Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Saunders Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:46 am

I don’t think the theater was actually showing pornography in 1965. I think the charge was probably over one of the early X-rated movies, perhaps Midnight Cowboy. The local officials of this small town were most likely a bit overwrought.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Western Plaza Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:41 am

The owners and operators of the Western Plaza throughout its history were apparently Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Weinig. The earliest mention I’ve found of the house in the trade journal Boxoffice is an item from 1942, and M. Weinig was mentioned in it, but a 1965 item about the closing implies that the Weinigs built the place.

The item in the Cincinnati news column of Boxoffice, December 6, 1965, says this: “Western Plaza, long a local theatre landmark, was closed by Mrs. M. M. Weinig. The Weinigs were among the pioneer exhibitors and Western Plaza was one of the early leading suburban houses. The theatre is to be torn down, the property having been bought in an expansion move by the Kroger Co.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gateway Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:37 am

Boxoffice of October 25, 1965, said that the Gateway Theatre, then under construction, had been designed by Ted Rogvoy & Associates, with interiors by Sam Garfinkle. Provision was made in the original design for the later addition of a second auditorium, at right angles to the original auditorium and connected to it by an arcade. This planned second auditorium, which was to seat between 700 and 1000, was apparently never built.

The Gateway Theatre derived its name from a large wrought-iron gate designed by Louis Sullivan which had been salvaged from a Chicago skyscraper and was to be installed in the theater. I can’t find anything else about this on the Internet, but if a Sullivan artifact was installed in the Gateway I wonder what has become of it since?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:26 am

A survey of new theater construction in the St. Louis area published in Boxoffice of October 16, 1937, lists Eddie Rosecan’s Rialto at Hannibal as one of the projects underway. Two other theaters Rosecan operated in small towns in the area were also called Rialto.

The Rialto was expanded and its front rebuilt in 1946, according to Boxoffice of February 6 that year. The item said the capacity would be enlarged by 50 percent.

If this house was ever called the Tom Sawyer, it must have been after Rosecan sold it to Frisina in 1955, but I’ve been unable to find any evidence that it was renamed. Frisina’s Orpheum was renamed the Tom Sawyer following a 1949 remodeling, according to Boxoffice of July 30 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:13 am

This theater opened in 1903 as the Halloran and was renamed the Grand in 1913. It suffered a fire in 1914, was rebuilt, then burned again in 1925 and was rebuilt yet again, with plans again by Boller Brothers. The history of the theater was recounted in a February 29, 1960, Boxoffice article about the closing.

The article says that A.H. Pekarek had been manager of the Grand since 1927, but that was a typo. His appointment to the Grand was noted in Boxoffice of June 22, 1957. The latter article calls the house the Fox Grand, as does one 1939 Boxoffice item. The rest of the time Boxoffice just calls it the Grand.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:39 am

Boxoffice of April 26, 1952, says “The Frisina Amusement Co.’s Star Theatre in Hannibal is being used as a third-run house. The Tom Sawyer is the city’s first run and Eddie Rosecan’s Rialto is the second run theatre and occasionally obtains first runs.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Spartan Twin on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:35 am

The exact opening date for the Spartan Twin was October 11, 1967, according to an item in Boxoffice of October 30. Operator Fox Eastern Theatres was a subsidiary of National General Corporation. The Spartan East originally seated 1,000, and the Spartan West 650.

The larger auditorium was slated to show first-run fare, opening with “A Rough Night in Jericho,” while the smaller Spartan West would be used for road shows, and opened with “The Taming of the Shrew.” The star-studded opening of the Spartan Twin was studded solely by actor Chill Wills. There’s no word on whether Lansing has yet recovered from the excitement. Chill Wills survived for another eleven years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:32 am

The Roxy has a longer and more interesting history than we suspected, and it probably last operated under the name Harvard Theatre. Oddly, so did the rival house, the Saunders Theatre.

A September 3, 1949, Boxoffice item said that William Johnson, operator of the Roxy Theatre at Harvard, had purchased the theater building from Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Carpenter. Johnson planned to completely modernize and redecorate the house, a project he expected to be complete by fall.

It looks as though it took him a bit longer than he expected. Boxoffice of February 4, 1950, reported that the new Harvard Theatre, formerly the Roxy, had been reopened by Bill Johnson after extensive redecoration.

Johnson didn’t keep his renovated theater very long, as Boxoffice of November 21, 1953, had this news: “H. W. ‘Bill’ Johnson, owner and operator of the Harvard Theatre here since 1939, has sold his business and has leased his theatre to the Harvard Theatre Corp., operator of the Saunders Theatre here and the Wentworth in Wentworth, Wis.”

The Papas brothers, owners of the Harvard Theatre Corp., didn’t operated their new acquisition even as long as Johnson had run it after the renovation. Boxoffice of January 30, 1954, said that the Pappas brothers were closing the Harvard Theatre, which had been in operation for 75 years. That means the opening year was probably 1878 or 1879.

I’ve been unable to find any theaters listed for Harvard, Illinois, in any edition of Julius Cohn’s Official Theatrical Guide, but I did find volumes of the annual report of the Wisconsin Horticultural Society from 1906 and 1907, each of which said that the society had held its annual convention at the Opera House in Harvard, Illinois. There is a single Boxoffice reference to the Harvard Opera House, in an item from 1943 about a theater manager who had begun his career as a prop boy there 35 years earlier.

I’m quite disappointed that I’ve been unable to find any mention of the Majestic Theatre at Harvard. 12 N. Ayer Street is currently listed in the Internet as the location of the Salvation Army. I don’t know how up-to-date that is. It’s also listed as the address of something called Milk Center Senior Citizens. Somehow I don’t think it’s named for Harvey Milk.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Saunders Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 6:22 am

Boxoffice of December 6, 1947, said that the Saunders Theatre had been taken over from Bertha Saunders by the Papas brothers and their father, John. The theater was to be remodeled and renamed the Harvard. Apparently they changed their minds about the renaming. Perhaps they decided it was cheaper to refurbish the existing signage. As I found C.J. Papas mentioned in Boxoffice as owner of the Saunders as early as 1943, the 1947 item must have meant that Bertha Saunders had sold the building to them.

A November 7, 1942, Boxoffice item says “C.J. Chapin has resigned as manager of the Saunders Theatre in Harvard after being associated with its operation for 35 years.” If there is no error in that report, that would push the opening of the theater back to at least 1907.

Eventually, the Saunders did get renamed the Harvard Theatre. Boxoffice of April 29, 1969, made the announcement that Robert and Roberta Hume of Harvard would renovate and reopen the old Saunders Theatre, which had been closed for several years.

A Boxoffice article of March 23, 1970, says that the Harvard Theatre had opened on February 23, after a year of remodeling which converted it into a “…luxurious 400-seat showhouse.” The last mention of the Harvard Theatre I’ve found is in Boxoffice of September 18, 1972, when operator Hume, Inc., was charged with showing an obscene film. The name of the film was not given, but the address was given as 21 N. Ayer Street. (I checked Google and sure enough, there’s no “s” on the street name.)

The current occupant of the building at 21 N. Ayer Street is a restaurant called Pico de Gallo, according to the Internets. On Google Street View it looks like a single floor, but the 1970 item about the Harvard Theatre said there was a balcony. Perhaps the upper floor has been chopped off, or maybe it was actually in the two-story building next door (probably 23 N. Ayer) and Boxoffice was off a bit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Standard Theatre on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:06 am

It must have been the Standard, as yet unnamed, that was the subject of an item in The Motion Picture World of January 3, 1914. It said: “The largest motion picture house in downtown Cleveland is planned by Joseph Grossman… who has arranged to lease a building to be erected for him… at the rear of the O'Brien Building, 813 Prospect Avenue. Architect M.B. Vorce is preparing plans for a structure that will accommodate between 700 and 800 persons.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Home Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:40 am

The roof of the Home Theatre collapsed on December 9, 1912, not long after it had opened. A year later, architect David Saul Klafter was cleared of charges stemming from the event, as told in the trade journal The Motion Picture world of January 10, 1914.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fenway Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:08 am

Boxoffice of April 19, 1971, had an item datelined Fennimore saying: “The Fenway Theatre here, a landmark for more than 40 years, is being converted into a diversified teenage entertainment center.”

The finding aid for the Lewis W. Claude papers held by the University of Minnesota has a list of buildings designed by the firm of Claude & Starck, and one item is a store, hotel, and theater building at Fennimore for a Mr. Dwight Parker, dated 1928. The theater’s name is not given. (Claude & Starck designed Fennimore’s public library, now called the Dwight T. Parker Library, in 1924.)

The only other reference to a theater at Fennimore I can find in the trade papers is to an Opera House mentioned in The Reel Journal of November 28, 1925. It was operated by a B.H. Brechler, who in 1939 is mentioned in Boxoffice as operator of the Fenway Theatre. As far as I can find, the Opera House is never mentioned in the trades after 1925.

I believe this is the building the Fenway occupied. It looks to have been substantially altered. The Eagle Creek Inn’s most recent web site says that the establishment has been closed. It still displays a few small interior photos. The interior also looks to have been substantially altered.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Home Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:05 am

The trade journal The Moving Picture World said in its issue of August 14, 1915, that the newly-formed Home Amusement Company was building a new theater on C Street between 12th and 13th Streets. The architect of the new house was William S. Plager.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Oakland Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 5:02 am

The Oakland Theatre occupied a building that had housed the Oakland Natatorium prior to a 1915 remodeling. The conversion into a movie theater was expected to be completed by November 1, according to the August 28 issue of trade journal The Moving Picture World. The house was to be operated under lease by the Rowland & Clark company, operating several theaters in the area. Plans for the remodeling were by architect George H. Schwan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:51 am

The August 28, 1915, issue of trade journal The Moving Picture World said that contracts had been let for the construction of the Bijou Theatre at Clinton and Chestnut avenues in Trenton. The owners were Hildinger and LaMonte, operators of several theaters in Trenton. The $20,000 project was expected to be completed by November 15. The plans were drawn by local architect Frederick Slack.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kerredge Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:48 am

The Kerredge Theatre was designed by architect C. Archibald Pearce. There’s a photo and a bit of information on the Charles Archibald Pearce page (near the bottom) in the Copper Country Architects section of the Michigan Tech web site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Appleton Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:42 am

The Appleton Theatre, then a Marcus Amusement Corporation operation, was sold to First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Milwaukee in 1971. It was to be demolished to make room for 22 parking spaces, according to the item in Boxoffice of September 13 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theater on Jan 12, 2010 at 4:36 am

Bing Maps has a bird’s-eye view showing that the two blocks either side of Oneida Street between College Avenue and Washington Street have been consumed by one of those enclosed downtown shopping malls that became so popular for a while. It’s called City Center Plaza, which is a bit ironic considering that they apparently gutted a big chunk of the center of the city to build it. Part of the multi-level garage on the north side of the project must occupy the site of the Rio.

Use the address 2 E. College Ave., Appleton, WI at Bing Maps and select bird’s eye view to see what became of the 100 block of N. Oneida Street.

The diamond-patterned tapestry brick and the arches on the facade of the Rio reveal the architectural style to be Venetian. Most likely the interior was also Venetian. The name Rio in the dialect of Venice is the singular of rii, the local term for the side canals leading off the Grand Canal.

I’ve been unable to discover the name of the architect of this splendid theater, but reports in the trade papers of the time indicate that it was built for Fox Theatres. Movie Age of January 12, 1929, said that plans had been approved for a 2000-seat theater to be built at Appleton by Fox-Midwesco, and it would be completed by September that year. This was probably the Rio.

Information about the surviving Wurlitzer organ from the Rio can be found on this web page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Popcorn Palace on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:42 am

Fox Intermountain Theatres spent $125,000 to renovate the Lincoln Theatre in 1955. The reopening was mentioned in Boxoffice of August 20. The modern front dates from that time. The renovation, under the supervision of Fox Intermountain’s in-house architect Mel C. Glatz, included upgrading the screen and projection equipment to allow the Lincoln to present movies in the latest wide screen processes including Todd-AO.

The earliest mention of the Lincoln Theatre I’ve found in Boxoffice dates from October 1, 1938. It was listed as one of a number of theaters presenting both movies and live stage acts, though usually only on a single-day basis. As it had a stage, it was most likely opened in the 1920s or earlier.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Campus West Twin Theatre on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:18 am

Could somebody who has seen the Campus West Theatre take a look at the architect’s rendering at upper left of this page of Boxoffice from September 4, 1967 and see if they recognize it? The caption places the theater in Boulder, but I think that must have been a mistake and it is actually the Campus West in Fort Collins. If it is, then the Campus West opened as a single-screen with 750 seats, Perhaps before the end of 1967 or in early 1968, and was designed by Mel Glatz & Associates.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Terrace Stadium 6 on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:12 am

The Park Terrace in its original single-screen form was featured in Boxoffice of February 15, 1965. The Midcentury Modern design was by Six Associates, an architectural firm founded in Asheville in 1941.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wyo Theatre on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:08 am

Boxoffice of November 12, 1949, said that Mrs. Carl Ray, owner of the Princess Theatre, had hired local architect Frederic H. Porter to prepare plans for rebuilding the house. Since the death of her husband, a long-time Cheyenne theater operator who had died in 1948, the theater was being operated by Fox Wyoming Theatres.

Carl Ray had bought the Princess in 1940. Boxoffice doesn’t reveal how long it had been in operation before that, but Chuck1231’s link above has a photo of the Princess and the building it was in looked very old.

The September 23, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that the Princess had been closed for two months and was being virtually rebuilt, and would reopen under Fox Intermountain’s management as the Wyo Theatre. The Wyo was included on the list of theaters opened in recent months in Boxoffice of December 16, 1950.

There after Boxoffice called the house the Wyo Theatre except for one instance of Wyoming Theatre in a 1964 issue. I think that instance was an error.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Winona Theatre on Jan 11, 2010 at 4:32 am

Either many additional pictures have been added to the Winona gallery to which I linked in my comment of December 23, 2009, or the pictures have been rearranged. The 1908 photo showing the Winona Opera House in no longer 6th from the top of the page, but 21st from the top.

Better, it’s now possible to link to individual images in the gallery, so here’s the Winona Opera House, 1908.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mode Theater on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:27 am

Lying deep within a very large PDF document prepared for the NRHP is the information that the Mode Theatre, built in 1936, was designed by architect William Pereira. The document also says that the Mode was the town’s “…first taste of Modern architectural design….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Indiana Theatre on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:23 am

Boxoffice of August 12, 1950, said that the Indiana Theatre was undergoing a $250,000 remodeling project. The design was by Indianapolis architect Alden Meranda, who had done a major remodeling of the Crump Theatre at Columbus, Indiana, in 1941.

In its issue of December 2, 1963, Boxoffice reported that the Indiana Theatre name had been moved to the former Von Ritz Theatre. A November 16, 1964, Boxoffice item says that Bedford Theatres had razed the former Indiana Theatre at Bedford, and adds that the house had been built in 1900. It also says that the Indiana was located on 15th Street.

The page with the photo linked in Lost Memory’s second comment above says that the Indiana Theatre had been called the Stone City or Stone City Opera House prior to 1924. This Rootsweb post says that the Stone City Opera House opened on May 16, 1901.