Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Iowa Theatre on Mar 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm

What I gather from a 1989 monograph on Grinnell’s theaters (PDF file here) is that the Colonial Theatre was at the southwest corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue; was built in 1901 as the Opera House; had become the Colonial Theatre by 1912, when it began showing movies on nights when no live events were scheduled; presented the first talking pictures in Grinnell in 1929; had become a full-time movie theater by the mid-1930s; was at some later time renamed the Iowa Theatre; might have been called the State Theatre in its last years; was closed in 1960, and the building was later demolished by Grinnell College.

The paper is primarily about the Strand Theatre, and the Mart family which operated the Strand for most of its history, and the information about the Colonial is sparse and scattered. There is also a little bit of information about other theaters in Grinnell; Preston’s Opera House, and the Bijou, Lyric, and Star theaters. An Airdome is also mentioned.

There is a photo of the Colonial Theatre in the Arcadia Publishing Company’s book “Grinnell in Vintage Postcards.” The caption gives 1902 as the year of construction and gives 800 as the original seating capacity. It also says that the demolition took place in the 1970s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivoli Theater on Mar 20, 2011 at 2:09 am

The Rivoli Theatre was probably at the northwest corner of Logan Boulevard and Burgoon Road. A book called “Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Railway” has a photo of a streetcar coming around the bend on Logan Boulevard (see the Google map for the bend’s location,) approaching Burgoon Road, and the caption says the Rivoli is out of view on the left. The photo shows part of a parking lot that might have belonged to the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Stella Theater on Mar 20, 2011 at 1:34 am

A book published in 1921, “The Story of Council Grove on the Santa Fe Trail,” says that T.W. Whiting built the Stella Theatre in 1916 and gave the deed on the property to the daughter, Mrs. Glen Kelly, for whom the theater was named. The house was sold to W.R. Bratton in 1921. A book from 1912 reveals that Whiting’s full name was Thomas Wilbert Whiting.

Boxoffice of September 18, 1954, said that Cle Bratton was remodeling the Ritz Theatre at Council Grove. The item said the the Chief Drive-In would remain in operation until the Ritz reopened on October 31. Cle Bratton and the Chief Drive-In are mentioned in Boxoffice again in 1956.

The Ritz was being operated by Mary Picolet by 1986, when she was quoted in this Chicago Tribune article (which only mentions the theater in passing, but is about an event too entertaining for me not to link to it.) I’ve also found Mary Picolet mentioned as operator of the Ritz as late as 1997, so she might have run the place right up until its closing.

The 1912-1913 edition of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide listed an earlier theater in Council Grove, the Etta Opera House. I don’t know what became of it after 1921, when it was serving as an armory, or if it ever operated as a movie house, but small town opera houses of that era frequently did present movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Minski's Columbia Theatre on Mar 19, 2011 at 4:00 am

I’ve found two photos of the third Orpheum at Google Books, both showing only the front. I don’t think either of them are in the San Francisco Public Library’s digital collection.

Page 13 of this 1912 book has a medium-close photo of the Orpheum’s entrance, showing the elaborate detail of the marquee.

Page 22 of this 1912 volume of Architectural Record has a front-on view of the theater’s facade (the caption missnames Lansburgh as Landsberger.)

A 1909 issue of The Architect and Engineer has an article about the Orpheum’s ventilation systems. No pictures, but it provides a rather thorough description of the structure’s “lungs.”

Another 1912 book has a brief biography of Lansburgh, though it only mentions the Orpheum in passing.

The Orpheum is mentioned in quite a few other public domain books that can be read at Google Books (at least in the U.S.– some books are blocked in other countries) but they don’t give many details, and I’ve found no other photos in any of those I’ve looked into.

The Orpheum was designed while Lansburgh was still part of the firm of Lansburgh & Joseph, in partnership with architect Bernard Julius Joseph.

The name Minski is puzzling me. The famous New York City burlesque king was named Minsky. Was some San Franciscan actually named Minski, or was the operator just trying to associate his theatre with Minsky’s in the public mind, while trying to avoid getting sued by the actual Minsky?

The only other place on the Internet I can find the name Minski’s Columbia Theatre is this page (scroll way down to reach the O'Farrell Street section,) which gives a different name history for the house than the one in the description above:[quote]“Orpheum 1909-1929 – designed by G. Albert Lansburgh
Orpheum Theatre
Columbia 1930
Erlanger’s Columbia 1931-1934
Minski’s Columbia 1935
Columbia 1936-1937”[/quote]The page is unsigned, but says “The information on this list was compiled from vertical files in the Art and Music Center of the San Francisco Public Library, city directories, motion picture directories, daily papers, and the very meticulous research of Jack Tillmany.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Congress Hall on Mar 19, 2011 at 1:43 am

This 1908 book mentions the Congress Hall Scenic Temple in South Boston, managed by James F. Powers. Apparently the house used both names simultaneously, probably to differentiate itself from other theaters in the area called the Scenic Temple.

There are many references to Scenic Temples in Boston, but there were multiple theaters using the name and I’ve been unable to sort them out. A 1914 Moving Picture World item concerns a William Bradstreet, who was planning to rebuild his Scenic Temple Theatre in Boston. He was said to be the owner of a chain of theaters in the area, so he might have operated the Congress Hall house and other Scenic Temple locations as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Winthrop Hall Theatre on Mar 19, 2011 at 12:34 am

Comedian Fred Allen’s memoir, Much Ado About Me, mentions Winthrop Hall in Upham’s corner being an upstairs theater. In 1914, when Allen first appeared on the theatre’s stage as a juggler, Winthrop Hall was presenting nightly shows consisting of a two-reel comedy, a feature picture, and three acts of vaudeville.

Here is a vintage postcard of Uphams Corner, probably from the early 1920s. Winthrop Hall is the red brick building at center, with the gabled roof and stubby corner tower as described above. The style of the building is Romanesque Revival.

The Winthrop Hall Theatre is listed in a 1918 Boston business directory. Winthrop Hall is listed in the 1929 Film Daily Yearbook, but I’ve only got a snippet view so I don’t know if it was listed as closed or not. I haven’t found it mentioned in Boxoffice at all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about SouthSide Works Cinema on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:36 pm

The Baltimore architectural firm Development Design Group, Inc., designed this Neo-Vintage project. The historical inspiration is predominantly Art Deco.

SouthSide Works Cinema appears to still be operated by Cleveland Cinemas, a small, regional chain which took over in 2006, two years after the house opened. SouthSide Works Cinema is mentioned on this page of their web site. It is not included in the site’s movie listings section (probably because all the chain’s other theaters are in or near Cleveland or Akron,) but that page has a link to the SouthSide Works' own web page.

The building is owned by the Stoffer Organization, developers of the entire SouthSide Works project. The current general manager of the cinema is named George Petrus.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Greene 14 + IMAX on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

This multiplex was designed by the Baltimore architectural firm Development Design Group, Inc.. Rave now bills the house as the Greene 14 + IMAX.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about AMC Classic Centro Ybor 10 on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

The Centro Ybor 20 was designed by the Baltimore architectural firm Development Design Group, Inc., which has been designing Muvico’s themed theaters since 1997.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinemaland on Mar 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Colorado Place splits off from Huntington Drive almost in front of the theater (it’s a double-curved “Y” intersection, with Huntington veering southward while Colorado Place bends north.) The City of Arcadia must have decreed at some time after 1950 that the numbers on the north side of that block be reassigned from Huntington Drive to Colorado Place, because that’s where they are now.

The theater was called Edwards Santa Anita for about two decades. The name Santa Anita was on the marquee until the early 1960s (I don’t recall the exact year,) when it was changed to Cinemaland. However, for as long as I remember, the theater always had a vertical sign that said Edwards, in letters larger than those used for the marquee name. The same was true at Edwards San Gabriel, which was renamed Edwards Century about the same time Edwards Santa Anita became Edwards Cinemaland.

Most of the old Edwards circuit houses had the company name on their signage, though at most of them it was in small, white neon script over the theater names themselves, so it was barely visible by daylight, and not very noticeable even by night. The San Gabriel and Santa Anita were the only houses I recall having the big vertical Edwards signs, but a smaller vertical reading Edwards was featured on the Edwards Village Theatre in Azusa.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Classic Theatre on Mar 17, 2011 at 7:17 am

A theater of the style the photos reveal would not have been first opened as late as 1935. Possibly 1935 is when Famous Players began operating the house. I’d guess the construction of the house to date from the late 1910s-early 1920s.

Perhaps the Classic was the theater then in the planning stage which was mentioned in the trade union journal The Bridgeman’s Magazine, issue of September, 1920. The house for C. Georgas and P. Leos was to be a two-story concrete, brick, and steel structure costing about $125,000 (presumably in Canadian dollars.) It was being designed by Toronto architects Hall & Duerr.

Boxoffice in 1954 mentioned two theaters that were then operating in Owen Sound; the Roxy and the Centre. The Roxy is the house now called the Owen Sound Little Theatre, built in 1912, but the Centre is unaccounted for, and it might have been the 1920 project by Hall & Duerr, so the Classic cannot yet be definitely attributed to them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Novelty Theatre on Mar 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

The Novelty Theatre was in operation by 1909, when it was listed as a business subscriber to the trade union journal The Railroad Trainman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:21 am

See my comment on the Rex Theatre page. Yale was the opening name of the Rex, so this page is redundant.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theater on Mar 15, 2011 at 4:21 am

The book Washington County by Michelle M. Martin says that the Rex Theatre was built in 1915 and originally called the Yale.

There’s a small photo of the facade of the Yale Theatre in an ad for a popcorn machine that was published in the May, 1917, issue of Photoplay (result 4 of 5 for Yale– page 155.) There’s a bit of Art Nouveau decoration on the building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theatre on Mar 15, 2011 at 3:29 am

A bit of the Colonial Theatre’s history can be found on this web page, along with a photo and an early theater program (click on them to enlarge.)

Information about the building’s later history is featured on this web page about the business that took over the space after the theater closed. It has a couple more photos.

A small interior photo of the auditorium can be seen in Moving Picture World, July 12, 1913.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on Mar 15, 2011 at 3:05 am

PSTOS provides this photo showing the Ritz ca.1942.

Spokane Heritage Tours has this photo (click tiny thumbnail) of Rocky Rococo, the restaurant that currently occupies the former Ritz Theatre. This site classifies the architectural style of the building as Italian Renaissance. While the facade certainly has some Italianate features, I’d say that the tiled pent roof, the narrow windows at each side, and the interesting little spired domes at each front corner (these are almost Art Deco) are all much more characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival style that was popular all over the western United States (and in Florida) during the 1920s.

An item in the Spokane Spokesman-Review said that part of the theater’s historic interior can still be seen in the back of the restaurant. Maybe somebody in Spokane can check it out and report on how much of it remains.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Mar 13, 2011 at 4:00 am

This page duplicates this listing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olympia Theatre on Mar 11, 2011 at 4:00 am

The caption of this 1911 photo from Maine Memory contradicts some of the information about this theater from other sources. It says that the Nickle Theatre was located in the Graham Building, which was on Central Street. The article Kirky linked to also says that the Nickle was on Central Street.

As early nickelodeons were sometimes peripatetic, perhaps the house moved from Union Street to Central Street (or vice-versa) at some time in its brief career. Perhaps it moved to the Union Street location after the Graham Building was destroyed by the fire of 1911.

This house might have been called the Olympia Theatre after was called the Nickle. Another page in the book from which ken mc’s linked photo came says that the Olympia burned down in 1963, though by that time the building had long since been converted to retail use.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theater on Mar 11, 2011 at 1:22 am

The Bijou was “The Prettiest Playhouse in Maine” according to the text of their advertisement in the 1914 edition of the Maine Automobile Road Book. There is a photo of the Bijou’s reasonably pretty auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Mar 11, 2011 at 12:50 am

Moving Picture World of July 24, 1915, mentions the Plaza Theatre and John Himmelein. The house was originally called the Ivanhoe Theatre:

“The Ivanhoe theater, of Sandusky, recently constructed by Charles L. Blatz, has been brought under the control of John A. Himmelein, owner of the Sandusky and other houses, and its name has been changed to the Plaza. The house operated for a short time as a vaudeville theater, but the plan of the new management, it is understood. Is to show feature films only. It is being redecorated throughout, and will be one of the handsomest theaters in that part of Ohio.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crystal Theatre on Mar 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Moving Picture World of November 22, 1913, provides this item about the Crystal Theatre, with a small photo of the front. The nickle house, managed by J.A. Lemke, ran Universal pictures exclusively.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Trojan Theatre on Mar 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

The November 22, 1913, issue of Moving Picture World featured an article about the University Theatre (scroll down just a bit) with a small photo of the original facade. J.O. Canfield and C.J. Wagner were the operators of the house.

The theater’s mirror screen, the first of its kind in Los Angeles, was 12x16 feet. The programs consisted entirely of movies and music, the stage being only six feet deep. The 48x104-foot auditorium originally seated about 600. The University Theatre was open only in the evenings, except for one Saturday a month when free shows were presented for children.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Post Street Theatre on Mar 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

The November 9, 1913, issue of Moving Picture World had a brief item about this house:

“The American Theater at Spokane, Wash., has been reopened with pictures, although it is announced that later it will go into a vaudeville circuit, in which the Advance Amusement Company, of Portland, Ore., is active. The lighting system has been replaced by a semi-indirect plan and the entire theater interior has been re-decorated.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mission Theatre on Mar 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Trade journal Moving Picture World ran this item about Turner & Dahnken’s Theatre De Luxe in its issue of November 9, 1913.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theater on Mar 10, 2011 at 2:13 am

The Rex Theatre was on the north side of W. Riverside Avenue a few doors east of Washington Street. WorthPoint currently has a postcard on display (second card in the popup slide show- some browsers might not be able to fetch it) which they date 1955. The Rex was open at that time, showing a Bette Davis movie.

If the date is correct, the movie was probably “The Virgin Queen” (the marquee isn’t really readable in the online display.) The newest cars I can pick out on the street appear to be from the early 1950s, so the Rex was certainly open at least that late. It’s definitely the same building as the one in the 1913 photo I linked to in my previous comment, too. The arch is recognizable, though partly obscured by a modern marquee.