Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Playhouse Theater on Feb 7, 2011 at 8:10 am

A small and rather blurry photo of the Rye Playhouse can be seen on this page of Boxoffice, March 7, 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Feb 7, 2011 at 6:41 am

Before and after photos of the Plaza’s facade on this page of Boxoffice, February 8, 1936, show the extent of the remodeling that had recently been carried out. The after photo shows the Art Deco marquee which was later replaced, as well as decorative detail that was later lost.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Virginia Theatre on Feb 7, 2011 at 3:29 am

Here is a fresh link to the photos of the Virginia Theatre in Boxoffice of February 8, 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Zaring's Egyptian Theatre on Feb 6, 2011 at 6:37 am

I came across this pdf file of a paper with some history of the Zaring family, which includes a section on Amzi C. Zaring, owner of the Egyptian. It begins on page 34, and says that he entered the movie exhibition business when he bought the North Star Theatre in 1910. The North Star was located at 25th and Central, so it was right down the street from Zaring’s Egyptian.

Amzi Zaring operated the Egyptian Theater until 1956, when he sold it to David and Kelly Levitt. By 1966, the house had become the only burlesque theater in Indiana.

The paper mentions several other theaters that Amzi Zaring operated over the years. They include the Delight, at 24th Street and College Avenue; the Garrick, at 30th Street and Illinois Avenue; the Columbia, on Senate Avenue; the Imperial, on McCarty Street east of West Street; and the Belmont, on Belmont Avenue and West Washington Street. Zaring also operated the Sipe Theatre at Kokomo, Indiana, for a time. The paper gives no dates for these operations, but I get the impression they were all open in the years before Zaring built the Egyptian.

If the North Star is listed at Cinema Treasures under some later name, it’s missing the aka. Maybe somebody familiar with Indianapolis theaters will know if it’s listed yet. It’s also possible that Zaring closed the North Star when he built the Egyptian. The paper doesn’t say.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about North Star Theatre on Feb 6, 2011 at 6:12 am

The North Star was remodeled in 1946. This Boxoffice article from April 27, 1946, reports on the remodeling of the old theater, then operated by W.H. Creal. The article includes a couple of photos. Plans for the remodeling were by architect H.A. Raapke, who also designed the New Moon Theatre at Neligh, Nebraska.

The building must have dated from the late 1910s or from 1920, the year the organ was installed in the Ames Theatre according to Lost Memory’s comment above. The upper portion of the facade of the narrow entrance of the L-shaped house looked much like the buildings in the neighborhood that survive today, most of which are built of a dark, reddish-brown brick.

I’ve been looking at the bird’s eye view of the block at Bing Maps, and I think it’s likely that the theater building still exists, but has been extensively remodeled. From the photo in Boxoffice it looks like the theater entrance was next to the alley running between 24th and 25th streets. The building now on this lot has a bricked-up area at that spot which has the same proportions of the theater’s entrance in the Boxoffice article’s photo. The way the roof line is finished also looks as though a parapet has been removed.

In Google’s street view, the brick wall along the alley looks considerably older than the walls on the street sides. Perhaps the street walls of the theater building were refaced when the theater was converted to some other use, and that’s why the building looks newer than its neighbors.

It’s also almost certain that the auditorium of the theater was actually in a building that is behind the structure that held the entrance. Boxoffice says that “…the lobby was long; but boxlike and unattractive.” It goes on to describe a standee foyer beyond the lobby. As the street front building is probably no more than seventy feet deep, and an 18-foot deep vestibule had to be accounted for, the lobby must have extended all the way through the remained of that structure, and the auditorium must have been in the taller building behind it. So even if the building that housed the entrance has been demolished and replaced (and I don’t think it has,) the former auditorium is apparently still standing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Moon Theater on Feb 6, 2011 at 5:53 am

In the architect field above, the surname Raapke is currently missing the “e” at the end.

A recent photo by David Hunnicutt depicting the New Moon’s tower and the upper edge of its facade can be seen this web page.

The December 2, 1944, Boxoffice article with photos of the New Moon as it originally looked is now available from the magazine’s online archive. The article begins on this page. More photos are on the subsequent page, and additional text is on this page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Apollo Theatre on Feb 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Here is a fresh link to the Viragon ad with the pictures of the Apollo in Boxoffice, August 17, 1946.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Blue Mouse Theatre on Feb 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

If the tale told in the introduction that John Hamrick named this theater for the play “The Blue Mouse” is true, then a group of ministers and college professors in Ithaca, New York, would have been quite displeased. Here’s a brief story from The New York Times, February 14, 1909:[quote]“WOULD BAR ‘THE BLUE MOUSE.’
"Cornell Professors Say Play Will Have a Bad Influence on Students.

“ITHACA, N.Y., Feb. 14. — An effort will be made by several Cornell professors, backed by the local Ministers' Association, to prevent the performance of Clyde Fitch’s ‘The Blue Mouse,’ which is scheduled to be produced in this city tomorrow and Tuesday. E.H. Woodruff of the Cornell College of Law has interviewed the ministers and has obtained their co-operation. He charges that the play is immoral and that it will have a bad influence on the students and others who will attend.

“Mayor Horton says that, without formal complaint, he can do nothing, so that one performance is sure to be given.”[/quote]It was perhaps as much the reputation of Clyde Fitch, the playwright, as the play itself which had roused the ire of Ithaca’s self-appointed guardians of public morals. For those who may be interested, there is a biographical sketch of the scandalous Mr. Fitch, America’s first internationally famous playwright, about halfway down this web page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Traill Theatre on Feb 4, 2011 at 6:42 am

The name is supposed to be spelled Traill Theatre. Hillsboro is the county seat of Traill County. The photo shows the second neon “l” on the vertical sign. The same photo accompanies this post by Hillsboro blogger Terry Dullum.

There is some hope for the Traill Theatre. In 2007, local residents Michael and Amy Bishop formed a non-profit organization to save the Traill. The Hillsboro Banner ran four articles about the project, on September 21, October 5, October 19, and December 20, 2007:

Initial effort made to save Hillsboro’s Traill Theater.

New preservation effort tries to save old Traill Theater.

City, county agree to lend a hand in saving theater.

Landmark given second chance to shine.

I’ve been unable to find anything more recent about the project in the newspaper, but efforts to raise money are apparently ongoing. A record of the November 8, 2010, meeting of the local school board includes this item: “It was noted that Michael Bishop is requesting permission to use our facilities for a play company in order to raise money for the Traill Theatre, which is a non-profit organization.”

The Banner articles reveal that, as of 2007, the house had been closed for forty years, and that there were no longer any seats in the auditorium. A 1967 closing date would jibe with an item in one of the Banner’s “Over the Years” features, which cited the following news from December 14, 1966: “John and Mavis Nelson planned to re-open the Traill Theatre in Hillsboro on Christmas Day, under a lease agreement with owner Orville Overmoe.”

As of 2007, both the roof and the floor (the building has a basement) needed to be replaced. The lobby still had decor from a 1950s remodeling, which was also when the leather-padded doors were installed, and Bishop intended to keep the lobby in that style.

The Banner also says that the building was erected in 1916. The vertical sign and small marquee, however, are obviously later alterations, and probably date from the late 1930s or early 1940s.
The Banner doesn’t say if the building was built as a theater or was originally a commercial building that was later converted into a theater, but it seems quite likely that it has always been a theater. A 1921 issue of the religious journal The American Missionary mentions evening church services being held at a movie theater in Hillsboro, North Dakota. The theater’s name is not given, but it could very easily have been this house.

The Traill building’s facade shows the influence of the Prairie Style of architecture, which was developed largely in Chicago around the turn of the century, with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright among its chief developers. I’d bet those two little wall sconces are original. The tapestry brick looks to be in pretty good shape, even after nearly a century of North Dakota winters. I doubt that we’ll find that the Traill was designed by one of the well-known architects of the period, though. Quite possibly there was no architect at all. Small town builders and masons of that time were quite capable of coming up with good designs in the popular styles, with details modeled on buildings they had seen in trade and professional publications.

I’ve been unable to find any mention of the Traill Theatre in Boxoffice’s archive, or any of the old publications available from Google Books. Information about this house from non-local sources will probably prove to be scarce.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theater on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:55 am

I see that the October 27 Vindicator article includes a plan of the main floor of the building, making it much easier to understand the scope of the disaster. It also makes it easier to picture how catastrophic the collapse could have been had it happened not during construction but after the building had been completed and the theater opened. There might have been a large crowd of patrons in the arcade, either exiting from or waiting to enter the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I got the date of the partial collapse of the Hippodrome building wrong in my previous comment. It was October 26, 1914, not October 6.

There is another photo of the collapse at the Hippodrome in the November, 1914, issue of trade union journal The Bricklayer, Mason and Plasterer. The item quotes a Youngstown Vindicator article of October 27, 1914. The collapse was apparently confined to the arcade portion of the building, and the theater’s auditorium was not affected.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Construction of Youngstown’s Hippodrome was well along in the fall of 1914. On the afternoon of October 6, part of the structure failed while concrete forms were being removed, causing a partial collapse of the building. Three workmen were killed and three others injured.

The December 2, 1914, issue of trade journal Engineering and Contracting published a letter from Edward Godfrey, a leading structural engineer of the period and a long-time critic of what were then the standard methods used in reinforced concrete construction. The letter discusses the failure, and is accompanied by two photographs of the collapsed structure.

The Youngstown Vindicator must have had articles about the event, but unfortunately the issues that most likely carried them (October 7, 1914, and probably some later issues) are not available from the Google News Archive.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:22 pm

The June 21, 1914, Vindicator article linked above notes that the construction of the Youngstown Hippodrome was being supervised by the Cleveland architectural firm of Knox & Elliot. It doesn’t specifically state that they had drawn the plans for the building, but Wilm Knox died in 1915, and his obituary in The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder attributed the design of the Youngstown Hippodrome to the firm. Knox & Elliot also designed the Hippodrome Theatre in Cleveland. John Elliot continued to operate the firm until 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harris Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:59 am

Both White’s New Theatre and White’s Gayety Theatre are listed (page 691) in Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide, edition of 1908-1909. White’s New Theatre was a very large ground floor house, with 1,898 seats and a capacious stage. The Gayety was a second floor house with 1,200 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harris Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

The book McKeesport, by the McKeesport Heritage Center Volunteers, has an interior photo of a Whites Opera House, but gives its location as the corner of 5th and Walnut. The book doesn’t mention White’s New Theatre, but says that the Opera House was built in 1883, became the Gayety Theatre by 1907, and closed as the Orpheum in 1922. The building was replaced by a department store in 1941.

However, a book called Vaudeville Old and New lists both a White’s Opera House and a White’s Hippodrome Theatre as having been part of the B.F. Keith circuit in McKeesport, though it doesn’t give their years of operation. Confusingly, it also lists a Harris' Hippodrome Theatre in McKeesport, and that might have been the same house under different ownership at a later time. As the Opera House became the Gayety then the Orpheum, perhaps White’s New Theatre became the Hippodrome?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 7:47 am

The theater in this Romanesque Revival building was originally called the Gedney Opera House, according to this web page form the Buchanan County Historical Society. The Gedney Opera House was listed in various editions of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide. The Guide gave the seating capacity of this ground floor house as 850.

A History of Buchanan County published in 1914 says that the Gedney Hotel and Opera House were built in 1892, and that the project was designed by Chicago architect G.W. Sunderland. The Opera House opened on August 23, 1892, with a performance of Auber’s opera “Fra Diavolo,” presented by the Andrews Opera Company.

The historical society web site says that the Grand Theatre and Gedney Hotel block burned to the ground on March 3, 1945. The Malek Theatre was subsequently built on the site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Old Orchard Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 7:19 am

Here is a fresh link to the Boxoffice article about the Old Orchard Theatre. The text begins on the following page, and a third page of text and photos follows two subsequent pages of advertising. An additional photo appears on the cover of that same issue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olympia Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 7:09 am

The January, 1920, issue of trade journal “The American Organist” has a directory listing organists, mostly in the northeast. Among them is Alexander Bilbruck, organist at the Olympia Theatre, Portsmouth. It notes that until 1919 he had been organist at North Congregational Church in the same city.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Feb 2, 2011 at 6:56 am

The history section of the official web site for the Pix Theatre says that the Lyric was built in 1921 by George Smith. That means the Lyric Theatre at Lapeer that was mentioned in the April 16, 1918, issue of Michigan Film Review must have been a different theater.

Could this earlier Lyric have been the theater built in 1914 by George Smith, on a site adjacent to the site on which he built the Pix in 1941? The Pix history section doesn’t give the name of Smith’s 1914 operation, but as his second theater was called the Lyric perhaps he was reusing the name when he built this Lyric in 1921.

The site does say that Smith finally closed the second Lyric for good in the mid-1950s. For many years the Lyric and the Pix had operated mostly at different seasons, as the Pix was air conditioned and the Lyric was not.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on Feb 2, 2011 at 6:53 am

The 1920 edition of “Seaman’s Handbook for Shore Leave” (published by the United States Merchant Marine Social Service Bureau) lists the attractions of various port cities around the world. Under the heading Places of Amusement, the entry for Portsmouth, New Hampshire lists: “Colonial Theatre, Congress St. (vaudeville, moving pictures); Olympia Theatre, Vaughn St. (moving pictures.)”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cine Ambassador on Feb 1, 2011 at 6:42 am

There is a photo of the Ambassador on the cover of Boxoffice, August 6, 1955.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sidney Theatre on Feb 1, 2011 at 6:30 am

Here is a nocturnal photo of the new front of the Sidney Theatre, on the cover of Boxoffice, September 3, 1955. Chakeres Theatres had spent an estimated $500,000 remodeling the Sidney, which it had acquired from Stanley Warner Theatres the previous December.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Little Carnegie Theatre on Jan 31, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Here is a fresh link to the picture of the Little Carnegie on the cover of Boxoffice, October 4, 1952.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on Jan 31, 2011 at 8:03 pm

milamp: The twin in the office building might have been the Skywalk Cinemas. I’ve just posted a comment on that page with a hyperlink to a 1973 Boxoffice article about the twin. Maybe you’ll recognize it from the pictures in the article.

I’ve been unable to discover which downtown theater ran “Revenge of the Pink Panther” in 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Skywalk Cinemas on Jan 31, 2011 at 7:54 pm

The October 15, 1973, Boxoffice article about the Skywalk Cinemas, mentioned in an earlier comment, can now be seen online here. There was also a photo of the theater on the cover of that issue’s Modern Theatre section.

Designed by the Cincinnati architectural firm of Gartner, Burdick, Bauer & Nilsen, the Skywalk Cinemas 1 & 2 was originally operated by Mid-States Theatres. The article failed to report the seating capacity, or to give the opening date.