Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gene Theater on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:24 am

In better days, the Gene Theatre, pictured in Boxoffice of May 5, 1951.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theatre on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:04 am

A couple of years after it opened, three photos of the Dixie ran in Boxoffice of May 5, 1951. It was a nice Art Moderne style theater built for the N.N. Bernstein circuit.

The theater’s name was changed from Dixie to Rio in 1965, according to Boxoffice of December 20 that year. Wometco was set to reopen the house at Christmas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Community Theatre on Feb 27, 2010 at 4:01 am

Boxoffice of March 27, 1955, said that the Community Theatre in Miami Beach was being demolished. The article says that the house was built by local investors when no theater operators were willing to build in Miami Beach. After a year of successful operation, the Community Theatre was taken over by Paramount interests.

The Boxoffice article diverges from the history given in comments above, and says that the Community opened in 1924 and was closed in 1935 when Paramount leased another theater. Thereafter, it says, the building was used for storage.

To belatedly answer Al Alvarez’s question of March 30 last year, the E.J. Sparks circuit was for many years the Paramount affiliate in Florida.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bay Harbor 4 Theatres on Feb 27, 2010 at 3:54 am

I think this must be the theater that was, in its original plans, to have been called the Broadway. A rendering of the Broadway Theatre, which was then under construction, appeared in Boxoffice of December 20, 1965. One of the owners of the proposed Broadway, Herb Kaplan, was mentioned in later issues of Boxoffice as a co-owner of the Bay Harbor Theatre. In even later issues of Boxoffice, Kaplan is mentioned as a director of Loew’s Florida division.

The caption of the drawing says that the Broadway was designed by architect Arthur Thomas. I’ve been unable to find anything about him on the Internet.

Originally operated by a partnership called Broadway Enterprises, by May, 1968, the Bay Harbor was being operated by Loew’s. A January 13, 1969, item about the planned benefit premier of “Oliver” referred to the house as “…Loew’s 972-seat Bay Harbor Theatre….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mysteria Theater on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:55 am

I’ve had no luck finding a confirmation of the address, but the June 6, 1977, issue of Boxoffice has a list of theater projects completed during 1976, and it includes the Showboat Cinema 2 at Mandan, with 144 seats. As the item doesn’t mention a Showboat Cinema 1, I suspect the new screen might have been in an addition or in space annexed from an adjacent building rather than carved from the existing auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Cinema Grill on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:26 am

Scott, the ACI photo must be of the original Arlington Theatre, which got a complete makeover in 1962, as described in the May 28 issue of Boxoffice that year. I’ll link to the Boxoffice article on the first Arlington’s page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Arlington Theater on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

The April 25, 1942, issue of Boxoffice featured an article about the Arlington and a second theater built by Robert Lucas at the same time the Arlington was rebuilt, the Coral Theatre in Oak Lawn. The facades of the two were almost identical. The article attributes the design of the Coral to architect Frederick Stanton, and says the theater consultant David N. Sandine was design consultant on both projects. It doesn’t name the architect of the Arlington.

The Hanns Teichert Studio of Chicago did the decoration of both theaters. A second article about the Arlington, penned by Teichert, appears on later page of the same issue of Boxoffice.

In addition to its 1942 rebuilding, the Arlington was extensively remodeled and expanded in 1962. This article in Boxoffice of May 28 that year describes the project, which was to begin that summer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Studio Cinema on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:15 am

The recent opening of the Studio Theatre was mentioned in Boxoffice of May 7, 1962, though the magazine gave the location of the theater as Oak Lawn. The item said it was the first in a planned circuit of “astronaut-inspired” theaters. Apparently it was also the last, as the phrase “astronaut-inspired” never again appears in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theater on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:10 am

Thanks. Somehow I missed the Dakota Stage Playhouse page.

Whet the help of the name Gackle I found one more Boxoffice item mentioning the Krieger Theatre, in 1964 when Albert Krieger joined a regional association of theater operators. Boxoffice must have misplaced the theater in the earlier item.

Heh. Gackle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granada Theatre on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:23 am

Most of the Granada’s original Spanish style decor was removed in a mid-1950s remodeling for the Associated Theatres Circuit, which had taken over operation of the house from Loews in November, 1954. Plans for the modernization were by architect Jack Alan Bialosky. A few photos can be seen in this Boxoffice article of June 2, 1956.

Boxoffice refers to Bialosky as a theatre architect, but the only other project I can find is the Princeton Cinema in Springdale, Ohio, attributed to his firm of Manders & Bialosky by Boxoffice of December 12, 1966.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mysteria Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

Boxoffice of December 2, 1974, said that the former Mandan Theatre had reopened as the Showboat Cinema in mid-November, following a $100,000 renovation. It was a single-screen house with 412 seats. The Mandan Theatre had originally been built by Frank Wetzstein.

Photos of the Showboat Theatre appeared in Boxoffice of June 30, 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:19 am

Chuck, can you find any listings from the 1930s or later for either a State Theatre or a Capitol Theatre in Bismarck? Those two and the Bismarck are the only theaters in the town that are mentioned in Boxoffice during the 1930s and 1940s.

I’m wondering if the State might have been the Paramount renamed (the Capitol was an older theater on Main Avenue and had only 300 seats.) After being mentioned three times in Movie Age in 1929, the Paramount vanishes, and the only explanation I can think of for a house built for a major chain vanishing from the magazine without a trace is that the name was changed. Had it been destroyed in some disaster I’m sure the magazine would have mentioned it.

I also came across two references to an Eltinge Theatre in Bismarck. It was having Gennett talking picture equipment installed according to Movie Age of June 8, 1929. A second reference to the Eltinge appeared in Boxoffice of October 28, 1950. I find this gap puzzling. The Eltinge then vanishes too.

Another mystery is a single-line item in Boxoffice of September 24, 1949, datelined Bismarck, N.D., saying “The new Krieger Theatre has been opened here by Frederic and Albert Krieger.” Neither the theater nor the Kriegers ever get mentioned again.

By 1954, Boxoffice is making reference to the Bismarck and the Dakota as the town’s only indoor theaters, though a 1956 item said that the Capitol was being reopened following extensive remodeling. There’s never a hint of what became of the State or the mysterious Eltinge or Krieger theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:17 am

Boxoffice of October 27, 1951, said that cowboy star Rex Allen had been the top personal attraction at the recent opening of the new Fox Theatre in Sidney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dakota Twin Theatres on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:14 am

The Dakota Theatre opened October 12, 1951, according to Boxoffice of October 27. The original operator was Northwest Theatres, Inc.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza 3 Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:57 am

This theater opened to the public as the Plaza Twin on October 30, 1970, following a benefit premier the previous night. It was a joint venture of Mid Continent Theatres and the Dubinsky circuit, operating under the name R&D Theatres. In the original twin configuration it had 900 seats, according to several Boxoffice items of the period.

Boxoffice of November 23, 1970, said that the Plaza Twin was designed by Mel Glatz & Associates. The opening feature in the Plaza I was “The People Next Door” and the Plaza II featured “The Boatniks.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bismarck Theatre on Feb 23, 2010 at 4:54 am

“H. O. Mugridge’s Bismarck, Bismarck, N. D.” was on a list of new theaters scheduled to open in the next thirty days, published in Boxoffice of December 11, 1937.

The 1937 project must have been a renovation or rebuild, as Boxoffice of September 28, 1970, ran an item saying that the Bismarck Theatre had recently closed after 52 years of operation, and that it had been built in 1918 for $50,000. The September 14 issue of Boxoffice had said that the theater was to be demolished.

The last operator of the Bismarck was the R&D Amusement Company. R&D was a partnership of Mid-Continent Theatres and the Dubinsky circuit. The partnership opened the new Plaza Twin, later to be the Plaza 3, in Bismarck’s Kirkwood Mall on October 30, 1970.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Safari Cinema on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:33 am

A few pictures of the Safari 1&2 illustrate this article in Boxoffice, June 30, 1975. The Safari had 850 seats, divided 550 and 300. Originally operated by the State Theatre Company, the Safari was the first new hardtop built in Moorhead in 30 years. The African safari theme was the notion of State Theatres head Dan Peterson, and the design was carried out by decorator Jerry Arness. Boxoffice did not give the name of the architect.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Babylon Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:31 am

I misspelled the architect’s surname in my previous comment (as did the Heywood-Wakefield ad.) It should be Sornik.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hicksville Twin Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:29 am

A few before and after photos of the Hicksville Theatre remodeling of ca.1956 appeared in Boxoffice, February 2, 1957. The project was designed for Prudential Theatres by architect Maurice D. Sornik.

Judging from the original facade, this theater must have been built in the 1920s or earlier.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Babylon Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 3:13 am

The mid-1950s rebuilding of the Babylon Theatre was designed by architect Maurice D. Sornick. A few photos appeared in an ad for Heywood-Wakefield seats in Boxoffice of January 7, 1956.

A photo of the auditorium was on the cover of Boxoffice, June 2, 1956. The Babylon was operated by Associated Prudential Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crookston Grand Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 11:10 am

The Grand was apparently operated for several decades by members of the Hiller family. The Grand Theatre was being managed by C.L. Hiller at least as early as 1929, when the July 6 issue of Movie Age said that sound equipment was being installed n the house. A 1937 Boxoffice item said that the Northern States Amusement Company was operating the Grand, Lyric, and Royale theaters at Crookston.

Northern States might have been the Hiller family’s operating company even then. In 1985, the June issue of Boxoffice said that Jeff Hiller was the head of Northern States Amusement Company, but that item and the 1937 item are the only appearances of the company name I’ve been able to find in Boxoffice. C.L. Hillers brother, Ernotte Hiller, was operating the Grand at least as late as 1973.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gopher Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

The original owners of the Gopher were C.L. and Ernotte Hiller, also operators of the older Grand Theatre in Crookston. Boxoffice of October 12, 1940, said that the Gopher had opened recently, with 706 seats. It also had a magic fountain, though Boxoffice gave no details about this remarkable feature. Perhaps living in Hollywood had left them jaded about such things.

An April 17, 1937, Boxoffice item had said that the Grand, Lyric and Royale theaters at Crookston were all operated by the Northern States Amusement Company, which had bought a site for a new 800-seat theater in Crookston. I’ve been unable to confirm that this was the house that eventually opened as the Gopher, but if it was then it was designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan.

In 1956, Ernotte and Mrs. C.L. Hiller (C.L. himself had died the previous year) were operating two theaters at Crookston, and were planning to build a drive-in. Boxoffice of March 3 that year said that during the drive-in season the Hillers would close one of the hardtops. I haven’t found the Gopher mentioned in Boxoffice later than that, so maybe they decided to close it permanently.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

Park Theatre operator Gordon Aamoth, making his first visit to Hollywood, was photographed with actor Fernando Lamas on the set of the movie “Sangaree.” The photo was published in Boxoffice Magazine, March 14, 1953. The caption had the most recent mention of the Park I’ve been able to find.

Gordon Aamoth owned the Park, Roxy, and Towne theaters in Fargo in association with his brothers, H.C. and Francis Aamoth. The latter two opened the Roxy in 1932. The Towne, formerly the State, was operated by the Aamoths from 1951 until 1962.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

The Roxy was opened in 1932 by brothers Francis and H.C. Aamoth. A third brother, Gordon Aamoth, was later associated with them. The Aamoth brothers also operated the Park Theatre in Fargo from at least the late 1930s until about 1953. They operated the Towne Theatre during the 1950s and into 1962.

According to an item in Boxoffice of September 27, 1965, the Roxy was leased to independent operator Willis Menge from about 1955 until 1965, when Menge sold the operation to the Dakota circuit, headed by Ernest Peaslee (or Peasley— Boxoffice uses both spellings), who had acquired the Towne from the Aamoth brothers in 1962. The Roxy had been Fargo’s last independently-operated theater.

The Broadway Theatre was sold to Delaware-based Windsor Theatres in 1973, along with the Towne, as reported in Boxoffice of April 30 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Towne Theater on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:22 am

Boxoffice of April 14, 1951, reported that the former State had recently reopened as the Towne Theatre. The State Theatre had been bought from the Minnesota Amusement Company (a Paramount affiliate forced to divest itself of many theaters by the consent decree) by Francis, Gordon, and H.C. Aamoth on February 9, 1951.

The Aamoth brothers, already operating the Roxy and Park theaters in Fargo, had the State remodeled to plans by Minneapolis architects Liebenberg & Kaplan, expending $50,000 on the project (a later Boxoffice item said the cost of the project was $65,000.) The Towne was to be managed by Gordon Aamoth.

Later that year the Aamoth brothers entered an agreement to sell the equipment and lease the Towne to E.R. Ruben, but this deal fell through. The October 13 Boxoffice item about the sale said that the Aamoths had paid $125,000 to buy the State, and gave the seating capacity as of the time of the sale to Ruben as 1,045.

The Aamoths made another attempt to sell the Towne in late 1953, but this deal apparently failed as well, as the April 10, 1954, Boxoffice said that Gordon Aamoth had had the Towne updated and redecorated. This $11,000 project included a new screen, improved lighting, and the replacement of 300 balcony seats. Additionally, Boxoffice said, “…the former ‘castle’ effects on the walls have been removed and replaced by acoustical wallboard.”

Gordon Aamoth finally managed to rid himself of the Towne in 1962, when he sold the house to Ernie Peasley, operator of the Auditorium Theatre in Stillwater, who would take over the Towne on March 1, according to Boxoffice of February 26. I haven’t found any of the Aamoths mentioned in later issues of Boxoffice except for a 1965 item which said that F.P. and H.C. Aamoth had opened the Roxy Theatre in Fargo in 1932.

The Towne was in operation into 1973, when the Peasley circuit sold it, and the former Roxy (which had been renamed the Broadway), to the Delaware-based Windsor Theatres, as reported in Boxoffice of April 30. The house did not remain open for long after that, though. Boxoffice of November 26 said that the Towne had been razed in late October.