Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:44 am

At Google Books a few days ago I came across a reference to Davis having an Alvin Theatre in New York in the late 19th century, but now I can’t find it. I’m wondering if it was another of those things I read too quickly and misunderstood. The earlier Alvin in New York might be a figment.

I’ve come across another interesting book, published in 1909, which has a few brief paragraphs about both Davises and B.F. Keith. The passage about Charles Davis is quite derogatory about his play, calling it “…perhaps the poorest vehicle in the way of a play that was ever inflicted on an audience.” A later paragraph makes reference to a conflict between Harry Davis and Keith in which Keith apparently attempted to take over Davis’s operations, but no details are given. It sounds like an interesting story, but I’ve been unable to find any source that tells it all.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lux Theatre on Dec 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I’m wondering why the Lux Theatre’s architectural style is classified as Neo-Vintage, which is a style that didn’t come into existence until after the theater was closed and demolished?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Dec 13, 2010 at 6:32 pm

On the Liberty Theatre page I noted that I found the Liberty mentioned in Boxoffice from 1939 until 1950, two years after it was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Petri. Then the Petris are noted as operators of a theater in Pagosa Springs in a few items from the 1950s, but the name of the theater is not mentioned. Then in 1960 Boxoffice said the Petris were operating a theater in pagosa Springs called the Mesa. The Mesa is mentioned frequently until 1972.

The two possible explanations are that the Petris renamed the Liberty sometime in the 1950s, or they closed the Liberty (or it was destroyed) and the Mesa was opened to replace it. Pagosa Springs was probably never large enough to support two theaters at once.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Dec 13, 2010 at 5:41 pm

That’s what happens when I read a source too quickly and I’m not fully awake yet. I forgot that I’d already noted on the Alvin (Gateway) Theatre page that Charles Davis had sold that house to B.F. Keith’s circuit in 1900 (I’ve been unable to discover what became of his Alvin in New York.)

The Davis Theatre obviously must have been named for Harry Davis. Over the years a number of his theaters, including the Davis, were operated in a pooling deal with the Kieth circuit. It was apparently through the deal with Keith that the Pittsburgh Alvin came under the Harry Davis company’s management.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Dec 13, 2010 at 7:15 am

I have to correct my previous comment. The Davis Theatre was built in 1915, six years after Charles Davis died. I’ve been unable to determine the exact relationship between Charles Davis and Harry Davis, but I know that after C.L. Davis' death, Harry Davis took control of his theatrical enterprises.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Dec 13, 2010 at 6:58 am

The Davis Theatre was built by, and named for, Charles Lindley Davis, an actor, playwright, and impresario who also built and operated the Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh.

A 1922 book, History of Pittsburgh and environs, has this to say about Davis’s theater operations:

“The Harry Davis Stock Company, another Pittsburgh enterprise, controls the Alvin Theatre, presenting first class road companies, and under this management is also the Davis Theatre, built and opened in 1915, a member of the Keith’s circuit, where the highest class refined vaudeville entertainments are given. Under this management are also the Grand Opera House and the Lyric Theatre.”
Davis also controlled the Alvin Theatre in New York City.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Salem Theater on Dec 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Dave, the biography of the Koen brothers I linked to in my previous comment mentions the Comique and the Federal, and even gives the Federal’s opening date, March 23, 1913. John Koen’s first theater was a 144-seat storefront operation called the Cozy.

There’s a picture of the old Salem Theatre in this book, and the caption says the view is along Essex Street from Barton Square toward Washington Street. The Salem Theatre was on the right corner in the foreground, so it was about a block and a half east of the site of E.M. Loew’s later Salem. It opened in 1901, as one of Julius Cahn’s operations, and closed in the 1930s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Salem Theater on Dec 10, 2010 at 4:13 am

Does anyone know if E.M. Loew’s Salem Theatre was built on the site of an earlier house also called the Salem Theatre? There was a Salem Theatre in operation at least as early as the 1910s. During the silent era it was operated by the Koen Brothers, pioneer movie exhibitors in Salem and other towns in the area.

There’s a brief biography of the Koen Brothers in this 1922 book. It mentions several of their theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theater on Dec 10, 2010 at 3:57 am

The Empire Theatre was built in 1907 by Julius Cahn (the same Julius Cahn who was the publisher of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide.) The Salem Public Library has in its collection a “Program for Julius Cahn’s New Empire Theatre. Salem, MA: 29 August, 1907.” That might have been the opening night, though the source for the information (this page at the web site of Salem State University) doesn’t say.

As implied by the opening name New Empire Theatre, there had been an earlier Empire Theatre in Salem, also operated by Cahn and his associates. I’ve been unable to discover the location of that house, or what became of it when the New Empire opened.

By 1918, Frank Katzos was listed as operator of the Empire Theatre in an official document publishing the results of State inspections of places of amusement (the empire’s condition was listed as “Good.”) By 1922, the house had come under the control of the Koen Brothers, pioneer movie exhibitors in Salem and its vicinity. A brief biography of John Edward Koen, with additional information on his brother William Henry Koen, can be found in this History of Essex County at Google Books. It mentions several of their other theaters, which included the Salem Theatre and Federal Theater in Salem.

I’ve found references to plays being mounted at the Empire under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project during the 1930s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Berwyn Theatre on Dec 9, 2010 at 4:13 am

Douglas Deuchler’s book Berwyn has a larger black-and-white version of the picture of the Parthenon Theatre at the top of this page, and identifies it as a 1924 postcard. That’s probably correct.

Another Arcadia Publishing Company book, Czechs of Chicagoland by Malynne Sternstein, identifies another view of the Parthenon as one of a series of photos depicting Czech communities around Chicago published by photographer by E.F. Macha in 1925.

The architectural style of the building would have been retardataire for the late 1920s. I’d guess that the Parthenon opened in the early twenties, or maybe even the later 1910s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granada Theater on Dec 9, 2010 at 4:07 am

The building in that photo does not look like it would have been built in 1935. The style is characteristic of the 1910s-1920s. If the Granada is known to have opened in 1935, it must have operated under a different name earlier. It might even have been the Dawn Theatre, a recently-opened movie house mentioned in a book called “The Story of Streator” published in 1912, though it might also have been one of the two other theaters besides the Plumb Opera House and the Majestic that were then operating in the town.

More research needs to be done on the Granada. I’ve found nothing else about it on the Internet. I’ve found two magazine items mentioning proposed theaters in Streator, one in 1920 and one in 1922. One of those might have become the Granada, assuming either got built. I’ve also come across references to there having once been a theater called the Lyric in Streator, but they don’t say when it was in operation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Dec 9, 2010 at 3:35 am

A book titled “The Story of Streator” published in 1912 mentions the Majestic Theatre and Mr. C.A. Day, who opened the house in 1907 and was still operating it in 1912. The house presented vaudeville, stock companies, and movies.

The book mentions that at that time there were four vaudeville or movie houses in Streator, in addition to the Opera House, but names only the Majestic and a recently-opened five-cent movie house called the Dawn Theatre, seating 450 and operated by Charles Vance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theater on Dec 8, 2010 at 4:57 am

The Royal Theatre was built in either 1938 or 1939, according to the NRHP Registration form for the Lihue Post Office.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Indiana Theatre on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:46 am

To correct a misunderstanding, Thomas Harley is an architect, and he reopened the Indiana Theater and became its operator after it had been closed for over two decades, but he did not design it. In fact the theater was built long before he was born. I don’t think there have been any major alterations to the house since he reopened it, either.

This theater has gone through some drastic changes over the years. A 1936 photo of the theater in the Arcadia Publishing Company’s Indiana, Pennsylvania shows a three story building with a classical facade. By the 1940s, the building had lost its upper floors, and there was a tall, streamilne moderne blank wall above the theater entrance. In the recent photos, the wall is gone.

A few items in issues of Boxoffice over the course of 1969 said that the Manos circuit, then operating the Indiana, had plans to build a second auditoriun as a “piggyback theater” above the house, but obviously nothing came of that plan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:22 am

The Ritz is already listed under its later name, the Manos Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Manos Theatre on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

The photo shows that the Manos Theatre was in a very old building. I would not expect a building of that style to have been built as late as 1928, when the theater organ was installed, and it could have been built as early as the 1900s or 1910s. The auditorium could have been built behind an existing commercial building, of course, but this could also be an earlier theater that has had multiple names.

Arcadia Publishing Company’s book Indiana, Pennsylvania mentions five theater names in the town, but is very short on both details and photos. It doesn’t mention the name Ritz Theatre.

There’s a photo of a theater called the Star, located on 7th Street, which was demolished to make way for a department store in 1915. There’s a photo of the entrance of the Manos Theatre in 1956. There’s a photo of the Indian Theatre from 1936.

Most interesting is a theater called the Globe. There’s a photo apparently depicting the original Globe, built in 1909, which suffered a fire in 1912. The Globe then moved to a different (unspecified) location. The caption says the new Globe was later called the Strand. What I’m wondering is if the Globe/Strand later became the Ritz and then the Manos?

Boxoffice of July 31, 1967, said that the Manos Theatre in Indiana, Pennsylvania, had celebrated its thirtieth anniversary on the 19th of that month, so it must have lost he name Ritz in 1937.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Apollo Theatre on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:17 am

A 1999 book, “History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago” by Frank Alfred Randall and John D. Randall says that the New Chicago Theatre was designed by the firm of Burling & Adler.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Studebaker Theater & Playhouse Theater on Dec 7, 2010 at 4:15 am

Solon S. Beman was the architect of the Studebaker Building, but a pamphlet providing information for self-guided walking tours of the Fine Arts Building (Google Documents quick view) says that the 1917 Studebaker Theatre was designed by architect Andrew Rebori. Solon S. Beman died in 1914.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about West End Cinema on Dec 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I’ve found a reference to a Massachusetts corporation called the North Station Theatre Company being dissolved in 1934. The fact that the company had existed doesn’t indicate that they ever actually got their theater open, of course, or that they didn’t. If they did get the place open, it might have continued operating under other management even after the original company was dissolved, or it might have just been closed down after only a year or two of operation.

The thing that most interested me about the Bridgemen’s magazine item was that the theater was to be designed by Funk & Wilcox. I was searching the Internet to see if there were any theaters the firm had designed in addition to the five currently attributed to them at Cinema Treasures, and the North Station project was the only one I found.

If the magazine’s report that the theater was to cost $150,000 was correct it would have been a fairly large building, if built at 1932 prices. The reported cost might have been a mistake, though. If it was to be only a small theater inside the station, maybe the cost was supposed to be $15,000. Those old magazines are full of typos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about B. F. Keith's Theatre on Dec 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

Here is a black and white nocturnal photo of Tremont Street, with Keith’s Theatre at left. It’s from the November, 1906, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about West End Cinema on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

The original owner of the Lancaster Theatre was a 1900 Harvard graduate named Kenneth Sherburne. In a 1921 volume containing autobiographical material from the class of 1900’s members, Sherburne’s section includes these lines: “…in 1916 I built and am still operating the Lancaster Theatre in Boston. It has not been a howling success financially so far, but is coming along as well as could be expected. It keeps me busy seven days a week, and is the best fun I have ever had.”

This Lancaster’s age precludes it from being the proposed theater mentioned in a 1932 issue of The Bridgemen’s Magazine, a trades union journal. The item said “Boston — North Station Theatre Co., c/o Boston & Maine Ry. Co., North Station, bids in April, 1 story, brick theatre, at end of concourse at North Station, Causeway St. $150000. Funk & Wilcox, 26 Pemberton Sq., archts.“ Does anyone know if this theater was built, and if so what it was called? It would have been in the same neighborhood as the West End Cinema, which was about two blocks from North Station.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Theatre Unique on Dec 6, 2010 at 7:38 am

An article titled Light and the Moving Picture Show appeared in the February, 1908, issue of a trade journal called The Illuminating Engineer. Several paragraphs are about the Theatre Unique, though for some reason the magazine chose to call it by the slogan that appeared on its vertical electric sign, “The World in Motion” instead of by the name arched over its entrance. There is one photo of the theater, but it is only a daytime view so we don’t get to see the lighting which the article describes so admiringly.

Among the details about the house the article reveals is that the main floor seated 514 patrons, and there was a mezzanine that provided an additional 150 seats. Admission to the main floor was ten cents, but a seat in the mezzanine cost twenty cents.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gateway Theatre on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:20 am

The Theater Catalog atmos cited in the previous comment was mistaken about the year the Harris Theatre was opened. The Project Index of the Wolfsonian’s Eberson Archives lists the project as “Alvin Theatre Building & Alterations” and gives the year as 1941. A 1938 opening for a theater on the site of the Alvin would flatly contradict the 1940 item in Boxoffice that I cited in an earlier comment, which said that the roof of the fifty-year-old Alvin Theatre in Pittsburgh partially collapsed that year.

I’m not sure how much of the 1941 theater building was new. The fact that the archives uses the word “alterations” suggests that at least part of the old structure must have survived. As only the auditorium roof had collapsed, it’s possible that only the auditorium interior was completely rebuilt, and the remainder of the structure was merely remodeled. The original walls of the auditorium might have been retained, as was often the case with theater rebuilding projects.

A 1900 biographical sketch of actor, playwright, and theatrical manager Charles Lindley Davis said that he built the Alvin Theatre in 1891. It was named for the title character in a play he wrote, produced, and starred in, “Alvin Joslin.”

The Alvin Theatre was listed in the 1897 edition of Julius Cahn’s Theatrical Guide as one of four major theaters in Pittsburgh. Cahn gave the seating capcity as 2000, so it was a bit smaller than the Harris. Most likely, Eberson’s design incorporated some or all of the Alvin’s large stage into the rebuilt auditorium (Cahn said the stage was 48 feet deep from the footlights to the back wall.)

B.F. Keith bought the Alvin Theatre in 1900 and made it part of his vaudeville circuit, according to Lynn Conner’s book “Pittsburgh in Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater” (Google Books preview.) Conner also says that the house was renamed the Shubert Alvin Theatre in 1920, and became the Harris Alvin Theatre in 1934.

An advertisement for Philadelphia building contractors R.C. Ballinger & Co. in a 1907 edition of Sweet’s Catalog of Building Construction listed the Alvin Theatre among the projects the company had built, and said that the house was designed by an Indianapolis architectural firm called Reed Brothers. I’ve been unable to find any other references to that firm on the Internet. This biography of Indiana, Pennsylvania, architect Thomas R. Harley, who also operates the local Indiana Theater, says that at Carnegie-Mellon University he wrote his master’s thesis on the Alvin Theatre. Maybe he found out who the Reed Brothers were. Unfortunately, his thesis is not available on the Internet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Indiana Theatre on Dec 5, 2010 at 3:14 am

According to his biography, it was local architect Thomas R. Harley who reopened the Indiana Theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Woodward Arts Theatre on Dec 4, 2010 at 3:45 am

I think that the article in Oklahoma Today, cited in a comment above by Cosmic Ray, got the architect’s middle initial wrong. Interent searches for an architect named Leonard S. Bailey provide no results that are not related to that magazine article and this theater.

However, the career of noted Oklahoma City architect Leonard H. Bailey is well documented, and provides many Internet search results. At least one theater, the Liberty in Oklahoma City, is attributed to him. Surely it must have been Leonard H. Bailey who was the architect of the Woodward Arts Theatre.