Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paris Theatre on Jan 6, 2010 at 4:57 am

This house was once called the Wiggins Theatre, and was operated by A.P. Wiggins. He sold the theater to K. Lee Williams Theatres in 1942, and the August 8 issue of Boxoffice reported that it had been reopened as the Logan after extensive remodeling. The earliest mention of the Wiggans I’ve found was in 1939, but it might have been operating before then.

Boxoffice of February 5, 1949, reported that the three-story building housing the Logan Theatre and the apartment occupied by its manager, H.C. Williams, had been destroyed by fire. On December 10, 1949, Boxoffice said the K. Lee Williams circuit intended to build a 750-seat theater to replace the one that had burned the previous winter. However, the June 24, 1950, issue said that the remodeling of the Logan, which had been “…heavily damaged by fire last year….” was nearing completion. The house was rebuilt in the stadium style, with 600 seats.

I’ve found the Logan Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice as late as January 18, 1965. I’ve been unable to discover when the name was changed to Paris Theatre.

A January 25, 1960, Boxoffice article about K. Lee Williams Theatres' plans to keep the Logan Theatre open only four days a week says this: “Williams Theatres of De Queen also operates the Strand and Auto theatres here.” That’s the only mention of an Auto Theatre in Paris that I’ve come across. I don’t think it was another name for the Paris Drive-In, which a 1975 Boxoffice item said had always been operated by the Zeiler family. It’s also the last mention of the Strand I can find.

The Strand was pretty old, though. The earliest mention of the Strand I’ve found is in the Motion Picture Times of November 17, 1928. Boxoffice of July 3, 1937, reported that the Strand had been completely remodeled. The house is mentioned frequently through the 1940s and early 1950s, then vanishes after 1960 until the November 21, 1977, issue of Boxoffice reported that the old Strand Theatre at Paris was being demolished to make way for a bank parking lot. It must have been closed for along time by then.

The Paris Drive-In was opened on June 5, 1950, by Mr. and Mrs. Emil Zeiler (an item announcing the opening spelled the name Seiler and included Emil’s brother Aloysius as a co-owner.) The Zeilers were still the operators when Boxoffice of August 11, 1975, ran an item about the drive-in’s 25th anniversary.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Murray Hill Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:32 am

Boxoffice of January 8, 1949, said that work had begun on a new theater in the Murray Hill district of Jacksonville. The architect was William Marshall. The caption of a photo of the Murray H ill Theatre on this web page also attributes the design to Marshall.

The caption also says the theater now “…operates as an alcohol-free, smoke free, night club featuring live faith based music.”

This is the theater’s web site, which says that the current operation is celebrating its 14th anniversary.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Robinhood Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:28 am

The May 25, 1970, issue of Boxoffice reported that the former Robinhood Theatre was being razed to make way for a small, decorative mall, part of a beautification project in downtown Grand Haven.

A death notice in Boxoffice of November 11, 1950, datelined Grand Haven, says this: “Charles L. Davis, 62, owner and operator of the Airdome and Vaudette, first motion picture houses here, died here recently. After selling his theatres, he managed the Grand and Robin Hood theatres for Mrs. Margaret Vandenberg.”

Mrs. Vanden Berg (as her name was given in most Boxoffice items about her) also had a theater called the Crescent at Grand Haven, opened in 1925 and closed in 1939. A Mrs. Cora Vanden Berg, former owner of the Crescent Theatre, died at Grand Haven in 1944. I don’t know if Cora and Margaret were the same person or were perhaps sisters-in-law.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:25 am

The Strand was built as a 900-seat house in 1920, according to Boxoffice of April 8, 1968, but its seating capacity was reduced to 500 after the 1960 fire destroyed the balcony.

The Gratiot County Players web site has several historic photos of the Strand, plus one of another movie house, the Alma, which it says was earlier called the Idle Hour Theatre.

A 1917 publication called Michigan Film Review mentions both an Idle Hour Theatre and a Liberty Theatre operating in Alma at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lorain-Fulton Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:22 am

The Lorain-Fulton Theatre was owned by members of the Urbansky family until 1951. John, Harry, and Thomas Urbansky are mentioned frequently in Boxoffice from 1935 through the 1950s.

Thomas Urbansky opened a theater called the Jennings at Cleveland in 1916, according to The Music Trade Review of November 25 that year. In the absence of an address, I’ve been unable to determine if the Jennings is already listed at Cinema Treasures under a later name. It was operating as the Jennings at least as late as 1946, the last time I find it mentioned in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Trail Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:11 am

The Trail made the cover of Boxoffice, October 6, 1951.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Buccaneer Drive-In on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:09 am

The Buccaneer Drive-In opened in 1952. The original owner was Arnulfo Gonzales. The architect, according to Boxoffice of January 24, 1953, was Beverly W. Spillman Sr., of Spillman & Spillman in San Antonio.

Spillman was for a time a member of the advisory board or the Modern Theatre Institute, and though he is frequently mentioned in Boxoffice I’ve only been able to pin down one other theater he designed that was completed, that being the former West Theatre at George West, Texas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Quaker Cinema on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:00 am

The Quaker was built for the Shea circuit. Shea then already operated a theater called the Union in New Philadelphia. The Union Theatre had been built as the Union Opera House in 1863, according to Boxoffice of July 1, 1939, which reported that the new Shea house was under construction.

However, Boxoffice of June 22, 1940, reported that ground had just been broken for Shea’s new house at New Philadelphia, so unless they built two theaters there in that short space of time (I can’t find any evidence that they did) the original project must have been delayed.

I haven’t found the opening month for the Quaker, but the November 9, 1940, issue of Boxoffice reported that, following the opening of the Quaker, admission prices at the Union Theatre had been reduced.

Shea operated both the Quaker and the Union into the 1950s. The last mention of the Union I’ve found is in Boxoffice of October 30, 1954. I don’t know what became of the building after that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vernon Plaza Theatre on Jan 5, 2010 at 1:51 am

The February 28, 1977, issue of Boxoffice reported that Mr. and Mrs. James G. Barton had bought the Plaza Theatre and had “…plans to split the 1,100-seat theatre from front to back into two 30-foot auditoriums within the next several months.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uptown Theatre on Jan 4, 2010 at 5:13 am

The Uptown at Kirkland Lake was one of the theaters at which General Theatre Supply of Toronto had recently installed a screen, according to an item in Boxoffice of July 1, 1939. It probably opened that year.

There was also a Capitol Theatre in Kirkland Lake, located on Prospect Avenue, and a Strand Theatre, located on Government Road. Both were operating during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on Jan 4, 2010 at 4:40 am

Here is a picture of the Capitol not long after it opened, from Boxoffice of September 10, 1938. A March 12, 1938, Boxoffice item had said that the new theater being built at Larder Lake was one of two projects designed by Toronto architect Herbert G. Duerr. The other project was an extensive remodeling of the Strand Theatre at Kirkland Lake.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brownie Theatre on Jan 3, 2010 at 2:42 am

The September 23, 1950, issue of Boxoffice mentioned the Brownie Theatre. It said that Bob Dean had taken over management of the Manring and Brownie theater from Vic Wintle.

A March 22, 1941, item says “Phoenix Amusement Company, which has long been operating Schine’s Manring and Brownie theatres here under lease arrangements, has acquired the buildings housing the theatres from Charles Otto Brown.”

Phoenix was probably the local operating company set up by Schine.

My guess would be that C.O. Brown had named the Brownie Theatre after himself. The Middlesboro Cemetery has Brown, Charles Otto listed, 02/06/1889-10/21/1942. Assuming it’s the same Charles Otto Brown, given his age there’s no telling how long he was in the theater business at Middlesboro. The Brownie might have been a very old theater.

This is probably nothing to do with the Brownie, but at the far left in this photo of Middlesboro, which looks to be from the early 1960s, could that be a fragment of a theater marquee, or is it just a rather theatrical shop marquee?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Manring Theater on Jan 3, 2010 at 1:19 am

I’ve found a reference to the Manring Theatre in a Stanford, Kentucky, newspaper called The Interior Journal, issue of December 13, 1907. The April 21, 1905, issue of the same paper carried a single line in a section of news from Middlesboro saying “J. L. Manring buys the opera house and library building.”

A 2005 book called “Coal and Culture: Opera Houses in Appalachia” contains a reference to a “New Manring Theatre” in 1922, and in a list headed “Opera Houses Studied” has this:

“Middlesboro(ough) Middlesborough (aka Princess/Manring) Theatre 1889”

I’ve been unable to discover if the New Manring Theatre in the 1922 reference was the same building as the earlier Princess/Manring Theatre, apparently built in 1889. The Princess Theatre is listed in Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide for 1904, the only Middlesboro house listed.

Here’s a link to a few paragraphs about J.L. Manring in a 1912 book digitized at Google Books. It mentions the Manring Theatre but doesn’t give any details about it. It reveals that Manring converted the library building he’d bought into a headquarters for the Manring Coal Exchange, one of his many enterprises.

Here is an undated photo of the Manring Theatre with the name “Manring” in stone above the entrance. It’s only two floors, unlike the Manring in later photos. Either the New Manring was a different building or the original building was altered and a third floor was added to it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Jan 3, 2010 at 12:01 am

Boxoffice of October 11, 1947, said that O.G. Roaden expected to have his new Park Theatre in Middlesboro open around Thanksgiving. I can’t find any announcements of the opening, but the Park is mentioned again in the May 29, 1948, Boxoffice which said that it had been equipped by the National Theatre Supply company.

The February 7, 1953,issue of Boxoffice said that the Park Theatre had been taken over by Price Coomer of Harlan, Kentucky. On March 4, 1956, Boxoffice announced that Price Coomer’s Park Theatre was down to four-day operation.

After that I don’t find the Park mentioned again until February 24, 1975, when it is referred to as the J.C. Park Theatre (for the only time) in an item that says the house was now being booked by Interstate Theatre Services rather than Tri-State.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hartford Theater on Jan 2, 2010 at 1:44 am

From the photo of the former Hartford Theatre, the building is recognizable as the house designed by architect Erwin G. Fredrick for Frank Walters and M.H. Scheidler, operators of the Orpheum and Jefferson theaters in Hartford City.

Mr. Fredrick’s rendering of the proposed theater was displayed in the “Just Off the Boards” feature of Boxoffice, August 17, 1946.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Modern Theater on Jan 2, 2010 at 12:47 am

The Modern Theatre in Manchester was mentioned in Boxoffice as early as the issue of June 22, 1940.

An October, 1982, Boxoffice item about the recent death of David H. Brinn, a retired Manchester projectionist and manager, said that he had been associated with the Modern Theatre there for 35 years.

A July 20, 1964, Boxoffice item named David Brinn as the projectionist at the Bedford Grove Drive-In, so the Modern was surely closed by that time. But if Brinn had spent 35 years there, the theater must have opened in the 1920s or earlier.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mazda Theater on Jan 2, 2010 at 12:43 am

The Mazda Theatre was opened in 1924 by brothers Dan and Ben Grobaski. In 1939 it was redecorated by the Teichert studio, as described in this article by Hanns Teichert in Boxoffice of September 16. The article said that the Mazda had 450 seats.

I can’t find either the Mazda Theatre or Dan Grobaski mentioned in Boxoffice later than 1946, but Ben Grobaski is mentioned as an operator at L'Anse in the November 1, 1952, issue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Congress Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 9:55 am

The Congress Theatre was remodeled about the time Reade bought it. There are before-and-after photos in Boxoffice of January 8, 1938. The design was by architect William H. Vaughan.

Vaughan, incidentally, was named for his grandfather, who had also been an architect and had designed a number of important buildings in Saratoga Springs, including the United States Hotel.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Silver Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 9:51 am

The announcement that the formal opening of the Silver Theatre had been held Wednesday and Thursday nights was made in Boxoffice of August 31, 1935. The building had been “reconstructed,” Boxoffice said, and “…replaces the old Silver Theatre, a landmark here for years.”

Despite the impression given by that item, Bennett & Straight’s version of the Silver Theatre was not entirely new construction, but a radical remodeling of the building that had been Bert Silver’s second theater in Greenville. A more extensive article about Mr. Silver and his theater appeared in Boxoffice of March 7, 1936. It includes not only photos, but before-and-after floor plans showing how extensive the alterations had been.

The article mentions that the Silver Theatre had earlier been Phelps' Opera House. An 1896 book called Headlight flashes along the Detroit, Lansing & Northern line says of this establishment (a converted livery stable, according to Boxoffice) “the commodious Phelps' opera house of twelve hundred seating capacity is well patronized.” The following page has an interior photo. I don’t think the rebuilt Silver was quite so capacious, but it was indeed large, as evidenced by the interior photos in Boxoffice.

Water Winter Wonderland has a page for the Silver Theatre with photos. It gives a closing date of 1986.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Virginia Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 9:00 am

The Virginia Theatre was actually a remodeling job for Bennett & Straight. Before and after photos appeared in Boxoffice, February 8, 1936. The theater probably dated from the nickelodeon era, and was a neighborhood house located a couple of miles north of downtown Detroit. The theater originally featured the arched facade so common in earlier movie theaters, but Bennett & Straight’s remodeling gave it a nice Art Deco front. Boxoffice ran no photos of the interior.

The Virginia Theatre is gone. Even the address for the theater no longer exists. That section of Hamilton Avenue has been converted into a frontage road for the John C. Lodge Freeway. Google Maps will find the approximate location if the street name John C. Lodge is used instead of Hamilton Avenue. Google’s street view is from the freeway itself and shows only an earth berm.

The same address at Bing Maps will fetch a birds-eye view showing that the entire business district of which the Virginia was a part has vanished from the face of the earth. The theater was probably very near the corner of Virginia Park Street, thus the name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 8:20 am

Boxoffice published an article about Emma Cox, operator of the Gem Theatre at Osceola since 1921, in its issue of January 15, 1938. By 1938, Miss Cox also operated the Gem Theatre at Joiner, Arkansas, and a theater at Leachville.

The September 23, 1939, issue of Boxoffice reported that Emma Cox had opened a second theater at Osceola on September 10. Miss Cox was holding a contest to name the 200-seat house. The October 14 issue of Boxoffice carried a notice of the opening of the Joy Theatre at Osceola by Emma Cox, but upped the seat count to 300. From then until her death in 1950, Miss Cox was often mentioned in Boxoffice as operator of the Gem and Joy theaters at Osceola.

The 500-seat Murr Theatre opened in Osceola on March 25, 1949, according to Boxoffice of April 2. The operator, according another item in the same issue, was named Moses Sliman. Emma Cox was still operating the Joy at that time, and it was sold as part of her estate in late 1950. A.B. Ward was mentioned in Boxoffice as the operator of the Gem and Joy theaters as late as the issue of December 15, 1951. The Murr must have been a third theater in Osceola.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Camelot 1-2-3 on Dec 31, 2009 at 3:55 am

Here is a link to the 1938 Boxoffice article about the Circle Theatre I mentioned above. On seeing the photos again I think I’d call the style Art Deco rather than Art Modern, though it was not the most costly Art Deco.

The article includes a list of a number of other theaters designed by Bennett & Straight.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capri Theater on Dec 31, 2009 at 3:37 am

The East Detroit Theatre opened Wednesday, November 27, 1935, as announced in Boxoffice of November 30. The 700-seat house was independently operated by Jeff Williams, who also operated the Roseville Theatre in the nearby town of that name.

Boxoffice called the design of the theater, done by the Dearborn firm of Bennett & Straight, “modernistic.” Most of that firm’s early to middle 1930s designs for neighborhood theaters of this size were what could be called a budget Art Deco.

Unfortunately, the only photo I can find (at Water Winter Wonderland) was taken after a later remodeling that gave the front a 1960’s-style fake mansard. But I guess it’s the sort of thing you’d expect in a town that would rename itself Eastpointe.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midway Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 3:19 am

A January 8, 1938, Boxoffice item about the new Circle Theatre in Dearborn mentions the Midway on a list of other theaters designed by the same local architecture firm, Bennett & Straight.

Boxoffice doesn’t say if the Midway was designed by the firm as new construction or was a remodeling job. The theater was closed by 1955, when the April 16 issue of Boxoffice mentions “Nathan Barnett, who used to be the operator of the now dismantled Midway at Dearborn….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Dec 31, 2009 at 2:52 am

A “Twenty Years Ago” feature in Boxoffice of August 28, 1948, quoted a 1928 Movie Age item saying “E. E. Gailey, operator of the Crystal in Wayne, Neb., will open his new Gay Theatre there soon.”

The November 30, 1929, issue of Movie Age reported that “Western Electric sound equipment has been installed in the new Gay Theatre at Wayne, Neb.” E.E. Gailey is mentioned as the manager in this item.

The Gay was mentioned in Boxoffice of November 25, 1939, as one of six theaters then being operated by the March brothers. All were being remodeled and/or redecorated by Al Hauetter of the Modern Theatre Decorators company of Kansas City.