Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about La Tosca Theatre on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

La Tosca was still in operation at least as late as the early 1970s. It was included in the Independent Theatres listings in the Los Angeles Times of February 10, 1971. I don’t know what kind of movies it was showing then, as its listing carried only the note “Call theatre for program.” I do recall the theater showing mostly German movies through the 1960s.

The La Tosca Theatre is also listed in the Los Angeles City Directory for 1973. Unfortunately I don’t have access to directories between 1973 and 1987, so I can’t find the year in which it vanished from the listings. It was not listed in 1987 though.

Also the page still needs the 1915 aka of Photoplay Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Springs 3 Theatre on Aug 10, 2010 at 11:39 am

A number of published sources I’ve seen, including Douglas Gomery’s 1992 book “Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States” say that Henry Plitt sold his theater circuit to Cineplex Odeon in 1985, not 1987. Gomery says that Cineplex took over operation of the former Plitt houses in August, 1985.

The book also notes that Plitt bought ABC-Paramount’s Northern division theaters in 1974 and the circuit’s Southern division houses in 1978.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on Aug 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I have now come across multiple references to George Edwin Bergstrom having been one of the architects of Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre. Both Soutnwest Builder & Contractor and the national trade publication Engineering and Contracting mention his involvement in the project. The latter publication’s issue of April 27, 1921, carries this item, which mentions Bergstrom supervising construction on the project in conjunction with engineer R.C. Mitchell.

Various items in Southwest Builder & Contractor indicate that William Lee Woollett designed the interiors of the Metropolitan Theatre, but that the lead architect on the project was Bergstrom. Woollett probably designed the details on the facade of the building as well, but I haven’t found any specific sources saying he did. Woollett was apparently the sole architect on the later project creating a Broadway entrance for the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Senator Theatre on Aug 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Leonard F. Starks was involved in the project that eventually became the Fox Senator Theatre at least three years before the house opened. When the project was announced in the June 29, 1921, issue of the trade publication Engineering and Contracting, it was to be called the Paramount Theatre, and Starks was already the lead architect. Though a native of California, Starks had been working for some time in New York City in the office of theater architect Thomas Lamb.

This thumbnail biography of Leonard Starks from the Historic Fresno web site doesn’t mention the Paramount specifically, but tells of the intention of the Famous Players corporation to build a chain of theaters on the west coast. The proposed Paramount was undoubtedly one of these. Famous Players had contracted with Lamb’s office for architectural services, and Starks was to return to California to oversee design and construction. When the plans for the chain fell through, Starks resigned from Lamb’s firm and set up his own practice in Sacramento.

Starks' partnership with E. C. Hemmings was formed in 1923, and Hemmings died the following year. The Senator Theatre might have been their only major project together.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Aug 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Southwest Builder & Contractor of May 27, 1921, said that the plans for this theater were being prepared by Walnut Park architect A.H. McCulloh.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Huntington Theatre on Aug 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

The announcement of plans for the Huntington Theatre appeared in Southwest Builder & Contractor of July 7, 1920. The architect for the project was Edward J. Borgmeyer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Market Street Cinema on Jul 31, 2010 at 1:07 pm

A 1931 remodeling of the Imperial for the United Artists chain was the work of the Los Angeles architectural firm of Walker & Eisen, with Clifford Balch, associated. The project was reported in the April 17 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kinema Theatre on Jul 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Two cards in the L.A. Library’s California Index cite articles that raise questions about the reported history of this theater. The 1913 Kinema might have been expanded, or replaced by a new building, in 1920.

A May 24, 1913, item in Southwest Contractor and Manufacturer says that San Francisco architect G.F. King had prepared plans for the $35,000 Kinema Theatre, to be built on J Street (since renamed Fulton Street) in Fresno.

A January 30, 1920 item in the successor publication, Southwest Builder & Contractor, said that Albert G. Lansburgh would prepeare plans for the $200,000 Kinema Theatre which was to be built at 1317-1321 J Street in Fresno.

I don’t know what the conflicting address is about (perhaps it was an error by the magazine), but a 1920 report of a Kinema being designed by Lansburgh, coupled with the low cost of the 1913 Kinema, suggests that either there were two theaters of this name in Fresno, or that Lansburgh’s design of 1920 was for a major expansion of the original 1913 theater. I’ve been unable to find any clarification of this mystery on the Internet. Fresno newspapers from 1920 might provide the answer, if somebody has access to them.

I should add that the theater in the 1930 photo linked in Brad Smith’s comment above does not look like anything that would have been built in 1913. The Spanish Colonial Revival style of the exterior was launched in California by the Panama-California Exposition, held in San Diego in 1915. By 1920, the date of the Lansburgh design for the Kinema, it was all the rage.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about United Artists Theater on Jul 31, 2010 at 12:28 pm

My source for the name of the architect of the 1936 remodeling of this theater misspelled his surname. It should be F. Frederic Amandes.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cine Latino on Jul 31, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Motion Picture Herald of June 8, 1935, reported that Fox West Coast Theatres had reopened the New Rialto Theatre in San Francisco following extensive remodeling. Earlier that year, the March issue of Architect & Engineer had reported that the plans for the $40,000 remodeling project had been drawn by architect F. Frederic Amandes.

Amandes was the architect for at least four other theater projects. Those I’ve been able to attribute, all from 1936, were the Enean Theatre at Pittsubrg, California, and remodeling jobs for the Strand Theatre in Alameda, the Egyptian Theatre on San Francisco’s Market Street (listed at CT as the Guild Theatre), and the former T&D Theatre in Richmond, which became the Fox Theatre and then the United Artists Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pagoda Theatre on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:45 am

A 1937 remodeling of the Milano Theatre was the work of architect A.A. Cantin, according to Architect & Engineer of April, 1937. The theater had suffered major damage in a fire, and the rebuilding was expected to cost $25,000. 1937 was the year the house reopened as the Palace, according to Jack Tillmany’s comment near the top of this page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Varsity Theater on Jul 30, 2010 at 12:55 am

mdmjcc: I was viewing the older back issues of Boxoffice on the web site, but the magazine has removed its archive from that free site (and all the links to it I’ve posted here have gone dead.)

They are in the process of posting the archive to the vault on their own site, where it will be available only to subscribers. I don’t know how long it will take them to get the entire archive posted. I’m not a subscriber myself (its beyond the means of my very limited budget), so I haven’t been keeping track of their progress.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Arlington Theatre on Jul 29, 2010 at 3:15 am

vokoban: As the New Arlington wasn’t built until 1923, the 1914 reference must be to the first Arlington/Maynard.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Madrid Theatre on Jul 29, 2010 at 1:04 am

vokoban: Owensmouth was the original name of the district that later became Canoga Park. There’s still an Owensmouth Avenue, running from Chatsworth in the north to Woodland Hills in the south and located between Canoga Avenue and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Post your comment above to the Canoga Theatre page. It opened as the Madrid in 1926, though the page is missing the aka. The Canoga has been demolished, but its location is now the site of a recently built live theater which is also called the Madrid.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitola Theater on Jul 27, 2010 at 4:37 am

A card in the L.A. library’s California Index cites a 1948/1949 theatre catalog naming the architect of the Capitola Theatre as Harold Onstead. I’ve been unable to find anything else about him on the Internet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Leo S. Bing Theater on Jul 27, 2010 at 4:18 am

As the Bing Theatre was part of the original LACMA complex, it would be the work of the original architect, William Pereira.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about MJR Southgate Cinema 20 on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

The Southgate Cinema 20 is one of many multiplexes designed by the Grand Rapids, Michigan based architectural firm Paradigm Design, and is one of the projects featured in the Entertainment section of the online portfolio of their work. The page gives the total seating capacity as 4,997, and says that 60% of it is stadium style and the remainder sloped.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wealthy Theatre on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:43 am

The renovation of the Wealthy Theatre was designed by Paradigm Design, a Grand Rapids architectural firm. Quinn Evans Architects of Ann Arbor served as preservation consultant and oversaw the restoration of the period features of the building.

Four small photos and a brief description of the project can be viewed at the Paradigm Design web site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about MJR Marketplace Cinema 20 on Jul 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

A small photo of the MJR Cinema 20 at Sterling Heights is displayed on this web page of the Precast Concrete Institute’s central region web site.

The Marketplace 20 is one of a number of multiplexes designed for the MJR circuit by the Grand Rapids architectural firm Paradigm Design.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Varsity Theater on Jul 10, 2010 at 7:00 am

The photo ken mc linked to is not the Milwaukee Varsity. A photo of the Varsity was featured in an article in the signage industry trade journal Signs of the Times, issue of August, 2007. The article was about Poblocki & Sons, the Milwaukee-based company which provided the marquee for the theater. A pdf of the article is provided by the Poblocki Sign Company web site.

A few photos of other theaters for which Poblocki provided signage, including both old houses and new multiplexes, can be seen in the company’s Entertainment Portfolio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Jul 10, 2010 at 12:19 am

This theater is already listed at Cinema Treasures under its current operating name, the Fox Cineplex Theatres. For a long time it was known as the Fox Banning Theatre, which is listed as an aka, but the aka under which it opened in 1928, the Banning Theatre, is not listed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Linda Lea Theatre on Jul 9, 2010 at 4:03 am

Checking the data page for the photo I just linked to, I see it is dated 1939. As the photo is from the Dick Whittington Studios, which usually kept good records, it’s probably correct.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Linda Lea Theatre on Jul 9, 2010 at 3:47 am

I don’t see it linked in any comment above, so here’s another photo of the Arrow from the USC Digital Archive. The newest cars on the street appear to be from about 1940. The theater was showing Spanish language movies, and there was a sign reading “Stage Show” above the marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fairyland Theater on Jul 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

No theaters are listed on 24th Street in the 1915 City Directory, and no theater called the Fairyland is listed at all. If the police closed the Fairyland in August, 1915, it’s likely that it had opened sometime that year and thus was not included in that year’s directory, which was probably compiled before the house opened.

Unfortunately, the next directory available to me is from 1923, and while a Fairyland Theatre is listed that year at 1122 W. 24th St, the County Assessor’s office says that the building at that location was erected in 1921. It’s possible that the 1915 Fairyland was at that address, and that a new building was built there for the theater in 1921, but it’s also possible that the 1915 theater was on a different site.

If the 1915 Fairyland was in an earlier building at 1122 W. 24th, then it’s already listed at Cinema Treasures under its later name, the Union Theatre. If it was at another location near 24th and Hoover, it wasn’t in the building now housing the 24th Street Theatre. The Assessor’s office gives the building at 1117 W. 24th an original construction date of 1930, with an effectively built date of 1965.

The 24th Street Theatre web site says that it was established in 1997, and I can’t find a theater listed at its address in any of the city directories available from the L.A. library, so I’d imagine it was converted from another use. In 1942, it housed an auto painting shop run by Sam Garcia. Though the 1960s its listed only under the name Eli Gennewey, with no indication of what sort of enterprise Mr. Gennewey might have conducted on the premises. I’ve found no other mention of Eli Gennewey on the Internet.

As long as we don’t know for certain the address of the 1915 Fairyland Theatre, this page might as well remain. If it is later found that it was at the same address as the 1923 Fairyland, this page could be eliminated. I’ll post the information I have now about the theater’s early days on the Union Theatre page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Velaslavasay Panorana on Jul 9, 2010 at 2:34 am

This building erected in 1921 was probably opened as the Fairyland Theatre, and remained a movie or stage theater under various names for more than two decades before being converted into a union hall. The house was listed as the Fairyland Theatre in the Los Angeles City Directory of 1923. It was listed as the Union Square Theatre in the 1929 directory.

I’ve been unable to discover when it first closed as a movie theater, but in January, 1935, silent movie star Louise Glaum reopened the house as a live theater, the Louise Glaum Little Theatre of Union Square (oddly, the 1936 City Directory still listed the house under the category Motion Picture Theatres, as “Glaum Louise Playhouse.”) But by 1938, the house was listed as a motion picture theater called the Continental. It was still the Continental in the 1939 directory, but was the Union Theatre in the 1942 directory.

The next city directory available online is from 1956, by which time the theater had become the union hall of the tile worker’s local. It remained a building trades union hall at least into the 1980s.

A Fairlyland Theatre was mentioned in an August, 1915, Los Angeles Times item, when its location was given as 24th and Hoover. As this earlier Fairyland Theatre is not listed in the 1915 City Directory (it most likely opened after the directory for that year had been compiled), I don’t know if it was at the same address as the second Fairyland. The earlier Fairyland has a Cinema Treasures page. As it might have been at a different location, that page should probably remain for now. If it is eventually determined that it was in an earlier building on the same lot where the second Fairyland’s building was built in 1921, its existence can be noted in the description on this page, and the other page can be removed.