Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sierra Theater on Apr 24, 2009 at 7:31 am

The Sierra Theatre in Chowchilla opened in October, 1941, according to the February 14, 1942, issue of Boxoffice.

The September 25, 1967, issue said that the Sierra had reopened after repairs and updating, and at that time had 474 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sierra Cinema on Apr 24, 2009 at 7:18 am

The June 17, 1968, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published a small rendering of the Sierra Theatre, then under construction. The caption said the house would have 700 seats (the November 11 issue gives the seating capacity as 630), and be designed for easy conversion into a twin, and though it would open showing 35mm films it would also be pre-wired for conversion to 70mm movies with multi-track sound. I guess they were hedging their bets.

The November 4, 1968, issue of Boxoffice said that the opening of the Sierra was scheduled for November 6, with the Peter Ustinov film “Hot Millions” as the first feature.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hiland Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 6:45 am

That’s a corner building, so if that was the Hiland then the photo Ken linked to in the first comment above can’t be of this theater.

The May 17, 1952, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Brotman Bros. Corp. had closed the Hiland Theatre and would use some of the seats to replace older ones at the circuit’s Paradise Theatre, also in Moline. The building was to be converted to some other use.

I’m not familiar with Moline, so I can’t say if the theater mentioned in this Boxoffice item from April 5, 1941, pertains tot he Hiland Theatre or not: “There’s a new business block on the program for the East Highland district in Moline, Ill., and it’s reported to include plans for a 900-seat theatre.” Then, from a column in the July 19 issue of Boxoffice: “You can mention that new Moline theatre and the Brotman Brothers in the same breath and nobody will look startled.” I wish the Boxoffice columnists had been less coy.

In any case, the earliest mention of the Hiland by name that I can find in Boxoffice comes from the October 10, 1942, issue, which only says that the Hiland’s owner, Bill Brotman, had been a guest at a party thrown by the Quad Cities Theatres Association.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Aztec Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 5:42 am

Sorry. Used HTML instead of BBS code, so the block quote failed in that comment.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Aztec Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 5:39 am

Either the Aztec or the Juarez Theatre was probably the new house being built by L.J. Montague, owner of the Valley Theatre in Edinburg, as reported in the March 18, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times. The new theatre was intended to serve the Spanish-speaking population of the area, and was to have 350 seats.

The Aztec is mentioned frequently in various issues of Boxoffice in the 1940s, but without details. Then the house underwent a remodeling in 1966 and was reopened as an art house called the Century. The August 8, 1966, issue of Boxoffice reported on the change:<blockquote>“Manager Jim Longoria has changed the name of the Aztec Theatre to Century following a name-seeking contest won by Aron Pena of Edinburg. Pena won ten passes to the theatre, which officially opened under its new name Saturday, July 23 with ‘A patch of Blue.’

“Longoria also is manager of the Citrus and Juarez theatres in Edinburg.”</blockquote>The Aztec might have also briefly been called the Alameda Theatre. A review of the Mexican movie “El Gallo de Oro” by manager Mike Benitez of the Alameda Theatre, Edinburg, was published in the “Exhibitor Has His Say” section of Boxoffice on November 22, 1965. That’s the only mention of the Alameda in Boxoffice, but if it wasn’t the Aztec under another name then there was a fourth theater in Edinburg around that time. The Citrus and Juarez are accounted for at that time.

Edinburg had three theaters in operation in 1970, when an item about the Citrus Theatre appeared in the October 26 issue of Boxoffice. The item said that Jimmy Longoria, manager of the Citrus, “…also manages the town’s two other theatres.” The two others were not named in the item, but one was certainly the Juarez, and the other most likely the Aztec/Century.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Citrus Theater on Apr 24, 2009 at 5:05 am

I’ve come across a 1942 Boxoffice article mentioning the Valley Theatre in Edinburg, so that lets out a 1940 name change. However, as early as 1930, L.J. Montague is named as the owner of the Valley Theatre, and then in issues of Boxoffice from 1946 L.J. Montague is reported to have sold his three Edinburg theaters, the Citrus, Aztec, and Juarez. I’m pretty much convinced that the Valley did become the Citrus.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Juarez Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 4:46 am

Many issues of Boxoffice Magazine from the 1940s and 1950s mention a Juarez Theatre in Edinburg, but none mention a Juraz Theatre. I suppose it’s possible the name has been changed from Juarez to Juraz. Maybe somebody stole an “e” from the sign and they couldn’t afford to replace it, so they shifted the remaining letters about?

The March 18, 1930, issue of Motion Picture Times ran an item saying that L.J. Montague, owner of the Valley Theatre, was building a new 350-seat house that would show Mexican movies. This might have been either the Juarez or the Aztec. Both of those houses were in operation by 1942, and I’ve found no mentions of either of them by name earlier than that year. Montague also operated the Aztec, until 1946, when he sold all three of his Edinburg houses.

The July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice said that the Juarez Theatre was being remodeled, and that its seating capacity would be increased from 400 to 600. The July 23 issue the same year said that the expansion of the building had been completed and new seats were being installed.

The most recent mention of the Juarez I’ve found in Boxoffice is from 1966. As I said above, there are no mentions of a Juraz Theatre at all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Citrus Theater on Apr 24, 2009 at 3:40 am

An October 7, 1968, Boxoffice Magazine item about the remodeling of the Citrus Theatre shows that the house was in operation at least as early as 1940. The exact wording is “The ticket booth torn down in the current updating was built in 1940….” So it’s possible that the Citrus was built in 1940, or it might have been an older theater that was remodeled in 1940.

The earliest mention I’ve found of the Citrus Theatre is in a 1946 issue of Boxoffice. There are several mentions of a Valley Theatre in Edinburg in the 1930s, and this might have been the house mentioned in the magazine’s “From the Boxoffice Files; Twenty Years Ago” column in the July 3, 1948, issue, which said “Construction work on the $90,000 theatre and office building to be operated by Ed F. Brady in Edinburg, Tex., will be started July 1.” As I can’t find any post-1930s mentions of the Valley Theatre, it seems likely that it became the Citrus after a 1940 remodeling.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pixy Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 2:25 am

“Mickey Mouse is still in the closet” is phrase I never expected to read, even on the Internet.

Boxoffice Magazine carried conflicting information about the Pixy Theatre fire, and in the same article, at that. The headline in the July 29, 1944, issue read “Pixy Destroyed By Fire; Damage at $7,000,” but the first line of the article said “Fire completely ruined the Masonic Building, including the Pixy Theatre, on a recent early morning, causing damage estimated as high as $75,000.”

The item also said “The booth fell from its supports into the first floor area,” which sounds pretty dire. Photos show that the building obviously survived, though the theater was apparently gutted. The reopening of the Pixy was announced in the April 21, 1945, issue of Boxoffice, which didn’t give the exact date, saying only “last week.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cine El Rey Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:35 am

The December 3, 1938, issue of Boxoffice Magazine carried an article about the opening of the Azteca Theatre in McAllen. To be operated by Interstate Theatres, the new house had been converted from an existing building on which Interstate had taken a five year lease, and was intended to serve the Spanish-speaking population of the region. Guests at the opening included the Mexican vice-consul.

My guess would be that the Azteca Theatre was a precursor of the Cine El Rey. It is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures. No address was given in the Boxoffice article.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theatre on Apr 24, 2009 at 12:08 am

I’ve found mentions of the Broadway as early as the May 8, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. At that time, and for many years after, it was operated by Frank Ullman. The Broadway was later operated by Western Amusement Co., but the July 20, 1957,issue of Boxoffice said that Ullman was resuming ownership of the house.

I’m quite sure that the address the 1955 Film Daily gave for the Broadway, 431 Broadway, is the correct one. Google Street View shows a building with a box office still intact at that address. At the time the Street View photo was taken, the building was occupied by a church.

Here’s something to add to the address confusion. Southwest Builder & Contractor of August 7, 1936, said that Sterling Construction Company of El Segundo had received the contract to erect a movie theater for Frank Ullman, at 533 Broadway in El Centro.

One issue of Boxoffice mentions Ullman owning an Aztec Theatre in El Centro, but many more issues mention his Aztec Theatre in Calexico, so the reference to El Centro that one time might have been a mistake. In any case, Cinema Treasures has no other theaters listed on Broadway in El Centro. My guess would be that either Southwest Builder got the address wrong, or El Centro renumbered its blocks between 1936 and 1955, and the 1936 article pertains to the Broadway.

I don’t know what became of Frank Ullman. I’ve found no mentions of him in Boxoffice after 1957. The Broadway Theatre was apparently closed for a time in the mid-1960s, as the March 7, 1966, issue of Boxoffice mentions a Sidney Seymour who had reopened the Broadway in El Centro.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Varsity Theater on Apr 23, 2009 at 6:00 am

Boxoffice Magazine of September 24, 1949, included the Varsity in its list of recently opened theaters. The new house had 550 seats, and was being operated by Mike Chikiris.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garfield Theatre on Apr 23, 2009 at 5:25 am

Some friends dragged me to see the King Kong remake at the Garfield. I think it was the only time I ever saw the place packed. I’d have liked to see the original King Kong there.

I also remember the Tabu Isle, which was already looking pretty seedy in the 1950s. It must have been a favorite haunt of people who drank too much, as I can recall several occasions when, walking back to the car after a movie, we would find that some hapless bar patron had thrown up on the sidewalk.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pickwick Theatre on Apr 23, 2009 at 4:24 am

Rebuilding of the Pickwick must have taken longer than originally expected. Boxoffice said in its issue of February 15, 1947, that the new Pickwick had opened that week.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pickwick Theatre on Apr 23, 2009 at 4:11 am

The current Pickwick Theatre is the second on the site, the first having been destroyed by fire less than a decade after opening.

Boxoffice reported in its October 7, 1944, issue that the Pickwick Block in Syracuse, Indiana, had been sold by its owner, W.E. Long, to a Chicago theater syndicate. The item included these lines: “The Pickwick block was opened by Long in 1937, and houses one of the most modern and comfortable theatres in the state, air conditioned the year around. The building is 141x150 feet, full basement and two stories in height.”

I can’t find an initial report on the fire that destroyed the first Pickwick, but the July 27, 1946, issue of Boxoffice carried this item, datelined Syracuse, Ind. and headed “Rebuild Theatre in Syracuse”: “Work has started on the rebuilding of the theatre in the Pickwick block, which was destroyed by fire early in the spring. A cocktail lounge and bowling alley in the same block are also being erected. Work is expected to be completed by mid-October.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Apr 22, 2009 at 7:15 am

I’d say that’s definitely the original Princess Theatre. The cars are all open, and most have cloth tops, so they are probably from the 1910s rather than the 1920s. By 1923, most new cars had glazed side windows like this 1923 Essex. Also, there’s no doubt the buildings across the street are the same ones in both photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Apr 22, 2009 at 6:57 am

An encomium from the Liberty Theatre was published in an ad for the American Seating Company in the June 1, 1935, issue of Boxoffice. The writer praised the new seats the theater had recently installed, crediting them with an increase in patronage. Despite the modern front seen in the photos, I think the house must have been fairly old to have been getting new seats installed in 1935. The facade remodeling probably took place sometime later.

Boxoffice contains many references to the Liberty, operated for many years by P.A. Volkman. In 1939, Volkman built a second theater in Wapato, acting as his own designer. He named the new house the Dickon Theatre, combining the names of his two sons, Dick and Don. There’s a (rather belated) photo of it in the November 16, 1946, issue of Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garland Theatre on Apr 22, 2009 at 4:59 am

A couple of years after building the Garland Theatre, original operators Inland Theatres were making plans for a similar project encompassing a theater and shops at an unspecified location in Spokane, according to the May 31, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. As the new project was to be designed by Spokane architect G.A. Pehrson, it seems possible that the Garland had also been designed by him.

Gustav A. Pehrson, a native of Sweden, practiced architecture in the Spokane region from 1913 to 1968. One of the leading architects of inland Washington during the era, he was best known as the chief architect for the design of the Hanford Engineer Works Village at Richland, Washington, a project that, by 1950, had become a town of 22,000.

If it turns out that the Garland was designed by Pehrson, that would considerably increase the theater’s historic significance.

There’s also a chance that the Pasco Theatre was designed by Pehrson.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Apr 22, 2009 at 3:33 am

The most recent mention of the State I’ve found in Boxoffice comes from the April 12, 1965, issue. The house was then being operated by John Tabor, who would take over Greenville’s Wayne Theatre in 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wayne Cinemas on Apr 22, 2009 at 3:22 am

The building looks fairly old.

I’ve found references to the Wayne Theatre as early as the November 9, 1935, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. At that time, and for many years after, the Wayne was operated by A. Macci & Sons. Members of the Macci family are mentioned in connection with the theater as late as 1953.

The February 3, 1975, issue of Boxoffice says that John Tabor had acquired the Wayne Theatre and Speedway Drive-In at Greenville. The item does not say whether or not the Wayne had been twinned yet.

A couple of issues of Movie Age from 1929 mention a National Theatre in Greenville. That might have been an earlier name for the Wayne or the State.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Apr 22, 2009 at 2:09 am

The earliest reference I’ve found to the State Theatre comes from Boxoffice Magazine, July 27, 1937, but that item says that the manager, Jonas Thomas, who was being transfered to another Chakeres Theatres house, had been at the State for the past four years, so the place was in operation by 1933.

A couple of issues of Movie Age from 1929 mention a National Theatre in Greenville. That might have been an earlier name for the State or the Wayne.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theater on Apr 22, 2009 at 1:52 am

The May 4, 1929, issue of Movie Age said that the Capitol Theatre in Des Moines would close at the end of the week and would reopen about May 12 as the Paramount. The house would no longer employ a band or present stage shows.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Port Theater on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:19 am

The November 28, 1953, issue of Boxoffice said that the Port Theatre had opened on November 25. It was owned by Western Amusement Co..

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about De Anza Theatre on Apr 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm

The De Anza Theatre opened June 6, 1939, according to the June 10 issue of Boxoffice. The first feature was “Young Mr. Lincoln.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uptown Theater on Apr 21, 2009 at 6:02 am

There was indeed a Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson. The May 15, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said “Walter Baier has constructed a penthouse atop his Fort Theatre in Fort Atkinson.” Then the June 25, 1938, issue says that plans were being drawn for a complete remodeling of the Fort Theatre, including a new front and marquee. Boxoffice mentions the Fort frequently, with references to it as late as 1978, when it was being operated by a small regional chain called Genoa Theatres. A 1974 item about another remodeling said that it had 450 seats.

As for the Uptown, the December 4, 1937, issue of Boxoffice ran this item datelined Fort Atkinson: “The new Uptown Theatre was opened here last week, with Herb Barrett as manager.” The Uptown was probably the subject of a brief item in the June 5, 1937, Boxoffice, datelined Fort Atkinson, which said “I.J. Crait, of Horicon Wis., has started building a new theatre here, to be 110x31 feet.” In 1938 Walter Baier, of the Fort Theatre, took control of the Uptown. Walter Baier is mentioned as operator of both the Uptown and Fort in Boxoffice items into the 1950s.

The March 11, 1974, issue of Boxoffice ran an item datelined Fort Atkinson and headed “Theatre Building Conversion.” A Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Gartman had purchased the Uptown Theatre from its last operator, National Theatres, and were converting the building for retail use. The item added that National Theatres had also sold the Fort Theatre less than two years earlier.

Fort Atkinson was also the site of the Highway 18 Drive-In, opened by Walter Baier in 1953 and first managed by his son, Robert.