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Boxoffice of February 26, 1938, said that A.G. Constant was building a 1,350-seat theater on Park Avenue in Mansfield. The architect was Victor A. Rigaumont.
Though it didn’t give the opening date, Boxoffice of October 1, 1938, said that more than 2,500 people had turned out for the opening of the Park Theatre, and that all of the 1,300 seats were filled for the first show. Presumably, the opening was in September.
There was also a Victoria Theatre on Liberty Avenue at Garrison Way in downtown Pittsburgh. See this 1920 photo. The project index of the John and Drew Eberson archives lists a Victoria Theatre in Pittsburgh designed by John Eberson ca. 1912. It must have been one or the other of these two theaters. The only Eberson-designed house in Pittsburgh I can currently find listed at Cinema Treasures is the Perry, built in 1938.
The Avon Lake Theatre opened on Thursday, April 21, 1949, according to an article in the April 30 issue of Boxoffice. The 1,200 seat house was designed by Cleveland architect W.S. Ferguson. It was originally operated by Meyer Fine’s Associated Theatres circuit.
A two-page article with photos of the Avon Lake ran in Boxoffice of September 3, 1949.
Plans for this as-yet unnamed theater located on Detroit Road in Rocky River were announced in Boxoffice Magazine of September 19, 1936. Cleveland theater architect W.S. Ferguson was designing the project for the Rocky River Development Company. Projected seating capacity was 1,227.
I’ve been unable to find the exact opening date, but the September 4, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said in a brief item that 2,000 people had attended an “open house” at the new Beach Cliff Theatre.
So far, the only picture of the theater I’ve found from the period of its opening is a shot of the projection booth that was the frontispiece of the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice, October 16, 1937.
A May 13, 1950, Boxoffice Magazine report about a small fire which had damaged the Ohio Theatre had this to say: “The Ohio is located in the old brick structure which formerly housed the First Christian church before the congregation built a new edifice farther north on Belmont Street.
A church becoming a theater. That’s rare.
A September 20, 1965, Boxoffice item said that the Liberty Theatre “…folded last week and was dismantled.” Dismantled, in Boxoffice jargon, usually means all the seats and equipment were removed. The item said the house had been built fifty years earlier, for the Rowland and Clark circuit, but was later sold to Warner Bros. and then operated by Stanley Warner before being sold to its last operator, Associated Theatres. The local redevelopment authority had bought the Liberty from Associated.
The Arcadia Press book “Pittsburgh’s East Liberty Valley” says the Liberty was demolished in 1968. There’s a photo dated 1915, which was probably the opening year, and the caption names Henry Hornbostel as the architect.
I’m surprised to learn that Hornbostel designed a theater— he’s best known for his grand Beaux Arts projects such as the original plans for Carnegie-Mellon University, and some two dozen of his buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s too bad that what was probably the only commercial theater he designed has been demolished.
I must have made a typo in my previous comment. The September 24, 1938, issue of Boxoffice said that the Hiland (they mistakenly spelled it Highland) in Des Moines had opened on September 21 that year, not 1939. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity as 700 and the cost as $50,000. The house was operated by Tri-States Theatres.
Boxoffice of September 24, 1938, had a small photo showing the marquee of the Regina Theatre, looking much as it does now. The accompanying article is about a trend of creature-feature double bills the Regina set off when they booked “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” for a three-day run and ended up holding it over for four weeks.
The Plaza was opened by Associated Independent Theatres. Early reports of plans for the house in various issues of Boxoffice in the summer of 1961 said that it was to be a large theater, seating 2,200 but, judging from the photos linked in comments above, the project appears to have been downsized considerably.
A September 17, 1962, Boxoffice item refereed to it as “…the luxurious new Plaza Art Theatre, which has been operating only four months since its completion by Associated Independent Theatres.”
Boxoffice of December, 1981, reported that the Plaza was being converted to a twin.
This house must have opened as a twin. The August 23, 1971, issue of Boxoffice had an item about division managers for United Artists Theatres which said “In Central Suffolk, Herman Ficken continues with 13 theatres, including the new Sun/Wave Twin cinemas in Patchogue.” No details about the theater were given.
Boxoffice of December, 1984, said “A new Plitt Cinema Six will open in late spring of ‘85 in the Park Central Shopping Center on the Winters Freeway at Southwest Dr., in Abilene, Texas.”
As I recall, Odeon swallowed debt-ridden Plitt in late 1985 (and almost choked on it. MCA had to bail them out.) I can’t find the actual opening date for this multiplex, but it’s possible that the project was delayed due to Plitt’s financial problems at the time, and that it wasn’t completed until after Odeon took over.
If there was a long delay in the project, Odeon would probably have had the design reworked, too, accounting for the similarity to the Montreal house Mike Rivest mentioned. Through the 1980s, architect David K. Mesbur headed a team that did all Odeon’s designs in-house, for both new and remodeled theaters.
The December 20, 1940, Boxoffice item which was the apparent source for some of the information about this theater in drive-in mike’s comment also mentioned that prior to Houck’s conversion of the house into Joy’s Atlanta Theatre in 1940 it had been a burlesque house. It was located downtown. The name under which it had operated as a burlesque theater was not given.
The Victory ended its run as a movie house in 1925. It was demolished to make way for a business building. The Reel Journal of February 21, 1925, said that the new building would be 38x76 feet, so unless part of the theater’s lot was divested for some other project, it must have been a fairly small house. Still, it was apparently an important part of Kansas City’s early theater row. The Reel Journal said “…what was once as grand a motion picture theatre as could be found in town now is only a second and third run house.”
Archie Josephson, by the way, was listed as proprietor of the Hotel Bray, at Twelfth and Baltimore, KC, in an ad in another 1925 issue of The Reel Journal.
Warren: There was an earlier Wonderland Theatre in KC in 1926. See the article on this page of The Reel Journal, May 2, 1925 (Headed “War Pictures…” etc.)
As for the Twelfth Street Theatre which, according to some Boxoffice reports, had been a burlesque house and later became the Downtown Theatre and then the Esquire, it’s listed here now. I’ve been puzzling out the time-line of the names, and might have it right. It was the Downtown Theatre when Fox Midwest took over in 1938 and changed it to the Esquire, so Wonderland name must have been used for only a couple of years. It was next door to the Tower.
And so there’ll be something about the Tower in this comment, a May 3, 1947, Boxoffice item says that Fox Midwest operated the Tower as a double-feature house starting in 1939, and in 1947 was returning it to its earlier position as the circuit’s “A” house in KC. The Esquire which had been playing first runs day-and-date with the Uptown and Fairview, but from 1947 the Tower filled that role.
Another clue to the earlier history of the Esquire appears in Boxoffice of May 3, 1947. The item was about the Tower replacing the Esquire as Fox Midwest’s “A” house in Kansas City, playing first run movies day and date with their Uptown Theatre. The item says that, as the Twelfth Street Theatre, the Esquire had been a burlesque house.
However, an item in The Reel Journal of August 28, 1926, said of a fellow named Cullen Espy: “Starting his career with Skouras Bros. some years ago as manager of the Twelfth Street Theatre in Kansas City….” It seems unlikely that the Skouras brothers would have operated a burlesque house, so if the place had that policy during the late 1920s-early 1930s, they must have sold the theater to another operator, and then Fox Midwest bought it in 1938. As a Skouras operation in the earlier 1920s The Twelfth Street had been a regular movie theater.
In addition, comments exchanged by Warren Harris and Claydoh77 on March 28, 2008, at the Tower Theatre page reveal that this house was called the Wonderland Theatre beginning in 1932. The Wonderland was a grind house. So far there’s no information about when the Wonderland became the Downtown.
So the time-line of names now appears to be: Twelfth Street Theatre from around 1922, when it was operated by the Skouras brothers (probably the original owners,) and then at some unknown date it was converted to a burlesque house operating under the same name until 1932, then it became the Wonderland Theatre for a time, and then the Downtown Theatre, and then the Esquire from 1938 until closing.
I believe the Twelfth Street/Esquire is in the last photo on this web page, right next to the Pantages/Tower. A similar picture is on the Tower’s Cinema Treasures page, but this larger photo makes it clear that there are two theaters side by side. The Twelfth Street is the nearer theater, with the arch on the front.
An item in Boxoffice of October 25, 1947, datelined Smyrna, says “Silas Coleman and James D. Berry, World War II veterans, opened their new Regal Theatre here October 20.”
A multi-page article about the Mikadow Theatre in Boxoffice, June 8, 1957, said that the theater had reopened in an entirely new building on January 19 that year after the original house, built on the same site in 1916, had burned to the ground in 1956. The rebuilt theater, designed by local architect Sylvester Schmidt, had 640 seats. The article has photos of both the interior and exterior of the new theater.
From the smattering of events listed on the calendar at the theater’s web site, it looks like the Totah is now actually open, if only for a few days each month.
The site also gives the current seating capacity as 300.
A January 12, 1946, Boxoffice article about the death of Tulsa exhibitor John Edward Feeney says “In 1914 he bought the Cozy Theatre at Okmulgee….” Was this an entirely different Cozy Theatre, or did it become the Rex and then later go back to the name Cozy? The building in the Historical Society photo certainly looks as though it would have been built before 1914, and that marquee could easily have dated from the early 20th century.
A photo of the Tennessee Theatre was on the frontispiece of the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice, October 3, 1953. I believe it depicts the upper level foyer lounge, with a mirrored wall at the far end doubling the apparent length of the room.
A brief article with three small photos of the Niantic appeared in Boxoffice of November 4, 1950. The article said the house had opened recently with 660 seats.
This drive-in actually opened in 1953, not 1954. The July 11 issue of Boxoffice that year said “Management of the Markoff Circuit arranged an early July opening of the new Portland Drive-In.”
A glimpse of the interior of the Beach Theatre appeared as the frontispiece to the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice, November 4, 1950.
The Seneca Theatre closed in December, 1961, and was reopened in 1965, with its seating reduced to 1,332, according to this article in Boxoffice of April 19, 1965. There’s a small photo of the front of the theater.
I haven’t found out how long the Seneca survived as a movie house after this reopening, but the October 7, 1968, issue of Boxoffice gives the opening date of the Psycus, the discotheque-rock music club that was the theater’s later occupant, as September 27 that year.
The destructive behavior of a particularly delinquent generation of teenagers led to great distress among the elders of Buffalo, as told in one Boxoffice article about a wave of vandalism and rowdy behavior hitting the city’s theatres. According to one claim, almost every seat in the Seneca Theatre had been slashed or torn. One theater manager said “We’ve never had so much trouble trying to manage the youngsters. I’m sorry to say that the girls are worse than the boys.” The article appeared in Boxoffice of November 27, 1943. Kids those days!
The Village Opera House was opened as a reserved-seat roadshow house on May 15, 1969. The first attraction was “Sweet Charity.” The house was conceived by designer Peter Wolf as a “Victorian Jewel Box.” The house, initially operated by Tejas Theatres, was part of a themed project called 1849 Village, but the style of the theater building was much more later Queen Anne-Eastlake than it was the Greek Revival still predominating in the 1850s. If the theater was typical of the buildings in the project, 1879 Village would have been a more appropriate name.
Rendering here in Boxoffice Magazine.
The May 26, 1969, Boxoffice item about the opening failed to mention the seating capacity but said that the screen was 20x46 feet.