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This theater had to have been one of the earliest twin theaters built in the United States. Boxoffice of December 9, 1963, said that ground had been broken for the 2000-seat twin theater being built by Town & Country Theatres at the Mid-Island Shopping Plaza in Hicksville. An earlier item in the issue of October 14 had said that the architect for the project was Leon Miller.
So far I’ve been unable to find any Boxoffice items about the opening, but the Twin Theatre was in operation by spring of 1965, when it was the site of a wedding arranged as part of a promotion for the movie “Marriage Italian Style.” Boxoffice of April 5 has a photo of the happy couple with part of the theater visible in the background.
The Americana began as a single-screen theater, and a four-screen addition was opened in 1970. Here is an article about it in Boxoffice of April 20, 1970. The architect for the expansion was Gale Santocono. Most likely he did the original theater as well, since he designed so many of Robert Lippert’s theaters.
This house was originally called the Showcase Cinemas I and II, and was opened by Robert Lippert’s Transcontinental Theatres in May, 1970. As described in Boxoffice of June 1, each auditorium had 400 seats, and to maintain proper decorum, nobody under 18 would be admitted to the theater after 6:00 PM unless accompanied by an adult.
Boxoffice of September 21 that same year gave the seating capacity of the house as 900. Another item in Boxoffice of April 12, 1971, dropped the seating capacity to 700. At least these conflicting reports average out to the 800 given by the June, 1970, item.
As Georob noted in a comment above, this house was never a Jerry Lewis operation. However, by 1974 it was being operated by Chuck Boening who, according to Boxoffice of February 4 that year, had operated the Jerry Lewis Cinema in El Cerrito for nine months before closing it the previous June. The Jerry Lewis Cinema had opened in 1972, and was located at 10624 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito.
This list of theaters operated by Robert Lippert includes seven bearing the name Showcase. I don’t think any of them were ever operated by Showcase Cinemas, Sumner Redstone’s company, which used the name for many theaters in the eastern United States.
So far I’ve been unable to find anything in Boxoffice about when, or even if, this theater was taken over by Sumner Redstone’s Showcase Cinemas (and if it closed in the late 1970s I doubt that it ever was.) But Redstone’s chain was already in operation when the Showcase I and II was opened by Robert Lippert’s San Francisco-based Transcontinental Theatres. Boxoffice of May 11, 1970, said that the house had opened on April 9. Another Showcase I and I was opened by Lippert in San Pablo the following month.
The September 15, 1969, Boxoffice item about the Fremont Showcase said that the house would have one auditorium of 760 seats and the other would seat 420.
I’ve found the Weddington Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice as early as April 30, 1938. Operator W.J. Ward had installed a modern cooling system in the house. W.J. Ward was mentioned as a theater operator in Pikeville in the October 19, 1935, issue of Boxoffice, though the name of his theater was not mentioned.
The Weddington was destroyed by fire on February 2, 1946, said the February 9 issue of Boxoffice. Rebuilding was long delayed. Boxoffice of June 5, 1948, said that construction was well underway, but the opening did not take place until that fall, and was reported in Boxoffice of November 15. The rebuilt house had been leased to Darnell Theatres.
Boxoffice of October 8, 1955, said that the Weddington and Liberty theaters at Pikeville were then controlled by Cumberland Theatres. The Liberty had just reopened, with newly installed CinemaScope equipment, after having been closed for some time (the previous year it had been on a one-day-a-week schedule.)
The Weddington underwent remodeling and redecoration in 1956, according to the May 19 issue of Boxoffice. Less than a year later, severe flooding put the Weddington Theatre under ten feet of water, as reported by Boxoffice of February 16, 1957. The house might have remained closed for a few years after that, as I don’t find it mentioned in Boxoffice again until the issue of May 9, 1960, where it was listed among theaters for which National Theatre Supply of Cincinnati had recently supplied carpeting.
A May 4, 1964, item about exhibitor Sam T. Isaac, then running for Congress from Kentucky’s 5th district, said that he operated the Weddington and Liberty theaters at Pikesville (for some reason, Boxoffice refers to the town as Pikesville almost as often as it calls it Pikeville), among others.
In the 1970s, several issues of Boxoffice mention an exhibition company called Powell Enterprises, headed by Ernie Powell, being headquartered in Pikeville (or Pikesville.) I’ve been unable to find specific Pikeville theater names in any of these items, though. But the Weddington, at least, was still in operation as late as 1979, judging from the photo with “The Amityville Horror” featured on the marquee.
Boxoffice of September 27, 1941, said that Jack Holman had recently opened his new Ritz Theatre at Texarkana. In 1943 he sold the house to Garlon Nelson, and after that I can’t find the Ritz mentioned in Boxoffice other than retrospectively, in items about Holman. Garlon Nelson is never mentioned again, either.
As for the other two theaters on Broad Street, I can’t find the Capri mentioned in Boxoffice at all, but the Joy opened in 1961, according to the May 9 issue of Boxoffice that year. It had 520 seats, and was originally operated by Joy Houck and L.D. Powers. It was built as a replacement for the Leo Theatre, which was to be dismantled and replaced by a bank. The Joy was “…closed indefinitely….” on September 14, 1967, according to boxoffice of September 25. I haven’t found it mentioned after that.
Bob: The April 8, 1950, Boxoffice item I cited said that N.W. Hart was naming his new theater after his three granddaughters. I’d presume that their initials were arranged into the somewhat pronounceable word. The item didn’t reveal the girls' names. Maybe somebody who knew (or knows) them will discover this page and tell us. For now I’m just imagining that the one who provided the useful vowel was called Ann, and that if she’d been named Sharon this theater might have become the Shmrr.
IA: Thanks for the correction. When I submitted this theater, I did say that the El Dorado was the first house in Tucson equipped for 70mm films (I kept a copy of my original submission, and just checked it.) The text must have been edited by a moderator after Michael Coate’s comment was posted.
An item in Boxoffice from around the time of the El Dorado’s opening was my source, but unfortunately I failed to make a note of the specific issue in which it appeared.
The opening date of the Catalina Theatre was tentatively set as November 1, according to an item in Boxoffice of September 14, 1946. The new house had been designed for Paramount Nace Theatres by architect Hal Pereira.
In September, 1986, Boxoffice reported that Cineplex Odeon planned to demolish the Catalina Theatre and replace it with a six-screen multiplex of 1000 seats. I’ve been unable to find any Boxoffice items confirming that the original Catalina was indeed demolished by Odeon, but they did demolish the much newer El Dorado Theatre and replaced it with a six-plex. It seems likely that Odeon would have gone ahead with their plans to demo the Catalina.
Wrens had two theaters called the Dixie. Here’s an item from Boxoffice of April 24, 1948: “Construction of the new Dixie Theatre, a 550-seater, is underway here. Mrs. Louis Williams, manager, said the project would cost about $40,000. The house will seat 350 on the main floor and 200 in the balcony. The present Dixie Theatre, opened 12 years ago, seats 215.”
The very next issue of Boxoffice, May 1, has additional, but somewhat belated, news from Wrens: “The Dixie Theatre was damaged by fire the morning of April 8. Several thousands of dollars damage was done to the screen and sound equipment. The Dixie is owned by Mrs. Violet Edwards and managed by Mrs. Louise Williams.”
Given the timing of the two articles, the phrasing of the first, and the lack of detail in both, I can’t tell if the new Dixie was a rebuilding of the original theater after the fire, or if its construction had been begun before the fire at a different location. I’ve found no other Boxoffice items that would clear up the mystery. Maybe somebody from the area knows.
The December 3, 1949, issue of Boxoffice said that the new theater as Shullsburg was almost ready to open. The new house had been designed by Milwaukee architect Myles Belongia. Boxoffice of January 23, 1950, gave the seating capacity of the Burg Theatre as 420.
There was an earlier theater at Shullsburg, which I’ve found mentioned only once in Boxoffice, in the issue of October 8, 1949. The single line said “The Opera House at Shullsburg has been closed due to the death of F. F. Lee, who operated the theatre for many years.”
Motion Picture Times of July 7, 1928, says: “While Holger Jorgensen and Mrs. Jorgensen are motoring through Colorado, Walter Jorgensen is in charge of the East Grand, Dallas neighborhood house.”
The State was apparently not built in 1933 as the current intro of this page says. It probably dated from the 1920s, and maybe earlier. A May 12, 1969, Boxoffice item about the opening of a new Harkins theater said that Dwight Harkins “…took over the old State Theatre….” in 1933.
A March, 1998, Boxoffice article about the Harkins chain said that in 1933 Dwight Harkins, then an 18 year old college student, “…put a $50 downpayment on the lease on the State Theatre in Tempe….”
Also there’s a November 2, 1940, item about the College Theatre, then nearing completion, which says that when the new theater opened Harkins planned to dismantle the State. It’s very unlikely he’d have dismantled a theater that was only seven years old.
JosephF: The information you provided is very helpful indeed. Learning the names of the architects led me to several interesting discoveries.
According to an item in the November, 1927, issue of the trade publication Architect & Engineer, Edwin J. Symmes and Clarence Cullimore had just formed their partnership, so the Granada was probably one of their first collaborations. The firm of Symmes & Cullmore designed a number of buildings in the San Joaquin Valley, many of them public schools. Symmes died in 1935, but Cullimore appears to have returned to an individual practice in 1932, designing primarily residential buildings after that. He was also noted for his research into the architecture and building of the Spanish and Mexican periods in California, which led to his 1948 book, Adobes of Santa Barbara.
This page at the web site of the Kern County Museum includes a partial list of buildings designed by Symmes and Cullimore, individually and in partnership. There are no theaters listed other than the Granada. The page also has a link to a small photo of the Granada ca.1941.
Google Documents provides an 2004 article called Spohn’s Old Granada Theatre, by Carla LaFong and Gilbert Gia. It includes a few period photos, history, and a fairly detailed description of the Granada at the time the article was written. The article can also be downloaded in pdf format from Gilbert Gia’s web site (follow the “persons” link.)
Walnut Hill Productions featured the Granada’s hybrid Robert Morgan/Wurlitzer theater organ on its web site in August, 2007. In addition to numerous photos and technical information, the page includes links to downloadable recordings made on the Granada organ.
The Rio became the Surf in 1949. The March 12 issue of Boxoffice reported the reopening of the house under its new name. The theater had been remodeled by its owner/operator since at least 1943, Ed Barnard. Barnard operated the Surf Theatre at least as late as 1954, when he was mentioned in the May 8 issue of Boxoffice.
The Rio had been remodeled previously, when it was given a new stucco front in 1939, as reported in Boxoffice of May 13 that year. The owner at that time was not named.
Boxoffice of May 29, 1937, reported that Southwestern Theatre Equipment Company had sold a motor to the Rio Theatre at Rockport. The August 7 issue said that the Dallas branch of National Theatre Supply had recently sold the Rio complete projection equipment.
In 1930 a theater at Rockport, Texas, was being operated by W.H. Smith. Motion Picture Times of March 18 that year reported that Smith had renamed his theater the Peoples. The previous name was not mentioned. I’ve found no mentions of theaters in Rockport between then and 1937.
Interestingly, Rockport, Indiana, also had a theater called the Rio, previously called the Alhambra, operating from 1939 until at least 1961. Its frequent appearance in Boxoffice made researching the Texas Rio rather frustrating.
Boxoffice of July 13, 1957, said that the Blue Hills Drive-In at Canton had opened recently. The original owners were the Minasian brothers.
Boxoffice of July 27, 1957, said that the Ponta Delgada Drive-In had opened at North Tiverton on July 9. The 900-car situation was owned by Hyman E. Lepes and Norman Zalkin. The first movie shown was “Amazon Ship.”
Ponta Delgada is apparently the proper form for this Portuguese name, by the way, regardless of how The Providence Journal presents it. Delgada is all one word on the marquee, as well.
The Dulamae Theatre, currently given above as an aka for the Dane, was actually a different theater. Boxoffice of February 15, 1947, said that when Frank Lundy opened his new Dane Theatre he would operate the Dulamae only on Saturdays. Boxoffice of February 22 said that the Dane had been opened on February 17. The May 10 issue of Boxoffice mentions Frank Lundy as operator of the Dane and Dulamae theaters at Denmark.
The Dulamae is then mentioned in Boxoffice of June 21, 1947, but the scan is damaged and only the first three letters (dis) of the line giving the fate of the theater can be read. It must say either that Lundy “disposed of” or “dismantled” the house. As that’s the last time the Dulamae is mentioned in Boxoffice, as far as I’ve found, it was closed that year.
However, in a post on a Facebook page about Denmark, a lacal named Eddie Hightower says that after Freank Lundy closed the Dulamae Theatre, a few local men reopened it as the Joy Theatre. I haven’t been able to find the Joy mentioned in Boxoffice, so I have no idea how long it remained open.
Boxoffice of June 19, 1954, reported that Harris Theatre Sales had sold CinemaScope equipment to the Dane Theatre. It didn’t say whether or not the equipment had been installed yet.
Frank Lundy operated the Dulamae Theatre at least as early as 1938, and operated the Dane Theatre at least into 1961. By 1964, the Dane was taken over by Robert Saxton, according to the August 31 issue of Boxoffice.
There have been a couple of comments remarking on the theater’s name, so it might be useful to note that Franz LehÃ¡r’s operetta “The Merry Widow” had its premier in Vienna in 1905, the year before this theater’s forerunner was opened. The composer’s “Merry Widow Waltz” became one of the most popular songs of the period, so the name would have been familiar even to people who had never seen the operetta.
Boxoffice of April 8, 1950, announced that the foundations had been laid for N.W. Hart’s new Marrh Theatre in North Augusta. The house was to be of steel and brick construction, and would have 794 seats.
It would be North Augusta’s first theater.
The Marrh opened abou t November 1, 1950, according to the caption of a small photo in Boxoffice of January 6, 1951.
The Marrh was closed for a while, though I’ve been unable to discover for how long, starting in either 1954 or 1955. Boxoffice of August 20, 1955, said that the house had reopened under new ownership after some interior remodeling and repainting. The new manager was T.W. Owings.
I haven’t found any later mentions of the Marrh in Boxoffice. The only mention of the Carolina Theatre at North Augusta I’ve found is from the issue of May 4, 1959. The operator of the Carolina was named Pierce McCoy. However, there is a Caroline Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice of September 25, 1961 (perhaps it was just a typo.) The item said that the house had been closed for some time but had been reopened September 14 by Horace Geisling. After that I find nothing about any theaters in North Augusta.
The Wedgwood was scheduled to open in March, 1967, according to a Boxoffice item published on the 20th of that month. It was the latest house in an expansion of the Interstate chain which had begun in 1965. The Wedgwood was originally a 900-seat single-screener.
The Boxoffice item listed the theaters that had already opened as part of the expansion: “…the Westwood, Richardson; Belaire, Hurst; Clear Lake, near Houston; Parkview, Pasadena; Northgate, El Paso; Westwood, Abilene; Lake Air Drive-In, Waco, and Wonder, San Antonio.” Projects slated to open later were the Ridgewood at Garland and the Northshore in Houston.
Photos of the Plains and three other Corgan-designed theaters appeared in Boxoffice of December 6, 1947. The other houses featured in the article are the Agnew and May theatres in Oklahoma City, and the Boomer, Norman, Oklahoma.
Photos of the Boomer and three other Corgan-designed theaters appeared in Boxoffice of December 6, 1947. The other houses featured in the article (on the two previous pages) are the Agnew and May theatres in Oklahoma City, and the Plains, Rosswell, New Mexico.
Photos of the May and three other Corgan-designed theaters appeared in Boxoffice of December 6, 1947. The other houses featured in the article are the Agnew, Oklahoma City; the Boomer, Norman; and the Plains, Rosswell, New Mexico.
Photos of the Agnew and three other Corgan-designed theaters appeared in Boxoffice of December 6, 1947. The other houses featured in the article are the May, Oklahoma City; the Boomer, Norman; and the Plains, Roswell, New Mexico.