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Some friends dragged me to see the King Kong remake at the Garfield. I think it was the only time I ever saw the place packed. I’d have liked to see the original King Kong there.
I also remember the Tabu Isle, which was already looking pretty seedy in the 1950s. It must have been a favorite haunt of people who drank too much, as I can recall several occasions when, walking back to the car after a movie, we would find that some hapless bar patron had thrown up on the sidewalk.
Rebuilding of the Pickwick must have taken longer than originally expected. Boxoffice said in its issue of February 15, 1947, that the new Pickwick had opened that week.
The current Pickwick Theatre is the second on the site, the first having been destroyed by fire less than a decade after opening.
Boxoffice reported in its October 7, 1944, issue that the Pickwick Block in Syracuse, Indiana, had been sold by its owner, W.E. Long, to a Chicago theater syndicate. The item included these lines: “The Pickwick block was opened by Long in 1937, and houses one of the most modern and comfortable theatres in the state, air conditioned the year around. The building is 141x150 feet, full basement and two stories in height.”
I can’t find an initial report on the fire that destroyed the first Pickwick, but the July 27, 1946, issue of Boxoffice carried this item, datelined Syracuse, Ind. and headed “Rebuild Theatre in Syracuse”: “Work has started on the rebuilding of the theatre in the Pickwick block, which was destroyed by fire early in the spring. A cocktail lounge and bowling alley in the same block are also being erected. Work is expected to be completed by mid-October.”
I’d say that’s definitely the original Princess Theatre. The cars are all open, and most have cloth tops, so they are probably from the 1910s rather than the 1920s. By 1923, most new cars had glazed side windows like this 1923 Essex. Also, there’s no doubt the buildings across the street are the same ones in both photos.
An encomium from the Liberty Theatre was published in an ad for the American Seating Company in the June 1, 1935, issue of Boxoffice. The writer praised the new seats the theater had recently installed, crediting them with an increase in patronage. Despite the modern front seen in the photos, I think the house must have been fairly old to have been getting new seats installed in 1935. The facade remodeling probably took place sometime later.
Boxoffice contains many references to the Liberty, operated for many years by P.A. Volkman. In 1939, Volkman built a second theater in Wapato, acting as his own designer. He named the new house the Dickon Theatre, combining the names of his two sons, Dick and Don. There’s a (rather belated) photo of it in the November 16, 1946, issue of Boxoffice.
A couple of years after building the Garland Theatre, original operators Inland Theatres were making plans for a similar project encompassing a theater and shops at an unspecified location in Spokane, according to the May 31, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. As the new project was to be designed by Spokane architect G.A. Pehrson, it seems possible that the Garland had also been designed by him.
Gustav A. Pehrson, a native of Sweden, practiced architecture in the Spokane region from 1913 to 1968. One of the leading architects of inland Washington during the era, he was best known as the chief architect for the design of the Hanford Engineer Works Village at Richland, Washington, a project that, by 1950, had become a town of 22,000.
If it turns out that the Garland was designed by Pehrson, that would considerably increase the theater’s historic significance.
There’s also a chance that the Pasco Theatre was designed by Pehrson.
The most recent mention of the State I’ve found in Boxoffice comes from the April 12, 1965, issue. The house was then being operated by John Tabor, who would take over Greenville’s Wayne Theatre in 1975.
The building looks fairly old.
I’ve found references to the Wayne Theatre as early as the November 9, 1935, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. At that time, and for many years after, the Wayne was operated by A. Macci & Sons. Members of the Macci family are mentioned in connection with the theater as late as 1953.
The February 3, 1975, issue of Boxoffice says that John Tabor had acquired the Wayne Theatre and Speedway Drive-In at Greenville. The item does not say whether or not the Wayne had been twinned yet.
A couple of issues of Movie Age from 1929 mention a National Theatre in Greenville. That might have been an earlier name for the Wayne or the State.
The earliest reference I’ve found to the State Theatre comes from Boxoffice Magazine, July 27, 1937, but that item says that the manager, Jonas Thomas, who was being transfered to another Chakeres Theatres house, had been at the State for the past four years, so the place was in operation by 1933.
A couple of issues of Movie Age from 1929 mention a National Theatre in Greenville. That might have been an earlier name for the State or the Wayne.
The May 4, 1929, issue of Movie Age said that the Capitol Theatre in Des Moines would close at the end of the week and would reopen about May 12 as the Paramount. The house would no longer employ a band or present stage shows.
The November 28, 1953, issue of Boxoffice said that the Port Theatre had opened on November 25. It was owned by Western Amusement Co..
The De Anza Theatre opened June 6, 1939, according to the June 10 issue of Boxoffice. The first feature was “Young Mr. Lincoln.”
There was indeed a Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson. The May 15, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said “Walter Baier has constructed a penthouse atop his Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson.” Then the June 25, 1938, issue says that plans were being drawn for a complete remodeling of the Fort Theatre, including a new front and marquee. Boxoffice mentions the Fort frequently, with references to it as late as 1978, when it was being operated by a small regional chain called Genoa Theatres. A 1974 item about another remodeling said that it had 450 seats.
As for the Uptown, the December 4, 1937, issue of Boxoffice ran this item datelined Fort Atkinson: “The new Uptown Theatre was opened here last week, with Herb Barrett as manager.” The Uptown was probably the subject of a brief item in the June 5, 1937, Boxoffice, datelined Fort Atkinson, which said “I.J. Crait, of Horicon Wis., has started building a new theatre here, to be 110x31 feet.” In 1938 Walter Baier, of the Fort Theatre, took control of the Uptown. Walter Baier is mentioned as operator of both the Uptown and Fort in Boxoffice items into the 1950s.
The March 11, 1974, issue of Boxoffice ran an item datelined Fort Atkinson and headed “Theatre Building Conversion.” A Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Gartman had purchased the Uptown Theatre from its last operator, National Theatres, and were converting the building for retail use. The item added that National Theatres had also sold the Fort Theatre less than two years earlier.
Fort Atkinson was also the site of the Highway 18 Drive-In, opened by Walter Baier in 1953 and first managed by his son, Robert.
According to an item in Boxoffice Magazine, November 2, 1964, the opening feature at the Capri was the Polly Bergen-Fred MacMurray comedy “Kisses for my President.” You never heard of it? Neither did I, and apparently neither has anyone else. There aren’t even any reviews of it at Rotten Tomatoes.
Boxoffice gave the original seating capacity of the Capri as 995. The house was equipped for both 35mm and 70mm projection.
In the December 2, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, columnist Harry Hart reported on the theater owners convention in Charlotte. One item in his report said “J.V. Dwiggins and H.M. Sloop of the Main Theatres in Kannapolis took this writer to luncheon the first day.”
The earliest mention in Boxoffice of what would become the Main Theatre appeared in the June 28, 1947, issue, which ran an item headed “600-Seat House Planned By Kannapolis Veterans,” which said that construction on the new theater, on Cannon Boulevard at Jackson, would begin in a few weeks.
Construction must have progressed very slowly, as there is nothing more about the Main Theatre until the January 28, 1950, issue of Boxoffice, where it is listed among the 761 new theaters opened in the United States during 1949.
Harry Hart visited the Main Theatre and wrote about his experience in his column in the October 21, 1950, issue of Boxoffice. In that column he mentioned P.G. Overcash, the theater’s bookkeeper; Thurmond Miller, the projectionist; and J.V. Dwiggins, vice president of the operating company. Dwiggins told Hart that “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Stars In My Crown” had been “real theater packers” for the Main.
The Riviera and Brainerd Theatres were both originally operated by Independent Theatres. At the time the Brainerd was under construction, the December 20, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item which said that the chain’s Riviera Theatre had been built “…several years ago.”
I can’t find an exact opening year for the Riviera. It might have been built pre-war, but the earliest reference to it I’ve found in Boxoffice is in the October 19, 1946, issue, when a series of seven foreign films were booked for the house.
In 1955, the Riviera was remodeled and reopened with an art film policy, according to the April 23 issue of Boxoffice that year.
The opening date of the Brainerd Theatre was August 4, 1948, according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine of August 7 that year.
There’s a very good chance that Selmon T. Franklin was the architect of this theater. He designed a number of projects for Independent Theatres during the 1940s, and had been engaged to design a large theater on Brainerd Road as early as November, 1944. It’s possible that the 1944 project was the Brainerd Theatre, and construction was delayed by post-war materials shortages.
The conversion of the Brainerd for Cinerama in 1962 reduced the seating capacity to 640, according to the July 9 issue of Boxoffice, which also said that the reopening of the house had been scheduled for July 11.
The Brainerd Theatre was under construction, but not yet named, when an item about it appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of December 20, 1947. Owners of the house, Independent Theatres, offered a two year pass to the person who came up with the best name for the new theater. I can’t help but conclude that not too much effort was put into the winning name.
The item said that Independent had made the same offer several years earlier, when their Riviera Theatre was under construction. The Mediterranean coast may not be the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of Chattanooga, but at least whoever won that earlier competition used a bit of imagination.
Between the 1946 opening of the Pix and at least 1951, Nampa had three operating walk-in theaters. I’ve found references in Boxoffice to both the Majestic and a theater called the Adelaide, both operated by Fox Intermountain, as far back as 1938. The last mention of the Adelaide is in 1951, when it was listed along with the Majestic among the theaters Fox had the option of closing or divesting under the terms of the consent decree.
Either the Majestic or the Adelaide may have been the house referred to as the Nampa Theatre in a Boxoffice item of September 18, 1937. Construction had been set to begin on this new Fox house on September 15. As there are no later references in Boxoffice to a Nampa Theatre, then a new name must have been chosen before opening- assuming the new house was actually built.
For even earlier Nampa theaters, I can find only one reference, this to a Liberty Theatre briefly mentioned in the December 7, 1929, issue of The Reel Journal. Either the Majestic or the Adelaide might have been the Liberty renamed, or it might have been different theater.
Reel operated at two locations in Nampa. The Nampa Reel Theatre (this one) was previously called the Nampa 6 Cinemas. There was also the Karcher Reel Theatre, originally opened in 1973 as the Karcher Twin Cinemas, at 1509 Caldwell Boulevard in the Karcher Mall.
There’s finally a photo on the Internet showing the back wall of the Garfield’s stage house, with the Bard Circuit’s sailing ship logo still visible, though faded, decades after it was painted. You can make out the words “Vitaphone” and “Movietone” at upper left, and a bit lower, “Stage Plays” in this 1983 shot.
The Allen Theatre has been rescued twice. The first time was in 1968, when 19-year-old Richard Wolfe and his friend Paul Angstadt rented the vacant Astor, and after some restoration work reopened it on September 6 that year.
Within a couple of years, Wolfe and Angstadt had added the Strand Theatre at Kutztown and the Roxy Theatre at Northampton to their holdings.
They eventually sold the Astor and the Strand in order to concentrate their efforts on the restoration of the Roxy, which Wolfe still operates today. Wolfe also spent some time as director of the Theatre Historical Society of America.
In that 1982 photo it looks as though the theater has already been converted to some other use. The entrance is no longer theater-like. While there was a 1975 French movie called “La Coupe,” I’m pretty sure there was never a film called “Fruit A Freeze” nor a second feature called “Frozen Fruit Bars.”
I came across one more Boxoffice reference to the Academy, in Harry Hart’s column of August 18, 1951, though the only information about the theater in it was that the then-manager of the house, William N. Hissner, had held that position since 1904, when it was still the Academy of Music.
From the July, 1983, issue of Boxoffice Magazine: “Kenneth DeWees, owner of the 104-year-old Academy Theatre, in Lebanon, Pa., is giving community leaders an opportunity to raise funds to preserve the historic theatre building as a cultural arts center. He plans to demolish the movie house this summer if a buyer or user for it is not found.”
Apparently, Lebanon’s Academy of Music was a stop for the tours of many performers from the late 19th century at least into the 1920s. The Denishawn Dance Company gave an evening performance there on November 3, 1923. I’ve found one other references to a live performance at this theater, by a violinist named Hartman in 1906, but search engine results are, not surprisingly, dominated by references to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, making it difficult to research the Lebanon house. One other reference I found in Boxoffice was trivial.
There’s this web page, though, with a brief paragraph about the Academy of Music, and a vintage photo of the stage as seen from the balcony. For a theater that lasted 104 years, there’s awfully little information about the Academy.
Now I’ve come across an item in the “From the Boxoffice Files: Twenty Years Ago” column in the magazine’s November 13, 1948, issue. It says: “The Star Theatre at Mason City is being remodeled and will open under the name of the Iowa as a first run location. M.R. Tournier is manager.”
Their dating must have been at least a few months off, as the September 28, 1929, issue of Movie Age said that the Iowa Theatre at Mason City had been sold by W.E. Millington and Mrs. Maynard Tournier.
I still haven’t been able to discover if the Star/Iowa did later become the State, but I’ve found more items confirming that the State became the Band Box Theatre in 1951, and was still operating under that name as late as 1955, when CinemaScope was installed.