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The Utica Observer of November 23, 1915, ran an ad for the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company which claimed that the organ installed in the Avon Theatre was “…an exact duplicate of the one which received Gold Medal of Honor at the Panama-Pacific Exposition.”
There are several articles about the Avon in issues of the Observer right around the time the house opened, and they can be found in the database of New York (mostly upstate) newspapers at the rather misleadingly named web site Old Fulton NY Post Cards. I read several in vain hope that the name of the architect would be mentioned. If it was, it must have been in one of the blurry sections that inevitably plague scans of old newspapers.
The earliest mention of the Palma Ceia Theatre I’ve found in Boxoffice is from April 3, 1943, an item mentioning the failure of its operators to renew a 90-day lease they’d taken. The place was apparently fairly new then. As late as 1947 one Boxoffice item referred to it as one of Tampa’s newest neighborhood houses. I’d surmise that it was an early 1940s house, completed or at least underway before the war began and building restrictions were imposed.
By the late 1940s the Palma Ceia was being operated by Claughton Theatres. A 1953 Boxoffice item said that the Palma Ceia had launched a program of foreign movies two nights a week. The house was still being run by Claughton Theatres when Boxoffice of February 15, 1955, reported that CinemaScope was being installed. The last mention of the Palma Ceia I’ve found in Boxoffice is in an April 28, 1956, item about a lawsuit filed by State Theatres, which was seeking a leasehold interest in this house and two other Tampa theaters.
I found an un-updated web site with the old address of Mason’s lodge 317, and it was at 2309 S. MacDill. The building, at the northwest corner of San Carlos, has been thoroughly remodeled and no traces of its theatrical past is identifiable in Google Street View.
From a tiny fragment of the former facade wall seen in one of two photos at the Catalano Engineering website (the company that handled the conversion to office space) it looks like the entire top was taken off of the building and a new second floor added. The line in the accompanying text about how the building “…needed to be preserved….” might have been meant ironically. Do they still have irony in Florida?
This prototype of the UltraVision theaters (that is the way it was spelled in an ad for the projection system’s developers, Wil-Kin Inc., in the September 29, 1969, issue of Boxoffice) opened in September, 1969. A small photo appeared in Boxoffice’s issue of September 15.
Various issues of the magazine say that the house was designed by Wil-Kin, a division of the Paramount-ABC affiliate Wilby-Kincey chain of theaters. In fact, the company did hire an architect who worked very closely with the developers of the innovative projection system to make sure the UltraVision Theatre would have the optimum form to show the system to full advantage.
Two Boxoffice items give the name of the architect, but with different spellings, both of which turn out to be wrong. The November 2, 1970, issue, in an item about the opening of two more UltraVision houses, says that the Charleston theater, on which their designs were based, was designed by Bill McGhee, but a September 8, 1969 item gave his name as William McGee.
Correcting the errors in Boxoffice, the AIA’s Historical Directory of American Architects lists a William Bringhurst McGehee as a member of the Asheville, N.C., firm Six Associates. A 1972 Boxoffice item notes a William B. McGee of Six Associates as having done preliminary work on the twinning of the Carolina Theatre at Hendersonville, North Carolina.
I think we can safely identify the lead architect of the UltraVision Theatre as William B. McGehee, of the firm Six Associates. His listing in the 1970 AIA Directory also lists the Phipps Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, another Wilby-Kincey house with UltraVision equipment, among his works.
The architect(s) who adapted McGehee’s original design for the later UltraVision theaters might also have worked at Six Associates, but I haven’t yet been able to confirm that.
On the subject of the UltraVision projection system itself, projectionists in particular will probably be interested in this October, 1991, Boxoffice article commemorating the 25th anniversary of this innovative development. The article mentions that UltraVision equipment was eventually installed in 60 theaters.
Long-time Paramount-ABC regional affiliate Wilby-Kincey Theatres' announcement of plans to build the Phipps Plaza Theatre appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of February 3, 1969. The new house was to be equipped with the UltraVison 70 projection equipment developed by Wilby-Kincey subsidiary Wil-Kin Theatre Supply Company, and the auditorium would feature a continental seating arrangement with rows 45 inches front to back. I haven’t found the exact opening date, but the July 14, 1969, issue of Boxoffice said construction was underway and the house was expected to open that fall.
The Phipps Plaza Theatre was designed by Asheville, N.C. architectural firm Six Associates. Though Boxoffice didn’t mention his name, the lead architect on the project was William B. McGehee, who filled the same role for the first UltraVision Theatre built for Wilby-Kincey at Charleston, North Carolina. The Phipps Plaza Theatre is listed among McGehee’s works in his entry in the 1970 AIA Directory.
Plans for the Egyptian Theatre at Maywood were announced in the March 7, 1924, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor. Owned by developer M. Needer, the house was to be leased to West Coast Theatres.
The architect for the project was Evan Jones, who also did the original design of the Meralta Theatre in Downey, later remodeled by Clarence Smale. A few years later Jones was the associate architect (with George Burnett) in the design of the Allen Theatre in South Gate. I’ve been unable to track down any other theaters designed by Jones, who had his office in Huntington Park.
I notice that in that photo an establishment called Tokay Grocers is located next door to the Lodi Theatre. This makes me wonder if perhaps the Lodi was the Tokay Theatre, renamed. The Tokay is mentioned on three cards in the California Index, all dated 1937, the year the house was taken over by the T&D chain.
Of course Tokay is a pretty common name around Lodi, so it might be coincidence (there’s now even a Tokay High School, named for this variety of wine grape. I wonder if they considered the Wino as their school mascot?) Does anybody have a listing for the Tokay Theatre, with address, in an old Film Daily Yearbook or other source? It could be an aka for the Lodi, which was clearly in a fairly old building.
Three photos and a brief description of the original Norridge Twin can be seen in Boxoffice, November 2, 1970.
This house is probably the one called the Gem Theatre. Boxoffice of September 14, 1957, reported that the International Chemical Workers Council had bought the Gem Theatre in Mulberry from its operators, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Arnold. The equipment was not included in the $20,000 sale price, but the Council was considering purchasing that as well and reopening the theater.
The Gem was not very old at the time of its sale. Boxoffice of April 5, 1947, reported under the dateline Mulberry, Fla., “R. T. Arnold’s new 450-seat Gem Theatre here is now open.” This was apparently a replacement for (or perhaps an extreme remodeling of) an earlier Gem Theatre operated at Mulberry by the Arnolds which was mentioned in a July, 1946 issue of Boxoffice.
The manager who brought the film revival policy to the Rivoli in the 1970s was Thomas H. Ferree. Boxoffice Magazine of September 25, 1972, quoted excerpts from a recent Indianapolis News item about the Rivoli written by columnist David Mannweiler.
Ferree inaugurated the Rivoli’s classic film policy with Chaplin’s “City Lights,” which was to be followed by Olivier’s “Hamlet” and then a program of Busby Berkeley’s “Gold Diggers of 1935” and “Footlight Parade.”
Ferree also announced his intention to book some of the less commercially viable foreign films into the Rivoli, such fare having been unavailable in Indianapolis since the closing of the Esquire Theatre in 1969.
The Broadmoor was built by the Commonwealth circuit in 1969. Boxoffice of June 2 said the plans were “…for an intimate, de luxe, jewel-box theatre….” of about 400 seats. The target for the completion of the project was around Thanksgiving.
ksutterfield: I’ve been searching Boxoffice Magazine for info about the Esquire, which is apparently not yet listed at Cinema Treasures, but so far I’ve only found a few references. The May 18, 1946, issue mentions in passing that the Esquire Theatre in Stockton was “nearly completed.” Work was delayed, though, and a short article in the December 14 issue that year announced that the Esquire had finally opened after thirteen months of construction.
The house had cost $200,000 to build and equip, and would be Stockton’s fourth first run theater. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity as 1190, and described the auditorium as being decorated with fluorescent murals having a Chinese theme. The article didn’t give the name of the architect, but the mention of blacklight murals makes me wonder if it might have been designed by Gale Santocono, who was very active at the time and used blacklight in theater decorations frequently. Even if he wasn’t the architect, he might have done the decoration for the Esquire.
I’ll keep looking for more info, but I don’t think Boxoffice ran any articles with photos of the theater. If they had, I’d probably have found them by now.
The Esquire was apparently an art house in its last years. A September 25, 1972, Boxoffice item about the Rivoli Theatre and manager Thomas Ferree’s intention to experiment with running foreign films quoted him saying “When the Esquire Theatre died in 1969 those films died with it.”
Here is a weblog post by the late Bob Wilkins with several photos of the Stockton Empire both before and after its renovation.
The Boxoffice item didn’t give the names of the theaters, only their locations. In addition to the $50,000 job at Sag Harbor, Prudential had remodeled houses at Amityville ($50,000), Patchogue ($28,000), Babylon ($14,000), and Bay Shore ($8,000.)
To amend my most recent comment, I should say the spreadsheet has all those of their projects that are represented in the Wolfsonian’s archive collection. You can see from the spreadsheet’s “job number” column that many of their projects didn’t make it into the archive.
I forgot to mention the Project Index at the Wolfsonian. It’s an Excel spreadsheet program, and contains the names and locations of all their projects, including work other than theaters.
The Ebersons were based in New York, and the majority of their work was in the east, but they designed theaters as far away as South America and Australia. Their papers are in the Wolfsonian collection in Florida. Click this link to see the basic information about the collection, and from that page you can download the PDF file of the Finding Aid for a list of their work. It includes biographical information.
The original owner of the Marianne Theatre was Pete Smith. In the January 24, 1942, issue of Boxoffice he reported that his new theater in Bellevue would be ready by March 1. Smith was also operator of the Sylvia Theatre in Bellevue.
The Park Theatre was expected to open in about thirty days when Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of April 24, 1948, published a rendering of the proposed house drawn by its architect, Erwin G. Frederick. Owners K&S Theatres already operated the Sheridan Theatre nearby. The new Park Theatre, designed in the moderne style, was to seat 750. The principals of K&S Theatres were Joseph R. Klein and Sidney Schatz.
The seating capacity of the Park was given as only 700 in a later announcement of its opening, in Boxoffice of August 14, 1948. This item said that the new house was a replacement for the K&S circuit’s Sheridan Theatre. The Sheridan is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures.
Boxoffice gave the location of the Park Theatre as Sheridan Road at Foss Park Avenue. Google Maps says that’s the 1600 block of Sheridan, in both directions from the intersection. A business called General Insurance can be identified in Street View, and is located at 1632 Sheridan. The intersection was “T”-shaped, and judging from the 1982 photo the theater probably occupied the northeast corner, now a vacant lot which would have an address of approximately 1635 Sheridan. It’s almost directly across the street from the General Insurance office.
As JerryD pointed out a couple of years ago, contrary to the current introduction above the Woods Theatre never had a balcony. Boxoffice of April 24, 1948, ran an article about the Woods with several photos and a floor plan.
Boxoffice of March 28, 1936, has an item datelined Sag Harbor reading: “A new theatre will rise on the site of an old building in the Prudential Playhouses chain here. John Eberson is the architect.”
Another Boxoffice item, from October 17, 1936, says that Prudential Playhouses had spent $148,000 remodeling five theaters on Long Island, and the Sag Harbor house was listed among them, being one of two on which the largest amount, $50,000, had been expended. So the project was either a new building or an extensive remodeling of an existing theatre, depending on which Boxoffice report was accurate.
I can’t find anything in any issue of Boxoffice about there being a second theater at Sag Harbor during this period, so it’s probably safe to assume that this house is the one designed by John Eberson.
The recent opening of the Riverdale Theatre was announced in Boxoffice of August 9, 1965. A single-screen house of 610 seats, it was designed by architect Drew Eberson for the regional circuit Gordon Enterprises, operated by brothers Julian, Jerome, and Leonard Gordon.
Yes, the Sayville and Brookhaven theaters were both designed by John and Drew Eberson.
A single-line item in Boxoffice of September 17, 1938, datelined Chapel Hill, reads: “The Pickwick Theatre is being remodeled.” Could the Pick be the same theater, wick-less?
Boxoffice of May 19, 1956, announced the intention of West Side Theatres to build what became the Vine Theatre in Livermore. The item said that the new house would replace the chain’s State Theatre. The Vine opened in late 1956. I’ve been unable to find any Boxoffice item specifically announcing the closure of the State, but I haven’t found the house mentioned in the magazine after 1956, so it probably was closed as soon as the Vine opened.