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Carmike Theatres took over the Video Independent circuit in 1983, according to the Gale Directory of Company Histories. The Altus Times article I cited says that the Spears Trust and Griffith Realty each retained a half interest in the Plaza Theatre building until 1991. Carmike must have operated the house under a lease.
A photo of the entrance lobby of the Tivoli made the cover of Boxoffice, October 2, 1954.
Poblocki & Sons bought the run-down Plaza Theatre in 1953 and renovated it the following year to demonstrate Ben and Barney Poblocki’s contention that declining theater attendance was often the result of operators' failure to update their houses. As the Plaza is still open, perhaps there was something to their belief in the power of modernization.
This article in Boxoffice of October 2, 1954, has before and after photos of the Plaza’s front. The entire project, including design, was carried out in house by Poblocki & Sons.
I’m glad the Poblocki’s only modernized the lower part of the facade, and kept that delightful Gothic detail on the upper story.
Skirball Brothers Theatres had the interior of the Pantheon completely rebuilt in 1961. There are three photos of the completed project on this page of the October 2 issue of Boxoffice. The seating capacity was reduced to 808.
I think there might be information missing from the Glazer collection and this theater’s Philadelphia Buildings page regarding the original name of the house. The Moving Picture World of July 12, 1913, in an article about Philadelphia theater operator Marcus A. Benn says there was a Benn Theatre then operating at Woodland and 64th:[quote]“Marcus A. Benn, of Philadelphia, went into his first theatrical venture in 1908, after having been a manager of a sewing machine company for over fourteen years. Since that time he has built and promoted more than twelve theaters, all of which are now being operated successfully. He is the sole owner of the Benn Theater, at Sixty-fourth Street and Woodland Avenue, and is a stockholder in, and secretary-treasurer of, the A. B. C. Theater.
“At Eighty-fourth Street and Eastwich Avenue, Mr. Benn has a picture theater under way, and there is no doubt but that he will create quite a stir among motion picture men in Philadelphia when he announces the exact spot on Market Street, east of Broad, for the location of another enterprise.
“Mr. Benn has an eye for beauty as well as for architectural construction. This fact is particularly noticeable in his A. B. C. and the Benn Theaters. Between August 29 and September 18, 1913, a delegation of experts from all parts of the world will hold a convention at the A. B. C. Theater to discuss matters pertaining to the advancement of the motion picture industry.”[/quote]A biography of W. C. Fields says that his family home at 6320 (or 6328) Woodland was torn down in 1922 to make way for the Benn Theatre, so the Benn Theatre mentioned in the article was not demolished to make way for the Benn Theatre that still stands down the block. It seems most likely to me that the Benn Theatre of 1913 was the house that later became the Benson. Possibly it was renamed the Bell Theatre when the new Benn opened in 1923. The name Bell certainly would have easily fit on signage that formerly read Benn.
The Chronology page for the Bell Theatre at Philadelphia Buildings gives the construction date of 1912-1914 for the building, and names the architects as Anderson & Haupt (Julius J. Anderson, architect, and Max Haupt, engineer.) If the firm planned alterations the building after the theater opened, this house could have been in operation as early as 1912, rather than 1914. If it was indeed the original Benn Theatre, it was certainly in operation by July, 1913.
Here’s an item about the Crescent from The Moving Picture World, July 12, 1913:
“Wilson L. Augustine has opened a moving picture theater in the residential section of East Decatur, Ill. The building represents an investment of $6,000, and has a seating capacity of 500. Brick and concrete material were used in the construction, making the house fireproof. The name of the theater is the ‘Crescent.’”
The Plaza Theatre has been converted into a church by the Altus Christian Fellowship. Their web site says that the building is used primarily as their worship center, but is still equipped as a functional theater and is available for a variety of events. An exhibit of theater memorabilia is on display in the lobby.
The Plaza Theatre was in operation as recently as 2005, when the June issue of Boxoffice cited a letter from operator Richard Day. The Plaza was then charging a top admission price of two dollars, which was also the top price at the concession stand, but the business was still struggling.
I haven’t found the Plaza mentioned in any later issues of Boxoffice, so I don’t know exactly how long it remained open after that, but an Altus Times article, apparently from 2007 (the paper doesn’t give dates for its archived articles, but only a generic “…years ago” heading) says that Janice and Richard Day had sold the building to the church group in August that year. The article notes that the Days had bought the Plaza in 2002 and had reopened it on May 7, 2004, after it had been dark for twelve years.
An earlier Times article, apparently from early 2004, gave some of the theater’s history. The house was built in 1928, and opened as the New Empire Theatre. Beginning in 1931, it was operated under a lease by W.T. Spears' Consolidated Theatres. By 1936, Spears was operating the house in partnership with Griffith Theatres (succeeded by Video Independent Theatres in 1949.) In 1948, Spears and the Griffith Realty Company purchased the theater building, and he and Video Independent operated the house in partnership until Spears died in 1968.
Video Independent retained its half interest in the building until selling it in 1991. The house was operated by Jimmie C. Wiley during parts of 1991 and 1992. It apparently closed that year, and in 1993 the property was deeded to the local redevelopment agency, which owned the building until the Days bought it in 2002.
I would imagine that the Moderne remodeling of the theater was done in 1948 or shortly after that, after the building had been purchased from its original owner by Spears and Griffith. I have no clue when the name was changed from New Empire to Plaza. The earliest mention of the Plaza I’ve found in Boxoffice is from 1954, but I haven’t found either an Empire or a New Empire Theatre in Altus mentioned at all.
Boxoffice of March 20, 1954, reported that the Delta Theatre in Altus had been leveled by fire on the morning of Sunday, March 14. An adjacent drug store, where the fire had started, was also destroyed. Operator Video Independent Theatres reopened its State Theatre to show the first run films which had been programmed at the Delta. Video also operated the Plaza Theatre, the town’s “A” house.
The Boxoffice item said that plans to rebuild the Delta were tentative. I haven’t found any evidence that the house was ever rebuilt, though. As far as I can find, the Delta Theatre was never mentioned in Boxoffice again.
The State Theatre was closed for a time in the early 1950s. As reported in Boxoffice of March 20, 1954, the State was reopened as a first run house by Video Independent Theatres following the destruction by fire of the circuit’s Delta Theatre on March 14.
I haven’t found the State mentioned in any later Boxoffice items, so I don’t know how long its reprieve lasted. I’ve found no evidence that the Delta was ever rebuilt, either.
The Ritz Theatre of Altus was mentioned in Boxoffice as late as September 4, 1961, when the house was being operated by Bill and Viola Cleverdon. The Cleverdons were also operating a Ritz Theatre at Eldorado, Oklahoma.
The Related Website link still needs to be updated.
This multiplex opened as the Heritage Park 4 Cinemas in spring, 1990, according to an item in the December, 1990, issue of Boxoffice. Then, Boxoffice of September, 1997, said that Heritage Park Theatres planned to add three new screens to their five screen theater in Altus. As the theater now has seven screens, I suspect that the 1997 article got the number of screens the theater already had wrong.
The Colfax Theatre is no longer operating as a movie theater. This article in the Roseville Press Tribune, dated November 20, 2008, says that the Colfax had been closed, but would soon reopen as a venue for community events. I’ve been unable to find any events at the Colfax listed anywhere on the Internet.
The theater’s its My Space page is still up, with a few nice photos of the auditorium in its slide show, but the blog section hasn’t been updated since June 23, 2008. The main page apparently hasn’t been updated either, as it still gives admission prices.
The opening paragraph of the current Cinema Treasures description of the theater contains an error (and as the house is no longer an operating movie theater, pretty much the whole description is obsolete.) The Colfax Theatre opened in 1939, acording to both the My Space page and a 1990 article in Boxoffice (the 2008 Roseville newspaper article I linked to says 1940.) The earlier Colfax Theatre it replaced had been located on Depot Street, and had been destroyed by fire. Local businessman Oswald Marson built the entirely new Colfax Theatre on a lot he owned on Main Street. As far as I can discover, the Colfax Theatre has never had any other name. Since the 1980s renovation, it has had 250 seats.
The October, 1990, Boxoffice article tells about the renovation of the house by Wendell Jacob, and has a couple of small photos. Boxoffice says the style is Art Deco, but the numerous photos available show a much simpler style, so I’d say it would be better described as Streamline Modern. Most of the fixtures in the theater are vintage pieces that have been restored.
I’ve been unable to discover the original architect of the Colfax, but Boxoffice says that the 1988-89 renovation, which involved almost completely stripping the interior of the building, was designed by Sacramento architect Jay Hyde. Hyde’s LinkedIn profile reveals that from 1982 until 1994 he was Director of Design at SH2A Architects (now Rhetta Associates,) the Sacramento firm that also renovated the Crest Theatre in that city (1997) and the Varsity Theatre in Davis (1993.)
The Colfax Theatre is apparently still owned by Wendell Jacob’s granddaughter, Emma Mae Jacob, who has dropped her middle name and, having relocated to Nashville, has embarked on a career as a country music singer.
Here’s a fresh link to the November 15, 1952, Boxoffice article about the DeSoto mentioned in my previous comment.
A small photo of the Moorlyn’s facade and a slightly larger photo of one wall if the lobby can be seen at the lower left on this page of the March 7, 1936, issue of Boxoffice. The marquee in the 1936 photo was still there in the 1981 photo linked above, but it is gone in the more recent photo.
Here is a fresh link to the photos of the Square Theatre in Boxofffice, March 7, 1936.
If kidinkcmo is correct, this theater should not have the aka Algona Theatre. It should be listed as the State 5, with the aka State 3. As far as I’ve been able to discover, the only Algona Theatre in Algona was the one opened in 1951 at 216 E. State Street, on the site of the Call Theatre, which had opened as the State Theatre in 1936 and burned down in 1950.
A small and rather blurry photo of the Rye Playhouse can be seen on this page of Boxoffice, March 7, 1936.
Before and after photos of the Plaza’s facade on this page of Boxoffice, February 8, 1936, show the extent of the remodeling that had recently been carried out. The after photo shows the Art Deco marquee which was later replaced, as well as decorative detail that was later lost.
Here is a fresh link to the photos of the Virginia Theatre in Boxoffice of February 8, 1936.
I came across this pdf file of a paper with some history of the Zaring family, which includes a section on Amzi C. Zaring, owner of the Egyptian. It begins on page 34, and says that he entered the movie exhibition business when he bought the North Star Theatre in 1910. The North Star was located at 25th and Central, so it was right down the street from Zaring’s Egyptian.
Amzi Zaring operated the Egyptian Theater until 1956, when he sold it to David and Kelly Levitt. By 1966, the house had become the only burlesque theater in Indiana.
The paper mentions several other theaters that Amzi Zaring operated over the years. They include the Delight, at 24th Street and College Avenue; the Garrick, at 30th Street and Illinois Avenue; the Columbia, on Senate Avenue; the Imperial, on McCarty Street east of West Street; and the Belmont, on Belmont Avenue and West Washington Street. Zaring also operated the Sipe Theatre at Kokomo, Indiana, for a time. The paper gives no dates for these operations, but I get the impression they were all open in the years before Zaring built the Egyptian.
If the North Star is listed at Cinema Treasures under some later name, it’s missing the aka. Maybe somebody familiar with Indianapolis theaters will know if it’s listed yet. It’s also possible that Zaring closed the North Star when he built the Egyptian. The paper doesn’t say.
The North Star was remodeled in 1946. This Boxoffice article from April 27, 1946, reports on the remodeling of the old theater, then operated by W.H. Creal. The article includes a couple of photos. Plans for the remodeling were by architect H.A. Raapke, who also designed the New Moon Theatre at Neligh, Nebraska.
The building must have dated from the late 1910s or from 1920, the year the organ was installed in the Ames Theatre according to Lost Memory’s comment above. The upper portion of the facade of the narrow entrance of the L-shaped house looked much like the buildings in the neighborhood that survive today, most of which are built of a dark, reddish-brown brick.
I’ve been looking at the bird’s eye view of the block at Bing Maps, and I think it’s likely that the theater building still exists, but has been extensively remodeled. From the photo in Boxoffice it looks like the theater entrance was next to the alley running between 24th and 25th streets. The building now on this lot has a bricked-up area at that spot which has the same proportions of the theater’s entrance in the Boxoffice article’s photo. The way the roof line is finished also looks as though a parapet has been removed.
In Google’s street view, the brick wall along the alley looks considerably older than the walls on the street sides. Perhaps the street walls of the theater building were refaced when the theater was converted to some other use, and that’s why the building looks newer than its neighbors.
It’s also almost certain that the auditorium of the theater was actually in a building that is behind the structure that held the entrance. Boxoffice says that “…the lobby was long; but boxlike and unattractive.” It goes on to describe a standee foyer beyond the lobby. As the street front building is probably no more than seventy feet deep, and an 18-foot deep vestibule had to be accounted for, the lobby must have extended all the way through the remained of that structure, and the auditorium must have been in the taller building behind it. So even if the building that housed the entrance has been demolished and replaced (and I don’t think it has,) the former auditorium is apparently still standing.
In the architect field above, the surname Raapke is currently missing the “e” at the end.
A recent photo by David Hunnicutt depicting the New Moon’s tower and the upper edge of its facade can be seen this web page.
The December 2, 1944, Boxoffice article with photos of the New Moon as it originally looked is now available from the magazine’s online archive. The article begins on this page. More photos are on the subsequent page, and additional text is on this page.
Here is a fresh link to the Viragon ad with the pictures of the Apollo in Boxoffice, August 17, 1946.
If the tale told in the introduction that John Hamrick named this theater for the play “The Blue Mouse” is true, then a group of ministers and college professors in Ithaca, New York, would have been quite displeased. Here’s a brief story from The New York Times, February 14, 1909:[quote]“WOULD BAR ‘THE BLUE MOUSE.’
"Cornell Professors Say Play Will Have a Bad Influence on Students.
“ITHACA, N.Y., Feb. 14. — An effort will be made by several Cornell professors, backed by the local Ministers' Association, to prevent the performance of Clyde Fitch’s ‘The Blue Mouse,’ which is scheduled to be produced in this city tomorrow and Tuesday. E.H. Woodruff of the Cornell College of Law has interviewed the ministers and has obtained their co-operation. He charges that the play is immoral and that it will have a bad influence on the students and others who will attend.
“Mayor Horton says that, without formal complaint, he can do nothing, so that one performance is sure to be given.”[/quote]It was perhaps as much the reputation of Clyde Fitch, the playwright, as the play itself which had roused the ire of Ithaca’s self-appointed guardians of public morals. For those who may be interested, there is a biographical sketch of the scandalous Mr. Fitch, America’s first internationally famous playwright, about halfway down this web page.
The name is supposed to be spelled Traill Theatre. Hillsboro is the county seat of Traill County. The photo shows the second neon “l” on the vertical sign. The same photo accompanies this post by Hillsboro blogger Terry Dullum.
There is some hope for the Traill Theatre. In 2007, local residents Michael and Amy Bishop formed a non-profit organization to save the Traill. The Hillsboro Banner ran four articles about the project, on September 21, October 5, October 19, and December 20, 2007:
Initial effort made to save Hillsboroâ€™s Traill Theater.
New preservation effort tries to save old Traill Theater.
City, county agree to lend a hand in saving theater.
Landmark given second chance to shine.
I’ve been unable to find anything more recent about the project in the newspaper, but efforts to raise money are apparently ongoing. A record of the November 8, 2010, meeting of the local school board includes this item: “It was noted that Michael Bishop is requesting permission to use our facilities for a play company in order to raise money for the Traill Theatre, which is a non-profit organization.”
The Banner articles reveal that, as of 2007, the house had been closed for forty years, and that there were no longer any seats in the auditorium. A 1967 closing date would jibe with an item in one of the Banner’s “Over the Years” features, which cited the following news from December 14, 1966: “John and Mavis Nelson planned to re-open the Traill Theatre in Hillsboro on Christmas Day, under a lease agreement with owner Orville Overmoe.”
As of 2007, both the roof and the floor (the building has a basement) needed to be replaced. The lobby still had decor from a 1950s remodeling, which was also when the leather-padded doors were installed, and Bishop intended to keep the lobby in that style.
The Banner also says that the building was erected in 1916. The vertical sign and small marquee, however, are obviously later alterations, and probably date from the late 1930s or early 1940s.
The Banner doesn’t say if the building was built as a theater or was originally a commercial building that was later converted into a theater, but it seems quite likely that it has always been a theater. A 1921 issue of the religious journal The American Missionary mentions evening church services being held at a movie theater in Hillsboro, North Dakota. The theater’s name is not given, but it could very easily have been this house.
The Traill building’s facade shows the influence of the Prairie Style of architecture, which was developed largely in Chicago around the turn of the century, with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright among its chief developers. I’d bet those two little wall sconces are original. The tapestry brick looks to be in pretty good shape, even after nearly a century of North Dakota winters. I doubt that we’ll find that the Traill was designed by one of the well-known architects of the period, though. Quite possibly there was no architect at all. Small town builders and masons of that time were quite capable of coming up with good designs in the popular styles, with details modeled on buildings they had seen in trade and professional publications.
I’ve been unable to find any mention of the Traill Theatre in Boxoffice’s archive, or any of the old publications available from Google Books. Information about this house from non-local sources will probably prove to be scarce.