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The description accompanying this 1946 photo of the Rialto and a neighboring store gives the theater’s address as 400 Cherokee Street. It also says that the buildings on this block have been demolished to make way for a parking lot.
The Colonial Theatre is mentioned in a magazine at least as early as 1913, when the January 13 issue of trade journal Electrical Review and Western Electrician said “The Daupin Electrical Supplies Company of Harrisburg, Pa., …recently wired the Colonial Theater, in Harrisburg….”
More interesting is an item in a magazine called New York Topics and International Courier, issue of June 27, 1914:[quote]“‘Local talent is now being enlisted in the 'Moviement,’ according to an advertisement appearing in newspapers of the Pennsylvania Capital:
“‘WANTEDâ€"Motion picture plays, motion picture players. The Colonial Theater announces the formation of a motion picture dramatic company, to be composed of Harrisburg actors and to pose for films made in Harrisburg. Harrisburg comedies, Harrisburg dramas. Harrisburg tragedies. Company will be made up at once. If you want to be a motion picture player, apply now for a position in the companyâ€"no experience required. Scenarios wanted. Cash prizes for the best motion picture stories with scenes laid in Harrisburg. Write your own motion picture and see it played on the screen. Full particulars upon inquiry at the Colonial Theater. If you can act, become a motion picture actor If you can write, become a motion picture author.’
“Well, if Gifford Pinchot wins that Keystone State Senatorship there will be a fine bunch of Penrose machine politicians available as ‘movie actors’ in Harrisburg.”[/quote]I’ve found nothing else about this attempt to launch a local movie production industry in Harrisburg, but it apparently did nothing to help business at the Colonial. The July 31, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World ran this item:
“The Colonial theater, Harrisburg, Pa., prominent vaudeville and moving picture establishment, recently closed its doors to the public and will remain so for several months to come, according to announcement made by the management. No definite reasons were assigned for the temporary closing of the theater, but it is generally supposed that the closing Is a matter of business policy decided upon to prevent operation at a loss, for at this season of the year the theatrical business is very poor. The coming to Harrisburg of an International League baseball team has had a decided effect upon the attendance of the afternoon matinees at the theaters.”
The Little Theatre’s marquee reads “Admission Free” in the first of two additional photos linked from this page (photos 2 and 3 are accessed via links after the “view other images” note on the right, above the thumbnail.) The double bill consisted of two movies released in 1952. As the house was not first-run, the photo might have been from 1953 or later.
The directly linked photo shows patrons, apparently leaving the theater, passing by a table with a jar on it, and a sign reading “You may donate any amount of money that you think your evening’s entertainment was worth.” I don’t know if that was then the regular policy of the house (it was certainly unique if it was) or if it was just for this one program.
The part of the facade visible in these night shots showed some nice architectural detail, probably of terra cotta, but parts of it looked to be deteriorating even at that date.
Here is a 1940 photo of the Boulevard Theatre from the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Click on the “2” where it says “view other images” to see a night shot of the theater’s marquee.
The text accompanying the photos at Columbus Metropolitan Library (Ron Newman’s comment of May 8, 2005) says that the Beechwold Theatre was designed by the F&Y Building Service.
While the exterior of the theater was predominantly Streamline Moderne, and even displayed some early Midcentury Modern elements, the photos of the interior show that the auditorium was more ornate than the facade. There was still a lot of Art Deco in that interior design, especially in the wall sconces and the decorations above them.
In 1915, this house was called the Broadway Theatre (it was at the corner of Broadway and Montana Street.) There is a photo of it and four other Butte theaters of the time here. The photos are from this page of a 1915 booklet about Butte, which has a few paragraphs about the theaters.
The booklet gives the seating capacity of the Broadway as 2,280. It was a very tall building, and undoubtedly had a balcony and at least one gallery. The lower seating capacity in later years was probably the result of closing off the upper levels of the house.
The July 4, 1908, issue of The Moving Picture World ran this item, datelined Goshen, Ind.: “The New Jefferson Theater has been leased to E. R. Joseph for a moving picture show.”
The Superba Theatre was mentioned in trade journal The Moving Picture World, issue of July 4, 1908. The operator, a Mr. Bandy, reported that the Superba in Augusta had been closed for the summer, and that his new Airdome Theatre had been opened. Mr. Bandy announced that the Airdome in Augusta was proving such a success that he intended to build another open-air house, to be opened in Savannah the following summer.
This theater will be gone before I ever get a chance to see it. The Boxoffice article I linked to in an earlier comment is no longer available online, but I remember it saying that Edwards spent about twice as much per seat building this project than the industry was spending on the average multiplex at the time.
The multi-level garage probably accounted for much of that extra expense, and that will probably remain in use for whatever project gets built in the theater’s place, but it’s hard to imagine the theater itself being reopened with so many other screens nearby. In fact it’s likely that the availability of the parking facility will hasten the destruction of this theater once the real estate market recovers.
There’s been a theater at this location since 1924, except for the period between the destruction of the old Alhambra Theatre and the completion of the Atlantic Palace. It’s going to seem very strange without one.
The earliest purpose-built twin cinema to go into operation that I know of was the Duplex Theatre, Detroit, Michigan, which was opened in 1915. The Duplex was apparently too far ahead of its time, as it was closed in 1922. A link in the second comment on the Cinema Treasures page fetches a page with several photos and a floor plan of the theater.
Detroit got a second twin theater a few years later, when the Catherine Theatre (later the Carver Tehatre) was twinned.
The Carver Theatre was operating into the 1950s. An item in Billboard, March 24, 1951, said that the theater’s operator, David Korman, intended to convert the theater’s 210-seat television lounge back into a regular auditorium for movies. The item didn’t say when the television lounge had begun operation, but made it clear that it had once been the second auditorium of the two-screen Catherine Theatre. Prior to being opened as a television theater, the second auditorium had for many years been a tavern, according to Billboard, but it didn’t say when the auditorium had first been closed as a movie venue.
If the house was a true twin, and Billboard is correct that the television lounge had 210 seats, the other auditorium probably had about 210 seats as well.
As the Carver, this house was operated as an African-American theater. Television came along about the time theaters were being desegregated in many American cities, so houses catering to black audiences suffered a double blow, losing patrons to formerly segregated theaters as well as to television, so they went out of business at a faster pace than theaters in white neighborhoods during this period.
I’ve been unable to find any follow-up articles indicating that Korman’s plan to re-twin the Carver Theatre was actually carried out, but whether it was or not the theater probably didnt stay open much longer. The cost of installing CenemaScope equipment for two auditoriums probably would have done it in by the mid-1950s, if it lasted even that long.
Also, I found a couple of references to a Thomas Lynch as the operator of the Catherine Theatre in its early days, the earliest reference being from 1917. He might have been the operator who twinned the house.
The Liberty Theatre was under construction at 831 Detroit Avenue in Toledo in late 1917, according to an issue of Michigan Film Review late that year (the date is missing, but it was probably from early November.) The item said that the owners of the new Liberty Theatre had placed a large order with the United Theatre Equipment Co., and the house was expected to open within a few weeks.
I don’t know if the 1924 opening date currently given in the description is an error, of if disaster befell the original Liberty and it had to be rebuilt.
The Wenonah Theatre was damaged by fire and reconstructed in late 1917, according to an issue of Michigan Film Review from early November that year. The house reopened on December 22, according to a later issue of the magazine.
The November 13 issue of the same magazine mentioned a Davidson Theatre in Bay City, a new house which was expected to be opened within 30 days. The house not yet listed at Cinema Treasures, unless it is under a later name and missing the aka.
The December 11, 1917, issue of Michigan Film Review said that the new Farnum Theatre in Hamtramck had opened the previous Saturday (which would have been the 8th.) The house was operated by the Schram Amusement Company, headed by Ed Schram. Mr. Schram also operated a Detroit movie house called the Bernhardt.
An item in an earlier issue of the same publication said that the Farnum Theatre had purchased a Gardiner Velvet Gold Fibre Screen.
Don, the lamps I mentioned are near the top of the facade, above the hooks that probably anchored the marquee. They can be seen in the second of the two photos ken mc linked to on June 16, 2007. They are painted red and set in squares of blue.
Looking at them again I think they might have been urns rather than lamps, but they still have an Oriental (middle eastern rather than far eastern) look to them. There also appears to be the remnants of a plaster frieze of some sort running across the facade just below them, but its design is hard to make out as everything in that section is painted the same color.
The Grand Rapids History web site provides this page about the Regent Theatre. This theater was designed in the Italian Renaissance style by architect C. Howard Crane.
An article titled “Motion Picture Theatrers” in the September, 1914, issue of The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder not only mentions the Waldorf Theatre, but includes a floor plan, a sectional drawing, and a photo of the auditorium. The architect of the Waldorf Theatre was Ralph M. Hulett, of Cleveland, who was also the author of the article. The article says that the Waldorf was located in an existing building that was remodeled into a theater.
Here is a link to the illustrations.
Here is a link to the article (the entire volume of the magazine will open, so beware if you’re on a slow connection) which features two other theaters of Hulett’s design: the Empress Theatre in Akron, and the Reel Theatre in Cleveland (if those houses are listed at Cinema Treasures, they must be under later names, and are missing the aka’s.) In addition there are several drawings and plans of unnamed theaters, apparently intended as examples of the sort of designs the firm could provide to prospective customers.
There’s also a photo of a house called the Spreckles Theatre, also apparently designed by Hulett, but I’ve been unable to discover where this was located.
An earlier issue of the same magazine, from June, 1913, featured a portfolio of the work of Ralph Hulett which included this photo depicting the facade of the Waldorf Theatre.
A 1920 book of cases decided by the Ohio Court of Appeals included a case for the dissolution of the Waldorf Amusement Company. The text reveals that the corporation was chartered on May 10, 1913, and says that “From its organization the corporation operated a motion picture theater at 47 South Main street, Akron, Ohio, under the name of The Waldorf Theater Company.” The corporation leased the Waldorf, so the building must have been completed about the time the operating company was formed. Apparently the dissolution of the company was the result of its loss of the lease.
A guide prepared for the 5th annual Lakewood History Walk (Quick View at Google Documents) says that the Homestead Tehatre was built in 1916. A couple of other sources say it was built in 1917, so maybe it was begun in 1916 and completed in 1917. It’s definitely pre-1920, though.
The photo at the top of this page is from the American Terra Cotta Company’s archives. The company’s records list the Lyric Theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Helmle & Helmle.
Decorative tile for the Knights of Columbus Building (which included the Sherman Theatre) was supplied by the American Terra Cotta Company. The company’s archives lists the architect of the building as Leo W. Schaefer.
The finding aid for the papers of the architectural firm of Toltz, King & Day (at the University of Minnesota Library) list the Tower Theatre among the firm’s works.
The finding aid lists eight projects by the firm that involved a theater. One of these was the Hamm Building and Capitol Theatre (see my comment earlier today on the Paramount Theatre page.)
The other projects listed are:
1) Como Theater, St. Paul; undated
2) Cherokee Theater, St. Paul; 1921
3) Friedman Theater, St. Paul; 1921
4) Hamm Building, St. Paul; 1919-1920
5) Ideal Theater, St. Paul; 1913
6) Unique Theater, Minneapolis; 1943 (apparently a remodeling job)
7) RKO Orpheum Theatre, St. Paul; 1939, 1947-1949, 1953-1955, 1958 (obviously various remodeling projects.)
There was also a listing for the Edyth Bush Little Theatre, 1939-1940, but that was a legitimate house not equipped for movies. It closed in 1975.
Here is a quote from the “Scope and Content Note” of the finding aid for the papers of the St. Paul architectural firm of Toltz, King & Day, at the University of Minnesota:
“There are plans and photos for the Hamm Building in St. Paul, Minnesota (1919-1920) that include drawings for the Capitol Theatre.”
If Rapp & Rapp designed the theater and the local firm supervised construction of it as well as of the office building (which would seem a likely arrangement), they would probably have had copies of Rapp & Rapp’s drawings as a guide, and those might be what is in the archive. I wish the finding aid was more specific. None of the content of the collection is available online as far as I’ve been able to discover.
The street names might have changed. As another possibility, there’s a Green Street in East St. Louis, so maybe the magazine accidentally left the East off of the city name.
Marilyn Dee Casto’s book “Actors, Audiences, and Historic Theatres of Kentucky” says that the Ben Ali Theatre was designed by architect William H. McElfatrick.
Marilyn Dee Casto’s book “Actors, Audiences, and Historic Theatres of Kentucky” says that the Alamo Theatre was designed by Louisville architect D.X. Murphy. However, the Arcadia Publishing Company’s picture book Louisville, by John E. Findling, attributes the design of the Alamo to Joseph D. Baldez, an associate of the firm of D.X. Murphy & Brothers. As Casto’s book is published by the University Press of Kentucky, it might be more reliable, though an academic imprimatur is not always a guarantee of accuracy.
Dennis Xavier Murphy took over the practice of Henry Whitestone in 1880, and by the time the Alamo was designed he had formed the partnership with his brothers . The firm designed a number of important Louisville landmarks, including the twin-spired clubhouse at the Churchill Downs race track. I’ve found several sources which attribute the clubhouse as well to Joseph Baldez, then a 24-year old draftsman with the firm.
Casto’s book also says that Murphy designed the conversion of an existing building in Louisville into a theater for the Whallen Brothers, local vaudeville and burlesque impresarios, but doesn’t give the name of the theater or the year it opened.