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Here’s a color photo of the old Twilight Theatre on the City of Greensburg’s web site. This photo shows it from another angle. The cable channel Planet Green has posted this rendering of the proposed replacement for the Twilight Theatre. Plans call for 458 seats, and the building will be of neo-moderne design.
On a recent episode of Planet Green’s series about Greensburg, it was revealed that the local school district is planning to have a partnership with the operators of the theater so that when it is built it can be used for school functions during the week. The rebuilt school will not have an auditorium, and apparently the old Twilight Theatre only operated on weekends in any case. Kiowa County only had a population of a little over 3000 even before the tornado, so a full-time movie theater wouldn’t be economically viable there, especially as it will have to be located in costly new construction.
The Twilight is mentioned surprisingly often in Boxoffice Magazine, as the long-time operators Charles and Ben Spainhour frequently wrote pieces for the magazine’s “The Exhibitor Has His Say” feature. A thumbnail biography of Charles Spainhour appeared in the March 3, 1945, issue of Boxoffice, which revealed that he bought his first theater (for $375, fully equipped) in 1916. He bought the Twilight the next year. His first theater was also in Greensburg, but Boxoffice didn’t give its name.
Construction had not yet begun on the Crest when the December 4, 1948, issue of Boxoffice published Robert Boller’s rendering of the front. The firm name was not Boller Brothers, though. Carl Boller had died in 1946, and by the time the Crest was built Robert Boller was associated with Dietz Lusk in the Kansas City firm of Boller & Lusk.
Boxoffice Magazine of December 18, 1948, confirms a 1948 date for the start of construction for the Encino. It said that contracts for construction of Charles Menderson’s new theater at Ventura Boulevard and Neoline Street had been awarded to Struction of Los Angeles. The December 4 issue of Boxoffice had published the architect’s rendering of the new house to which I linked in my comment above.
The building on the northwest corner of Western and Imperial was a gas station. In the 1952 aerial photo the roofs over the pump islands are attached to the main building, but in 1972 the islands are free-standing. The gasoline companies were always rebuilding their stations, and they built duller buildings each time.
The early announcement of plans for the Rio published in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of August 21, 1948, said that the theater would be at Western and Imperial, and would include a commercial building on the corner containing seven stores. That part of the project never got built.
The Rio as built was similar to the Southside Theatre, having the same basic configuration, but was somewhat smaller at about 1100 seats to the Southside’s nearly 1500. Both houses were built for the Southside Theatres chain, the Rio in 1948 and the Southside in 1949.
The Colonial got a new facade, designed by architect Ted Rogvoy, in 1948. The project was underway according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine of June 19 that year. The Colonial was the headquarters house for Midwest Theatres by then.
Yay, the Temple Theatre page has returned from its long sojourn in Alhambra. Now maybe people from Temple City will be able to find it and the page will become active again.
As for the style of the Temple, it was an odd combination of Moderne (used primarily in the name tower) and the simplified Colonial style that was popular for a while in the 1930s and 1940s, but which was used mostly for residential buildings, churches, and small commercial and office structures.
The Temple’s auditorium featured a wood-beamed, king post truss roof, which I’ve never seen in any other theater. In fact I don’t know of any other theater quite like it in style, though it had some resemblance to Edwards' Tumbleweed Theatre in El Monte, also designed by Lee- but the Tumbleweed was far more rustic.
The Eastgate was originally built for Wilby-Kincey Theatres and opened in 1965 with 900 seats. It was on Boxoffice Magazine’s annual list of the previous year’s new theaters, published in the January 17, 1966 issue. By 1970, the Eastgate was being operated by ABC Theatres. I’ve been unable to find out when it was triplexed.
An article about A.A. Moulder in the February 20, 1954, issue of Boxoffice said that he had opened the Criterion in 1931. The Boxoffice article was based on one published in the Sapulpa Sunday Herald, for which the author had interviewed Moulder.
The article also said that Moulder’s first theater had been the Lyric, which he bought in 1911. While still operating that house he and his father opened the Empress, across Main Street from the Lyric. They operated both houses for a while, but later sold the Lyric. The Moulders closed the Empress when the Criterion opened.
Both the Empress and the Criterion had sometimes presented vaudeville as well as movies, including some Orpheum circuit acts. A CinemaScope screen was installed at the Criterion in 1954.
The Capitol opened in 1940. The November 23 issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the opening of the 600-seat house was scheduled for November 28. It was the seventh theatre in Solomon and Borisky’s Independent Theatres chain. The operators intended to present vaudeville as well as first run movies in the new theater.
In 1948, the Capitol got a new porcelain front, with poster cases and remodeled boxoffice, installed by the Milwaukee firm of Poblocki & Sons. The December 4 issue of Boxoffice published a small (very small) photo of the new front. Independent’s Brainerd Theatre got a similar front at the same time.
The April 23, 1955, Boxoffice said that Jay Solomon planned to close the Capitol for 60 days for remodeling which would include installation of a CinemaScope screen. The letting of the contract for the $85,000 project was finally announced in the October 22 issue of Boxoffice.
I’ve only been able to find two mentions of the American in Boxoffice Magazine. An October 14, 1939, ad for Altec featured a letter from Abe Solomon, operator of the American, praising Altec’s sound system. Then an October 18, 1949, item said that the new management of the American planned to renovate the house to present stage shows. The item said that the house had been showing westerns. I don’t know if the planned conversion to live theater was ever carried out.
The July 10, 1948, issue of Boxoffice said that the Fox Theatre had recently opened in Red Bank. The 700-seat house was managed by Mrs. Myrtle Pitts and owned by Fox Theatres Inc. of Chatsworth, Georgia.
The Alcazar might have been a fairly early theater. The September 5, 1977, issue of Boxoffice Magazine published an obituary of Jacksonville theater man John Thomas. It said that he began his 45-year career in the business as a projectionist at the Alcazar Theater in Chattanooga, then had several other jobs before arriving in Jacksonville in 1926.
So even though the magazine doesn’t give the year Thomas began working there, there was an Alcazar Theatre operating in Chattanooga in the early 1920s. I can’t find anything else about the Alcazar in Boxoffice, though. Maybe it didn’t last long, or perhaps the name was changed.
Chuck: That picture does depict the earlier Temple Theatre in Temple City. There is a Cinema Treasures page for it, but over a year ago, they moved the page, mistakenly placing the Temple among the theaters located in the City of Alhambra. This was probably due to some confusing comments full of errors at the top of its page.
I’ve commented a couple of times on the page, pointing out the mistake, and e-mailed them about it, but the page remains over here. I’m actually thinking about re-submitting the Temple as a new addition to the database, as that might be the only way to get their attention.
The Capitol was indeed the Dixie Theatre, according to Boxoffice Magazine. Late 1944 and early 1945 items in the magazine say that the late Hal Laurence, manager of the Capitol, had operated the house as the Dixie Theatre before selling out to Crescent Amusement, which retained him as manager, in 1938. However, there’s also a July 17, 1937, Boxoffice item mentioning the Capitol Theatre at Paris, so it must have been Laurence who changed the name.
The November 19, 1938, Boxoffice item about the sale said that the house had been erected and originally operated by the late T.B. Walker. The owner of the property at the time Crescent purchased it was Lavinia Walker, T.B.’s widow.
An item in the December 17, 1938, Boxoffice said that Crescent planned to build a new theater on the site, and the existing building would be “virtually dismantled.” But the January 13, 1940, issue said that the Capitol had been closed on January 6th to undergo a major remodeling, and that films booked for the house would be shown at Crescent’s Gem Theatre instead. The remodeled Capitol was back in operation later that year.
The December 1938 item also says that the theater had been built at the turn of the century, so I would imagine that Walker originally operated the house as a legitimate theater for touring companies, or as a vaudeville theater.
The December 9, 1939, issue of Boxoffice mentioned that Ben F. Diggs was building a new theater at Paris to be called the Princess. The house was expected to be open by January 1, 1940. Another item in the same issue of Boxoffice said that the Princess would have its formal opening before Christmas. Both dates were premature. The January 13, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that the Princess had opened on January 5.
The September 14, 1940, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Crescent Amusement Company had bought the Princess from Ben Diggs, and would subsequently close their Gem Theatre, which they had opened only the year before.
In its issue of April 13, 1946, Boxoffice reported that the Princess Theatre at Paris had been destroyed by fire. I’ve found nothing about a rebuilding, but it must have been done as there are later mentions of the Princess being in operation.
The December 24, 1955, Boxoffice said that Crescent had closed the Princess. I’ve found no later mentions of the house in Boxoffice, so this closure might have been final.
Having noted all this, I have to add that Boxoffice indicates that there was an earlier Princess Theatre in Paris. Late 1944 and early 1945 items about the death of Capitol Theatre manager Hal Laurence say that he had come to Paris thirty years earlier to manage the Princess Theatre. They also reveal that Laurence had been the owner and operator of the Dixie Theatre, and was retained by Crescent as manager of the house after they bought it and changed the name to Capitol in 1938.
I jumped the gun with my speculation about the motivation of Crescent Amusement in opening the Gem. The December 9, 1939, issue of Boxoffice says that the Princess was still under construction at that time and was expected to open January 1, 1940. The Gem was opened before the Princess.
I’ve been unable to find confirmation in Boxoffice that Crescent closed the Gem immediately after acquiring the Princess, but I find no mentions of the Gem after the September 14, 1940, article. Since it is listed as closed in the 1941 and 1943 editions of FDY they probably did close it in 1940. That means it was probably in operation for a little over one year, from late spring or early summer of 1939 to late summer or early fall of 1940.
From the May 8, 1937, issue of Boxoffice: “GREENFIELD, TENN.— The Ruffin Amusement Company of Covington, Tenn. has leased the W.L. Hall building here for a modern theatre.”
A June 29, 1957, Boxoffice item about the 30th anniversary of the Ruffin Chain also says that the Palace opened in 1937. I can’t find anything about the earlier Palace Theatre.
This web site says that the Taylor Theatre was “…built in 1925 by Charles Collins Benton.” As the owner/operator for whom the house was built was Samuel Taylor, they must mean that Charles Collins Benton was the architect.
The May 27, 1939, issue of Boxoffice had this item: “There is an unconfirmed report that Tony Sudekum of the Crescent Amusement Company will soon open a new house in Paris, Tenn., to be known as the Gem. He is now operating the Capitol Theatre there.”
The September 14, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that Crescent Amusement had bought the Princess Theatre in Paris. The writer of the item apparently made a mistake in the line saying “Crescent already owns the Capitol and the Gem, but plans to close the Gem after purchasing the Capitol.” Obviously it should have said they intended to close the Gem after purchasing the Princess.
The story makes me suspect that Crescent Amusement opened the Gem only to weaken their Capitol’s rival house, the Princess, and the acquisition of the Princess was their goal all along.
I wasn’t questioning your veracity, panhandle. You had me convinced that the American Theatre was indeed gone. I was just pointing out that the listed status needed to be changed.
The Royal Theatre became a three-theater complex in 1972. The January 30 issue of Boxoffice ran an article headed “Mississippi Triplex Sparkles In Debut” which said that the expansion was accomplished by adding two new auditoriums adjacent to the original 517-seat Royal, which had been built by Lloyd Royal in 1941, opening on January 4 that year.
The 1972 additions were called the Royal Cinema, which had 800 seats, and the Mini Royal, with 200 seats. The original Royal Theatre was reseated to accommodate 325 patrons with greater comfort. The new auditoriums were opened on January 17, 1972.
I’ve found the Strand mentioned in Boxoffice Magazine as early as the July 6, 1940, issue. At that time it was being operated by the Manning & Wink circuit.
The most recent Boxoffice mention of the Strand I’ve found is in the January 31, 1972, issue, at which time it was still being operated by Martin.
A brief item in the January 18, 1941, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that the new Athens Theatre had recently opened with the musical “Barnyard Follies” as the initial offering. The February 1 issue of Boxoffice said that the Athens was the eighth house of the Manning & Wink circuit.
If it fell into the street, I guess the status should be changed to demolished.
The October 13, 1956, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the 50th anniversary of the Bohemia Theatre. The item included the information that the Roxy was next door to the Bohemia, and had been built by the Cleveland Amusement Company, operators of the Bohemia, but that it had been a short-lived operation. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the Roxy’s operation was confined to some part of the 1930s.