Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theater on Sep 6, 2009 at 8:15 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 5:15 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 2:15 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 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm

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 5, 2009 at 9:15 pm

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 8:50 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 8:39 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 8:15 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 7:35 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 6:55 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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Rheem Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Architects Cantin & Cantin designed the Rheem Theatre, and it opened in June, 1957. Photos of it were published in the October 19, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was a 1000-seat house with a large stadium section. The auditorium walls featured extensive murals, and the house had what was then the largest installation of rocking chairs in the United States, being the only theater west of the Rockies that was entirely seated with them.

The Rheem was also unusually spacious for its time, with row spacing of 42 to 44 inches, and the seats had extra-wide arm rests. As Gary Parks commented above, despite its late construction date the Rheem had the style of the luxurious Art Moderne theaters of the 1940s; but it also had the spaciousness which has only become standard in recent years, so it was both a throwback and well ahead of its time. The owner of the theater, Donald Rheem, could clearly afford the best of everything, and Cantin & Cantin certainly provided it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

The Orpheum in Joplin is mentioned in various issues of The Reel Journal as early as 1925. If the theater was built for the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, it could date back quite a bit farther. Orpheum expanded very rapidly in the region through the first two decades of the 20th century.

Like other major downtown Joplin theaters, the Orpheum was long operated by Fox Midwest. In 1952 it was of many Fox houses put up for sale to meet the requirements of the consent decree in the Federal antitrust case against the company.

After closing the house for awhile, Fox finally disposed of the business and leased the theater to an independent operator named P.D. Crockett. According to the August 28, 1954, issue of Boxoffice, Crockett intended to reopen the Orpheum on September 2. I’ve been unable to find any later references to the Orpheum in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 5, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Jeff’s introduction for this page says that the theater’s building is now the location of the OK Bar, and the Internets say that the OK Bar is at 1516 S. Main. The building probably includes the addresses 1514-1518. The bar’s sign is readable in Google street view. That’s why I assumed that was the Electric’s building. But when I first looked at Google street view I did think the gray building Cosmic Ray mentioned was the former theater, as it looks like it could have been one.

The gray building’s actual address probably isn’t the 1532 Google Maps appears to give it, though. I think Google Maps got the addresses off a bit, as it often does. Also, Joplin is one of those places that puts odd numbers on the east sides of streets instead of the west sides, so the gray building is probably at about 1507-1511 S. Main. I’m still wondering if it could have been another theater though.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 4, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Very odd. The building that now houses the OK Bar doesn’t look big enough in Google street view or Bing Maps bird’s eye to have held 1522 seats, but it certainly looks large enough to have held way more than 300. It has a barrel roof so it’s hard to tell if it had a balcony or not, but having a balcony is the only way a theater with that footprint could have held even 1400 seats.

Also, I found one later mention of the Electric in Boxoffice, from March 22, 1947, when it was one of a number of Missouri theaters showing “The Best Years of Our Lives.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sunset Theater on Sep 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Several articles in various issues of Boxoffice from 1948 mention Harry Pace and the building of the Sunset Theatre. Prior to building the Sunset, Harry Pace operated the Sumner Theatre, for which the Sunset was a replacement. Pace bought the Sumner from L.L. Wells in 1944, according to Boxoffice Magazine of December 2, 1944.

The opening of the Sunset was announced in the December 11, 1948, issue of Boxoffice. The item had very little information about the theater, but quite a bit about Harry Pace. He was born in Elkpoint, South Dakota, and played professional baseball in the South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa State leagues for twelve years prior to buying his first theater, the Cottage Inn at Orange City, Iowa, in 1916. After that he operated many different theaters in many Iowa cities until 1941, when he went to California for three years, finally returning to settle at Sumner in 1944.

Pace operated the Sunset until 1957, when he sold the property to a group of local businessmen who leased the theatre to William DeHaven and Fred Yungtum, according to an item in Boxoffice of March 2, 1957. These partners apparently failed, as the house was soon leased to a Mr. and Mrs. Gene Phelps, and then to Mrs. Lloyd Johnston, Harry Pace’s daughter. By 1963, the house was being operated by the local Jaycees club, as reported in the July 15 issue of Boxoffice that year. The October 24, 1966, issue reported that the Sunset had closed due to lack of patrons. After that Boxoffice must have lost interest in Sumner, as I don’t find it mentioned again.

Tantalizing is a September 14, 1940, Boxoffice columnist’s mention of “…Gilly and Ruby Wells' boy….” having “…taken over the Opera House at Sumner, Ia.” The Sumner Theatre must have been known as the Opera House before it was operated by L.L. Wells. The item says that it had previously been operated by a member of the Cass family, who apparently operated theaters in a number of Iowa locations. Then the February 11, 1950, issue of Boxoffice reported that there were plans to convert the old Opera House at Sumner into a chicken hatchery. Strange fate for a theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Marysville Cinema on Sep 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

A May 19, 1958, Boxoffice article about the closing of the Avalon that year said that before building the Avalon in 1936, F.E. Price had operated the Strand and Rex theatres in Marysville. It added that by 1958 these two houses had been closed for several years.

The February 16, 1970, issue of Boxoffice says: “Charles Van Fossen, formerly Palace Theatre manager, Columbus, is the new manger of the Avalon Theatre, Marysville, opening in a few weeks after renovation. I’ve found no other mentions of Van Fossen’s project in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Electric Theatre on Sep 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

The “From the Boxoffice Files, Twenty Years Ago” feature in the July 13, 1946, issue of Boxoffice included a paragraph about work being done by the Boller Brothers in 1926. One of the theaters they were designing was the Electric in Joplin. It was listed as a rebuilding project.

The Electric was mentioned frequently in the Box Office Reports feature in various issues of The Reel Journal in 1925. Then the July 17, 1926, issue says that the contract for remodeling the Electric had gone to Roy Huffman. The house was to seat 1,400 when completed. The July 31 issue reported that the remodeling of the Electric had begun. The October 9, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal reported that Grubel Brothers' New Electric Theatre had been opened on October 7.

Later there is a wildly different report of the size of the Electric. An October 2, 1937, Boxoffice item says that the Fox Midwest circuit had taken over operation of the Electric at Joplin, and gave the seating capacity as 350. I think this must have been an error.

I’ve been unable to find anything about the Electric from its later years, or how long it had been in existence before its 1926 rebuilding.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hiland Theatre on Sep 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm

The May 6, 1950, report of the Hiland’s impending demise was premature. The June 3, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that instead of being closed the Hiland would operate on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule. The house was operated by Associated Theatres. Later the Hiland became a full-time theater again for awhile, as the November 17, 1951, issue of Boxoffice names the Hiland as one of two Cincinnati area theaters that had reverted to weekends-only programming after having recently been reopened for full-time operation.

The June 19, 1954, issue of Boxoffice reported that Associated Theatres was installing wide screens at a number of its Cincinnati area theatres, including the Hiland. I don’t now how long the Hiland remained open after that, but following its appearance in a list of Associated houses in the November 27, 1954, issue I can’t find any more mentions of the Hiland in Boxoffice for many years.

Then it suddenly pops up again in the February 7, 1972, issue which reported that the Alpha Cinema in Cincinnati and the Hiland Theatre in Fort Thomas had been sold by Continental Amusements to a local company called Cinevest which was involved in both entertainment and real estate. That’s the last mention of the Hiland I’ve found.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Sep 3, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I’ve found the Liberty mentioned in Boxoffice as early as the June 10, 1939, issue, when it was being operated by C.F. Runbaugh (some later issues of Boxoffice spell his name Rumbaugh.) The Liberty changed hands a couple of times in the later 1940s, and then July 17, 1948 issues says that it had been sold to Albert Petry (later issues of Boxoffice often spell his name Petri, and at least once it is Petrie.) The last time I find the Liberty mentioned is in 1950, though Mr. and Mrs. Albert Petri (or Petry) are named often after that year as operators of a theater at Pagosa Springs.

Then starting in 1960, the Petris are suddenly cited as the operators of a theater in Pagosa Springs called the Mesa. Then the Mesa is the only theater in Pagosa Springs mentioned, which happens frequently until 1972, (with a single exception in 1970 which names the Petrys as owners of the Pagosa Theatre in Pagosa Springs- probably an error) and after that Pagosa Springs drops from the pages of Boxoffice until 1993, when an unnamed 180-seat theater there is offered for sale in a classified ad. That’s the most recent mention of the town I can find.

Even though the theater’s official web site says that the Liberty has been operating under the same name since 1919, I’m wondering if the Mesa was an aka for the Liberty and the original name was later restored? Operators of small town theaters are often theater buffs who move there from other places and they sometimes get the history muddled. Pagosa Springs is, and has been, a very small and rather isolated town, and it seems unlikely that it would have supported two movie houses into the 1970s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Century 21 on Sep 3, 2009 at 8:31 pm

The May 23, 1966, issue of Boxoffice attributes the design of the Century 21, on which construction had recently begun, to Denver architect Richard L. Crowther (though they misspell his name as Crowder.) A small rendering of the theater by the architect accompanied the article.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roosevelt Theatre on Sep 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm

The Roosevelt was apparently still operating as late as 1957, when the August 10 issue of Boxoffice listed it as one of the theaters in the Cincinnati area playing “The Ten Commandments” in that movie’s first post-roadshow engagements.

The earliest mentions of the Roosevelt I can find are from various 1929 issues of Movie Age when it was among the theaters listed in a series of ads for Photophone sound equipment.

A January 17, 1953, Boxoffice roundup of the previous year’s events in Cincinnati reveals the likely opening year of the Roosevelt to have been 1922. It reports this among the events for March, 1952: “Improper nailing when the ceiling was installed thirty years ago was blamed for the collapse of the plaster-covered metal ceiling lath at the Roosevelt Theatre, which injured about 60 patrons, none seriously. Jack Goldman, owner, estimated damage at about $2,500.”

Jack Goldman is mentioned frequently in Boxoffice. He’s mentioned as the operator of the Roosevelt in 1937, at which time he took over the Lincoln Theatre. The June 29, 1940, issue refers to him as “…owner of the Lincoln, Roosevelt and Beecher, all colored houses in Cincinnati….” The October 27, 1945, issue says that Goldman’s son-in-law, Joseph Miller “…is handling the Jack Goldman chain of colored houses while Goldman is taking a rest following illness.”

The February 9, 1946, issue of Boxoffice has an item datelined Cincinnati which refers to Goldman as “…operator of four colored theatres here….” It doesn’t give the names of the theaters, but the July 9, 1949, issue says that “Jack Goldman, who operates the Roosevelt, Lincoln and Regal theatres here has taken over the Roxy at Lockland, Ohio.” Apparently by then he had closed or sold the Beecher.

A May 21, 1965, Boxoffice item names Goldman as the operator of the Regal Theatre in Cincinnati, and says that he had been in the theater business for 27 years. I’ve found no mentions of him after that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roselawn Theatre on Sep 3, 2009 at 5:36 pm

The June 29, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said “Maurice Chase will open his new house at Roselawn, Cincy suburb, June 30. It seats 500.” The July 27, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that Altec sound equipment had been installed at “…Maurice Chase’s Roselawn, suburban Cincinnati house recently opened.” The building was owned by the Harris Brothers, operators of the downtown State Theatre, but was to be operated by Chase under a lease.

The November 16, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that Louis Wiethe had purchased the twenty-year lease on the Roselawn from Chase. The October 1, 1942, issue said that Louis Wiethe had reopened the Roselawn, which he had closed the previous year.

The Roselawn apparently then remained open until Wiethe opened his much larger Valley Theatre at Roselawn in 1949. Then the Roselawn was closed again for several months, but the November 26 issue of Boxoffice said Wiethe had reopened it as an art house on the 23rd. After that I can’t find any references to it in Boxoffice, so I don’t know how long it survived as an art theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Normandie Theatre on Sep 2, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Thanks for the photo link. That was a nice Art Moderne front. It had probably been recently remodeled when the photo was taken.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Penn Theatre on Sep 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm

The opening of the Penn Theatre had been set for April 16, 1938, according to Boxoffice Magazine of that date. The owners of the new 700-seat house were brothers Guy and John Oglietti, also operators of the Palace Theatre in Leechburg. The Ogliettis had demolished their 350-seat Cosmorama Theatre on the site of the Penn. The Penn was designed by Pittsburgh architects Joseph B. Smithyman and W.M. Braziell.

Smithyman and Braziell also designed the Pitt Theatre in Bedford, Pennsylvania, and at lest two other theaters. Both architects also designed other theaters independently.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pitt Theatre on Sep 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

The December 17, 1938, issue of Boxoffice said that the Pitt Theatre would be ready to open in about six weeks. The architects of H.R. Cromwell’s new house were Joseph B. Smithyman and W.M. Braziell of Pittsburgh.

Smithyman and Braziell also designed the Penn Theatre at Leechburg, Pennsylvania, and at least two other theaters. Both architects also designed other theaters independently.