Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Abalon Theatre on Apr 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

After being closed by United Theatres, the Abalon was dark for nearly a decade until Joseph Costello, owner of radio station WRNO, renovated and reopened the house as a venue for classic movies. A July 3, 1978, Boxoffice item about local protests against Costello’s plan to reopen the Abalon said that the theater was “…a thirty-year-old Algiers landmark….” A later Boxoffice item gave the opening year of the Abalon as 1951.

Boxoffice of April 2, 1979, quoted New Orleans movie and theater critic Al Shae’s comments on the renovated Abalon from his review of “Harold and Maude,” then playing at the house: “The new-old Abalon Theatre is the ideal setting for this fine film. The large 665-seat theatre is as clean as a whistle with expensive Dolby sound. Spacious, deeply cushioned chairs are comfortable with nary a bad seat in the house.”

The Abalon was still operating in 1983, when Boxoffice ran an article about Joseph Costello (He Went Into Films On His Ear, left column, right-hand page.) This article said that Costello, who had begun his career as a disk jockey, had presented live concerts by major rock bands at the Abalon, and frequently offered combined shows featuring movies and live performances by local bands. He also expanded his interests in exhibition, opening several additional theatres so that, by 1983, he operated more screens within the city of New Orleans than any other exhibitor.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orangeburg Theatre on Apr 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Boxoffice of July 18, 1966, said that the Orangeburg Theatre had hosted 350 industry guests at the opening on July 7, at which a sneak preview of the Frank Sinatra movie “Assault on a Queen” was presented. The new house had 600 seats. The Orangeburg was operated by Lesser Theatres, a small circuit headed by Howard Lesser. The circuit then operated theaters at Mt. Kisco, Spring Valley, Lynnbrook, and Yorktown, and had a theater under construction in Peekskill. All were first-run operations.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about DeSoto Theater on Apr 21, 2010 at 1:13 am

The DeSoto Theatre was opened in February, 1951, by Florida State Theatres. The 709-seat house was a replacement for the circuit’s Star Theatre.

This article in Boxoffice of November 15, 1952, has a photo of the DeSoto’s auditorium. The new theater was designed by the Jacksonville architectural firm Kemp, Bunch & Jackson.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Blue Bird Theater on Apr 21, 2010 at 12:57 am

This page about Orangeburg’s theaters gives the original address of the Edisto as 42 W. Russell Street. Orangeburg has apparently renumbered its lots since the sources the SCMT web site used were published.

The Edisto was operated by J.I. Sims. The various items about the house in Boxoffice are a bit sketchy, and the Edisto might or might not have originally been called the Reliance Theatre. It was to be a replacement for the older Reliance Theatre next door, at (old address) 44 W. Russell Street, which was then being operated by Sims.

Boxoffice of November 30, 1940, said: “J. I. Simms soon to start work on his new Reliance in Orangeburg. The new show will seat 650 and be the last word.”

The February 15, 1941, Boxoffice named a number of theaters at which Wil-Kin Theatre Supply had recently made equipment installations, and the Reliance was among them.

The March 1, 1941, issue of Boxoffice said: “J. I. Sims, who has the Reliance and Carolina in Orangeburg, S.C. has the walls and roof on his new theatre, unnamed as yet. No opening date has been set.” This is the only item in Boxoffice indicating that Sims was already operating a house called the Reliance.

Boxoffice of June 14, 1941, said: “J. I. Sims is planning to open his new theatre in Orangeburg S.C. about the first of July….” If that date was met, then the new theater might have opened as the Reliance, as Boxoffice of November 29, 1941, mentions J.I. Sims as operator of the Carolina and Reliance at Orangeburg. Or perhaps Boxoffice was simply not informed that the new house had been given a different name from that which had been announced earlier.

The earliest mention of the name Edisto in Boxoffice is in the issue of August 7, 1943, which mentions Sims as operator of the Edisto and Carolina theaters. Sims sold the Carolina in 1950, but continued to operate the Edisto until his death in 1957.

The Edisto was still operating as late as 1976, when Boxoffice of November 29 listed it among the numerous North and South Carolina houses then being operated by Martin Theatres. Martin was also operating the Cinema III in Orangeburg at that time.

There was an earlier Bluebird Theatre in Orangeburg, and that house was located at (old address) 49 E. Russell Street, according to South Carolina Movie Theatres. SCMT seems a bit puzzled about the fate of the original Bluebird, but an item in Boxoffice of November 17, 1975, said that Bob Hope had recently visited Orangeburg, where in 1924 he had performed at the Bluebird Theatre. The old Bluebird had been demolished in 1930, this item said. I don’t know how reliable it is, though, as the item doesn’t name a source for the information.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinema Rooms on Apr 21, 2010 at 12:50 am

This theater opened as the Cinema III in 1969, and was originally built for a small circuit called Winyah Bay Theatres. The target date for opening was July 1, according to an item in Boxoffice of March 17, 1969.

The 550-seat house was a deluxe single-screener, despite the name Cinema III. The company also operated a Cinema I and the Sumter Theatre in Sumter and the Astro Theatre in Greenville. With the exception of the older Sumter Theatre, all these houses were designed by architects Hiller & Associates. The Cinema III was equipped with an Ultra-Vision screen and 70mm projection.

Boxoffice of July 12, 1976, said that a second auditorium would be added to the Cinema III in Orangeburg. At that time the house was being operated by Martin Theatres. I’ve been unable to discover when the third screen was added, or whether it was in another new auditorium or if one of the first two auditoriums was split.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about East Side Theatre on Apr 21, 2010 at 12:39 am

Boxoffice of November 24, 1945, said that work was progressing on the Eastside Theatre in Savannah, and the new theater “for colored patronage” would open by February 22 the next year. The house was designed by Savannah architect Oscar M. Hansen.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tivoli Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

The location of the Tivoli, currently given above as Marysville, is actually Maryville. It was the same city in which Tivoli operator C.E. “Doc” Cook’s brother, Ray, operated the Missouri Theatre, which had been built by their father in 1926. Though the Missouri survives, the 1939 Tivoli has been demolished. The first Tivoli, which was in operation by 1929, was at another location and might still be standing.

I’ve been unable to find the opening date for the second Tivoli, but Boxoffice of September 9, 1939, reported that the Oklahoma Theatre Supply Company had recently installed 800 Heywood-Wakefield seats in the new house, so it must have been nearing completion by then. I’d surmise a late 1939 opening. I haven’t been unable to find a closing date, either, but Boxoffice of March 30, 1970, said that C.E. Cook’s son Jim was at that time operating both the Tivoli and the Dude Ranch Drive-In (built by “Doc” Cook in 1950) at Maryville. An item in the February 1, 1971, issue of Boxoffice indicated that the Tivoli was still in operation.

Boxoffice ran this article about the Tivoli in its issue of May 25, 1940. There are a few photos of the theater. In the exterior photo, a sliver of the adjacent building to the left shows an arched window and distinctive details on the parapet wall. These details can be seen in a current Google Street View, so that building survives, but the site next door, where the Tivoli was located, is now a parking lot, so the Tivoli has been demolished, except for what was probably the common side wall of the two buildings.

An additional photo of the Tivoli’s downstairs lounge area, called the “Rumpus Room,” can bee seen at upper left on this page in boxoffice of April 7, 1951.

Boxoffice of October 2, 1954, noted that C.E. “Doc” Cook had just celebrated the silver anniversary of his Tivoli Theatre in Maryville, so the first Tivoli must have either opened, or been acquired by, Mr. Cook in 1929. A 1938 Boxoffice item said that Cook intended to convert the old Tivoli’s building to another use when the new theater opened, so the old Tivoli building might have outlived its successor and could still be standing. A 1970 Boxoffice item said that the old Tivoli had been on the south side of the town square. Google Street View shows that block to be largely intact and to consist mostly of older buildings, so the odds of the old Tivoli’s survival are high.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Co-Ed Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 3:21 am

Boxoffice of December 3, 1938, said that the Co-Ed Theatre in Topeka had been designed by architect Trevor C. Jones. After working on four theaters that were mentioned in Boxoffice, he vanishes from the magazine. I suspect that, after the last of these projects, when he was Robert Boller’s associate on the Tivoli Theatre at Maryville, Missouri (not yet listed at Cinema Treasures, but here’s a Boxoffice article about it), he might have joined Boller’s firm and no longer worked under his own name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 3:05 am

The Ritz was a rebuilding of an older house called the Nueva Theatre, which had been severely damaged by a fire on March 15, 1937, according to Boxoffice of April 24 that year. Boxoffice of June 19 said that the opening of the Ritz was scheduled for June 23.

The architect for the rebuilding was Trevor C. Jones. Jones worked on at least three other theater projects. He designed the Co-Ed Theatre at Topeka, Kansas, the State Theatre at Mound City, Missouri, (with Clarence Kivett), and he was associated with Robert Boller in the design of C.E. Cook’s Tivoli Theatre at Maryville, Missouri, in 1939.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Carlisle Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:59 am

This will please Patsy. The Comerford/Carlisle Theatre was designed by architect Michael J. DeAngelis, and was the subject of this article by Helen Kent in Boxoffice of August 19, 1939. There are five photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinema 1 Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:25 am

The original 1935 owners of the El Rey were Lawrence Borg and John Peters. Later the house was taken over by Fox West Coast. In 1949, FWC departed and Borg and Peters resumed control of the house, according to Boxoffice of September 3 that year. Borg was noted as still being the operator of the El Rey at the time of his death, notice of which which was published in Boxoffice of November 13, 1954.

John Peters must have been related to William Peters, noted in multiple Boxoffice items of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s as operator of the El Rey at Manteca. robertgippy’s comment of January 31 this year above says that the two El Rey theaters were built by the same family, and were of very similar design.

William Peters was the original owner of the Manteca house, built the year after the Salinas El Rey. Manteca’s El Rey was designed by architects Otto A. Deichmann and Mark T. Jorgensen, so it seems likely that the same architects designed the Salinas El Rey as well, though I’ve been unable to find a source confirming it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Noe Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:23 am

Architects Otto A. Deichmann and Mark T. Jorgensen were preparing plans for the Noe Theatre, according to Motion Picture Herald of February 2, 1937.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Del Oro Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:21 am

The entry for architect Otto A. Deichmann in the 1956 edition of the AIA’s American Architect’s Directory includes the Del Oro Theatre at Grass Valley in the list of his works. The project is dated 1942. I’m not sure if Deichman’s partnership with Mark T. Jorgensen had been dissolved yet in 1942.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Haight Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:18 am

The Haight Theatre is listed among works attributed to architect Otto A. Deichmann in the 1956 edition of the AIA’s American Architects Directory.

As the Haight was built in 1937 I would assume that Deichmann’s partner of that period, Mark T. Jorgensen, was also involved in the project. I’ve been unable to find a listing for Jorgensen in the AIA’s online historical directory. It’s possible he was not a member of the organization.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:14 am

The March 3, 1951, issue of Boxoffice said that the Star Theatre had closed on February 17, due to the opening of Florida State Theatres' new DeSoto Theatre in Arcadia. The item said that the Star had been in operation for 42 years.

Boxoffice of September 19, 1953, said that the former Star Theatre was to be demolished and the site would become a parking lot. A Google search now turns up a Downtown Athletic Club at 20 S. Polk Ave. in Arcadia, and on the lot just north of it, where the Star’s address would be, you can see a parking lot in Google Maps street view, so the Star has been demolished.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:11 am

The Bijou was mentioned at least twice in Boxoffice in 1939. The operator was named O. Nakamichi. The November 13 issue that year said that Nakamichi had bought 600 new seats for the house from National Theatre Supply, and was also planning minor alterations to the lobby.

The Bijou was mentioned in issues of Boxoffice as late as 1947, when it was being operated by Andy Gorblisch, but Nakamichi vanished from the pages of the magazine until 1946.

The October 7, 1946, issue of Boxoffice has a brief obituary of Okanosake Nakamichi. It said that he had operated a theater in Visalia from 1911 until he was relocated to a prison camp in 1942. It doesn’t mention any theater names.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hyde Theatre on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:04 am

Boxoffice of May 7, 1955, said that Al Bain’s Redwood Investment company had bought the Hyde Theatre building and planned to erect a new commercial or office building on the site. As the Hyde’s building is still there today Bain must have found it more economical to simply convert the existing structure.

Also, I’ve found a one-line reference to the Grand Theatre in Visalia, managed by Phil Harris, in Boxoffice of November 5, 1949. The Grand remains a mystery.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Mark: I haven’t found any references to a third theater built on the model of the Lakewood and Tacoma projects, but if one was built it would probably have been built for one of the Forman companies; Forman United Theatres or Pacific Theatres. I’ll keep an eye out for evidence of such a project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Del Mar Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 2:01 am

Boxoffice announced the construction of this theater, as yet unnamed, in its issue of May 8, 1948. The owner of the project was J.H. Harris, and the house was to be operated under lease by Bob Smith. The theater was designed by San Bernardino architect Howard E. Jones.

Jones is best known as the architect of the 1926 San Bernardino County Courthouse, which has recently been restored, but I’ve also found him cited as the architect of a remodeling of a Savoy Theatre in San Bernardino in 1921. In addition, Jones designed the San Bernardino Municipal Auditorium (erected 1923) and was the lead architect of the 1924 Platt Building and West Coast Theatre in San Bernardino, a project on which Lewis A. Smith was associated.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crest 1 & 2 Cinema on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:58 am

The West Coast Theatre was part of an office-commercial project called the Platt Building, erected for local developer Frank C. Platt. The project, planned from the beginning to include a large theater, was designed by San Bernardino architect Howard E. Jones.

The West Coast Theatres circuit signed a lease for the theater before the project was publicly announced. West Coast brought in Los Angeles architect Lewis A. Smith, who had designed a number of projects for the circuit, to work in association with Jones on the details of the theater. Jones was not unexperienced in theater design, having been the architect of the San Bernardino Municipal Auditorium, erected in 1923. He is also credited with the rebuilding of a Savoy Theatre at San Bernardino in 1921, and late in his career designed the Arrow Theatre at Fontana, California.

Fred Stein Theatres acquired the West Coast Theatre in 1960, and immediately began renovations. The house reopened as the Crest in June that year, according to Boxoffice of June 20.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:45 am

Since posting the comment immediately above I have done more searching in Boxoffice and have found that Ben Mayer, who the magazine said had designed the Tacoma Mall Theatre, was in fact an industrial and graphics designer, not an architect.

Therefore I think it’s safe to accept the Tacoma Library’s claim that the architect of the Tacoma Mall Theatre was George T. Nowak, of George T. Nowak & Associates, architect of the nearly identical Lakewood Center Theatre in Lakewood, California, which opened a few months earlier than the Tacoma Mall house. As the Lakewood Center was designed in association with Mel C. Glatz, his firm might have been involved in the Tacoma project as well.

I’ve found Ben Mayer credited with the design of a few other theater projects, but aside from the one drive-in at Tacoma these were all remodeling or decorating jobs.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Holiday Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:31 am

A boxoffice item of May 8, 1948, reveals the time when the Bellflower Theatre became the Nubel (yes, only one “l” on the end— see the vintage photos linked in comments above) and got its modern look. It says in part: “South-Lyn Theatres… has earmarked $150,000 for extensive modernization and enlarging of its Bellflower Theatre, which will be renamed the Nubel.” The item said that the seating capacity was to be increased by the addition of a balcony, the width of the entrance was to be doubled, and a new marquee and 60-foot sign tower would be installed.

Boxoffice of October 22, 1949, announced the recent reopening of the remodeled house. The expanded seating capacity was 1,150, according to this item. South-Lyn Theatres was run by Al Hanson, and operated two houses in South Gate, two in Lynwood, as well as a second theater in Bellflower.

Prior to its purchase by Hanson, some time after January, 1947, the Bellflower Theatre was operated by its original owner, Lester Funk, according to a brief biography of him in Boxoffice of April 14, 1945. The item said he had opened his first theater in Bellflower in 1926, then opened the Bellflower Theatre in 1929. Funk also opened the Circle Theatre there in 1941.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Allen Theater on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:08 am

An interesting item appears in Boxoffice of April 4, 1942. It is about an arbitration complaint filed by L.W. Allen, operator of the South Gate Theatre. The Vogue Theatre in South Gate, operated by Fox West Coast, had been given a 91-day clearance over Allen’s house. The thing I found most interesting was that the arbitrator named to handle the complaint was the noted architect, John C. Austin.

Robert J. Allen is named in Boxoffice of May 20, 1950, in an article about a suit he had filed against National Theatres, Fox West Coast, and eight major distributors. The suit charged that Allen’s Avon Theatre in South Gate had, since 1940, unfairly been subjected to an arbitrary zoning system forcing it to run movies from 91 to 126 days after houses operated by Fox and Warner in the same zone. The item doesn’t mention L.W. Allen, but it seems likely that the two Allens were related.

A May 4, 1973, Boxoffice item says that Allen Theatre owner Hugh Dallas had announced a return of the house, the only theater then operating in South Gate, to a policy of family movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Village Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:05 am

Construction was to start within a few weeks on the 500-seat Village Theatre in Claremont, and the house was to open on April 15, according to Boxoffice of February 18, 1939. The Village would be operated by Richard L. Bare, operator of the Filmarte Theatre in Carmel, California, and, like the Filmarte, it was to be a single-bill house booking both American and European movies. The Claremont Colleges were associated with Bare in the project, and would have supervision over the programs, which would change twice weekly.

Given the short time between the start of construction and the projected opening date, I suspect that the Village was installed in an existing building that was remodeled into a theater. The Boxoffice item confirms Sumner Spaulding as the architect for the project.

Richard L. Bare, who went on to become a director, writer, and actor for movies and television, is apparently still living.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cosmo Theatre on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:01 am

The Cosmo remained open at least as late as 1950, when the August 12 issue of Boxoffice said that operator Grover Smith planned to shutter the house on the 19th of that month.