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I don’t think Anthony F. Dumas was the architect of this theater. He did a drawing of it, but that was quite some time after it was built. So far I’ve been unable to discover who the actual architect was.
The Theatre Historical Society has this page about Dumas' drawings, sixty of which are in the Society’s archives.
There’s a misspelling in the architect field above. Mr. Spillman’s first name is spelled Beverly, not Beverley. Apparently there’s no differentiation between male and female forms of the name in America.
On opening, this house was called the Luzerne Theatre, and it was later known as the Majestic Theatre, according to the book Theaters, by Andrew Craig Morrison. The Luzerne opened on February 9, 1908. The house was designed by architect William H. McElfatrick, and it originally seated 1,626.
This theater was located at 206 South Main Street. (Incidentally, Google Maps will not map this location. It fetches up a location a couple of miles down the road. I’d suggest using Bing Maps, which puts this address only a couple of lots north of where it actually should be.)
The theater might have become the Majestic about 1912, as a list of charters of corporations I found includes a Majestic Theatre Amusement Company that was chartered on November 11 that year, for the purposes of “…maintenance of a theatre in Wilkes-Barre….”
According to this timeline of Wyoming Valley history from Wilkes University, the Irving Theatre opened in 1923. The timeline does not mention this being a name change, nor is the name Majestic Theatre ever mentioned, although the opening of the Luzerne Theatre in 1908 is mentioned. Still, I trust Morrison’s book, which appears to be very well researched.
Here is a news item from September 3, 1923, noted in the 1924 Almanac of the Wilkes-Barre Record, a daily newspaper: “Irving theatre on South Main street, formally the Majestic, now the leading theatre in Wilkes-Barre owing to the sale of the Grand for commercial purposes, opens with Oliver S. Morosco’s production Willis M. Goodhue’s comedy drama ‘Dust.’”
Posted to soon. I found this timeline of Wyoming Valley history from Wilkes University which says that Poli’s Theatre was renamed the Penn Theatre in 1931.
Poli’s Theatre in Wilkes-Barre opened on October 19, 1908, and the architect was Albert E. Westover. The source for this information is a book called Theaters, by Andrew Craig Morrison.
I’ve been unable to discover when the theater was renamed the Penn, but it had happened by 1942, when the June 6 issue of Billboard Magazine made reference to it, and it happened no earlier than 1931, when an artist named Anthony F. Dumas made a drawing of it as Poli’s.
The Capitol was in operation by at least 1928, when a drawing was made of it by artist Anthony F. Dumas. If this house was owned by the Comerford circuit, then it might have been under construction in 1919, when the October 11 issue of the trade journal Domestic Engineering carried a brief item in its “New Construction Work” column reading: “$150,000 theatre, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; M.E. Comerford Amusement Co.” I suspect that this project was indeed the theater that became the Capitol.
Here is a photo from the 1940s depicting the east side of Wilkes-Barre’s public square. The marquee of the Capitol Theatre can be seen at left. The Comerford Theatre can also be seen in this photo, at the end of the street.
Here is a later bird’s-eye view from a few years later, looking the opposite direction along the east side of the square, with the remodeled facade of the theater, by then renamed the Comerford (see Alan Bone’s comment above), at right.
The Colonial Theatre in Lancaster is mentioned in the 1914 edition of The Stage Year Book. I’ve come across a couple of later references to it as Boyd’s Colonial Theatre.
Are we certain of the 1915 opening for this house? The April 12, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World had this item about the proposed Auditorium Theatre:
“Plans have been completed for the Auditorium Theater, to be erected at Dawson Springs, Ky., at once. The seating capacity of the house will be 1,000, while the cost is estimated at $10,000. The structure will be ready by June 1. The Kentucky Pharmaceutical Association, which will hold its annual convention in Dawson Springs, beginning June 1, will use it for a week. The theater will be devoted to vaudeville and moving pictures. Dawson Springs is a popular summer resort, thousands of folk from Kentucky and adjoining states spending the summer there to obtain the benefit of tbe waters. W. I. Hamby is president of the company, which is erecting the theater.”
“Paducah, Ky. â€” Architect A. L. Lassiter, of this city, has completed plans for the Auditorium theater to be erected at Dawson Springs by an association, headed by W. I. Hamby, a prominent resident of the health resort.“
I couldn’t make this stuff up, and if I could I’m sure readers would find it too contrived.
The Bijou Theatre began operating in February, 1908, said a brief article in a 1913 issue of The Moving Picture Age. The building had been the city’s opera house prior to its conversion into a combination movie and vaudeville theater by the new operator, Mr. J.E. Hippie. Mr. Hippie, a man clearly ahead of his time, was a former postmaster of Pierre, and editor and publisher of a daily newspaper. The article included this passage about the aptly named exhibitor:
“Mr. Hippie… let it be made known that he is the man who made the successful fight for the Sunday opening of picture shows in that city. Mr. Hippie in a letter to the Moving Picture World says that he is going to look after the interests of the exhibition business at the next legislature, as some local ministers and other persons are contemplating the introduction of bills looking toward a state censorship and other interferences with the picture industry.”
The Hamilton Theatre was opened in 1917 by Mr. and Mrs. George Krupa, who had opened the Hippodrome Theatre the previous year.
Trade journal The Moving Picture World reported in its issue of November 18, 1916, that the new Hippodrome Theatre in Lancaster had recently opened. The owners were Mr. and Mrs. George Krupa.
Here is a photo of the People’s Theatre, from a history of Maynard published in 1921.
A 1948 catalog of copyright entries from the Library of Congress includes an entry for a copyright, dated February 10, to architect Victor A. Rigaumont, covering 45 pages of specifications and illustrations of the Hollywood Theatre in Dormont.
The same catalog has five other entries for copyrights granted to Rigaumont, so apparently he was in the habit of copyrighting his designs. As in those days material had to be published in order to qualify for copyright, his plans must have been published, even if only a few copies of each were made. I wonder what has become of those publications?
The Grand Theatre in Latrobe was being operated by the Manos Theatres circuit in 1948 when it was updated by architect Victor A. Rigaumont. Rigaumont applied for a copyright on his plans, as listed in the Library of Congress' Catalog of Copyright Entries for 1948. There were 19 pages of specifications and illustrations.
Victor A. Rigaumont was the architect of the Cheswick Theatre. His copyright of the plans for the project was noted in a 1946 Catalog of Copyright Entries from the Library of Congress.
The November, 1915, issue of The Architectural Record ran an article called “Planning the Moving Picture Theatre” which inlcuded the following illustrations featuring the Play House:
The floor plan
A sectional drawing through the length of the house
The digitized book is available from Google Books, and includes photos and drawings of several other theaters of the period.
Is this theater classified as Art Deco merely because of the flowery murals from the 1940s? The facade is made entirely of classical elements. There’s nothing Art Deco about the balustraded parapet with urns, the cornice, the peaked window pediments, the double pilasters, or the rest of the trim on the facade, and the interior photos show that most of the original plaster work there matched the exterior style. This theater would best be described as Adamesque.
I’d certainly call interior details such as this and this more Adamesque than anything else. It looks like the murals added in the 1940s took up some wall space that had probably been blank until then, but the original architecture was largely untouched.
The Birmingham Masonic Temple was completed in 1922. It was designed by architect Eugene H. Knight, according to his entry in a later edition of the AIA Historical Directory of American Architects.
The web site Birmingham Rewound has some interesting information about the Strand and about its next-door neighbor, the Capitol Theatre. In 1948, the Capitol was renamed the Newmar Theatre, but a few years later that house closed, and the operators took over the Strand and renamed it the Newmar. This name remained until September, 1959, when the house went back to being the Strand. The Strand closed on November 28, 1962, and was demolished in August, 1963.
Here is a photo of the Empire Theatre dated 1937. The triangular marquee and fake stone front in the 1980 photo Chuck linked to were installed in 1949, according to the page Stan Malone linked to earlier. The slicker ground floor features (looks like faux marble to me) and the dark coverings of the second floor windows dated from another remodeling in 1964. The Empire Theatre was demolished in 1984.
Here is a photo of the Capitol Theatre dated 1939.
The web site Birmingham Rewound says that the Capitol had earlier been called the Alcazar Theatre, and for the last few years of its operation (from 1948 until some time the early 1950s) was called the Newmar Theatre, a name that was moved next door to the Strand Theatre when the Newmar closed.
Here is a photo of the theater as the Alcazar, dated 1920.
The Strand was demolished to make way for a parking garage in 1963, and presumably the Alcazar/Capitol/Newmar came down at the same time, if it had not already been razed.
During its last few years as the Newmar, this small theater sported a splendid Streamlined Modern front with a rounded marquee. A photo of it is on the Birmingham Rewound page.
I’ve found text references indicating that the Alcazar was in operation in 1918, but it was probably several years old by that time. Its architectural style and narrow frontage mark it as being from the first wave of movie theater construction, so it probably predated the larger Strand next door by at least a year or more.
The Michigan Theatre was on the south side of the street, which would give it an odd-numbered address. The correct address is 75 Michigan Avenue West. The Michigan Theatre opened October 21, 1941, and was demolished in October, 1984, according to this book.
Main Street is now called Michigan Avenue. The address for the Garden Theatre should be 39-41 Michigan Avenue West.
The Garden was one of seven theaters listed in the 1914 Battle Creek city directory. This timeline of events in Battle Creek says that the Garden Theatre opened in 1913.
A biography of vaudevillian Joe Frisco says that the Strand Theatre in Battle Creek opened on August 14, 1915.
Various 1918 issues of the Michigan Film Review gave tentative opening dates for this theater of around July 1, around September 1, late September, sometime in October, and finally November 21. I’ve found no explanation of the repeated delays.
The Regent was built for investment partners Berry and Montgomery, and was leased to Harvey Lipp and Glenn Cross, who were to operate the new house in partnership with W.S. Butterfield. Glenn Cross was to be the manager of the Regent.
Lipp & Cross had been listed in the 1914 Battle Creek city directory as operators of the Rex and Queen theaters. In 1918 they were also operating the Garden Theatre and the Strand, according to items in Michigan Film Review.
This timeline of Battle Creek events says that the Regent Theatre closed in 1955, but it doesn’t mention when the building was demolished.