was most likely the Audion when it was called the Colonial.

The July 20, 1946 issue of Boxoffice reported that Clarence Farrell, having purchased the Pix and Liberty theaters at Ellensburg from Fred Mercy, would dismantle his Midstate Theatre there and would use the Audion as a stand-by theater. I’ve found no later mentions of the Audion in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Central Theatre on Sep 10, 2009 at 4:46 am

The June 7, 1941, issue of Boxoffice mentioned the recent opening of the Pix. It was operated by Fred Mercy, who owned a number of northwest houses, including the Liberty in Ellensburg.

In 1946 both theaters were sold to Clarence Farrell, operator of the Audion and Mid-State theaters at Ellensburg. The July 20, 1946, issue of Boxoffice reported that Farrell would dismantle the Mid-State Theatre and that the Audion would become a stand-by house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about El Lago Theatre on Sep 10, 2009 at 3:07 am

According to this page from the University of Minnesota’s web site, the El Lago Theatre was built in 1927 and was designed by Ekman, Holm & Company. It underwent some remodeling in 1931, done by the same architectural firm.

The El Lago was operated by Henry Greene’s Lake Amusement Company, which also operated the Lake and East Lake theaters nearby.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avalon Theater on Sep 10, 2009 at 3:05 am

The “AIA Guide to the Twin Cities” by Larry Millett, published in 2007 by the Minnesota Historical Society, has more information on this theater. It was originally a smaller theater built in 1924 and designed by Ekman, Holm & Company. It was enlarged in 1937, and redesigned in the Art Moderne style by Perry Crosier. A 1997 renovation and restoration for the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre was done by Vincent James Associates Architects.

I’ve been unable to discover if the 1924 theater that was incorporated into Perry Crosier’s Avalon had the same name or not. The Avalon was owned by Bill Frank and Oscar Woempner, operators of about a dozen theaters in the area at the time of the 1937 rebuilding.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:59 am

Although the intro above says that the Texas opened in 1921, the April 15, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times published an architect’s rendering of the theater, with a caption reading:

“This theatre, with a seating capacity of 1800, is to be built at Palestine for the R. and R. motion picture theatre interests. Designed by W. Scott Dunne, Dallas architect, the building will be one of the most modern with a balcony, lounge, rest, and smoking rooms on the mezzanine. The auditorium will be treated in an atmospheric motif in Italian style, with a forty-foot proscenium arch, flanked by tower motifs.”
This web page contains an essay about the Texas by Bob Bowman who says that the Texas opened in 1928, burned in 1929, was rebuilt in the late 1930s, burned again in 1939 and again reopened.

To add to the temporal confusion, the League of Historic American Theatres says the Texas was built in 1922. I suspect that if I searched the Internets I could find still other opening dates for the Texas. Somebody will probably have to search the archives of the local newspaper(s) in Palestine to get the actual history of this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 6:46 am

Somehow the beginning of my comment above got lost in posting. Here it is:

The respective functions of Fisher and Voigt were noted on the nomination submitted to the NRHP. It includes an extensive description of the theater and its history. A .pdf of it is linked from this page for anybody who might want to read it.

The nomination form also says that Floyd and Hazel Droz entered the theater business when they purchased the Novelty Theatre in Anthony in 1934. I’ve been unable to find the Novelty (or Floyd Droz) mentioned in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 6:36 am

It’s unfortunate that the nomination doesn’t include any information about S.S. Voigt. There are only a few references to him on the Internet, leading to a photo of building he designed in 1927, and it makes me wonder if perhaps he designed the Barron Theatre as well. (Search Voigt on this page to reach a page about the 1927 Midian Shrine Temple.)

I also found that he designed a drug store at the northeast corner of Douglas and Hillside in Wichita which is still standing and can be seen in Google Street View (search 3200 E. Douglas Ave., Wichita.) All these buildings, including the Anthony Theatre, have the same attention to subtle detail that the Barron’s facade has, and the 1927 Shrine Temple even features the sort of Solomonic column details on the windows that the Barron sports.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Valley Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 5:39 am

The Yandell Theatre is mentioned frequently in Boxoffice in 1947 and 1948, when operator C.M. Garrett wrote capsule reviews for the magazine’s “The Exhibitor Has His Say” feature. I haven’t found it mentioned anytime before 1947.

Neither have I been able to find any mention of a Valley Theatre in El Paso before the Alameda Avenue house opened. If the Yandell was called the Valley before 1947 then it must have been run by somebody who lacked Mr. Garrett’s adeptness at publicity.

The May 9, 1960, issue of Boxoffice said that Clayton Garrett had closed the Yandell Theatre after operating at a loss for several months. Attempts to sell the theater were a failure, and finally the projection room equipment was sold to a local theater equipment dealer and removed. That must have been the end of the place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Barron Theatre on Sep 9, 2009 at 4:22 am

The Barron Theatre opened in 1930. The “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” feature in the April 15, 1950, issue of the magazine said “The new Barron Theatre, Pratt, Kas., costing $10,000, with 900 seating capacity, opened recently.”

Charles Barron began his exhibition career in 1912, operating the Majestic Theatre at Ponca City, Oklahoma. He began operating theaters in Pratt about 1924, and operated the old Kansas Theatre until it burned in 1939, when he rebuilt that house and continued to operate it and the Barron until late 1943. After selling his Pratt theaters to Commonwealth Amusement Co., he moved to California, though he kept a part interest in the Anthony Theatre at Anthony, Kansas. He died in 1952.

Commonwealth was operating the Barron Theatre when it was renovated in the mid 1960s. Alterations included a drop ceiling and Masonite paneling in the lobby. If the original interior of the theater was as ornate as the facade, I hope not too much damage was done in the remodeling. Maybe it can be restored someday.

There was a theater called the Cozy in Pratt in the 1920s. It is listed in an ad for Reproducto Player Pipe Organs that appeared in the September 18, 1926, issue of The Movie Times. Another Reproducto ad in the November 13 issue listed C.H. Barron as the operator of the Cozy, too. I’m not sure if this was an aka for the Kansas Theatre or not, though both were mentioned in the magazine about the same time (the Kansas was mentioned in the November 20, 1926, issue.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 4:01 am

The attribution of the architect above is wrong. A.N. Fisher was the builder of the Anthony Theatre. The architect was S.S. Voigt, of Wichita.

The Anthony Theatre was partly owned by Charles Barron, operator of the Barron and Kansas theaters in Pratt, Kansas. His business partner at Anthony was Hazel Droz. Barron sold the Pratt theaters in 1943 and retired to California, but continued the partnership in Anthony until his death in 1952. He also held part ownership of the Star-Vue Drive-In at Anthony, opened by Mrs. Droz in 1950. After Mr. Barron’s death Mrs. Barron remained a partner in the Anthony operations for some time. Mrs. Droz sold the theater and the drive-in in 1970.

Also, a house called the Palace Theatre opened in Anthony on October 9, 1925, according to the notice in the October 17 issue of The Reel Journal. It was operated by L.W. Conner, an Oklahoma exhibitor. The Palace is mentioned a couple of times in 1926, and after that I can’t find anything about it. Does anybody know what became of it?