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A theater doesn’t get added to the database without going through the webmasters, so if they include the picture link as an official website they must approve of the practice.
There was a Neon Theatre at Neon, Kentucky, as far back as 1925, when it was listed in the July 11 issue of The Reel Journal. Later, there was a Bentley Theatre, the town’s only movie house, which was reported to have been recently destroyed by fire in the March 11, 1944, issue of Boxoffice. The Bentley might have been the first Neon Theatre renamed.
The Bentley was apparently rebuilt, as it was mentioned in a July 2, 1949, Boxoffice item which said that its operators, the Virginia Amusement Company, were building a second theater in Neon. The Bentley would show only westerns and second run movies when the new theater opened. Judging from the look of the building in the photos above, the new theater was probably the Neon.
Apparently the Life photos are of the Rancho in San Diego. The San Diego Weekly Reader has this web page about the area’s drive-ins, and the Life photos of the Rancho are among the illustrations. There’s considerable information about the Rancho there, too.
More photos appear in the April 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice. It’s unmistakably the San Diego Rancho that Life mistakenly places in San Francisco.
I can’t find the Rancho in San Diego listed at Cinema Treasures yet, so the location for this page could just be corrected to San Diego. The only address I can find for it is Federal Boulevard at Euclid, San Diego, 92105. That would be just about 5100 Federal. Google satellite views show that the land has all been developed for other uses, so the Rancho Drive-In has been demolished.
I don’t think this drive-in was in San Francisco. The Life Magazine photo collection is pretty loose with its locations. Once caption on a photo of a theater in Ventura places it in Los Angeles, for example.
There was an El Rancho Drive-In in South San Francisco, already listed at Cinema Treasures, but I don’t think this is the same theater. The name on the screen tower is Rancho Drive-In, not El Rancho Drive-In.
There’s a possibility that the photo depicts the Rancho Drive-In in the east bay suburb of San Pablo. This Rancho Drive-In was mentioned in Boxoffice Magazine as early as 1951. I’ve been unable to find out if the Rancho in San Pablo was operating in 1948, and I can’t find any photos of it on the Internet, so I can’t be sure that the drive-in in that photo was the one in San Pablo, but I’m 99% sure there was never a Rancho Drive-In in the city of San Francisco.
The Clear Lake was opened by the Interstate circuit on April 20, 1966, according to Boxoffice of April 26. The May 9 issue of Boxoffice that year said that the Clear Lake Theatre would have 900 seats. It was the fourth of nine new indoor theaters Interstate expected to open in 1966.
I suspect that most or all of these theaters were designed by Irving R. Klein & Associates of Houston, but the only two I’ve been able to confirm in Boxoffice are the Parkview in Pasadena, Texas, and the Northshore in Houston. A photo of the lounge of the Clear Lake accompanied an article on the Parkview in the February 20, 1967, issue of Boxoffice, with a caption saying that it was a near twin of the Parkview’s lounge area. That suggests, but does not confirm, Klein’s participation in the Clear Lake project.
Photos of the Dolphin Cinema appeared in the February 20, 1967, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The theater was designed by architect J. Douglas Henderson.
The June 20, 1966, issue of Boxoffice names the original owners of the Dolphin as Muzzocco and Gervanni, and said that the house would reopen under Odeon management on June 23. This issue gave the seating capacity as 775, but the 1967 item said 750.
The Parkview was opened in 1966. A few photos of it accompanied an article about in the February 20, 1967, issue of Boxoffice. The theater was designed by Irving R. Klein & Associates, Houston. The Parkview had 868 seats, and was operated by the Interstate circuit.
The September 28, 1957, issue of Boxoffice said that the Ritz Theatre was being remodeled and and was to be renamed the Florida Theatre. Due to a street widening project, the front ten feet of the building would have to be removed and a new facade built.
The May 21, 1962, Boxoffice says that the Florida Theatre in Ocala had been sold by B.S. Maas Co. to an operating company headed by Lloyd M. Gerber.
A mention of the Florida Theatre in Ocala appeared in the July 22, 1968, issue of Boxoffice. It was then being operated by MCM Theatres of Leesburg.
The most recent mention of the Florida I’ve found in Boxoffice is in the February 3, 1975, issue, when the manager resigned. It looks like this house operated under the name Florida for almost twenty years at least.
The June 12, 1948, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Leachman Theatre was scheduled to open on June 17. The house had already been under construction early that year, but completion had been delayed when a fire that gutted the Aggie Theatre in January destroyed equipment intended for use in the Leachman that had been stored on the second floor of the Aggie building.
The Campus Theatre was originally built in the early 1930s as a single-aisle theater 25 feet wide, with 450 seats. A few years later, the operators decided the house was too small, and the original architect, Jack Corgan, was called in to design an expansion. The plans for this were published in the February 1, 1937, issue of Boxoffice. The project called for widening the auditorium by 15 feet and adding a small balcony to one side of the booth, increasing the seating capacity to 650.
I don’t know if the plans announced in 1937 were fully carried out, but the Campus was definitely remodeled two years later. The January 7, 1939, said that construction on the Campus Theatre in Stillwater, designed by Jack Corgan, was underway, and the March 11, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that the theater was then nearing completion.
Like the Aggie and Mecca, already in operation in Stillwater, the Campus was owned and operated by a partnership consisting of Griffith Amusement Company and Claude Leachman.
The Aggie was built for the Griffith Amusement Company in 1926, according to The Reel Journal of June 12 that year.
The January 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Aggie Theatre had been gutted by a fire on January 18. The house was rebuilt.
The fire led to a delay in completion of the Leachman Theatre, then under construction. Equipment intended for the Leachman had been stored on the second floor of the Aggie building and was lost to the flames.
The Reel Journal of August 7, 1926, had some information about the Camera Theatre: “E.B. Tull has increased the seating capacity of his Camera Theatre at Stillwater, Okla., from 300 to 400. Mr. Tull will erect another theatre building in Stillwater in the near future.”
That September, Mr. Tull leased the Camera to Roy H.H. Russ, and I find no later references to him, so perhaps his second theater was never built. Roy Russ is mentioned in the February 3, 1951, issue of Boxoffice, which said that he had sold the Camera Theatre to Johnny H. Jones and his sister Ruby Jones of Shawnee, Oklahoma.
A brief item about the death of Roy Russ appeared in the May 3, 1952, issue of Boxoffice. It said that the Joneses had remodeled the Camera and renamed it the Crest.
The June 29, 1957, issue of Boxoffice ran an article about Johnny and Ruby Jones which said that they had bought the Crest Theatre in Stillwater in 1951, and operated it until 1954. One Boxoffice item that year said that Jones sold the Crest to Griffith Amusement and Claude Leachman’s Video Independent Theatres. I’ve been unable to find any mentions of the Crest after 1954, so unless it got another name (and if it did, I’ve been unable to discover it) it might have been permanently closed that year.
As this house apparently operated as the Camera Theatre more than ten times as long as it operated as the Crest, I’d suggest that it continue to be listed as the Camera instead of by its final name, which was so briefly used.
And I can’t find any mention of an Alamo Theatre in Stillwater in Boxoffice Magazine or its predecessors. Is it possible this was a very early theater, perhaps closed or renamed during the silent era?
An article about Johnny and Ruby Jones in the June 29, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine attributes the design of the marquee of the Ritz Theatre to Jake Jones, with architect A.C. Davis working from a pasteboard model made by Jones.
The firm of Davis & Sons was based in Shawnee, and Davis is known to have designed a theater as early as 1926 (the H&S Theatre in Chandler) so it would be surprising if the Ritz had not been designed by Davis, Shawnee’s leading architect for many years. The question is whether or not he did the original 1899 building. Davis was definitely practicing architecture in Shawnee at least as early as 1908, according to a book published that year.
Also, commentors above are correct that the style of this theater is Federal Revival, not Art Deco. Unfortunately, Cinema Treasures doesn’t provide Federal Revival as an option among its choice of styles. The closest would probably be Adam, as the original Federal style in the United States was a variant of the British Adam style, and is frequently referred to by architectural historians as Adamesque-Federal.
Boxoffice has the story. The April 1, 1968, issue contains an item headed “San Francisco Man Leases Crawford, Neb., Theatre” It reveals that the Elite was owned by Isabella Strohmeyer, former operator of the Surf Theatre in San Francisco. The original Elite Theatre had been built by her mother, Georgianna Higgins, and had opened on May 29, 1909. Mrs. Higgins operated the original Elite for 22 years, and then built a new theater next door to replace it in 1931.
The wording of the item is not precise, but it appears that for some time (from the early 1930s until 1944) the house was leased to Sid Wisebaum and Linn McDonnel, who operated it as the Sioux Theatre. Mrs. Higgins died in 1941, and Isabella Strohmeyer took over operation of the theater in 1944, renaming it the Elite. In 1946, operation of the Elite was taken over by Fred Barnes, and that was apparently when Mrs. Strohmeyer decamped to San Francisco.
Barnes gave up the Elite in 1959, and it was subsequently leased to a number of operators over the years, closing and reopening several times. The lessee who was the subject of the 1968 item was Gerald Thomas, a 21 year old native of San Francisco. He operated the house for about a year.
The last mention of the Elite I’ve found was from the January 19, 1976, issue of Boxoffice, which said that Clarence Moffitt had reopened the house as a weekends-only operation.
The Center Mayfield Theatre opened in 1936, and was (as noted by Warren in comments above) designed by architect George B. Mayer. The Art Moderne auditorium seated 1,200 patrons, and a photo of it appeared in the November 11, 1936, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.
A September 12, 1942, Boxoffice article about the Fairmount Theatre mentions the Shaker as another of the many theaters designed by the Fairmount’s architect, George H. Burrows.
The Shaker opened in 1936, and the November 11 issue of Boxoffice that year published a photo of the auditorium, but the caption misspelled the architect’s name as Burroughs. Boxoffice described the style of the Shaker as “…predominantly Colonial… though with strong modern notes throughout.” The photo bears out the description.
Though the article does not give the Shaker’s seating capacity, the photo reveals a spacious, four-aisle auditorium that clearly would have accommodated well over 1000 patrons.
The Fairmount Theatre actually opened in 1942, and was featured in a two-page spread in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of September 12 that year. Architect George H. Burrows, also the designer of the Shaker and Telenews theaters in Cleveland, gave the Fairmount a Colonial exterior but used an Art Moderne style in the auditorium.
The Harris Theatre of Jeannette was in operation prior to 1939, at the time the Harris Amusement Company took a lease on Michael Manos’s new Manos Theatre in the same town. The new house operated as the Harris-Manos Theatre until 1949, at which time operation was taken over by the Manos circuit. The Harris circuit continued to operate the Harris Theatre as well during this decade.
In 1950, Manos bought the Harris Theatre, ending the Harris circuit’s presence in Jeannette. The March 25 issue of Boxoffice that year said that Michael Manos had closed the Harris Theatre. I’ve not found any later mentions of the Harris in Boxoffice.
Through the 1940s, Boxoffice sometimes hyphenates the name of this theater, sometimes calls it the Harris Manos Theatre or Harris' Manos Theatre, and sometimes just calls it the Manos Theatre. The theater was built by Michael Manos in 1939, and then leased to the Harris Amusement Company until 1949.
The November 8, 1939, issue of Boxoffice reveals that the Manos Theatre was designed by architect Victor A. Rigaumont. Arnold Picchi of Tuckahoe, New York, was the decorator. Both John Harris and Michael Manos were present at the opening night ceremonies, November 7, 1939.
The March 18, 1949, issue of Boxoffice ran an item about the Manos circuit which included the information that the Harris circuit’s lease on the Manos Theatre in Jeannette would expire on October 1, and that Manos would then take over operation of the house. After 1949, Boxoffice always calls the house the Manos Theatre, and the name Harris never appears in conjunction with it again.
The name of this theater is currently misspelled. The spelling Kihchel is used throughout the various items about it in issues of Boxoffice. I’m sometimes skeptical of spellings Boxoffice gives, but in this case they agree with posts about the Kihchel family of Jeannette at a couple of genealogy sites, and a history of the town published in 2005.
The Kihchel Theatre was built by Mrs. Bessie Kihchel, widow of Princess Theatre owner Oliver A. Kihchel, and her sons Oliver D. and Burt R. Kihchel.
The April 8, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that construction was about to begin on the new Kihchel Theatre. The item said that the Princess Theatre would be closed in May, and that all but its alley-side wall would be demolished, so the new theater was almost entirely new construction.
The September 2, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that the Kihchel Theatre had opened on August 25. With 800 seats, the new theater was almost twice the size of the Princess. The new house was designed by architects Sorber & Horne.
Cleveland’s Telenews Theatre was featured in an article in the April 26, 1941, issue of Boxoffice. The design of the theater was attributed to Cleveland architect George Howard Burrows, best known for the hundreds of houses he designed in such neighborhoods as Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity of the Telenews as 480.
Among the features of this theater were a modern art gallery featuring works by local artists, with exhibits changed twice monthly, and a radio studio (including seating for an audience) in the basement, from which programs could be broadcast over a number of area stations.
A photograph of the auditorium of the Temple Theatre appeared in the April 26, 1941, issue of Boxoffice magazine. The 750-seat house featured the first installation of black light illumination in the area. The walls were covered in a velour fabric printed with luminescent dyes in a pattern matching the theater’s carpet. The Art Moderne design of the Temple was the work of Pittsburgh architect Robert C. Bowers.
The September 21, 1964, issue of Boxoffice gives the exact opening date of the Coast Theatre as September 10.
The recently opened Coast Theatre was featured in an article in the January 18, 1965, issue of Boxoffice. It was originally a single-screen house of 682 seats. Built for the Mann family’s Noyo Theatres, the Coast was designed by San Francisco architect Gale Santocono in a California Modern style. The exterior remains largely unchanged today.
A May 18, 1970, Boxoffice Magazine article about the groundbreaking for the Lark Theatre said that the Lark was a replacement for the Grand, and that the Grand was to be demolished after the opening of the new house.