Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avalon Theater on Sep 9, 2009 at 7:05 pm

The “AIA Guide to the Twin Cities” by Larry Millett, published in 2007 by the Minnesota Historical Society, has more information on this theater. It was originally a smaller theater built in 1924 and designed by Ekman, Holm & Company. It was enlarged in 1937, and redesigned in the Art Moderne style by Perry Crosier. A 1997 renovation and restoration for the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre was done by Vincent James Associates Architects.

I’ve been unable to discover if the 1924 theater that was incorporated into Perry Crosier’s Avalon had the same name or not. The Avalon was owned by Bill Frank and Oscar Woempner, operators of about a dozen theaters in the area at the time of the 1937 rebuilding.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Although the intro above says that the Texas opened in 1921, the April 15, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times published an architect’s rendering of the theater, with a caption reading:

“This theatre, with a seating capacity of 1800, is to be built at Palestine for the R. and R. motion picture theatre interests. Designed by W. Scott Dunne, Dallas architect, the building will be one of the most modern with a balcony, lounge, rest, and smoking rooms on the mezzanine. The auditorium will be treated in an atmospheric motif in Italian style, with a forty-foot proscenium arch, flanked by tower motifs.”
This web page contains an essay about the Texas by Bob Bowman who says that the Texas opened in 1928, burned in 1929, was rebuilt in the late 1930s, burned again in 1939 and again reopened.

To add to the temporal confusion, the League of Historic American Theatres says the Texas was built in 1922. I suspect that if I searched the Internets I could find still other opening dates for the Texas. Somebody will probably have to search the archives of the local newspaper(s) in Palestine to get the actual history of this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Somehow the beginning of my comment above got lost in posting. Here it is:

The respective functions of Fisher and Voigt were noted on the nomination submitted to the NRHP. It includes an extensive description of the theater and its history. A .pdf of it is linked from this page for anybody who might want to read it.

The nomination form also says that Floyd and Hazel Droz entered the theater business when they purchased the Novelty Theatre in Anthony in 1934. I’ve been unable to find the Novelty (or Floyd Droz) mentioned in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm

It’s unfortunate that the nomination doesn’t include any information about S.S. Voigt. There are only a few references to him on the Internet, leading to a photo of building he designed in 1927, and it makes me wonder if perhaps he designed the Barron Theatre as well. (Search Voigt on this page to reach a page about the 1927 Midian Shrine Temple.)

I also found that he designed a drug store at the northeast corner of Douglas and Hillside in Wichita which is still standing and can be seen in Google Street View (search 3200 E. Douglas Ave., Wichita.) All these buildings, including the Anthony Theatre, have the same attention to subtle detail that the Barron’s facade has, and the 1927 Shrine Temple even features the sort of Solomonic column details on the windows that the Barron sports.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Valley Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 9:39 pm

The Yandell Theatre is mentioned frequently in Boxoffice in 1947 and 1948, when operator C.M. Garrett wrote capsule reviews for the magazine’s “The Exhibitor Has His Say” feature. I haven’t found it mentioned anytime before 1947.

Neither have I been able to find any mention of a Valley Theatre in El Paso before the Alameda Avenue house opened. If the Yandell was called the Valley before 1947 then it must have been run by somebody who lacked Mr. Garrett’s adeptness at publicity.

The May 9, 1960, issue of Boxoffice said that Clayton Garrett had closed the Yandell Theatre after operating at a loss for several months. Attempts to sell the theater were a failure, and finally the projection room equipment was sold to a local theater equipment dealer and removed. That must have been the end of the place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Barron Theatre on Sep 8, 2009 at 8:22 pm

The Barron Theatre opened in 1930. The “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” feature in the April 15, 1950, issue of the magazine said “The new Barron Theatre, Pratt, Kas., costing $10,000, with 900 seating capacity, opened recently.”

Charles Barron began his exhibition career in 1912, operating the Majestic Theatre at Ponca City, Oklahoma. He began operating theaters in Pratt about 1924, and operated the old Kansas Theatre until it burned in 1939, when he rebuilt that house and continued to operate it and the Barron until late 1943. After selling his Pratt theaters to Commonwealth Amusement Co., he moved to California, though he kept a part interest in the Anthony Theatre at Anthony, Kansas. He died in 1952.

Commonwealth was operating the Barron Theatre when it was renovated in the mid 1960s. Alterations included a drop ceiling and Masonite paneling in the lobby. If the original interior of the theater was as ornate as the facade, I hope not too much damage was done in the remodeling. Maybe it can be restored someday.

There was a theater called the Cozy in Pratt in the 1920s. It is listed in an ad for Reproducto Player Pipe Organs that appeared in the September 18, 1926, issue of The Movie Times. Another Reproducto ad in the November 13 issue listed C.H. Barron as the operator of the Cozy, too. I’m not sure if this was an aka for the Kansas Theatre or not, though both were mentioned in the magazine about the same time (the Kansas was mentioned in the November 20, 1926, issue.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Anthony Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 8:01 pm

The attribution of the architect above is wrong. A.N. Fisher was the builder of the Anthony Theatre. The architect was S.S. Voigt, of Wichita.

The Anthony Theatre was partly owned by Charles Barron, operator of the Barron and Kansas theaters in Pratt, Kansas. His business partner at Anthony was Hazel Droz. Barron sold the Pratt theaters in 1943 and retired to California, but continued the partnership in Anthony until his death in 1952. He also held part ownership of the Star-Vue Drive-In at Anthony, opened by Mrs. Droz in 1950. After Mr. Barron’s death Mrs. Barron remained a partner in the Anthony operations for some time. Mrs. Droz sold the theater and the drive-in in 1970.

Also, a house called the Palace Theatre opened in Anthony on October 9, 1925, according to the notice in the October 17 issue of The Reel Journal. It was operated by L.W. Conner, an Oklahoma exhibitor. The Palace is mentioned a couple of times in 1926, and after that I can’t find anything about it. Does anybody know what became of it?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kansas Theatre on Sep 8, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I found a Boxoffice article about the Kansas which I’d formerly missed because it called the theater the Kansan. It said: “The Kansan, rebuilt into a modern house following the fire last year which destroyed the old Kansan, was opened here last week by Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Barron.” This item also said that the Barrons had been exhibitors in Pratt for more than fifteen years.

The original Kansas Theatre at Pratt dates back to at least 1926, when it was mentioned in the November 20 issue of The Reel Journal, and probably to at least 1924. A January 1, 1944, Boxoffice item said that Barron had been an exhibitor in Pratt for twenty years.
In 1943 Barron sold his theaters in Pratt to Commonwealth Amusement, as reported in the October 28 issue of Boxoffice. He later moved to California, where he died in 1952.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theater on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:36 am

The July 10, 1937, issue of Boxoffice makes reference to “Henry Preciado’s elaborate new Rex Theatre, just opened in Madera, Calif.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Drive-In on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:50 pm

The Star Drive-In actually opened in 1955, and was operated by George and Edna Kelloff, who later reopened the old Granada Theatre in Monte Vista as the Vali Theatre. The opening was announced in the July 9, 1955, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was a single-screen operation accommodating 300 cars.

According to this web page, George Kelloff is still the operator of the Best Western Movie Manor Motel.

The 2005 book “The Big Book of Car Culture: The Armchair Guide to Automotive Americana” by Jim Hinckley and Jon G. Robinson limited preview available at Google Books has a section about Kelloff, and says that he started the Movie Manor Motor Inn project in 1964. There’s an aerial photo of the drive-in, but it shows only one screen, not two, so it must date from before 2003.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vali 3 Theatre on Sep 7, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Here’s a correction to my comment above. I’ve come across a source which says that George and Edna Kelloff were husband and wife, not brother and sister. The 1967 item about Susan Kelloff said that she was survived by her sons George and Mitchell and daughters Edna and Rose, but either the Edna reffered to was Susan’s daughter-in-law or George married another Edna.

I also found a 1948 Boxoffice item which might explain why George and Mitchell’s 1947 plan for a theater at Monte Vista was abandoned. The well-heeled Atlas Theatres circuit, operators of the Granada, announced plans to build a 1000-seat theater in Monte Vista, and to keep the Granada open as well. That was probably enough to discourage anyone from attempting to build a rival theater. But the Atlas project was never carried out, of course. Still, George got the last laugh when he took over the Granada after Atlas closed it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vali 3 Theatre on Sep 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

The Vali Theatre was rebuilt in 1971 after being gutted by fire. The rebuilt house seated 407 and was designed by Mel Glatz & Associates, according to a November 29, 1971, Boxoffice item which also said the opening was set for December. The January 4, 1972, issue of Boxoffice said that the new Vali had opened on Christmas Day. It was apparently still a single-screen house. The Vali was independently operated by George and Edna Kelloff, who were brother and sister.

The burned Vali was indeed the same theater as the Granada, which was closed by Atlas Theatres in 1965 and reopened as the Vali in 1966, according to the February 7 issue of Boxoffice that year.

George Kelloff had planned to open a theater in Monte Vista much earlier. The March 15, 1947, issue of Boxoffice said that Mitchell and George Kelloff had plans to build a new theater in Monte Vista, had purchased a site, and would proceed with the project as soon as materials became available, but this project is never mentioned again in Boxoffice. George Kelloff returned to the pages of Boxoffice when he opened the Star Drive-In in Monte Vista in 1955.

The Kelloff’s mother, Susan, was herself in the theater business for forty years. When she died, in 1967, an item in the November 20 issue of Boxoffice said that she had opened the Princess Theatre at Aguilar, Colorado, in 1925, and when it burned the following year rebuilt it as the Colorado Theatre. At the time of her death her son Mitchell was also an exhibitor, operating the Uptown Theatre in Pueblo, Colorado.

I think the two photos Lost Memory linked to above are both the same building. Note that the arrangement of windows and doors on the left side is the same in both photos, but the more recent photo shows that the building has been expanded on the right side, probably to accommodate another auditorium. I would surmise that the storefront next door was adapted for this purpose, and the two buildings then unified with a new facade.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Truman Corners 4 Theatre on Sep 7, 2009 at 9:39 pm

The Truman Corners Cinemas quad was opened in 1972 by Mid-America Cinema Corp., and was a slightly larger version of the same company’s Blue Ridge Cinemas opened at Independence, Missouri, the previous year. The December 18, 1972, issue of Boxoffice said that the opening of the Truman Corners Cinemas was set for December 22.

The new house had 1,280 seats, divided 430, 430, 210, and 210. The Boxoffice item did not name the architects, but an item about the Blue Ridge Cinemas in the December 20, 1971, issue had named that four-plex’s architects as Fullerton, Carey, Kaster & Oman.

Mid-America was still operating this theater as late as 1979. I’ve been unable to discover when it was taken over by AMC.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Blue Ridge Cinema East on Sep 7, 2009 at 9:34 pm

The December 20, 1971, issue of Boxoffice gave the total seating capacity of the Blue Ridge Cinemas as 1,250. The house opened as a four-screener, and was owned by the Mid-America Cinema Corporation. An invitational premier was set for December 23, prior to the public opening.

A December 11, 1972, Boxoffice article about Mid-America Cinema said that the Blue Ridge quad had been the company’s first indoor theater. Mid-America had operated a number of drive-ins in the Kansas City area previously.

The 1971 Boxoffice item also names Fullerton, Carey, Kaster & Oman as the architects. Later the firm was just Fullerton, Carey & Oman, and also Fullerton, Carey, Oman & Alexander for a while. I’ve found a few references to this firm being one of two that designed a number of early AMC multiplexes.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carolina Theatre on Sep 7, 2009 at 7:40 pm

jennifermichael is correct about the conversion year. The April 17, 1972, issue of Boxoffice ran an article saying that work was progressing on the conversion of the Carolina Theatre into a twin, with one auditorium on the main floor and the other in what had been the balcony. The article said that seating would be reduced to 921. The entire front of the house was to be rebuilt as well.

The final design of the project was done by Charles L.L. Guy, after preliminary work had been done by architect William B. McGee of the Asheville architectural firm Six Associates. Construction was done by a local company, Hendersonville Custom Builders.

The fire that destroyed the original Carolina Theatre was reported by the May 18, 1940, issue of Boxoffice to have taken place on May 10. The report said that only the walls were left standing. I’ve been unable to find anything in Boxoffice about the rebuilding and reopening, though.

But Wilby-Kincey must have found temporary quarters in Hendersonville during the rebuilding, as there are mid-1940 references to the company’s Auditorium Theatre there. If Hendersonville had a municipal auditorium, that was probably where the movies played until the new Carolina Theatre was completed.

There was an earlier theater called the Queen in Hendersonville. Its equipment and lease were offered for sale in a classified ad in the June 2, 1932, issue of New England Film News.

The burned Carolina was probably the theater that was earlier called the Rex. Drawings and plans of the Rex can be seen here at the University of North Carolina web site. Accompanying text (click the “more” link to see it) says that it was the second Rex Theatre in Hendersonville, that it opened in 1924, and was rebuilt after a 1932, reopening in 1933, and then burned again in 1940. Design for the 1932 rebuild is attributed to architect Erle G. Stillwell, who had his offices in Hendersonville. The atmospheric style of the 1932 rebuild was said to “…resemble an Italian garden with elaborate decorations.” Though the site does not specify that the rebuilt Rex of 1933 was called the Carolina Theatre, I find the Carolina Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice as early as 1938, and haven’t found a single reference to the Rex.

The site also fails to say who the architect was for the 1940 rebuilding of the Carolina, but it seems very likely that it would have been Erle Stillwell once again. He was still practicing in Hendersonville in 1940, and was then a member of the advisory board of Boxoffice Magazine’s Modern Theatre Planning Institute.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theater on Sep 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Boxoffice Magazine invariably places the Lincoln Theatre in Dupont (or, as Boxoffice usually spells it, DuPont.)

The Lincoln appears to have been a very old theater. An April 14, 1945, Boxoffice item about owner Louis Pilosi, who had died not long before, said that Pilosi had started his exhibition career in 1912 when he bought an interest in a theater in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. The item continues: “Not long after he sold out to Comerford and purchased the Lincoln Theatre in DuPont. He has continued to operate the Lincoln ever since.”

The most recent mention of the Lincoln I’ve found in Boxoffice is in the September 4, 1954, issue, which said “Comerford’s Lincoln in Dupont will reopen September 5.” There was also a Comerford Drive-In at Dupont by this time, so the Lincoln was probably kept closed during the prime drive-in season of summer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 6, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I’ve found quite a few references to a Paramount Theatre in Joplin, but it was in operation at the same time as the Electric. The Paramount in downtown Joplin was a Publix-Dubinsky house in 1931, but was later operated by Fox Midwest. The downtown Joplin Paramount was demolished in 1965. I’ve been unable to find an opening date for it, though, or if it had been closed some time before the demolition. It’s possible that the Paramount was a renaming of an earlier Electric Theatre sometime in the 1920s or early 1930s.

I did come across something interesting in the “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” feature in the June 14, 1947, issue. It said “The new South Main Street Theatre in Joplin was opened to the public on June 4. Harold Gibbons and C.W. (unreadable) are joint owners.”

Harold Gibbons is the guy Fox Midwest bought the Electric from in 1937, so this new theater probably was the Electric, and it was called the South Main Street Theatre on opening. If there was another Electric Theatre in Joplin, later renamed the Paramount, it might have still been in operation in 1927 and that would account for the Main Street Electric having a different name when it opened.

I’ve been unable to find either the Wasson Theatre or the Royal Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice. The owners should have taken the local Boxoffice stringers to lunch once in a while.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Atlanta Theatre on Sep 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm

The Erlanger Theatre was built in 1926 and opened late that year. A brief notice about the opening, datelined December 28, was published in the New York Times. The item is in the on-line Times archive but it’s behind the paper’s pay wall and, not being a subscriber, I can’t read it. It’s only 108 words, so there might not be much other useful information in it.

I came across one reference to architect Russell Lee Beutell having designed the ornamental sculpture in the Erlanger, which suggests that the theater might have been designed by the firm of Daniell & Beutell, but I’ve been unable to find any confirmation of that. Somebody else might have better luck tracking it down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Northgate Theater on Sep 6, 2009 at 12:17 am

The Northgate opened in 1956. The September 29 issue of Boxoffice gave the opening day as Thursday, which (assuming it was the previous Thursday) would have been the 13th. The 1000-seat, stadium-style theater was operated for its first seven years under lease by Augustine Cianciolo, who also operated the Plaza, Rosemary, Luciann, and Rosewood theaters.

An article about the Northgate in the March 2, 1957, issue of Boxoffice credits the Union Realty Company as the architect of the theater. A photo of the auditorium shows the 47-foot screen almost filling the 50-foot width of the theater, which probably made this one of the first movie houses with a wall-to-wall screen. Thoughtfully, the designers also provided a wheelchair section in the theater, long before such accommodation was required by law.

The December 16, 1963, issue of Boxoffice reported that Nat Reiss would take over full operation of the Northgate Theatre on December 20. The item also said that Cianciolo Theatres had operated the house until December 1, so perhaps it was closed for a few days. The theater was owned by the Belz family, owners of the Northgate Shopping Center.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rosewood Theatre on Sep 6, 2009 at 12:15 am

The Rosewood was one of the theaters operated by Augustine Cianciolo, as mentioned in many issue of Boxoffice Magazine during the early 1950s.

The December 29, 1956, issue of Boxoffice said that Nathan Reiss had bought the Rosewood Theatre from its owner, Ben Bass, and would take over operation of the house from lessee Augustine Cianciolo on January 1, 1957.

The January 11, 1960, issue of Boxoffice reported that William Shapiro had taken over operation of the Rosewood on a lease from owner Nathan Reiss. After that the Rosewood is only mentioned retrospectively in one 1963 item, so it must have closed by then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:50 pm

The December 8, 1945, issue of Boxoffice said that work had begun on the Esquire Theatre, and the project would be completed as soon as possible, which might have been quite a while given the difficulty in obtaining building materials during the immediate post-war period. The owner of the theater was James Catsoodas. The architect for the project was Claude Northern.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paris Adult Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:39 pm

The June 2, 1958, issue of Boxoffice reported that Augustino Cianciolo had announced that the Luciann Theatre would be closed within the next 60 days and converted into a 16-lane bowling alley. Cianciolo also opened a new 20-lane bowling alley near his Plaza Theatre the same year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Sep 5, 2009 at 11:15 pm

To expand on my comment above, I’ve found an item in Boxoffice of October 26, 1961, which said that Augustine Cianciolo had sold the lease on the Plaza Theatre to General Drive-In Corp. of Boston, the company which was later renamed General Cinema and became one of the leading builders of multiplex theaters.

Also, an interesting bit about Gus Cianciolo turns up in the March 19, 1955, issue of Boxoffice. When the Plaza Theatre received the print of “A Star is Born” missing 36 minutes the studio had cut because they thought the movie was too long, Gus asked the studio to provide his theater with the original, three hour and ten minute version, only to be told it was not going to be released. Most theater operators were happy to run truncated versions of movies as they could get in more showings and sell more tickets. Cianciolo must have been a real movie fan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rosemary Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm

The March 22, 1952, issue of Boxoffice Magazine has an article about Augustine “Gus” Cianciolo and the new Plaza Theatre, then nearing completion, which Cianciolo would operate under lease. It said that the Rosemary had been operated by Gus’s father, Michael, and that Gus had taken over full operation of the house in 1939. Michael Cianciolo probably did open the Rosemary in 1932, as the Boxoffice article said that Gus, 31 years old in 1952, had “grown up” at the Rosemary, helping out at the theater from the age of 11.

The item also mentioned that the Cianciolos opened the Luciann Theatre in 1941. Gus was still operating both of these houses in 1952 when the Plaza opened. Michael Cianciolo died in 1943, according to a brief notice in the August 7 issue of Boxoffice that year.

Mike Cianciolo apparently ran a Memphis movie house called the New Theatre prior to operating the Rosemary. The New Theatre at Memphis, operated by Mike Cianciolo, was listed in the March 11, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times, in an item about theaters that had installed quiet, talkie-friendly ventilation systems during the previous year. I don’t see the New Theatre listed at Cinema Treasures yet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Sep 5, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The architect of the Plaza Theatre was Everett D. Woods, who also designed the Poplar-Highland Plaza shopping center in which the theater was located. An article about the theater in the November 7, 1953, issue of Boxoffice also attributed the decoration of the Plaza Theatre to Woods. The shopping center and theater were built by developer L. Hall Jones, and the theater was first operated under lease by Augustine Cianciolo, operator of the Rosemary and Luciann theaters in Memphis.