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Jack: I can find plenty of references to the firm of Marr & Holman, formed in 1913, but I’ve been unable to find anything about an architect named Arch who was ever associated with the firm. Could somebody have been using “Arch” as an abbreviation of Architects?
It’s certainly possible that Marr & Holman designed the Woodland, as they were among Nashville’s busiest architects during the 1920s, and theaters were one of their specialties.
Beginning in the 1920s, they had a long-running contract with the Crescent Amusement Company to design all the circuit’s theaters in the Nashville region. The Woodland was definitely part of the Crescent circuit by the 1940s, and it it was built for Crescent, then it was almost a certainly a Marr & Holman design.
Here is a PDF of the nomination form seeking the addition of a number of Marr & Holman works to the National Register of Historic Places. Though it has little information about their theaters (none of which were among the buildings being nominated), it does say they designed 61 theaters over the fifty-year history of the firm, and spcifically names the Princess Theatres at Bowling Green and Murphreesboro, Tennessee, as being among them.
This page still needs an update for the architects.
ziggy (Sept 16 comment above) is correct. The Midland is far too ornate to be considered Adam in style. It looks like a hybrid French-Italian interior with a Renaissance Revival exterior.
The August 3, 1957, issue of Boxoffice refers to “…Gus Kerasotes, pioneer exhibitor who opened one of the nation’s first movie theatres, the Royal at Springfield, in 1909.”
And the photo linked above does show that the building is indeed still standing.
Boxoffice of August 9, 1965, said that “Lord Jim” had opened at Storey’s new North DeKalb Theatre in Decatur. That must have been the premier feature at the theater, as the August 23 issue of Boxoffice mentioned that the house had opened “Two weeks ago….”
Two small photos depicting the North DeKalb’s marquee and lobby appeared in Boxoffice of April 17, 1967. The article was about the Storey circuit’s new Lakewood Theatre in Atlanta, and said that both the Lakewood and the North DeKalb had been designed by the same architects, the Atlanta firm of Finch, Alexander, Barnes, Rothschild & Paschal, which was fairly active in theater design about this time. Each of these theaters had 900 seats, according to Boxoffice.
The June 21, 1976, issue of Boxoffice reported that the North DeKalb Twin had opened the previous month, bringing the total number of screens operated by the Storey circuit to 21. The twinned house had 450 seats on each side, according to Boxoffice, so given that the single-screen configuration had also provided 900 seats, and some space must have been sacrificed for the new dividing wall, the new seats must have been somewhat smaller.
The June 1, 1971, issue of Boxoffice reported that Georgia Theatres had opened its new South DeKalb Twin Cinemas on May 20. Each of the auditoriums had 550 seats, according to Boxoffice. The opening features were “In Search of the Castaways” and “Cactus Flower.”
The project was designed by Atlanta architectural firm Stevens & Wilkinson. I’ve been unable to discover if any other theaters were designed by this noted firm (which is still in business, now as Stevens & Wilkinson Stang & Newdow) but they did design an office building for the Wilby-Kincey circuit in 1955.
For page update: note that former manager Stan Malone, in his comment of Jan 14, 2006, above, gives the seating capacity of this house as 1,312 after it was reconfigured as a quad in 1977.
The earliest mention of the Glen Theatre I’ve found in Boxoffice appears in the January 10, 1953 issue. The owner/operator was named William Greene. William and Lavinda Ann Greene are noted as owners of the Glen in a Boxoffice item on March 20, 1961. That is the most recent mention of the Glen I’ve found in the magazine.
Prior to 1953, William Greene is mentioned a few times as operator of the Palmetto Theatre in Palmetto, Georgia.
I’ve been unable to find any references at all to a Glenwood Theatre at Decatur in Boxoffice, though the Glenwood Drive-In is mentioned a few times.
The October 23, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said that the DeKalb Theatre in Decatur was being remodeled at a cost of $14,000. In 1937 this sum bought an entirely new front, plus the construction of a balcony that increased the theater’s seating capacity from 500 to 800. The DeKalb was then being operated by Lucas & Jenkins Theatres.
The January 17, 1953, issue of Boxoffice said “Fred Storey of Storey Theatres is closing the DeKalb Theatre in Decatur, GA., and has installed a Synchro-Screen in the Decatur Theatre.”
The DeKalb apparently opened in 1927. The September 27, 1941, issue of Boxoffice contained this brief notice: “Lucas & Jenkins' DeKalb Theatre, Decatur, Ga., celebrated its 14th anniversary this week with special programs.”
Various issues of Boxoffice from late 1971 show the McClurg Court in operation by that time. The December 20 issue, for example, reported that “Fiddler On the Roof” had done good business in its fourth week at the McClurg Court. The house had to have been open by November, 1971.
The Hippodrome was remodeled and renamed the Wabash in 1948, according to an item in Boxoffice, October 2 that year, which said the house had recently opened. Currently, the theater’s official web site gives 1949 as the year the Wabash opened.
The July 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice had said that the remodeling was to cost about $250,000. The renovated house was to be operated as a first-run theater by Fourth Avenue Amusement Company, a Louisville-based circuit then operating several theaters in Kentucky and Indiana. The item also said that the Hippodrome had been dark for years.
A June 4, 1940, Boxoffice item mentions a Wabash Theatre in Terre Haute, operated by J.B. Stine. As later Boxoffice items mentioned the Hippodrome being renamed the Wabash in 1948, either this must have been a different theater, or Boxoffice made an error. Stine is most often mentioned in Boxoffice as the operator of the Garfield Theatre in Terre Haute.
This one is a real puzzle, and I’ve pretty much come to a dead end. I haven’t found a single reference to it in Boxoffice or any of that magazine’s predecessors. The only other reference to the Hippodrome I’ve found on the Internet is in a 1911 book (hosted at Google Books) listing an “Indianapolis Hippodrome Company” which had filed articles of incorporation at Cincinnati on April 2, 1910.
Information about this theater will probably be hard to track down. It might have been an old house that didn’t survive far into the 20th century (the 1910 incorporation doesn’t mean the theater was new in 1910. It might have been a new operating company formed to operate an existing theater.)
Or the place might have burned, as many theaters did in those days, or the land might have become valuable for other purposes, and the theater demolished, or the theater might have been renamed and the original name largely forgotten- in which case the house might already be listed at Cinema Treasures under a later name and that page simply be missing the aka Hippodrome.
I think that somebody who has access to old publications and public records in Indianapolis itself will have to research the Hippodrome before we’ll find out much more about it. It must have been listed in city directories and advertised in local newspapers, and there might be news articles about it.
The Guild was one of the world’s rare reverse theaters even before an extensive remodeling took place in 1956. After several years of successful operation as an art house (before 1948 it had been a triple-feature grind house for some years) the operators spent $70,000 on a remodeling, for which they engaged the noted Portland architectural firm of Wick & Hilgers.
The theater’s reverse auditorium was retained, largely unchanged except for redecoration, but the rest of the interior was reconfigured, with the former stage being removed to provide space for a two-level lobby and lounge area, as well as space for a curved baffle to minimize light leaking from the new lobby into the auditorium. A more spacious entrance was also provided by moving the box office.
Photos of the remodeled Guild appeared with an article published in Boxoffice of October 20, 1956. The remodeling was done over a period of six months, while the theater remained open.
According to an article in Boxoffice of November 16, 1946, the Fox Theatre in Leadville had opened as the Liberty Bell Theatre on January 1, 1917, and became part of the Fox circuit on August 1, 1935.
A 1968 Boxoffice item about a new theater then being built in Leadville said that the town had been without a theater since the closing of the Fox. This item didn’t give the date the Fox closed, but I’ve found references to it being in operation as late as 1963. I’ve been unable to find out when it reopened as the Silver City Cinema.
The 1946 article said that Fox was also then operating the Elks Opera House in Leadville, a theater which had opened as the Tabor Opera House in 1879. In addition, the article said, Fox was operating a theater at Climax, Colorado, about 13 miles from Leadville. Other issues of Boxoffice indicate that this was the 200-seat Climax Theatre, opened in late 1938 or early 1937.
According to an item in Boxoffice of March 30, 1957, Paul Volkman took over operation of the Liberty Theatre from his parents in 1933 and operated it until 1957. The purchaser in 1957 was C.A. Dunn. However, a February 21, 1953, Boxoffice obituary of Joseph Blaschke said the Blaschke had built the Liberty in 1920 and had run it until turning it over to his grandson in October, 1933.
The 1957 item mentioned that Volkman had earlier rebuilt and remodeled the Liberty. This rebuilding was covered in an October 7, 1946, Boxoffice article which said that Volkman was then in the process of rebuilding the house. The project was to include the addition of a 400-seat section of stadium seating. The wording of the article is imprecise, but the rebuilt Liberty was apparently to have 775 seats.
The article said that Paul Volkman was trained in architecture and had taught architectural drawing at the high school level, and that he had drawn the plans for the rebuilding of the Liberty, as he had drawn the plans for his second theater at Wapato, the Dickon, in 1939.
The letting of the contract for construction of what was to become the Vale Theatre was announced in Boxoffice, May 4, 1946. The new house was to be operated by Ted Wilson, operator of the Kent Theatre in Kent.
Before the Vale was completed, Wilson sold his entire operation in Kent to brothers Will and Roy Andre, operators of the Community Theatre in Tacoma, according to Boxoffice of November 6, 1946. The Vale probably opened later that year or early in 1947. The Vale was still being reported as owned by Will Andre in issues of Boxoffice as late as 1954. After that I don’t find it mentioned at all.
The El Rancho was featured in an illustrated article in Boxoffice of October 2, 1954. The style of the theater was Rustic, all its buildings being built of cedar logs and having cedar shake roofs. A photo of the concession stand showed the employees dressed in western outfits, with cowboy hats. The drive-in could accommodate 575 cars.
Boxoffice didn’t give the name of an architect, but said “The El Rancho was engineered and is being managed by Oscar L. Chiniquy who has spent 20 years with National Theatre Supply and has devoted a lot of time in advising others on how to build.”
The article gave the names of Chiniquy’s partners as Fay Honey and Lloyd Honey. Boxoffice and its predecessor Movie Age frequently mention Fay Honey, as far back as 1929 and into the 1950s. His son Lloyd Honey died in 1977, and his obituary appeared in the May 2 issue of Boxoffice that year.
The name Elton Fay appears in a brief item in Boxoffice of August 28, 1954, about the opening of the El Rancho. That is the only appearance of the name Elton Fay in Boxoffice.
The February 5, 1955 issue of Boxoffice said that Oscar Chiniquy had sold his interest in the El Rancho to William Foreman and associates.
A photo of the auditorium of the New Village Theatre in Sacramento was featured in an ad for Heywood-Wakefield theatre chairs in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice. The house seated 903 on opening, including 199 loges.
It’s impossible to tell from the black and white photo in the magazine, but the murals in the auditorium which look like fairly stark, two-tone silhouettes of trees and flying birds, might have been more complex than the photo reveals as they might have used the black light techniques then in vogue.
The construction of the building was unusual as well. Ceiling beams that appear to be of laminated wood curve at the wall and descend to the floor like thin internal buttresses. I wish I could have seen this theater before it was demolished. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The Village was originally part of the small, regional Harvey circuit, operated by Julian Harvey.
The Berea Theatre was featured in an article by Hanns Teichert in Boxoffice, July 1, 1950. The article credited the design of the house to Paul Matzinger, of Matzinger & Grosel. The Art Moderne decor was by Rex M. Davis of the Teichert Studios.
An article in the June 15, 1959, issue of Boxoffice described an ad for the Rialto’s grand opening that was published in the Cleveland Leader of Sunday, October 19, 1919. The house had probably opened a few days earlier. The first feature shown was “The Girl from Outside” with Dorothy Gish. The Boxoffice article said that the Rialto had closed in 1957.
The September 28, 1929, issue of the trade publication Movie Age said that the Century Theatre had been opened by the Publix circuit the previous Saturday.
The article said that the plans for the rebuilding of the former Garrick Theatre had been done by the architectural firm of Lieberman & Kaplan, but they must have meant Liebenberg & Kaplan.
Boxoffice of November 5, 1938, ran an item saying that George Kerasotes was planning to build a theater called the Varsity in Peoria. The Varsity was being designed by one of Peoria’s leading architects, J. Fletcher Lankton.
A photo of the foyer of the Varsity appeared on the cover of the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice for March 30, 1940. The Varsity was located in an existing building, formerly a garage, which was extensively altered to serve as a theater.
There were two theaters at this location. The first, called the Highland Theatre, was a 300-seat, single-floor house that was demolished to make way for the much larger Lee Theatre. An article about the Lee appeared in Boxoffice, March 30, 1940.
The Lee Theatre was designed by Jack Corgan, of Corgan & Moore. The Boxoffice article claimed that the Lee had 950 seats, with 750 on the main floor and 200 in the segregated balcony. The art moderne style of the interior was achieved largely through paint effects in this budget project costing $25,000.
S&M Theatres, operators of the Tomah Theatre, opened the Erwin Theatre in 1947, according to Boxoffice of May 27 that year. Construction of the house had begun in 1945 but suffered delays. The original seating capacity was 632. The caption of a photo of the front of the Erwin described the building: “…concrete sidewalls, and ornamental brick front, designed along highly modern lines inside and out…. Elaborately decorated, the lobby displays rich pile carpets, as well as notable lighting effects.”
S&M Theatres, earlier called Marcus & Swirnoff Theatres Inc., had been planning a new theater in Tomah since at least 1942, when Boxoffice of April 18 announced the chain’s intention to build an 800-seat house there, tentatively called the Camp Theatre.
The S&M chain, headed by Ben Marcus, became Marcus Theatres, which is now one of the larger theater chains in the U.S., operating more than 600 screens in the Midwest, including a theater in Tomah, the six-screen Ho-Chunk Cinema, opened in 2004.
The Tomah Theatre was mentioned in Movie Age as early as 1929, when Vitaphone sound equipment was installed in the house.
The name Gasoline Alley was given to Superior Avenue in honor of Tomah native Frank King, whose comic strip of that name ran in some 300 American newspapers for several decades. This is noted on this page at the city’s official web site.
There’s an April 23, 1949, Boxoffice article about the Joy Circuit which mentions an official of the company named B.W. Stevens who was in charged of exploitation (which I believe was Boxoffice’s term for advertising and publicity.) I wonder if this B.W. Stevens was somehow conflated by the authors of No More Joy with the New Orleans architect B.W. Stevens who designed Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove? As Francine Stock noted in a comment of Jan. 14, 2009, above, the architects of record for the Joy Theatre were Favrot & Reed.
Incidentally, Cinema Treasures has mistakenly called the firm Favrot, Reed & Fred. If you check the Teche Theatre web site, you’ll see that it says that the Teche was designed by Favrot & Reed, with architect Fred Nehrbass associated.
The Leaf Theatre opened on October 24, 1949, with 1022 seats- 700 on the main floor and 322 in a segregated balcony. The house was operated by Interstate Enterprises, according to items in Boxoffice Magazine on November 5 and November 19, 1949. These items attribute the design of the theater to Prentiss Huddleston & Associates, Tallahassee.
An Item in 1947 said that Kemp, Bunch & Jackson would design the new theater at Quincy, with Prentiss Huddleston as a local associate architect. A September, 1948 item names Prentiss Huddleston as the lead architect of the Leaf Theatre, with Kemp, Bunch & Jackson as the associated architects. The items about the opening don’t mention Kemp, Bunch & Jackson at all, so I don’t know how much, if any, input that firm had in the final design of the Leaf Theatre.
The plans had already been revised several times by early 1948, according to an item in Boxoffice of January 24 that year, due to repeated refusal by government authorities to issue a permit for construction of the theater as designed.
Interstate Enterprises, a company with theaters in Georgia and Florida, not to be confused with Texas-based Interstate Theatres, already operated two other theaters in Quincy, the Shaw and the Roxy, and later opened a drive-in there as well.