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Motion Picture Times of June 24, 1930, said that the new Liberty Theatre at Tyler, Tex., had opened on on June 18. The owners and operators of the house were Mr. and Mrs. William Shieldes. They had earlier operated the Queen Theatre in Tyler, but had sold it to the Dent circuit, which in turn had been bought by Publix. The opening feature at the new Liberty was “Blaze of Glory.”
The May 6, 1944, issue of Boxoffice said that William Shieldes had begun his exhibition career in Tyler in 1919, that he had operated as an independent until 1934, and had joined the Interstate Circuit in 1935. In 1944 he was city manager at Tyler for Interstate.
The August 10, 1940, issue of Boxoffice said that the Tyler Theatre had recently opened to overflow crowds. The opening was attended by actor Brian Donlevy, star of the first feature shown at the new house, “The Great McGinty.”
Interstate had been planning the Tyler Theatre since 1937. According to the November 13, 1937, issue of Boxoffice, the circuit had hired architect W. Scott Dunne to design the new theater, but Dunne had died suddenly, delaying the project.
As with the Interstate Circuit’s Alabama Theatre in Houston, also put on hold by the Dunne’s death, the Tyler Theatre was ultimately designed by the firm of Pettigrew & Worley. Four photos of the Tyler’s Art Moderne auditorium were published in the February 22, 1941, issue of Boxoffice.
This theater must be the one mentioned in the November 4, 1944, issue of Boxoffice. The item said that the new theater owned by Louis Long and Walter Gregg was nearing completion at Third and Washington in Phoenix. The house was in a building converted from a garage. Plans for the conversion were drawn by the Phoenix architectural firm of Lescher & Mahoney.
I’ve found a reference to the Gila Theatre in Boxoffice Magazine as early as August 14, 1948, but don’t find it mentioned later than 1952. The area around 1914 W. Thatcher looks to be of fairly recent development, so it seems unlikely that the Gila would have been built out there so long ago, unless it was a drive-in (which I don’t think it was.) Nevertheless, CinemaTour places the Gila Theatre at that address. I think that’s probably wrong.
There’s currently a Walgreen’s on the south side of the street and an older-looking shopping center on the north side. Google Street View doesn’t get close enough to see if anything in the shopping center looks like it might have been a theater, and Bing Maps has no bird’s eye view of the location, but Google search brings up an address of 1970 W. Thatcher for the Mount Graham Shopping Center, and the October 16, 1972, issue of Boxoffice said that a single-screen Jerry Lewis Theatre had recently opened in that center, with 350 seats. This might have become the Cinema 1, but there’s a hitch with the location.
I find Cinema 1 popping up at the address 1914 Thatcher on a number of web sites, but there’s also a theater at the east end of town, at 555 Entertainment Avenue, currently operating as the Victory Discount Cinema, and its sign is visible at the side of Thatcher Boulevard in Google Street View. I’m pretty sure that sign says Cinema 1. The picture is probably a couple of years old. Could there have been two Cinema 1 operations in Safford?
There’s still a movie theater open in the Mount Graham Shopping Center, too. Boxoffice Mojo brings up a 5-screen, called the Sapphire Cineplex, at 1998-B W. Thatcher. From the address it doesn’t sound as though it would be the Jerry Lewis Theatre (possible Cinema 1) expanded.
Historically, Safford also had a Ramona Theatre, operated by Long’s Theatres, as late as 1949. There might also have been a Pima Theatre around 1960 (the Boxoffice reference is vague) and there is another vague Boxoffice reference to a new theater being operated by Long’s in 1974, with no name given. There was also at least one drive-in.
Anyway, Safford is one of those confusing places about which information is, if not scanty, often vague. For now, the address of the Gila Theatre remains one of the town’s many mysteries.
I just found a reference to the Gila Theatre at Safford in the August 14, 1948, issue of Boxoffice, so disregard my speculation that it was a later name for the Ramona Theatre.
A half interest in the Safford Theatre was acquired by Louis Long in 1926, according to an article about him in the May 14, 1949, issue of Boxoffice. It was Louis Long’s first venture into exhibition in Arizona. His older brother, J.G. Long, had been operating theaters in other parts of Arizona since 1919.
Safford was for many years the headquarters of the Long circuit, which had grown to 18 theater by 1939. After 1940, Long formed a partnership with Griffith Theatres which lasted a number of years. By 1945, he was operating 40 theaters.
Long also operated a theater called the Ramona at Safford. I’ve only found it mentioned in 1942 and 1949. Perhaps it was an earlier name for the Gila Theatre, which I’ve found mentioned in Boxoffice no earlier than 1951.
There have been at least two theaters called the Oasis in Ajo. The theater moved to a new location in 1948. The earlier Oasis was reported as a 550-seat house opened by Griffith Theatres on July 27, 1940, in the August 3 issue of Boxoffice that year. The August 14, 1948, issue of Boxoffice that year said that the Oasis Theatre had been closed and was being remodeled to become part of the New Cornelia Company store.
The August 28, 1948, issue of Boxoffice ran this story datelined Ajo:
“The 650-seat Oasis Theatre, built here by the Phelps Dodge Corp., opened recently with Mrs. Blanche Franck as manager. The Oasis boasts a large neon sign and a deeply wainscoted lobby with walls painted in ivory and green. Construction of the house included a cry room, waiting rooms, rest rooms and late model projection and sound equipment.”
The Oasis Theatre was, like the rest of the center of the town, designed in a Spanish Colonial/Mission style, and the new theater might have been put into a building already existing in 1948. The building is currently occupied by the Oasis Cafe. The address is 28 W. Plaza Street, Ajo, AZ, 83521. (West Plaza also appears on maps as Morondo Street, but Google Maps gives a more accurate location using the W. Plaza address.) CinemaTour has a slew of photos by Adam Martin. This blog post has two photos of the interior.
I’ve never seen either theater firsthand, so I couldn’t say anything about the interiors, but, judging from the photos, the exteriors (Brookhaven and Sayville) are quite similar.
Correcting my comment above: The issue of Boxoffice I cited used a variant spelling of the architect’s name. It should read Maurice D. Sornik.
Correcting my comment above: The 1966 issue of Boxoffice used a variant spelling of the architect’s name. It should read Maurice D. Sornik.
The August 30, 1971, issue of Boxoffice published an article about the UA Quartet. A cutaway drawing illustrating the arrangement of the new auditoriums was included. The architect for the conversion of the Roosevelt Theatre into the UA Quartet was Maurice Sornick.
The December, 1982, issue of Boxoffice said that a four-plex to be called The Movies was soon to open in Kingman. A four-plex built at Kingman for ECA (the parent company of The Movies) is included on this list of theaters designed by architect Thomas Berkes.
The original Essex Green Cinema opened as a single screen house seating about 1000 in 1966. The October 10 issue of Boxoffice that year ran a brief article about the new General Cinemas house. It said that Maurice D. Sornick was the architect.
The April 10, 1972, issue of Boxoffice reported that the theater had been renamed the Essex Green Twin Cinemas on the opening (March 29) of a second auditorium accommodating and additional 800 seats.
The June 4, 1979, issue of Boxoffice said that General Cinema’s Essex Green was slated to reopen as a triplex on June 15. The conversion was accomplished by splitting the second auditorium in two. The original main auditorium remained open during the conversion.
Mike: On your initial search results page, check the box marked “previous names” and hit “search” again. The current name will come up in new results.
The ca.1949 Art Moderne remodeling of the Senate Theatre was designed by Detroit architect Ted Rogvoy. At the time of the remodeling the house was operated by the Broder circuit.
The Senate was one of three Rogvoy-designed theater remodeling projects featured in an article published in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice. The article featured before and after photos of the Senate’s facade.
The original classical facade had been disfigured by the addition of a bulky art deco marquee in the 1930s, and Rogvoy replaced it with the porcelain enamel front and tall sign the building still sports.
The other theaters remodeled by Rogvoy that were featured in the Boxoffice article were the Roxy and the Ace.
The April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice featured a rendering of the Genesee Theatre by its architect, Michael J. DeAngelis. One of the earliest shopping center theaters, it was built by the Albanese Brothers and operated under lease by the Kallet Theatre Corporation.
The Roxy was one of three remodeling projects featured in an article in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice. All three projects were designed by Detroit architect Ted Rogvoy. Prior to the remodeling the Roxy featured a facade dating back forty years when the building was erected for retail space. Most of its features remained intact when the building was later converted into a theater.
Rogvoy updated the house with an Art Moderne porcelain enamel front that also stretched across an adjacent shop building. Above the theater entrance was a sign tower with ROXY spelled out vertically in block letters on all four sides. It was quite an elaborate remodeling for a 24-hour grind house.
The photo at Water Winter Wonderland (ken mc’s link above) does not depict the Roxy Theatre, but the later Roxy bar located down the block.
The Art Moderne remodeling of the Ace Theatre was the work of architect Ted Rogvoy. It was pictured in an article in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice, along with two more recent remodeling projects by Rogvoy. The article dated the Ace project to “…just before the war….”
The Brookhaven Theatre was designed by architects John and Drew Eberson. Photos of it accompanied an article by John Eberson in the April 1, 1950, issue of Boxoffice. Prudential’s new Art Moderne house seated 872, with 668 in the orchestra nad 204 in the balcony.
The February 2, 1946, issue of Boxoffice said that the Pittman Brothers' Delta Theatre had opened on January 25. The first movie shown was “Anchors Aweigh.”
The February 2, 1946, issue of Boxoffice reported that Robb and Rowley’s new Stevens Theatre had opened after months of delay. The new house was designated R&R’s first-run theater for the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. R&R also operated the Texas, Bison, Rosewin, Midway and Astor theaters in the area.
The Village Theatre had been scheduled to open on August 15, 1941, according to the issue of Boxoffice dated the following day.
Boxoffice of August 26, 1968, confirms that “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” would be the first roadshow movie presented at the Village Theatre. The date planned for reopening the house after remodeling was December 20.
A drawing of the proposed Eastwood Theatre by its architect, Michael J. DeAngelis, appeared in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of August 16, 1941.
Loew’s State is already listed at Cinema Treasures, though at 1014 Main Street.
The State at 5913 Washington Street must be the one that was mentioned in the August 2, 1941, issue of Boxoffice: “R.Z. Glass said the opening of his new State in Houston would take place Friday, August 1.”
I don’t know if that State Theatre is already listed here under some other name or not. I can’t find it with a search on previous names, so it’s either not listed or is listed but missing the State aka.
Robert K. Headley’s book “Maryland’s Motion Picture Theaters” attributes the design of the AACO Theatre (for Aberdeen Amusement Company) to architect William O. Sparklin.
Sparklin practiced in Florida later in his career and, according to the May 1, 1948, issue of Boxoffice he was engaged to design a 600-seat theater in the 1900 block of Grand Central (now renamed Kennedy Blvd.) in Tampa for George Stonaris. I don’t know if the project was built or not. Google Maps doesn’t show any theater-like buildings on that block, and nothing in that area is currently listed at Cinema Treasures.