Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theater on Jul 14, 2009 at 11:49 pm

The original Tower Theatre in Drumright, opened in 1937 by the Griffith Amusement Company, burned on December 11, 1944. Rebuilding was delayed due to wartime shortages. Boxoffice Magazine of March 30, 1946, announced that the opening of the rebuilt Tower was scheduled for April 12 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Jul 14, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I can find no mention of a Boomtown Theatre in Boxoffice Magazine or any of its predecessors. The closest in name was a Boom Town Theatre in Martin City, Montana. The only theaters in Drumright I’ve found mentioned in Boxoffice are the Tower and the Midwest.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about De Anza Drive-In on Jul 14, 2009 at 11:00 pm

The three-screen De Anza Drive-In was designed by Charles Cox & Associates, according to an article in the February 14, 1977, issue of Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Omak Theater on Jul 14, 2009 at 10:58 pm

There were apparently at least two theaters called the Omak. The July 15, 1939, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Omak Theatre at Omak had opened on July 12. The owner of the new house was Charlie Grieme (Boxoffice sometimes spells the name Greime), operator of several inland Washington theaters.

An item in the April 10, 1948, issue of Boxoffice mentioned in passing that Charles Greime had rebuilt the Omak Theatre in 1939. The wording suggests that the new theater was built on the same site that a theater of the same name had occupied.

I’ve found a reference from 1929 to a New Omak Theatre as well as a Gem Theatre at Omak. A 1938 Boxoffice item mentions Charlie Grieme as owner of two theaters at Omak, one being the Gem, but no name was given for the other. If the New Omak Theater of 1929 was the theater rebuilt in 1939, the fact that it was called the New Omak then suggests that there might have had been a still earlier Omak Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mexico Theatre on Jul 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm

The May 14, 1949, issue of Boxoffice included the Mayfair on its list of new theater projects recently opened or under construction. Scheduled opening of the Mayfair was May 15. The house had 800 seats and was to be operated under a 20 year lease by Paul Catalano and Arthur Yarimie.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sunset Drive-In on Jul 14, 2009 at 9:00 pm

From Boxoffice, June 24, 1950: “P.V. Williams of Munday and Clyde Williams of Knox City have broken ground on a new drive-in theatre between Munday and Knox City.” That was probably the Sunset.

Elmo Hooser was probably related to T.J. Hooser, business partner of P.V. Williams. Williams managed the pair’s theaters in Munday while Hooser managed the Ritz and Texas in Seymour. The pair were also partners in a drive-in at Brazos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vernon Plaza Theatre on Jul 14, 2009 at 8:57 pm

The Plaza Theatre was built in 1953. A photo of the auditorium appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of July 7, 1956, as part of a feature about wide screens. The caption included the line: “The Plaza, erected in 1953, is said to be the first new theatre especially designed for widescreen and stereosound.”

A March 12, 1949, Boxoffice item about the opening of the El Rancho Drive-In had information about other theaters in Vernon. There were four indoor houses in operation then, these being the 350-seat Majestic and the 400-seat Mecca, both operated by Cortez Hamm, and the 1000-seat Vernon and 500-seat Pic, operated by Interstate Theatres. A second drive-in was already under construction as well.

A 1941 Boxoffice item mentions a Pictorium Theatre at Vernon. That was probably the Pic’s earlier name.

The Vernon Theatre was destroyed by fire in September, 1952, and a January 31, 1953, Boxoffice item said that a new theater was being built to replace it. The item called the new house the Vernon Theatre, but I’ve found no later mentions of a Vernon Theatre in Vernon, so I’m wondering if perhaps the new theater was named the Plaza instead. The new house was described in Boxoffice as having a front of tan face brick, which the Plaza has, and the opening year is certainly right.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roy Theatre on Jul 14, 2009 at 12:06 am

An item in the January 10, 1948, Boxoffice says that P.V. Williams had recently opened a second theater at Munday, the Roy. “He rigged up some equipment from Herber Bros. and got the house going for roving agricultural workers who come from the southwest and Mexico” the item said. Williams told Boxoffice that the Roy did well when showing Mexican pictures.

A November, 1949, Boxoffice item said that the Roy had reopened for the winter, so it was apparently a seasonal theater.

Williams opened the Roxy in 1928, and there was a brief article with photo in the September 15 issue of Motion Picture Times that year. The Roxy had 490 seats.

A July 16, 1949, Boxoffice article about Williams said that he had opened his first theater in Munday in 1913. No name was given for that house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Leo Theatre on Jul 13, 2009 at 11:32 pm

The name change came with a new owner and complete renovation in 1948. The September 18 issue of Boxoffice announced the reopening as the Leo and said that Joy Houck had bought the Queen early that year. Houck also operated the Strand Theatre nearby.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Parkside Theatre on Jul 13, 2009 at 10:21 pm

The January 12, 1946, issue of Boxoffice ran an item headed “Will Raze Old Parkside Theatre in Lombard, Ill.” The property had been sold to clear back taxes and special assessments, and conditions of the sale included the demolition of the building. One line of the item said the Parkside had been built “…some 35 years ago.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gothic Theatre on Jul 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Undulating walls with lighting coves were not a common feature of theaters built in 1920, but they were popular in the 1940s. In the small photo of the auditorium on the Gothic web site it looks to me more late art moderne than anything else.

The City of Englewood has this photo collection which includes three older pictures of the Gothic- only of the outside, unfortunately. In the photo dated ca.1930 the 1935 release “Oil For the Lamps of China” is on the marquee. In the one dated ca.1940 the 1940 release “Boom Town” is on the marquee.

Some alterations took place between those years. There’s a wider marquee in 1940, and the shops either side of the entrance have been closed up. That probably dates from the 1940 remodeling mentioned in the intro, but note that the entrance doorway still has the Gothic pointed arch top. The current facade is clearly a later alteration.

The facade in both of those photos has some really nice brick work, and the current facade covers that up, as in the photo dated ca.1950 (actually later since the 1957 “An Affair to Remember” is on the marquee.) The 1957 facade must be the result of the 1949 remodeling. I wonder how much of the brick remains underneath?

I’m not sure that the brick facade dates from 1920, though it might. I’d say the style was actually a modernized Gothic, with some Prairie Style influence. The style could be considered a precursor of Art Deco, but it wasn’t full-on Art Deco. If it did date from 1920, though, it was very advanced for its time.

That site also has pictures of the Englewood Theatre (ca.1929, as “On With the Show” was released that year) and the Pioneer Theatre (probably 1936, with “The Mysterious Avenger” on the marquee.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gothic Theatre on Jul 13, 2009 at 6:08 pm

The introduction to this page mentions a remodeling in 1940, but the April 30, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine describes a major remodeling then underway at the house. This involved rebuilding the front, reconfiguring the entrance, moving the boxoffice, enlarging the rest rooms, expanding the balcony to accommodate an additional 150 seats, building new stairways, shifting the manager’s office to the main floor, enlarging the stage, reseating and completely redecorating the auditorium, and installing new heating and ventilation systems.

A later issue of Boxoffice refers to the theater as “…the New Gothic Theatre, now under construction at Englewood.” A third item says the estimated cost of the project was $100,000.

Given the scope of this rebuilding, it’s likely that just about everything about the Gothic that doesn’t date from the 1990s renovation dates from 1949.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lamar Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 11:56 pm

The Lamar Theatre was designed by Denver architect Charles D. Strong. An article about it with photos was published in the March 29, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Decorations in the Lamar were executed by Hart Theatrical Decorating and Display. The new house had been built in a converted retail building. It was not the Pioneer Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kelso Theater Pub on Jul 12, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Kelso had a second theater, called the Liberty, until 1954. The March 20 issue of Boxoffice that year said the house was closing after twenty years of operation, leaving Kelso with only one theater. A drive-in was in the planning stage.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Redwood Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I think 260 might be after the twinning. The September 29, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that Norris Kemp of the Pine Cone Theatre planned to expand the house to 600 seats, and that the project, including a new front and foyer, was being designed by Gale Santocono of San Francisco. FDY might have been late with the updating of the enlarged seat count. From Google Street View and satellite imagery it’s clear that the building could easily have held 600 seats. It sounds like it might be one of those cases where every other row was removed to give more leg room.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Main Theater on Jul 12, 2009 at 9:02 pm

I wonder if the order of names is backward for this theater? I’ve found the Rex mentioned in various issues of Boxoffice as far back as 1939, when it was bought by Claude Mundo. Mundo sold the Rex three years after moving it a block down Main Street. Then the first mention in Boxoffice of a Main Theatre in Little Rock appears in 1952. The Main is mentioned four times from 1952 to 1954, then vanishes. No address is given for it.

It’s also possible that both Rex Theatres were called the Main, the one at 213 Main before becoming the Rex and the one at 106 Main after being called the Rex.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Hill Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Boxoffice Magazine of January 25, 1941, said that Malco had announced a tentative opening date of March 1 for their new Park Hill Theatre. It was Malco’s third house in North Little Rock.

This web page has a photo of the nondescript strip mall which had replaced the historic theater by 2004.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Main Theater on Jul 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm

The Rex Theatre operated in two different locations, making the move in 1946. The August 3, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said that Claude Mundo had closed his Rex Theatre at 213 Main Street before his new building at 106 Main Street was ready to be occupied. Mundo had expected the new theater to be completed by July 1, but materials shortages had caused construction delays.

The building at 213 main Street was owned by the Parkin Printing company, which was expanding its operations into the former theater space. The estimated new opening date for the Rex Theatre at 106 Main Street was about the middle of September.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Hill Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 12:39 am

Here’s a PDF of a report about the Park Hill Theatre, with history and photos. Published in 2004.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 12:28 am

Additionally, I find that the national Register of Historic Places uses two different spellings of the first architect’s surname: Brueggeman and Bruggeman. Boxoffice uses Bruegeman consistently, but then Boxoffice is not always the most reliable source for correct spelling.

Cinema Tour attributes a Park Theatre in North Little Rock to “Bruggeman, Swain & Allen” but that looks like two spelling strikes to me. For now I’m inclined to go with Brueggeman, as that’s the way it’s spelled in this PDF of an article published by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. This article also attributes the Park Hill Theater (as they call it) to the firm. It also gives the architects' names as Edward F. Brueggeman and Guy W. Swaim. So far I’ve been unable to discover Mr. Allen’s first name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm

It looks like the Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen-designed theater in Princeton, Kentucky, I mentioned in my comment above didn’t get built. Issues of Boxoffice from late 1937 and early 1938 cite Malco’s plans for the house, but a late 1938 article says that the Crescent Amusement Company had acquired the Savoy Theatre in Princeton from Malco, which apparently pulled out of that market. Crescent demolished the Savoy in the spring of 1939 and built the Capitol Theatre in its place. I can find no indication that BS&A designed the Capitol.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Cinemas on Jul 11, 2009 at 11:26 pm

An item in the August 26, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Capitol Theatre was being renovated. The item said that the Capitol had been built in 1939 at a cost of $50,000.

The November 11, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that the Crescent Amusement Company’s new Capitol Theatre at Princeton had enjoyed a successful opening, the house being sold out in 30 minutes.

The Capitol apparently replaced an earlier theater called the Savoy on the same site. The June 3, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that the Savoy Theatre had been closed on May 22 and would be demolished to make way for a new theater. Crescent had acquired the Savoy from Malco Theatres the year before.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Central Theater on Jul 11, 2009 at 10:49 pm

The Central was one of four Hot Springs theaters being operated by the Malco circuit in 1938, according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine of March 12 that year. The others were the Paramount, Spa, and Roxy. W. Clyde Smith was resident manager for all four houses. Malco had entered the Hot Springs market in 1935.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 11, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Boxoffice Magazine of May 25, 1946, has information about the Malco Theatre, but it doesn’t match up with the current intro on this page. An architect’s rendering of the facade shows that it is the same building seen in the various photos linked from comments above, but the text says that the house opened on February 22, 1946, not in 1935.

The theater was originally called the Malco Music Hall, and was designed by the Little Rock firm of Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen. As originally configured, the theater ran through the block and had entrances on both Central Avenue and Broadway, each with its own boxoffice, lobby, and concession stand.

Confusion about the opening year might have arisen from the fact that Malco Theatres entered the Hot Springs market in 1935. However, there is also the fact that it took the company a long time to get this theater built. The earliest mention of the Malco Music Hall I’ve found in Boxoffice appeared in Al Henderson’s “Dixie Doin’s” column in the issue of December 9, 1939. Al said that Malco had begun construction on the new Music Hall, but that they did not expect the house to be completed until late 1940 or early 1941. The estimate proved overly optimistic.

At the end of 1941, Malco was still trying to get the house built, when the December 6 issue of Boxoffice paraphrased local Malco Theatres manager W. Clyde Smith as indicating that the Malco Music Hall would be built on the site of the former Princess Theatre, provided materials could be obtained. We all know what happened the following day: a delay that would live in infamy, as it were. Whatever the cause of the earlier delays, the onset of war kept the project on hold four more years. The 1946 opening given by Boxoffice is undoubtedly correct.

Incidentally, architects Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen designed at least two other theaters (a house at Princeton, Kentucky, for Malco in 1938 and the Ritz at Malvern, Arkansas, the same year) and the successor firm of Swaim & Allen at least one (a house for Malco at Camden, Arkansas, in 1948.) The firm has at least two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, but neither of those is a theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on Jul 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm

The September 1, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Arthur Fukuda was building a new theater at Sanger. The February 10, 1940, issue said that Fukuda was to have opened his new theater in Sanger on the 9th. The first mention I’ve found of the house actually in operation and being called the Royal was in the March 16, 1940, issue.