Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Hill Theatre on Jul 13, 2009 at 1:10 am

Boxoffice Magazine of January 25, 1941, said that Malco had announced a tentative opening date of March 1 for their new Park Hill Theatre. It was Malco’s third house in North Little Rock.

This web page has a photo of the nondescript strip mall which had replaced the historic theater by 2004.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Main Theater on Jul 13, 2009 at 1:08 am

The Rex Theatre operated in two different locations, making the move in 1946. The August 3, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said that Claude Mundo had closed his Rex Theatre at 213 Main Street before his new building at 106 Main Street was ready to be occupied. Mundo had expected the new theater to be completed by July 1, but materials shortages had caused construction delays.

The building at 213 main Street was owned by the Parkin Printing company, which was expanding its operations into the former theater space. The estimated new opening date for the Rex Theatre at 106 Main Street was about the middle of September.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Hill Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 8:39 am

Here’s a PDF of a report about the Park Hill Theatre, with history and photos. Published in 2004.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 8:28 am

Additionally, I find that the national Register of Historic Places uses two different spellings of the first architect’s surname: Brueggeman and Bruggeman. Boxoffice uses Bruegeman consistently, but then Boxoffice is not always the most reliable source for correct spelling.

Cinema Tour attributes a Park Theatre in North Little Rock to “Bruggeman, Swain & Allen” but that looks like two spelling strikes to me. For now I’m inclined to go with Brueggeman, as that’s the way it’s spelled in this PDF of an article published by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. This article also attributes the Park Hill Theater (as they call it) to the firm. It also gives the architects' names as Edward F. Brueggeman and Guy W. Swaim. So far I’ve been unable to discover Mr. Allen’s first name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 7:35 am

It looks like the Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen-designed theater in Princeton, Kentucky, I mentioned in my comment above didn’t get built. Issues of Boxoffice from late 1937 and early 1938 cite Malco’s plans for the house, but a late 1938 article says that the Crescent Amusement Company had acquired the Savoy Theatre in Princeton from Malco, which apparently pulled out of that market. Crescent demolished the Savoy in the spring of 1939 and built the Capitol Theatre in its place. I can find no indication that BS&A designed the Capitol.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Cinemas on Jul 12, 2009 at 7:26 am

An item in the August 26, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Capitol Theatre was being renovated. The item said that the Capitol had been built in 1939 at a cost of $50,000.

The November 11, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that the Crescent Amusement Company’s new Capitol Theatre at Princeton had enjoyed a successful opening, the house being sold out in 30 minutes.

The Capitol apparently replaced an earlier theater called the Savoy on the same site. The June 3, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that the Savoy Theatre had been closed on May 22 and would be demolished to make way for a new theater. Crescent had acquired the Savoy from Malco Theatres the year before.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Central Theater on Jul 12, 2009 at 6:49 am

The Central was one of four Hot Springs theaters being operated by the Malco circuit in 1938, according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine of March 12 that year. The others were the Paramount, Spa, and Roxy. W. Clyde Smith was resident manager for all four houses. Malco had entered the Hot Springs market in 1935.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Malco Theatre on Jul 12, 2009 at 6:19 am

Boxoffice Magazine of May 25, 1946, has information about the Malco Theatre, but it doesn’t match up with the current intro on this page. An architect’s rendering of the facade shows that it is the same building seen in the various photos linked from comments above, but the text says that the house opened on February 22, 1946, not in 1935.

The theater was originally called the Malco Music Hall, and was designed by the Little Rock firm of Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen. As originally configured, the theater ran through the block and had entrances on both Central Avenue and Broadway, each with its own boxoffice, lobby, and concession stand.

Confusion about the opening year might have arisen from the fact that Malco Theatres entered the Hot Springs market in 1935. However, there is also the fact that it took the company a long time to get this theater built. The earliest mention of the Malco Music Hall I’ve found in Boxoffice appeared in Al Henderson’s “Dixie Doin’s” column in the issue of December 9, 1939. Al said that Malco had begun construction on the new Music Hall, but that they did not expect the house to be completed until late 1940 or early 1941. The estimate proved overly optimistic.

At the end of 1941, Malco was still trying to get the house built, when the December 6 issue of Boxoffice paraphrased local Malco Theatres manager W. Clyde Smith as indicating that the Malco Music Hall would be built on the site of the former Princess Theatre, provided materials could be obtained. We all know what happened the following day: a delay that would live in infamy, as it were. Whatever the cause of the earlier delays, the onset of war kept the project on hold four more years. The 1946 opening given by Boxoffice is undoubtedly correct.

Incidentally, architects Bruegeman, Swaim & Allen designed at least two other theaters (a house at Princeton, Kentucky, for Malco in 1938 and the Ritz at Malvern, Arkansas, the same year) and the successor firm of Swaim & Allen at least one (a house for Malco at Camden, Arkansas, in 1948.) The firm has at least two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, but neither of those is a theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on Jul 11, 2009 at 1:03 am

The September 1, 1939, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Arthur Fukuda was building a new theater at Sanger. The February 10, 1940, issue said that Fukuda was to have opened his new theater in Sanger on the 9th. The first mention I’ve found of the house actually in operation and being called the Royal was in the March 16, 1940, issue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sanger Theater on Jul 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

The August 4, 1945, issue of Boxoffice said that August Panero had bought two theaters at Sanger. They were the Sanger, a first-run house seating 677, and the Star, seating 450.

Motion Picture Herald of August 22, 1936, had said that William Gustine had purchased the Kummeth Building in Sanger and would transform it into a theater. Boxoffice Magazine announced the opening of Gustine’s Star Theatre at Sanger on September 1, 1939, in its issue of the following day.

I don’t know if Gustine’s 1936 project was the Star, and it took him three years to get it open, or if the 1936 project was the Sanger Theatre. An item about the sale in the August 11, 1945, issue of Boxoffice indicates that Gustine owned both houses. The Star was closed at the time of the sale, but Panero intended to refurbish and reopen it.

This item also said that Gustine had been in the theater business for 17 years, but didn’t specify where. It’s possible that the Sanger was an older theater he had operated since the 1920s. I can’t find it mentioned by name in Boxoffice prior to 1940, though, and no mentions of the town of Sanger earlier than 1939.

Sanger had a theater at least as early as 1916, when the November 9 issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor said that M. Rogallo intended to demolish the Bell Theatre at Sanger and build a new theater on the same site. That could have been the house that became the Sanger Theatre. I’ve been unable to find any photos of any of the theaters in Sanger.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ecorse Theater on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:36 am

An article about the opening of the Harbor Theatre in Ecorse, published in the October 30, 1948, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, says that the co-owner of the new house, Andrew Bzovi, had built the Ecorse Theatre in 1920 and had been its operator ever since.

Complete booth equipment was advertised for sale by the Ecorse Theatre in the classified ad section of Boxoffice, September 1, 1951. An item in the November 13, 1954, issue of Boxoffice said in passing that the old Ecorse Theatre had been closed and remodeled for use as a tavern. The item did not specify when this had taken place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harbor Theater on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:17 am

The October 30, 1948, issue of Boxoffice magazine ran an article about the opening of the Harbor Theatre. The formal opening was held on October 8. The owners of the new house were Andrew Bzovi and Thomas Pascu. Bzovi had been the operator of the older Ecorse Theatre for 28 years. Architects of the Harbor were the Dearborn firm Bennett & Straight. A photo and the description of the theater indicate that the style was Art Moderne.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ecorse Drive-In on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:04 am

A rendering of the Ecorse Drive-In appeared in the February 17, 1951, issue of Boxoffice. The architect was Ted Rogvoy. The Ecorse was built for Charles Komer’s Community Theatres circuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tech Theater on Jul 10, 2009 at 7:00 am

I finally found the Varsity mentioned in Boxoffice in 1950. I lost track of an item that I had thought indicated a pre-1941 opening for the Varsity, but I now think I might have misread it anyway.

As the seating capacity listed for the Varsity is the same as the capacity Boxoffice gave for Caldwell’s project, it does seem most likely that Caldwell’s theater became the Varsity. For years it was operated by Dixie Theatres, which also operated the Dixie, while the Tech was independently operated by Charles Butterfield.

It looks like the Tech and the Varsity might have opened at about the same time. An article about Ed Edwards, a long-time theater manager in Ruston, was published in the January 24, 1966, issue of Boxoffice, and it said that the Tech Theatre had opened in March, 1941— but then it undermines its credibility by saying that the Ruston Drive-In opened later the same year. Multiple items in earlier issue of Boxoffice indicate that the drive-in was opened in 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lamar Theatre on Jul 10, 2009 at 6:18 am

The June 18, 1949, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the Lamar Theatre had held its formal opening on June 9 that year. The item also said that the marine-themed murals decorating the interior were the work of local artist Karl Wolfe.

Another item about the Lamar in the July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice inexplicably calls it the Lanmar Theatre throughout.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cooper Cinerama Theatre on Jul 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

The December 9, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that the Cooper Foundation’s Harber Theater in Oklahoma City, formerly the Warner Liberty, was undergoing a complete remodeling at an estimated cost of $225,000.

The July 7, 1951, Boxoffice article about the opening made it sound like the Harber occupied an entirely new building, saying it was “…built on the site of the old Liberty….” Vague phrasing in various issues of Boxoffice from early 1951 brings no clarification. A January 6 item said that the Harber was being built “…from the ground up….” Then a May 5 item about the project said that the Liberty had been “…torn down….” but later uses the word “remodeling” to describe the project.

The Cooper Foundation only had a lease on the property, the land still being owned by J.N. “Doc” Harber. Earlier Boxoffice items had said that Harber and his wife were the owners of the Liberty Theatre building, but apparently the remodeled (or new) building was owned by the Cooper Foundation. Perhaps the imprecise information about whether the building was entirely new or just extensively remodeled had something to do with the lease arrangement between Cooper and the Harbers.

In 1949, there had been a lawsuit over the lease of the Liberty Theatre, with Warner Theatres suing the Cooper Foundation, the Harbers, and a number of other parties. I’ve been unable to discover if the suit was decided against Warner or if they ultimately settled out of court.

The December, 1950, Boxoffice item named the architects of the Harber Theatre as Carl Boller and Dietz Lusk. However, Carl Boller had died in 1946, so the lead architect must have been Robert Boller. The firm was Boller & Lusk, in any case. The 1951 item said that the murals in the auditorium and lobby had been painted by Hans Teichert of Chicago. The July 21, 1951, issue of Boxoffice ran a small photo of the opening day crowds outside the theater, showing the very modern style of the new facade.

The name change to Cooper Theatre took place in 1959. The June 29 issue of Boxoffice said: “The new Cooper Theatre, formerly the Harber, was formally opened Wednesday Evening (17) by Cooper Foundation Theatres with a press showing of ‘Windjammer,’ the Cinemiracle special.”

I’ve been unable to find anything about the house being called the Cooper Cinerama Theatre. Boxoffice refers to it as simply the Cooper Theatre through most of the 1960s. In the photo on this web page, the name Cinerama is clearly above the name Cooper, so it seems likely that the house was never actually called the Cooper Cinerama Theatre, but only sported the standard Cinerama signage. An advertisement naming it Cooper Cinerama Theatre would be better evidence than that photo.

The Cooper Foundation had actually disposed of all its Oklahoma City Theaters by 1964, according to an item in Boxoffice on November 2 that year. The June 15 issue had said that the foundation had put the Midwest, Warner, and Sooner theaters up for sale after buying out the lease of Stanley Warner Theatres, who had been operating the houses for some time. The Cooper Theatre itself had been leased to Dr. and Mrs. L.A. Newcomb earlier that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on Jul 9, 2009 at 6:43 am

The Paramount apparently opened in 1930. An item in the May 12, 1958, issue of Boxoffice magazine contains the following line: “Dahmer joined Jefferson Amusement Co.-East Texas Theatres in 1930 as an usher at the opening of the Paramount Theatre in Marshall, Tex….”

A 1949 item in Boxoffice’s “From the Boxoffice Files (Twenty Years Ago)” feature said that West Texas Theatres had purchased a lot at Washington and Burleson in Marshall and would build a theater on the site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tech Theater on Jul 9, 2009 at 5:37 am

The earliest mention of the Tech Theatre I can find in Boxoffice is from the February 14, 1942, issue. The house was being operated by C.M. Butterfield.

In early 1941, there are a few issues of Boxoffice that mention a new theater being built in Ruston by John Caldwell. None of the items give the name of the new theater, and John Caldwell is not mentioned in connection with Ruston in any later issues of Boxoffice. Theaters operating in Ruston before Caldwell’s project were the Dixie and the Varsity, so his new house was neither of those. I can’t find any items about an opening of Caldwell’s theater, though, nor anything about it being sold to Charles Butterfield or anyone else.

Caldwell’s new theater was only supposed to have 450 seats according to Boxoffice, but it still seems the most likely candidate to have been the Tech. Another possibility is that the Varsity was renamed the Tech, as I can’t find any mentions of the Varsity being in operation from the period after the Tech opened. I can’t find anything about a fourth walk-in theater in Ruston, either, though there was a drive-in opened by Charles Butterfield in 1950.

The Tech Theatre in the photo is clearly in a building dating from well before 1941, so if it was indeed John Caldwell’s project of that year then he must have converted an existing structure.

Google Maps has no street view of Mississippi Avenue, but Microsoft’s mapping site (recently renamed Bing Maps) has a bird’s eye view, and I can’t see any building resembling the Tech along that street. My guess is that it occupied what is now a parking lot at the northeast corner of Mississippi and Monroe Street (there’s still some diagonal parking along Monroe, just as in the photo.) Maybe somebody familiar with Ruston can confirm that as the location. If it was, the Tech has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Keylor Grand Theatre on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:37 am

The web site Walla Walla History has a pair of then and now photos of the Keylor Grand (click on the 4th thumbnail in the left-side frame on that page.)

The business currently situated in the theater’s old stage house (and a small modern addition) is an outfit going by the unusual name of H&H Sports and Loan. They give their address as 203 W. Alder Street, so that was probably the address of the theater as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Queen Theater on Jul 8, 2009 at 5:56 am

Is the Queen Theatre at 2427 Jensen Drive listed at Cinema Treasures under another name?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rita Theater on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

Boxoffice of June 20, 1946: “Robb & Rowley opened its new Rita, San Angelo, June 14.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sequoia Theatre on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:58 am

Quite a few web sites list it as Spanky’s Night Club, but that’s the old Sequoia all right. In Google Street View you can take a look at the side of the building from Jefferson Avenue and easily make out that there was once an auditorium in it. I doubt if any of the original interior remains, though, as the place was converted to other uses so long ago, and has probably gone through multiple remodelings since. The current bland front looks like it probably dates from the 1960s.

The Century 20 Downtown isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures yet, and neither is the Century 12 on Bayshore Boulevard.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theater on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:30 am

None needed. My phrasing was probably a bit odd and confusing. I hope you won’t be leaving Cinema Treasures. You make a lot of useful contributions.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Riviera Theatre on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:44 am

Architects of the Riviera were Peterson & Shuflin, according to the item about the opening in the February 18, 1956, issue of Boxoffice. Loew’s head Joseph R. Vogel (no relation) attended the opening.

Original plans and drawings of a Coral Gables theater designed by Peterson & Shuflin are in the J. Evan Miller Collection of Cinerama Theatre Plans at UCLA. The unnamed house must be the Riviera. I can’t find references to any other theaters designed by Peterson & Shuflin.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vineland Drive-In on Jul 7, 2009 at 12:57 am

The Vineland was the 26th drive-in opened by Pacific. The April 16, 1955, issue of Boxoffice said that it had opened on the 15th.