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A 1999 book, “History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago” by Frank Alfred Randall and John D. Randall says that the New Chicago Theatre was designed by the firm of Burling & Adler.
Solon S. Beman was the architect of the Studebaker Building, but a pamphlet providing information for self-guided walking tours of the Fine Arts Building (Google Documents quick view) says that the 1917 Studebaker Theatre was designed by architect Andrew Rebori. Solon S. Beman died in 1914.
I’ve found a reference to a Massachusetts corporation called the North Station Theatre Company being dissolved in 1934. The fact that the company had existed doesn’t indicate that they ever actually got their theater open, of course, or that they didn’t. If they did get the place open, it might have continued operating under other management even after the original company was dissolved, or it might have just been closed down after only a year or two of operation.
The thing that most interested me about the Bridgemen’s magazine item was that the theater was to be designed by Funk & Wilcox. I was searching the Internet to see if there were any theaters the firm had designed in addition to the five currently attributed to them at Cinema Treasures, and the North Station project was the only one I found.
If the magazine’s report that the theater was to cost $150,000 was correct it would have been a fairly large building, if built at 1932 prices. The reported cost might have been a mistake, though. If it was to be only a small theater inside the station, maybe the cost was supposed to be $15,000. Those old magazines are full of typos.
Here is a black and white nocturnal photo of Tremont Street, with Keith’s Theatre at left. It’s from the November, 1906, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer.
The original owner of the Lancaster Theatre was a 1900 Harvard graduate named Kenneth Sherburne. In a 1921 volume containing autobiographical material from the class of 1900’s members, Sherburne’s section includes these lines: “…in 1916 I built and am still operating the Lancaster Theatre in Boston. It has not been a howling success financially so far, but is coming along as well as could be expected. It keeps me busy seven days a week, and is the best fun I have ever had.”
This Lancaster’s age precludes it from being the proposed theater mentioned in a 1932 issue of The Bridgemen’s Magazine, a trades union journal. The item said “Boston â€” North Station Theatre Co., c/o Boston & Maine Ry. Co., North Station, bids in April, 1 story, brick theatre, at end of concourse at North Station, Causeway St. $150000. Funk & Wilcox, 26 Pemberton Sq., archts.“ Does anyone know if this theater was built, and if so what it was called? It would have been in the same neighborhood as the West End Cinema, which was about two blocks from North Station.
An article titled Light and the Moving Picture Show appeared in the February, 1908, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer. Several paragraphs are about the Theatre Unique, though for some reason the magazine chose to call it by the slogan that appeared on its vertical electric sign, “The World in Motion” instead of by the name arched over its entrance. There is one photo of the theater, but it is only a daytime view so we don’t get to see the lighting which the article describes so admiringly.
Among the details about the house the article reveals is that the main floor seated 514 patrons, and there was a mezzanine that provided an additional 150 seats. Admission to the main floor was ten cents, but a seat in the mezzanine cost twenty cents.
The Theater Catalog atmos cited in the previous comment was mistaken about the year the Harris Theatre was opened. The Project Index of the Wolfsonian’s Eberson Archives lists the project as “Alvin Theatre Building & Alterations” and gives the year as 1941. A 1938 opening for a theater on the site of the Alvin would flatly contradict the 1940 item in Boxoffice that I cited in an earlier comment, which said that the roof of the fifty-year-old Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh partially collapsed that year.
I’m not sure how much of the 1941 theater building was new. The fact that the archives uses the word “alterations” suggests that at least part of the old structure must have survived. As only the auditorium roof had collapsed, it’s possible that only the auditorium interior was completely rebuilt, and the remainder of the structure was merely remodeled. The original walls of the auditorium might have been retained, as was often the case with theater rebuilding projects.
A 1900 biographical sketch of actor, playwright, and theatrical manager Charles Lindley Davis said that he built the Alvin Theatre in 1891. It was named for the title character in a play he wrote, produced, and starred in, “Alvin Joslin.”
The Alvin Theatre was listed in the 1897 edition of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide as one of four major theaters in Pittsburgh. Cahn gave the seating capcity as 2000, so it was a bit smaller than the Harris. Most likely, Eberson’s design incorporated some or all of the Alvin’s large stage into the rebuilt auditorium (Cahn said the stage was 48 feet deep from the footlights to the back wall.)
B.F. Keith bought the Alvin Theatre in 1900 and made it part of his vaudeville circuit, according to Lynn Conner’s book “Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater” (Google Books preview.) Conner also says that the house was renamed the Shubert Alvin Theatre in 1920, and became the Harris Alvin Theatre in 1934.
An advertisement for Philadelphia building contractors R.C. Ballinger & Co. in a 1907 edition of Sweet’s Catalog of Building Construction listed the Alvin Theatre among the projects the company had built, and said that the house was designed by an Indianapolis architectural firm called Reed Brothers. I’ve been unable to find any other references to that firm on the Internet. This biography of Indiana, Pennsylvania, architect Thomas R. Harley, who also operates the local Indiana Theater, says that at Carnegie-Mellon University he wrote his master’s thesis on the Alvin Theatre. Maybe he found out who the Reed Brothers were. Unfortunately, his thesis is not available on the Internet.
According to his biography, it was local architect Thomas R. Harley who reopened the Indiana Theater.
I think that the article in Oklahoma Today, cited in a comment above by Cosmic Ray, got the architect’s middle initial wrong. Interent searches for an architect named Leonard S. Bailey provide no results that are not related to that magazine article and this theater.
However, the career of noted Oklahoma City architect Leonard H. Bailey is well documented, and provides many Internet search results. At least one theater, the Liberty in Oklahoma City, is attributed to him. Surely it must have been Leonard H. Bailey who was the architect of the Woodward Arts Theatre.
The Carmike 15 in Columbus was designed by the Chattanooga architectural firm Artech Design. Photos can be seen in the entertainment projects portfolio at their web site (click on the fourth thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.) The text says that the project was a new prototype for the Carmike chain, and that the design and construction were both fast-tracked to meet a tight deadline. That might account for the under-designed look Joel Weide found displeasing.
The Krikorian Premier Theatres in Corona was designed by the Chattanooga-based architectural firm Artech Design. Photos of it can be seen in the entertainment projects section of their web site’s portfolio (for this theater click on the fifth thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.)
The web site of Artech Design, architects of the Majestic 12, says that this was the first theater ever to receive LEED certification. The web site has several photos of the Majestic and of six other theater projects the firm designed (for the Majestic, click on the second thumbnail photo down in the right column of the page.)
The front of the Majestic is a nice, shiny bit of Postmodernism, but I have to say that the back section, where the auditoriums are, which was made to look like an old warehouse with its windows sealed up, looks just plain ugly to me. They could have done better.
The Palladium Theater was designed by JPRA Architects, of Farmington Hills, Michigan. There is a description of the theater, and three photos, on this page of the firm’s web site. It’s an interesting building, with a strong neo-Regency influence, but topped by a mansard, of all things. I can’t decide if I find it handsome or ridiculous. Maybe a bit of each.
The Emagine megaplex in Novi has 4000 seats, according to this page at the web site of JPRA Architects, designers of the project.
This page at the web site of JPRA Architects lists five theater projects the firm has designed, and one of them is Hoyts Cinema, Bluewater, Kent, United Kingdom. Unfortunately they offer no information or photos for this project. JPRA is headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, outside Detroit. In the U.S., the firm designs mostly mixed use projects and shopping centers.
Here is a link to several photos of the fire that destroyed the Aurora Theatre building in 2007. Bits of the building’s facade can be made out through the smoke and flames in a couple of the shots.
The October 7, 1908, issue of the trade journal Engineering-Contracting had an item, partly unreadable in the scan, in its “Contracts Let” column that said (questionable words in parentheses): “San Antonio, Texâ€” Theatre.â€"P. T. (Shirly?) for erecting Royal Theatre for H. J. (Moore?) H. L. Page, Architect."
The arch in the photo that CWalczak linked to appears to be an example of the Moorish style that was briefly in vogue around the turn of the century. I notice that a somewhat Spanish-Moorish-looking geometric design also decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. That must have been the style Mr. Page was going for. I’m surprised they didn’t call the theater the Alhambra.
When Walter Reade launched his new circuit, American Community Theatres, in 1936, he intended all of the houses in the chain to share a single architectural style, that being Colonial Revival. Several of the new theaters were opened in 1937, and these were designed either by William Hohauser or by Thomas Lamb.
Because Reade exercised such close control over the design of these theaters, it is sometimes difficult to tell from appearance alone which of them were designed by Hohauser and which were designed in Lamb’s office. However, in the case of the Morristown project, despite the fact that I’ve been unable to find a source identifying which architect designed the house, we do have a comparable theater opened the same year in Tom’s River, New Jersy, which is definitely a lamb design. Compare the photo of the Morristown Community linked in Justin Fencsak’s comment above with this vintage photo of the Community Theatre in Toms River, New Jersey. They look virtually identical to me.
The only Hohauser-designed Community Theatre I can find a photo of is the one at Hudson, New York, pictured in this photo from the Library of Congress. The Hudson house was larger than the New Jersey houses, which might account for some of the differences, but the entrance treatment and decorative details are handled quite differently in Hohauser’s Hudson design than they are in Lamb’s Toms River project. If I were laying a bet, I’d say the Community Theatre in Morristown is a Thomas Lamb design.
A unique feature of the Allen Theatre in its early years was a soda fountain called the Tea Room, located on the main floor and open to the auditorium. The facility was for the exclusive use of theater patrons, and was without a separate entrance from the street.
The July, 1922, issue of a trade journal called The Soda Fountain featured this article about the operation. There is one photo. The article says that the idea for the Tea Room came from the theater’s architect, C. Howard Crane.
Mister Smith’s Theatre (the way the name was presented in the ads for the house) was operated by S. Barrett McCormick, manager of the Circle Theatre, which was then the leading movie palace in Indianapolis. The November 8, 1919, issue of Motion Picture News ran an article about Mister Smith’s, accompanied by four examples of the theater’s advertising.
The article doesn’t mention the story about the origin of the theater’s name that appears in the description above. I wonder if that could be a local urban legend? Or perhaps somebody opened a restaurant called Mister Smith’s in the space after the theater closed, and the tale has gotten reversed over the years? This is one of those times I wish more old city directories were available on the Internet. They could answer such questions quickly enough.
I’ve found that, after a number of years practicing in Winfield, and not long after designing the Opera House, architect Willis Ritchie moved to the state of Washington, settling in Spokane in 1892. There he became one of the most successful architects in the Northwest, designing buildings throughout the region, from Vancouver, Washington, to Anaconda, Montana, as well as the Washington State Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
This list of theaters in Wilmington gives the following series of names for the theater at 305-307 Maryland Avenue:
The Polonia (1921-1923)
Avenue Theater (1923-1936)
Ace Theater (1936-1963)
Capri Art Theater (1963-1970)
William Speck’s book Toledo: A History in Architecture says that the Rivoli was built in 1920. I have found references to the theater being in operation during the 1920s. The Wolfsonion collection’s index of John Eberson’s work lists the Rivioli only as a 1930 remodeling project, so he must not have been the original architect. So far, I’ve been unable to discover who did design this theater.
In the absence of interior photos, I don’t know how extensive the 1930 remodeling was, but the only exterior feature of the theater that was ever changed appears to have been the marquee. As the house was only ten years old in 1930, I doubt there was much alteration of the interior either. The ground floor front eventually got a streamlined update, with vitrolite panels and new metal door hardware, but this is not seen in photos from the mid-1930s, and so must have been done quite some time after Eberson worked on the house.
The facade at least was never Art Deco, except for that marvelous zig-zag marquee, as numerous photos such as this one show the building’s classical details such as fluted pilasters with ornate, composite capitals, swagged garlands with festoons, a denticulated cornice, and balusters along the parapet, which is surmounted by four pairs of urns. This decor was all intact until the theater was demolished. Whoever the original architect was, he had probably attended the Ecole de Beaux-Arts, or had studied with someone who had.
William Speck’s book Toledo: A History in Architecture confirms that the Colony Theatre opened in 1941, but says that it closed in 1981. It also says that the theater suffered a fire in 1984, and was demolished the following year.
classictheaters: The Greenwich Theatre you’re thinking of is the one listed as the Art Greenwich Twin.