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Various issues of Boxoffice through the year 1939 reported on the progress of Frank Barnes' new theater at Carmi. I haven’t found the opening date, but the sound system had been installed by November 11, 1939, so the house must have been completed later that year or very early in 1940. The architect for the project was Oliver W. Stiegemeyer.
Boxoffice of November 4, 1939, said that Albert Critchlow’s new theater at Roxana was being designed by St. Louis architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer.
A 1949 Boxoffice item about the post-tornado repairs to the house said that, prior to opening the Roxana, Mr. and Mrs. Critchlow had operated the Temple Theatre in Alton, Illinois.
It’s fitting that this theater should have been converted into the fire department. It was built to replace an earlier Roxy Theatre, which had burned on February 1, 1938. The original Roxy was a single floor house with 425 seats, according to the February 26, 1938, Boxoffice item about the project, and the rebuilt Roxy would seat approximately 800, including balcony seating. The architect of the rebuilt Roxy was Oliver W. Stiegemeyer.
The original Roxy bore the name before 1932. It was mentioned in The Exhibitor’s Forum, issue of October 13, 1931.
A photo of the Joy Theatre appeared in a photo feature called “Activities and Interests of Boys and Girls” in Popular Science, November, 1917.
Here’s the page at Google Books.
Many news items about the Temple Theatre, dating from 1899 to the 1920s, can be seen on this web page about theaters in Madison County. In addition, there is a 1955 photo of the Temple, the caption of which says that it had been built in 1890, and that the first talking picture seen in Alton had been shown there in 1913 (this might have been one of the movies made using the Gaumont Chronophone system, first used commercially in 1910.)
The Temple Theatre was partly owned by Alton’s Odd Fellows Lodge. It operated primarily as a live theater for most of its history, though the news items on the Madison County page indicate that movies were shown there during the theatrical off-season at least as early as 1908. The Temple began falling dark for long periods in the early 1920s. I’ve been unable to discover when it became a regular movie theater.
A boxoffice item of March 19, 1938, says that plans for the repairs on the Temple Theatre, recently damaged by fire, were being prepared by St. Louis architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer. Given the Victorian look of the theater in the 1955 photo, it’s obvious that Stiegmeyer’s plans did not include any major alterations to the facade. I don’t know if there were any extensive interior alterations as part of the project.
The March 11, 1939, issue of Boxoffice reported that the American Theatre in Mount Carmel had been badly damaged by fire. The item said that a print of the Republic film “Forged Passport” had been destroyed. Owner Theodore Coleman had been vacationing in Florida when the fire took place.
It looks like the theater was only two years old when the fire struck. Boxoffice’s survey of construction in the ST. Louis area published on October 16, 1937, lists the New American Theatre, 700 seats, Mt. Carmel, Ill., for Theodore Coleman. Boxoffice gives no details, so I don’t know if this was entirely new construction or an alteration of an existing theater.
It apparently took some time for repairs. Boxoffice of July 22, 1939 said that Brenkart projection equipment and an RCA sound system had been purchased for the American Theatre. Boxoffice of September 30, 1939 said that the New American Theatre had recently been outfitted by Ramsey Theatre Supply of St. Louis.
The rebuilt American had an impressive Art Deco facade. A photo of it was featured in a May 25, 1940, Boxoffice article on theater fronts. The photo is here (lower right corner.) The text pertaining to the American is on the following page. It says that the design for the rebuilding was done by St. Louis architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer.
A March 8, 1947, Boxoffice article about St. Louis’s film row said that Theodore Coleman had opened his first theater, the Joy in Mount Carmel, in 1916, when he was 14 years old.
Here is an article about the Langley Theatre with several photos, in the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice, May 3, 1952.
The article says that the auditorium had 972 Kroehler Push-Back chairs, and the nursery and private party room upstairs on either side of the projection booth each had 27 chairs, so total seating on opening would have been 1,026.
Architect John J. Zink’s design for the Langley was one of those interesting early 1950s hybrids, the style moving toward Midcentury Modern, but with considerable Art Moderne influence lingering.
Probably a 1915 opening (22 years before 1937.)
The February 1, 1941, issue of Boxoffice said that upon completion of the remodeling of their Alco Theatre in Graham, Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Thompson would close their Graham Theatre for a complete renovation. The same issue mentions the Graham among a number of theaters that were to be reseated. The September 13 issue of Boxoffice reported that the Graham would be reopened on the 15th.
Given the date of renovation and reseating, I think this theater might have been around before 1935, perhaps under a different name. I can’t find any Boxoffice items about theaters in Graham from before 1941, though.
Boxoffice of October 7, 1963, said that Stewart & Everett Theatres had taken over the Graham Theatre from Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Thompson, who had operated the house for 36 years.
The Victoria Theatre turns out to be a missing aka for the Colony Theatre. See my comment of this date on that page for additional information.
The Royal apparently never had an aka, and is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures. Here’s a page about it at the UNC web site. All the pertinent information is there.
This house opened January 12, 1914, as the Victoria Theatre. It was designed by architect Burett H. Stephens, who had designed Wilmington’s first purpose-built movie house, the Bijou, opened in 1912. After closing in 1924, the Victoria was remodeled and reopened as the Carolina Theatre the following year.
The latest mention I can find of the Carolina Theatre in Boxoffice dates from December 13, 1952, and the earliest mention of the Colony I’ve found is from November 9, 1954, so the name was changed between those dates.
There is a page about the Victoria in the “Going to the Show” section of the University of North Carolina’s DocSouth project. It links to their page about the Carolina, but I don’t see anything there about the house as the Colony.
Boxoffice of November 25, 1974, recaps the history of the Victoria/Carolina/Colony in one of two articles about the closing of the house (left column, right-hand page), which took place on October 31 that year. Note that both the Boxoffice article and the UNC’s Carolina Theatre page misspell the architect’s name as Stevens rather than the correct Stephens. Additionally, Boxoffice gives the year of the name change from Victoria to Carolina as 1930, not 1925 as stated at the UNC page.
The Bijou’s 1912 building was designed by architect Burett H. Stephens, who also designed the Victoria Theatre and the Royal Theatre in Wilmington. The Royal must be the one mentioned in comments by andrewb and debid above above. The Victoria might be the Victory mentioned in andrewb’s comment. Apparently neither of these theaters is listed at Cinema Treasures yet.
An impressively detailed history of the Bijou is available as part of the “Going to the Show” section of the University of North Carolina’s DocSouth project. There are several photos, including the two that were probably displayed at the now-dead links Lost Memory posted in 2006.
Among the abundant information on the UNC page, it says that the original Bijou, located at 205 N. Front Street, operated from December 22, 1906, until February 11, 1912, on which date its roof collapsed during a freak snow storm. This was while the new Bijou was still under construction.
The new Bijou opened on May 30, 1912. It had seats for 600 white patrons on its main floor, and had 200 seats for black patrons in its balcony. The balcony was raised and expanded in 1922, but the new seating capacity is not mentioned. The Bijou closed in 1956 and was demolished in 1963.
Architect Burett H. Stephens died the same year the Bijou closed. He had relocated to New Bern, North Carolina, by 1945, where he reestablished his practice. A successor firm, Stephens Architecture, P.A., is still in operation there. Unfortunately their web site doesn’t present any information about the founder or his works.
The Capri Cinema and Capri-70 Cinerama is how a Boxoffice article of March 26, 1973, styled this twin. The article was about the opening of the new Capri Terrace by the Simpson Operating Company, the same chain that operated the earlier Capri cinemas.
The recent opening of the single-screen Fox Eastgate was noted in Boxoffice of August 1, 1966. Neither this nor two earlier items about the house had any photos, but shots of the auditorium and the projection booth appeared this page of the April 22, 1968, issue of Boxoffice. The Fox Eastgate was designed by the local architectural firm Fischer-Koscher-Bowden.
The L.A. County Assessor says the building on the southwest corner of West Blvd. and 64th Street (that would be the church) was built in 1994. The building facing West Blvd. north of 64th Street dates from 1941. The Seville Theatre has undoubtedly been demolished.
Boxoffice of April 12, 1965, reported that the Niguel Theatre, to be operated by South Coast Theatres, would have 478 seats. The project was designed by San Clemente architect Ricardo A. Nicol.
Jimmy, this page is about the Academy Theatre on Melrose Avenue, which I think was probably closed by 1947. If you lived around 91st and Avalon, you most likely saw The Wizard of Oz at the Academy Theatre on Manchester Boulevard. Here is its Cinema Treasures page.
As the opening ad for the Telenews posted above by Mike Rivest gives an address of 1515 Elm for that theater, and the Capitol has an address of 1521, and given that the Mirror’s entrance was between these two theaters, its correct address must have been either 1517 or 1519 Elm.
The last mention of the Mirror I’ve been able to find in Boxoffice is from the issue of August 26, 1939. At that time it was being operated by Robb & Rowley.
The July 18, 1942, Boxoffice article about the Telenews that I mentioned in an earlier comment is right here. It has several photos, a small floor plan and cross section scheme of the building, plus a bonus picture of architect Jack Corgan. The floor plan shows that the Telenews was on one lot.
The only way I can think of that the Mirror and the Telenews could have occupied even part of the same footprint is if the Mirror was an L-shaped theater, or if its auditorium was behind the building next door to its entrance, and the lobby made an odd jog to reach it. I can’t think of any reason why the latter would be the case, unless the Capitol Theatre’s auditorium occupied part of the lot behind the Mirror’s entrance. Unfortunately Historic Aerials has no views of this location earlier than 1958, long after the Mirror was gone, so I can’t check to see if the Mirror was L-shaped. The Capitol doesn’t look like it spreads onto the back of the Mirror’s lot, though, but then its auditorium might have already been demolished by 1958.
In any case, even if the Mirror was L-shaped, the Telenews would have occupied only part of the Mirror’s site, and must have been new construction rather than a rebuild of the Mirror. To me it continues to seem most likely that the Mirror and the Telenews were entirely different theaters.
The name of the Telenews was changed to Dallas Theatre in 1950, by the way, so if I’m right neither of those aka’s listed above belonged to the Mirror.
The opening day for the Plainview was Monday, December 23, 1957, according to a brief item in Boxoffice of January 6, 1958.
Here’s the Picwood as cover girl, Boxoffice, May 7, 1949.
I think there might be an error in the architect field. Boxoffice of February 2, 1946, attributes the design of the Telenews Theatre, then about to begin construction, to Milwaukee architect Richard Philipp (though the item misspells his name as Richard Philip.) Richard Philipp (1874-1959) was a well-known Milwaukee architect who, from 1906 until about 1938, practiced in partnership with the even better-known architect Peter Brust.
I’ve been unable to find any other source confirming the attribution in Boxoffice, but a thorough Internet search fails to turn up an architect named Ralph Phillips at all. There might have been a transcription error of some sort in Jim Rankin’s notes, turning Richard Philipp into Ralph Phillips.
The Majestic underwent a $60,000 remodeling project in 1959-1960. Boxoffice of January 4, 1960, reported that the house had recently reopened following completion of the first phase of the project, a complete re-seating and renovation of the auditorium, and the modernization of the inner lobby. The modernization of the outer lobby, boxoffice, and front was to follow.
The completion of an earlier remodeling, costing $40,000, was reported in Boxoffice of January 8, 1938.
This article about the Miracle Theatre in Boxoffice of October 30, 1967, attributes the design of the theater to an architect named Harrison Benning, and says that the building was erected by the Benning Construction Company of Atlanta.
An item in Boxoffice of June 29, 1964, about H.B. Meiselman’s new Toco Hills Theatre doesn’t mention Harrison Benning, but says “Benning Construction Co. of Atlanta is the architect and builder.”
A July 14, 1969, Boxoffice item about Eastern Federal Theatres (of which H.B. Meiselman was President— apparently he just changed the name of his operating company) said that the company’s new Ben Hill Twin Theatres had been designed by architect Frank Benning, brother of the head of the Benning Construction Company. This item added that the company “…has built all of the circuit’s theatres except the Cherokee and the Coronet.”
The Benning Construction Company is still in operation, now located in Smyrna, and their web site features a photo album displaying several theater projects they’ve built, most of them apparently quite recent. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give any details about any of them, and as far as I can tell none of the old Meiselman projects are displayed.
I think it’s likely that the Bennings of the construction company are descendants of Augustus Harrison Benning, the late 19th century Atlanta entrepreneur who was the person chiefly responsible for erecting the building that is considered the city’s first skyscraper (though it was a mere eleven stories tall.)
The recent opening of the Villa Theatre was reported in Boxoffice of August 20, 1955. Though plans for a larger theater at Malta had been announced in Boxoffice as early as 1946, the long-delayed project as built was scaled down. The owners/operators, Carl and Irene Veseth, had operated Malta’s Palace Theatre since 1922, and that house was closed when the Villa opened.
This article about the Villa Theatre was published in Boxoffice of March 3, 1958, when the theater had been in operation for more than two years. There is a floor plan of the building, as well as photos of the exterior, the rather plain auditorium, and the very stylish little lobby. The article says that the seats in the Villa, 450 in the orchestra and 50 loges, were all spaced on 40-inch centers, which was quite generous for 1955. I guess Montana had a lot of tall cowboys who liked to stretch out.
Carl Veseth had bought the land for the theater in 1928, but ground was not broken for the project until September, 1954. A 1946 Boxoffice item had said that Veseth had hired Salt Lake City architect Paul Evans to design an 800-seat theater for Malta, but the Villa as finally built was a 500-seat house designed by the Portland firm of Lathrop, Gillam & Percy, who had in 1950 done the preliminary design for another version of the Villa which was never built. It would have had over 1,500 seats, accommodating about 75% of the town’s population.
Two years after the Villa opened, the Veseths opened the Valli Drive-In at Malta, a 280-car operation. At this time they also still operated a theater at Harlem, Montana. They had once operated the Liberty Theatre at Chester, Montana, as well.
Carl Veseth died in 1975, and in 1977 the June 13 issue of Boxoffice reported that Irene Veseth had sold the Villa Theatre and the Valli Drive-In to her brother, who sported the delightful name R. C. Pancake. There was a Leslie Pancake who operated the Shasta Theatre at Central Valley, California, in the 1940s, and a Stanley Pancake who once operated a theater in Harlem, Montana in 1939. They all just had to have been related.
The Liberty Theatre was built in 1919 by Clarence J. Severson. Severson’s obituary in Boxoffice of March 10, 1958, said that he had come to Wolf Point in 1917, at which time he took over the Glacier Theatre there. In 1939 he built the Point Theatre, and in 1952 he opened the Sundown Drive-In, both also in Wolf Point.