Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alhambra Theatre on May 9, 2011 at 4:38 am

An article on Cleveland movie houses in the July 5, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World has a few lines about the Alhambra Theatre:[quote]“One of the largest and prettiest theaters in Cleveland, built originally for pictures, is the Alhambra, at Euclid avenue and East 105th street. The house now seats 1,100 and during the summer a balcony with 400 seats is to be added. The house was built five years ago.

“Originates Children’s Matinees.

“Jack Greenbaum, manager since the Alhambra-Doan Company took over the theater, fourteen months ago, originated the "children’s matinee” idea in Cleveland. Special programs for children are shown every Saturday. School teachers aid Greenbaum in the selection of the pictures for the children.“[/quote]The line claiming that the Alhambra ”…was built five yeas ago" (about 1911, then) contradicts the citation from Gary Marmorstein’s book in Bob Beecher’s comment on Mar 26, 2007, saying that an organ was installed in the Alhambra by Mitchell Mark in 1907. Not knowing Marmorstein’s source for the earlier date, I can’t say which is correct, but the 1916 magazine’s article might have been hastily written and thus would be more prone to error.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ambridge Theatre on May 9, 2011 at 3:08 am

The February 15, 1965, issue of The Film Daily said that a bank had taken an option on Stanley Warner’s Ambridge Theatre and that the house might soon be closed. It was the town’s only operating theater. Boxoffice of October 4 the same year said that the Ambridge Theatre Building would be razed sometime that month.

“Invasion of the Mind Snatchers: Television’s Conquest of America in the Fifties,” by Eric Burns, a native of Ambridge, said that the town had four theaters in operation at the beginning of the 1950s, but only two by the end of the decade.

I’ve found the Ambridge Theatre mentioned as early as 1929, so it was in operation by then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ramona Theatre on May 9, 2011 at 2:03 am

ronp: I’m wondering if the newspaper you cite was perfectly legible. Is it possible that it actually said Rex, rather than Fox? (Scans of old newspapers are often a bit messy, assuming your source was a scan.) There was definitely once a Rex Theatre in Buhl. It was mentioned in the October 25, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World. Even if it did say Fox, the Fox might have been the Rex, renamed. It would have been a cheap change for the signage.

Either way, I doubt that this theater had any connection to William Fox. I don’t think the Fox Intermountain chain, which included Idaho in its territory, was even founded until several years after the Buhl house was closed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ramona Theatre on May 9, 2011 at 1:41 am

The Ramona Theatre has an official web site. The “About Us” section features a nice photo of the restored auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Scenic Temple on May 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The Scenic Temple was definitely in operation by 1908, as contemporary sources indicate that it was used as a dispensary distributing station during the Chelsea fire, which began on April 12 that year (see The Burning of Chelsea, published in 1908.)

Here is a link to the Scenic Temple listing in the 1908-1909 Cahn Guide. It notes that Chelsea still had no regular theaters, but there were two other movie houses in town; the Star and the Theatorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lafayette Theatre on May 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I wonder if the name “Stueal” on the 1909 building permit for this theater was actually “Wuest” written by someone with a sloppy hand? Stueal might be a real surname, although’s immigration records find only one person of that name. The form on which it was found could have been a bureaucratic error, of course. I can’t find any other references on the Internet to anyone named Stueal, except in results from Cinema Treasures.

I’ve found several references to Gustav P. Wuest, though, in publications from the 1910s as well as in a couple of documents prepared for nominations of buildings to the National Register of Historic Places.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Schenley Theater on May 7, 2011 at 5:27 am

The Arcadia Press book Oakland, by Walter C. Kidney, attributes the design of the facade of the Schenley Theatre to Henry Hornbostel. As Hornbostel did design (or collaborate on) other buildings in the Schenley Park neighborhood, it’s possible that he did collaborate on the theater project as well.

The April 8, 1915, issue of Engineering News has an article with structural drawings of the Schenley Theatre and a description of its construction. The article also says that the Davis Theatre in Pittsburgh, then under construction, had been designed by the same architects and engineers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on May 7, 2011 at 5:02 am

In an item in the January 5, 1914, issue of the journal American Stone Trade, architect Henry Hornbostle, to whom two sources that I know of attribute the design of the Liberty, was said to have “approved” the plans of the Schenley Theatre, a project designed by the architectural firm of H.E. Kennedy & Company.

On the Sheridan Square Theatre page, a comment by Denis McNamara (probably this architectural historian, by the way) says that architect Edward J. Schulte, who was working in Kennedy’s firm during the period when these theaters were built, listed the Sheridan Square, Schenley, and Liberty on his resume.

Despite the source I cited in my earlier comment above, and the book about Hornbostel reviewed here, I’m now wondering what roles Hornbostel and Schulte each played in the design of the Liberty. Unfortunately, there is much more information about the Schenley than the Liberty on the Internet, so I’ve been unable to track down any references from the 1910s that would confirm Schulte’s involvement in the project.

I’ve found nothing published prior to 2002 that mentions Hornbostel in connection with the Liberty, either, and I still find it odd that so restrained a classicist as Horbostel would have designed a theater that, as described by the book review to which I linked, featured “…white, glazed terra cotta tiles framing an American flag composed of red, white and blue light bulbs.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Schenley Theater on May 7, 2011 at 3:18 am

Additional information about the Schenley Theatre from the January 5, 1914, issue of American Stone Trade: “Ground was broken this week for the new Schenley Theater to be built by Harry Davis and John P. Harris in Forbes street, opposite the Hotel Schenley, from plans by the H. E. Kennedy Company of this city and approved by Architect Henry Hornbostle. The theater in many respects will be one of the most artistic in this city.”

This, coupled with the information from Denis McNamara about Edward Schulte (see my previous comment) leads me to question the attribution of the design of the Liberty Theatre to Henry Hornbostle. I’ll comment further on the Liberty page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Schenley Theater on May 7, 2011 at 2:58 am

A comment by Denis McNamara on the Sheridan Square Theatre page says that architect Edward J. Schulte listed this theater on his resume as his work. He was employed by H.E. Kennedy & Co. at the time. The following item appears in the August 5, 1913, issue of the journal American Stone Trade: “Architects H. E. Kennedy & Company, of this city, are preparing plans for $200.000 theater to be known as the Schenley, and to be built for Harry Davis and John P. Harris, well known amusement men of Pittsburgh. It will be erected near the opening of Schenley Park.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on May 7, 2011 at 2:48 am

The November 8, 1913, issue of trade journal The Moving Picture World had this item: “The Cameraphone Co., of Pittsburgh, H. Beatty, General Mgr., has added two more houses to their string. Cameraphone, at Sharpsburgh, seating capacity 530; Cameraphone, 1600 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, seating capacity 500, all doing good business.”

Five theaters were opened under the name Cameraphone by T.M. Barnesdale in 1908. These included the Cameraphone in East Liberty and the Cameraphone “…on lower Fifth avenue….” in Downtown Pittsburgh (I think this latter must have been the house at 347 Fifth Avenue that later became the Cameo Theatre.) A third Cameraphone was on Carson Street on the south side, according to this article in the July 15, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World.

The East Liberty Cameraphone was taken over by a partnership of H.B. Kester and W.C. Beatty not long after it opened. The H. Beatty who was general manager of the Cameraphone Company in 1913 was most likely a relative of W.C. Beatty. Kester was apparently out of the partnership by 1913, though he still operated the East Liberty Cameraphone. The Cameraphone Company that operated this house was established in 1913, and its president was James B. Clark.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cameraphone Theater on May 7, 2011 at 2:33 am

The East Liberty Cameraphone dates to 1908. It was one of five Cameraphone theaters that were opened that year by T.M. Barnesdale. Three of them, including the East Liberty house, presented early talking pictures. The experiment with sound soon failed, and the theater was taken over by H.B. Kester and W.C. Beatty, who operated it as a regular silent movie theater. The house opened with 400 seats, was expanded to 700 seats in 1910, and expanded again to 900 seats in 1914.

Trade journal The Moving Picture World had an article about Pittsburgh area exhibitors in its issue of July 15, 1916, and it included a section titled Kester and His Cameraphone. Kester operated the East Liberty Cameraphone at least as late as 1926, when it was mentioned in the Film Daily Yearbook.

The 1941 Catalog of Copyright Entries from the Library of Congress includes a copyright issued to architect Victor A. Rigaumont for: “Alterations to Cameraphone theatre, 6202 Penn Ave., Th. Ward, Pittsburgh. © June 3,1941” There’s no indication of how extensive the alterations were.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on May 6, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Aerial views show that this entire block is now a parking lot. The Paramount has been demolished, as comments above note.

The listed seating capacity of 2,600 for this house must be wrong. From the photos of the theater it’s clear that this building couldn’t have held that many seats— probably not even half that number.

The various photos showing the side wall of the Paramount reveal that the building was quite old. It dated from no later than the early 20th century. This genealogy page refers to “The Old Marlowe Theater, that is now the State Theater….” The Marlowe Theatre was listed in the the 1904-1905 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide as a 1,050-seat, ground-floor house. This photo of the Marlowe’s auditorium (dated 1934 by the New York Public Library) makes an interesting comparison with the Paramount’s remodeled auditorium (that’s the same photo Chuck linked to above.) The interior was obviously gutted, either when it was remodeled as the Paramount or earlier, when it was renamed the State.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on May 6, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Volume 205 of the legal publication The Southwestern Reporter has information about a case involving the installation of a heating and ventilation system in the Lyric Theatre at Jackson, Tennessee. The initial contract for the system had been signed on July 9, 1913. Another case, in volume 203 of the same publication, involved a vacuum cleaning system installed in the house. It’s clear from the articles that the house was in operation during at least part of 1913, and most likely was built that year. A balcony is mentioned in one of the articles, so the Lyric was probably a good-sized theater, not just a small nickelodeon.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theater on May 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

There are three more photos of the Orpheum in this Flickr set.

From YouTube, here is a 57 second clip of Mark Gifford playing the Orpheum’s Barton organ, now installed at Springfield High School.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Boynton Beach 14 on May 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Like the other theaters built by Muvico since 1997, the Boynton Beach 14 was designed by the Baltimore architectural firm Development Design Group.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Boice Theater on May 5, 2011 at 7:10 am

There are conflicting reports about the theaters in Warsaw, but this house should probably be listed as the Boice Theatre, with Centennial as an aka. It was built in either 1916 or 1917, became the Boice Theatre in 1955, and operated until 1973. A comment on this message board page says that the theater that was the Boice in the 1950s had once been the Centennial, and that it had been built in 1916. It suggests that the Centennial might have been closed for a long time before being reopened as the Boice, and the building might have had some other use in the meantime, but that’s not certain.

But then this 2005 Union-News article says that the Boice was “newly built” in 1955. I’m inclined to think that’s wrong, as the building on the corner today has the same form as the one in the picture Lost Memory linked to (though it’s been refaced with modern materials,) and that was clearly an old building with a stage house. The article also says the house was operated by the Boices until it was destroyed by a fire in 1973, but this 1968 article about Ralph and Gladys Boice says that they had by then retired from the theater business and had recently leased the Boice Theatre to a Roger Vores.

The Boices had begun operating the Strand Theatre on North Buffalo Street in 1931, according to the 1968 article. I’ve also come across a reference to a Bell Theatre in Warsaw, the name of which was changed to the New Grand in late 1915. A house called the Royal was operating in Warsaw at the same time (it’s possible that one or the other of these might have become the Strand.) The old Warsaw Opera House might have been operating as a movie theater at that time, too, as it was mentioned in same issue of The Motion Picture World, January 1, 1916. However, this page with a history of the Opera House doesn’t mention it being used for movies. The Opera House was destroyed by a fire in 1967. The same page gives the opening year of the Centennial as 1917, rather than 1916.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Franklin Theatre (First) on May 5, 2011 at 3:47 am

There is a brief article with a photo of the Franklin Theatre in The Moving Picture World, issue of March 4th, 1916.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olympic Theater on May 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm

There was an Olympic Theatre in operation at Steubenville at least as early as 1916. In 1917, the Olympic’s operators were involved in a lawsuit over events that took place in the theater around August 1, 1916. A description of the case was published in the 1918 Ohio Circuit Court Reports. Given the old fashioned style of the building seen in the photo ken mc linked to above, the Olympic Theatre in the court case was probably this house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 3:51 am

Boxoffice of June 5, 1954, reported that the Esquire Theatre in Stockton was to be closed to make way for a new J.C. Penney department store. The item did not specify if the building was to be demolished, or merely adapted for the store.

The Esquire had been open less than eight years when it closed. A Boxoffice article of May 18, 1946, mentions in passing that the Esquire Theatre in Stockton was “nearly completed.” Work was delayed, though, and a short article in the December 14 issue that year announced that the Esquire had finally opened after thirteen months of construction.

The house had cost $200,000 to build and equip, and was Stockton’s fourth first run theater. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity as 1190, and described the auditorium as being decorated with fluorescent murals having a Chinese theme.

The 1954 article about the closing also said that Blumenthal Theatres was in negotiations to take over the recently closed State Theatre, and planned to move the Esquire name to that house. According to comments by ksutterfield on the State Theatre page (Nov 29, 2009, and Dec 1, 2009,) the State did become the second Esquire, and he worked at the house from 1960 to 1963.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Athens Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 3:20 am

New Bern Civic Theatre is the name of the organization operating this house. The theater itself has returned to its original name, the Athens Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sierra Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 3:16 am

Boxoffice of June 5, 1954, reported that the Blumenthal circuit’s Sierra Theatre in Stockton had recently been closed to make way for two stores. It didn’t say if the building was to be demolished, or merely converted to retail use.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Athens Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 2:37 am

The photos at the second link in my previous comment are now enlarging properly, so I guess they worked the bugs out of their program. One of the images is the original floor plan of the theater from the office of architect Herbert W. Simpson.

The official web site gives the address of the Athens Theatre as 414 Pollock Street. The zip code is 28560.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Jefferson Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 1:51 am

Correction: The misspelling of the architects name was in a later issue of Daily Bulletin of the Manufacturers Record. Unlike me, they got it right the first time. The correct name is Fred A. Henderich.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Jefferson Theatre on May 1, 2011 at 1:42 am

It turns out that Brick and Clay Record spelled the architect’s name wrong. The Jefferson Theatre was being designed by Fred A. Henderich, according to the Daily Bulletin of the Manufacturers Record, February 4, 1907. A quick Google search reveals that Henderich was one of St. Augustine’s leading architects during the first half of the 20th century, and several of his buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s too bad the Jefferson Theatre didn’t survive long enough to become one of them.