Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mysteria Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:21 am

Boxoffice of December 2, 1974, said that the former Mandan Theatre had reopened as the Showboat Cinema in mid-November, following a $100,000 renovation. It was a single-screen house with 412 seats. The Mandan Theatre had originally been built by Frank Wetzstein.

Photos of the Showboat Theatre appeared in Boxoffice of June 30, 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:19 am

Chuck, can you find any listings from the 1930s or later for either a State Theatre or a Capitol Theatre in Bismarck? Those two and the Bismarck are the only theaters in the town that are mentioned in Boxoffice during the 1930s and 1940s.

I’m wondering if the State might have been the Paramount renamed (the Capitol was an older theater on Main Avenue and had only 300 seats.) After being mentioned three times in Movie Age in 1929, the Paramount vanishes, and the only explanation I can think of for a house built for a major chain vanishing from the magazine without a trace is that the name was changed. Had it been destroyed in some disaster I’m sure the magazine would have mentioned it.

I also came across two references to an Eltinge Theatre in Bismarck. It was having Gennett talking picture equipment installed according to Movie Age of June 8, 1929. A second reference to the Eltinge appeared in Boxoffice of October 28, 1950. I find this gap puzzling. The Eltinge then vanishes too.

Another mystery is a single-line item in Boxoffice of September 24, 1949, datelined Bismarck, N.D., saying “The new Krieger Theatre has been opened here by Frederic and Albert Krieger.” Neither the theater nor the Kriegers ever get mentioned again.

By 1954, Boxoffice is making reference to the Bismarck and the Dakota as the town’s only indoor theaters, though a 1956 item said that the Capitol was being reopened following extensive remodeling. There’s never a hint of what became of the State or the mysterious Eltinge or Krieger theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:17 am

Boxoffice of October 27, 1951, said that cowboy star Rex Allen had been the top personal attraction at the recent opening of the new Fox Theatre in Sidney.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dakota Twin Theatres on Feb 23, 2010 at 2:14 am

The Dakota Theatre opened October 12, 1951, according to Boxoffice of October 27. The original operator was Northwest Theatres, Inc.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza 3 Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 1:57 am

This theater opened to the public as the Plaza Twin on October 30, 1970, following a benefit premier the previous night. It was a joint venture of Mid Continent Theatres and the Dubinsky circuit, operating under the name R&D Theatres. In the original twin configuration it had 900 seats, according to several Boxoffice items of the period.

Boxoffice of November 23, 1970, said that the Plaza Twin was designed by Mel Glatz & Associates. The opening feature in the Plaza I was “The People Next Door” and the Plaza II featured “The Boatniks.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bismarck Theatre on Feb 23, 2010 at 1:54 am

“H. O. Mugridge’s Bismarck, Bismarck, N. D.” was on a list of new theaters scheduled to open in the next thirty days, published in Boxoffice of December 11, 1937.

The 1937 project must have been a renovation or rebuild, as Boxoffice of September 28, 1970, ran an item saying that the Bismarck Theatre had recently closed after 52 years of operation, and that it had been built in 1918 for $50,000. The September 14 issue of Boxoffice had said that the theater was to be demolished.

The last operator of the Bismarck was the R&D Amusement Company. R&D was a partnership of Mid-Continent Theatres and the Dubinsky circuit. The partnership opened the new Plaza Twin, later to be the Plaza 3, in Bismarck’s Kirkwood Mall on October 30, 1970.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Safari Cinema on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:33 am

A few pictures of the Safari 1&2 illustrate this article in Boxoffice, June 30, 1975. The Safari had 850 seats, divided 550 and 300. Originally operated by the State Theatre Company, the Safari was the first new hardtop built in Moorhead in 30 years. The African safari theme was the notion of State Theatres head Dan Peterson, and the design was carried out by decorator Jerry Arness. Boxoffice did not give the name of the architect.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Babylon Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:31 am

I misspelled the architect’s surname in my previous comment (as did the Heywood-Wakefield ad.) It should be Sornik.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hicksville Twin Theater on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

A few before and after photos of the Hicksville Theatre remodeling of ca.1956 appeared in Boxoffice, February 2, 1957. The project was designed for Prudential Theatres by architect Maurice D. Sornik.

Judging from the original facade, this theater must have been built in the 1920s or earlier.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Babylon Cinemas on Feb 23, 2010 at 12:13 am

The mid-1950s rebuilding of the Babylon Theatre was designed by architect Maurice D. Sornick. A few photos appeared in an ad for Heywood-Wakefield seats in Boxoffice of January 7, 1956.

A photo of the auditorium was on the cover of Boxoffice, June 2, 1956. The Babylon was operated by Associated Prudential Theatres.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crookston Grand Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:10 am

The Grand was apparently operated for several decades by members of the Hiller family. The Grand Theatre was being managed by C.L. Hiller at least as early as 1929, when the July 6 issue of Movie Age said that sound equipment was being installed n the house. A 1937 Boxoffice item said that the Northern States Amusement Company was operating the Grand, Lyric, and Royale theaters at Crookston.

Northern States might have been the Hiller family’s operating company even then. In 1985, the June issue of Boxoffice said that Jeff Hiller was the head of Northern States Amusement Company, but that item and the 1937 item are the only appearances of the company name I’ve been able to find in Boxoffice. C.L. Hillers brother, Ernotte Hiller, was operating the Grand at least as late as 1973.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gopher Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

The original owners of the Gopher were C.L. and Ernotte Hiller, also operators of the older Grand Theatre in Crookston. Boxoffice of October 12, 1940, said that the Gopher had opened recently, with 706 seats. It also had a magic fountain, though Boxoffice gave no details about this remarkable feature. Perhaps living in Hollywood had left them jaded about such things.

An April 17, 1937, Boxoffice item had said that the Grand, Lyric and Royale theaters at Crookston were all operated by the Northern States Amusement Company, which had bought a site for a new 800-seat theater in Crookston. I’ve been unable to confirm that this was the house that eventually opened as the Gopher, but if it was then it was designed by Liebenberg and Kaplan.

In 1956, Ernotte and Mrs. C.L. Hiller (C.L. himself had died the previous year) were operating two theaters at Crookston, and were planning to build a drive-in. Boxoffice of March 3 that year said that during the drive-in season the Hillers would close one of the hardtops. I haven’t found the Gopher mentioned in Boxoffice later than that, so maybe they decided to close it permanently.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:23 am

Park Theatre operator Gordon Aamoth, making his first visit to Hollywood, was photographed with actor Fernando Lamas on the set of the movie “Sangaree.” The photo was published in Boxoffice Magazine, March 14, 1953. The caption had the most recent mention of the Park I’ve been able to find.

Gordon Aamoth owned the Park, Roxy, and Towne theaters in Fargo in association with his brothers, H.C. and Francis Aamoth. The latter two opened the Roxy in 1932. The Towne, formerly the State, was operated by the Aamoths from 1951 until 1962.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

The Roxy was opened in 1932 by brothers Francis and H.C. Aamoth. A third brother, Gordon Aamoth, was later associated with them. The Aamoth brothers also operated the Park Theatre in Fargo from at least the late 1930s until about 1953. They operated the Towne Theatre during the 1950s and into 1962.

According to an item in Boxoffice of September 27, 1965, the Roxy was leased to independent operator Willis Menge from about 1955 until 1965, when Menge sold the operation to the Dakota circuit, headed by Ernest Peaslee (or Peasley— Boxoffice uses both spellings), who had acquired the Towne from the Aamoth brothers in 1962. The Roxy had been Fargo’s last independently-operated theater.

The Broadway Theatre was sold to Delaware-based Windsor Theatres in 1973, along with the Towne, as reported in Boxoffice of April 30 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Towne Theater on Feb 22, 2010 at 5:22 am

Boxoffice of April 14, 1951, reported that the former State had recently reopened as the Towne Theatre. The State Theatre had been bought from the Minnesota Amusement Company (a Paramount affiliate forced to divest itself of many theaters by the consent decree) by Francis, Gordon, and H.C. Aamoth on February 9, 1951.

The Aamoth brothers, already operating the Roxy and Park theaters in Fargo, had the State remodeled to plans by Minneapolis architects Liebenberg & Kaplan, expending $50,000 on the project (a later Boxoffice item said the cost of the project was $65,000.) The Towne was to be managed by Gordon Aamoth.

Later that year the Aamoth brothers entered an agreement to sell the equipment and lease the Towne to E.R. Ruben, but this deal fell through. The October 13 Boxoffice item about the sale said that the Aamoths had paid $125,000 to buy the State, and gave the seating capacity as of the time of the sale to Ruben as 1,045.

The Aamoths made another attempt to sell the Towne in late 1953, but this deal apparently failed as well, as the April 10, 1954, Boxoffice said that Gordon Aamoth had had the Towne updated and redecorated. This $11,000 project included a new screen, improved lighting, and the replacement of 300 balcony seats. Additionally, Boxoffice said, “…the former ‘castle’ effects on the walls have been removed and replaced by acoustical wallboard.”

Gordon Aamoth finally managed to rid himself of the Towne in 1962, when he sold the house to Ernie Peasley, operator of the Auditorium Theatre in Stillwater, who would take over the Towne on March 1, according to Boxoffice of February 26. I haven’t found any of the Aamoths mentioned in later issues of Boxoffice except for a 1965 item which said that F.P. and H.C. Aamoth had opened the Roxy Theatre in Fargo in 1932.

The Towne was in operation into 1973, when the Peasley circuit sold it, and the former Roxy (which had been renamed the Broadway), to the Delaware-based Windsor Theatres, as reported in Boxoffice of April 30. The house did not remain open for long after that, though. Boxoffice of November 26 said that the Towne had been razed in late October.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Feb 22, 2010 at 4:54 am

An item in Boxoffice of February 3, 1940, sheds light on the fate of the Orpheum. Minnie Hector Smith, who had until 1936 operated the Orpheum under a lease, had filed suit against the Minnesota Amusement Company, charging that the firm, operator of rival theaters in Fargo, had in 1936 leased two-foot strips on either side of her theater and denied her access to the space, thus blocking the Orpheum’s emergency exits, and the theater was forced to close as a result. I’ve been unable to find anything about the outcome of Mrs. Smith’s lawsuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Northwest Plaza Cinema on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:45 am

All the early reports about this theater in Boxoffice do indicate that it opened as a single-screen house, and a very large one at that. The announcement of the June 25, 1969, opening appeared in Boxoffice of June 30, and said that the Northwest Plaza Cinema had 1,700 seats. A slightly longer item in Boxoffice of July 14 included a small photo of the theater, though it looks like it was taken before the building was completed, as there’s no signage.

A brief notice in Boxoffice of November 18, 1974, said that GCC had closed the house for twinning, and the reopening was scheduled for December 20.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sunset Hills Cinema 4 on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:42 am

Boxoffice ran an article about this theater in its issue of July 19, 1965. The text is fairly detailed in its description of the house, but the four photos are not very helpful. The Cinema I and II was said to be the first two-screener in the St. Louis area. The theater was designed for GCC by St. Louis architect Syl G. Schmidt.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Edwards Huntington Cinema on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:38 am

The rather busy facade of the Edwards Huntington Cinema was featured on the cover of Boxoffice of July 19, 1965. An interesting feature of Roland Pierson’s design is the convex section of the front carrying the signage, which mimics the proportions and curve of a CinemaScope movie screen; a clever example of architectural form suggesting, rather than following, function. Louis Sullivan must have turned over in his grave, but J. Walter Thompson would probably have been impressed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:35 am

The July 14, 1969, issue of Boxoffice ran a single-line item saying that the Strand in Lowell had been remodeled.

Boxoffice of March 3, 1975, reported that the Strand Theatre had been sold to a Cambridge developer named Raymond A. Carye. The developer’s plans were not firm, but rehabilitation of the Strand as a cinema-restaurant-cultural center was mentioned, as well as conversion of the building into offices.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Village Theatre on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:32 am

Fred Hyde and Associates opened their Village Theatre on March 18, 1947, as reported in Boxoffice of April 5. An older theater in town, called the Coronado, was in operation at least as late as 1953.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Evans Drive-In on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:26 am

The walk-in section of the Evans Drive-In had 65 seats, according to this article in Boxoffice of July 19, 1965. In 1965, the Evans installed a system allowing patrons to receive the movie’s sound track through their car or portable radios instead of wired speakers.

The sound system was provided by a Wheatland, Colorado-based company called Minicast Corp., and must have been one of the earlier instances of the use of low-power radio for sound at drive-ins. It used an AM frequency rather than the FM which later became common for this purpose. The article mentions that operator R.L. Stanger had designed the Evans Drive-In himself.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bradlick Theatre on Feb 21, 2010 at 2:21 am

A few interior photos of the Bradlick Theatre in Boxoffice, July 19, 1965. Captions say the house had 900 seats.

I’m glad I wasn’t a kid named Brad growing up in Annandale when this theater was operating. The mockery they must have endured!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theatre on Feb 21, 2010 at 1:18 am

The caption of this small photo of the Gem in Boxoffice of April 5, 1947, calls it the Rosalind Theatre, though a December 7, 1946, item had said that Bill Wegman’s new theater would be called the Gem. Further puzzlement is offered in Boxoffice of May 26, 1951, which refers to a Roseland Theatre in Homedale. I’m not sure if either of these is an actual aka for the Gem.

The caption of the 1947 photo also refers to a “makeshift” theater Bill Wegman had previously operated in Homedale. The earlier theater was also called the Gem. Boxoffice of May 22, 1937, said “The Gem Theatre of Homedale, Idaho, is reported to have opened recently.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Feb 20, 2010 at 3:14 am

The scheduled opening date for the State Theatre was September 12, 1939, according to Boxoffice of September 2. The State had 670 seats and had cost $65,000 to build. It was owned by Gene Custer and Floyd Price. The partners had opened the Lewis Theatre at Lewisburg, W.V., the previous week.

Boxoffice of December 17, 1938, said that E.R. Custer’s new theater at Charleston, on which construction was scheduled to begin soon, had been designed by F&Y Building Service, of Columbus, Ohio.

Gene Custer also operated the Custer Theatre in Charleston, which had opened in 1938.