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The Auto-See Drive-In was opened by 1949. According to the November 12, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, the Yuba City city council received complaints from many citizens about the 600-car operation, citing “…uncontrolled noise, traffic hazards, and the nuisance of scattered trash from the theater.”
OK, the August 5, 1944, issue of Boxoffice gives another clue to the Butte’s origin. It noted that the Butte and three other Sacramento Valley theaters had been leased by T&D Jr. Enterprises from the heirs of the late Morgan Walsh. That indicates that it was the Mann/Walsh project of 1938 which became the Butte Theatre. Interestingly enough, T&D Jr. Enterprises had been taken over by Fred Naify, former owner of the Gridley Theatre, in 1947.
From Boxoffice Magazine, February 12, 1938: “…George Mann and Morgan Walsh…have acquired a corner lot in Gridley, Cal, and will proceed immediately to construct a Class A theatre on the site.” Projected cost was $100,000, and seating was to be “about 800.”
Mann and Walsh were the operators of the Redwood Theatres Circuit, which was very active in the small towns of the Sacramento Valley during this era, so it seems quite possible that the unnamed theater to which the article refers was the Butte. It is on a corner lot.
But then there’s this item from the June 4, 1938 issue of Boxoffice: “Plans for rebuilding the Gridley Theatre, Gridley, are being drawn up, says owner Fred Naify. The house was destroyed by fire on May 15, with an estimated loss of $55,000.”
Whether it was the Redwood Theatres project, or Naify’s rebuilt theatre, renamed, the Butte probably dates from late 1938 or early 1939.
The recent opening of the Center Theatre in Ontario, Oregon, was noted by an item in the November 27, 1948, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The owner of the independent house was Howard Matthews. The building was 75x120 feet, and the cost was $125,000. The entrance was decorated with burgundy tile and Arizona flagstone, and the auditorium was painted coral and turquoise (how very midcentury) with drapes in varying shades of gold.
Custom made modern furniture and carpets of turquoise and golden brown adorned the lobby. There was a small stage in the auditorium, and the 750 seat house had a crying room, as well as a party room seating 14. Plans were drawn by Salt Lake City architect Paul Evans.
The plain facade the Oaks Theatre sported in its final years probably dates from 1945, and the name change from Fair Oaks Theatre was probably made at the same time (four letters being cheaper than eight.) Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of February 3, 1945, carried a brief item saying that the Fair Oaks Theatre had been gutted by fire. Manager George Haines said that plans were underway for immediate reconstruction. The item also mentioned the theater’s history as the original home of the Pasadena Playhouse, and added that the Fair Oaks had been showing movies since 1935.
During the summer of 1937 the Orpheum was remodeled. It was reopened as the Utah Theatre on September 29, 1937, according to a brief item in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 2nd that year. The item mentions a new marquee and other exterior alterations, and indirect lighting. The Utah opened under the management of Holden Swiger, for the Fox Intermountain chain.
Boxoffice Magazine of September 3, 1973, said that the Butte Theatre was scheduled to be shuttered that day. The last operator was United Artists Theatres.
Google Maps street view shows that the Butte has lost its marquee and distinctive art moderne tower. The terrazzo of the former ticket vestibule appears to be partly intact, but the vestibule’s roof is gone and the entrance doors are sealed up. The auditorium is still standing.
The address was 410 Fremont Street. Cinema 1-2-3 opened in early June, 1972, according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of July 10 that year. It was the fourth theater opened by NTC, the Nevada Theatre Corporation. The 900 seat house was designed by San Francisco architect Gale Santocono. A one-man projection booth served all three screens, with semi-automated Cinemeccanica projectors using 13,000 foot reels.
The Plaza 6 was originally a twin theater, known as Plaza I and Plaza II, and was opened in 1970. It was built for Minneapolis-based Northwest Cinema Corporation. Boxoffice Magazine of May 18, 1970, said that the twin had a scheduled opening date of May 29. Plaza I had 528 seats, and Plaza II had 264.
The construction of a new four-plex theater at the Brentwood Shopping Center was announced in the May 8, 1970, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house was being built by Robert L. Lippert Enterprises, for operation by Lippert’s Transcontinental Theatres subsidiary. A total of 1600 seats were divided among two auditoriums of 450 seats, and two of 350 seats. The architect was Gale Santocono. The web site of the Robert Lippert Foundation lists the Brentwood 4 Cinemas, as well as a Colorado 4 Cinemas in the same city.
A similar four-plex, also designed by Santocono, was planned by Lippert for the Denver suburb of Aurora, and both it and the Brentwood project were expected to be in operation by September, 1970. However, no theaters in Aurora are listed on the Lippert Foundation web site. I don’t know if the Aurora four-plex wasn’t built, or was built but opened by another theatre chain. If it was built, it isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures.
The official groundbreaking for the 850 seat Fox Fremont Theatre was announced in the April 3, 1967, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The architect was Gale Santocono.
The Garberville Theatre re-opened on January 12, 1952, following a complete remodeling and redecoration, which was handled by San Francisco theater designer Gale Santocono. The re-opening was noted in the January 26, 1952, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.
The multiplexing of the Academy took place in the mid-1980s. I used to pass by the place frequently while the work was going on. As I recall, it had not yet re-opened at the time I left the area in August, 1986, but it was probably almost ready for business by then.
This location is in Rancho Cordova. The address Lost Memory posted is correct.
The theater was scheduled for a fall, 1965, opening, according to an item in the May 31, 1965, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The name had not yet been chosen. The drive-in was being built by National General Corporation, and was slated to accommodate 1,182 cars. The architect was Gale Santocono, of San Francisco.
A later article in Boxoffice, December 25, 1961, revealed that the Fine Arts Theatre Corporation was operated by Herb Rosener. Rosener was for many years one of the leading exhibitors and distributors of foreign films in the U.S. He operated at least a dozen art houses in major west coast cities, as well as in Salt Lake City, Kansas City, and Cleveland.
“New Indoor Theatre for San Francisco” was the headline of a brief item about this theater in the September 18, 1961, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was to be built for the San Francisco Fine Arts Theatre Corporation, and was intended as a moveover house. The architect was San Francisco theater designer Gale Santocono.
The April 25, 1960, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran a brief item saying that the Concord Auto Movies was expected to open sometime around July 1. The theater was designed by San Francisco architect Gale Santocono.
An architect’s rendering of the proposed Andorra Theatre was published with a brief article about the house in the April 6, 1964, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was slated for a summer opening that year. Architects were the firm of Supowitz & Demchick (David Supowitz, Israel Demchick.) In its original, single-screen configuration, there were 1000 seats.
The November 15, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine credits the design of this drive-in to both William Glenn Balch and Clifford Balch, as does the June 13, 1947, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor. The same issue of SwB&C also credits them as partners in the design of a proposed drive-in at South El Monte, but their plans were not carried out, and that theater, the Starlite, was eventually designed by J. Arthur Drielsma.
The Boxoffice item also credits the brothers with the design of the Lakewood Drive-In. See my comment of today on the Lakewood Drive-In page for a bit more information about the Balch brothers.
Google Maps thinks W. Carson Street is E. Carson St., and thus the map link for this theater shows a location west of the river. The site was actually at the corner of Carson and Cherry, way east of the river. However, if you change the city to Lakewood, Google Maps finds the right intersection. You can get the same correction by changing the zip code to 90712.
According to an item in the November 15, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, this drive-in was designed by Clifford and William Glenn Balch, for Pacific Theatres. The item also said that the brothers designed another drive-in for Pacific at the same time, to be built at Roscoe and Sepulveda in the San Fernando Valley.
Clifford Balch (born 1880) would have been about 77 years old at the time these theaters were designed, while his far younger brother William (born 1901) was, at the time, in a business partnership with architect Louis L. Bryan (Balch & Bryan), formed in 1946. I don’t know exactly what the professional relationship between the brothers was at the time, but a few items from about 1947 also appeared in Southwest Builder & Contractor linking them as designers of various drive-ins, and at least one hardtop.
OK, Boxoffice does it again. Their November 12, 1949, issue carries another article about this theater, on the occasion of its opening. Jim Banducci is still the owner, but the architect is now William Glenn Balch rather than his brother, Clifford. Seating capacity is given as 874,and the name of the house is simply Rancho Theatre. The article also says that Banducci was the owner of the Arvin Theatre in Arvin.
Here it gets odder. I checked the California Index and found that Clifford Balch designed the Arvin Theatre, according to Southwest Builder & Contractor of April 23, 1937. Then, the July 21, 1939 issue of SwB&C says that the Arvin Theatre had been destroyed by fire. Then, on August 11 that year, SwB&C published what the California Index card refers to as “plans for the Arvin Theatre, Arvin.” Apparently they re-hired the guy who had designed the place that went up in flames.
So, the architect of the Rancho (or El Rancho) Theatre was either William Glenn or Clifford Balch, and it opened in 1949. And the Arvin Theatre, apparently desgned twice by Clifford Balch, is missing from the CT database.
I think the name of this house must have been called the El Rancho. Here’s a blog post by a guy who grew up in the area and used to go to the theater in the 1950s. He calls it the El Rancho.
It’s possible that Clifford Balch designed this theater. Boxoffice Magazine of November 27, 1948, has an item saying that Clifford Balch was preparing plans for a theater in Arvin, for James Banducci. The item mentions a theater called the Arvin already existing. (One comment on the blog post above is from a user who says he has a photo of the Arvin Theatre in 1937.) Without more information, I can’t be sure the El Rancho was a new house built about 1949, or just the Arvin Theatre renamed.
The July 24, 1954, issue of Boxoffice Magazine carried an article about Hugh Bruen’s Sundown Drive-In, then under construction. It identified the designers as Balch, Bryan, Perkins, and Hutchason. William Glenn Balch was the lead architect of this firm. This was one of the first Southern California drive-ins equipped to show wide-screen movies from the day it opened.
The sometimes infuriating Boxoffice Magazine published two articles with conflicting stories about this theater. On June 12, 1961, an article said that the new Fox would occupy the former Rialto Theatre building, which had not been used as a theater “…for more than thirty years.” If that’s true, then the Rialto didn’t last very long. The article also says that “The previous Fox Theatre was a downtown showplace destroyed by fire last April.”
Then the August 14, 1961, issue of Boxoffice said that the Fox Theatre, opened the previous month, had been built on the site of the Rialto, which had been destroyed by fire. I don’t know which article is accurate- assuming that either of them is accurate.
The August article goes on to say that the new Fox was “…designed by Mel Glatz, Fox construction engineer, assisted by Les Newkirk, city manager of Fox Theatres here.” Apparently Mel Glatz later left Fox and set up on his own. In a couple of later issues of Boxoffice, I’ve run across references to him as a “theatre consultant” credited with other theater designs.
Anyway, if the first Boxoffice article is true, then there was an earlier Fox Theatre in Boulder that is missing from the Cinema Treasures database. If the second article is true, then the current Fox Theatre was newly built in 1961, and the Rialto Theatre was a different house that should have its own Cinema Treasures page.
I’ve also come across references to other old theaters in Boulder that are missing from Cinema Treasures, but can’t find addresses for any of them. There was an Isis Theatre, opened about 1929, remodeled in 1949. A 650 seat Varsity Theatre was opened by Fox Intermountain in 1941, then closed for nine years beginning about 1961, and then was remodeled and reopened as the Boulder Art Cinema in 1970. A Flatirons Theatre was opened in 1950 or 1951, and was still operating under that name in the mid-1970s.
A Motorena Drive-In was open as early as 1951. In 1967, an 800 seat house called the Village 70 opened in the Arapahoe Village Shopping Center. Three auditoriums, with 400 seats each, were added to it in 1977. Also in the 1970s, Highland Theatres was operating a theater called the Holiday Twin, which may have been a single-screener when they bought it in 1966.
In addition, I came across one reference to a United Artists Regency Theatre, a downtown house which was taken over by an independent operator in 1968. I wonder if either the burned Fox or the UA Regency was the Isis Theatre, renamed?
When, back on January 2 of this year, Warren G. Harris wondered about who might have actually designed this multiplex, the answer was already available in my comment from May 2, 2006. That’s the problem with long threads. Stuff gets lost. Anyway, to repeat, it was Gould Evans Associates (called Gould Evans Goodman at the time they did this project.)
I see that the “firm” listing at the top of the page now names Beyer Blinder Belle Architects as the designers of the multiplex, and that firm is mentioned in the intro section of the page as well. But the New York Times article to which AlAlvarez was probably referring in his reply to Warren only says that Beyer Blinder Belle “…designed the 42nd Street project.” Indeed on BBB’s web site, they do lay claim to the Hilton Times Square project, of which the AMC Empire is a part, but nowhere on their site do they claim to have designed the multiplex itself.
That honor (or disgrace, to judge from some of the more irate comments above) belongs to Gould Evans Associates, which does include the AMC Empire among their projects, as featured on their web site (you have to click on “Architecture” then “Portfolio” in the left columns, then “entertainment centers” at page center, then “AMC theatres, national and international locations” to reach a photo- or perhaps three photos- I’ve never seen the place and don’t know if the two interior shots depict this theater or other AMC locations- of the AMC Empire. Why do architecture firms have such Byzantine web sites?)
Presumably, AMC insisted on Gould Evans, with whom they already had an established relationship, to design the multiplex itself, while Beyer Blinder Belle probably took care of the actual restoration work on what was left of the historic Empire Theatre. BBB does specialize in restoration and renovation. In fact, they did the renovation of the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and should probably be credited with that project on the Apollo’s Cinema Treasures Page.
BBB also designed the Hilton Theatre (Ford Center) on 42nd Street, built inside the shells of the old Lyric Theatre and the neighboring Apollo Theatre, using bits and pieces of their interiors for the decoration of the new house.
Oh, and there is one other source for the information that Gould Evans Associates was involved in the AMC Empire’s development. The firm is among sources of information about the project listed on page 109 of an obscure book called “Cinema Treasures”, published in 2004, and written by Ross Melnick and Andreas Fuchs (whoever they are.) I don’t suppose anybody here has read it?