Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Galion Theatre on Aug 7, 2009 at 7:21 pm

The July 16, 1949, issue of Boxoffice announced that the Galion Theatre had opened on July 7. The house was the ninth in the Modern Theatres circuit, operated by P.E. Essick and Howard Reif. The Galion Theatre included a 30-foot stage with facilities to accommodate road shows.

The item also mentions the State Theatre, which was also operated by Modern Theatres. The State had been closed for the summer (probably due to its lack of air conditioning) but was to be reopened in the fall with a policy of westerns and action pictures.

The article attributes the design of the Galion to “…Matzinger & Grosell, Cleveland architects who specialize in theatre construction.” This would be Paul Matzinger, who began practicing in Cleveland in 1902, and Rudolph Grosel (the Boxoffice item about the Galion misspelled his surname) who Matzinger took on as a partner in the 1940s. Though both architects are long gone, there is a successor firm called Jencen Architecture which specializes in retail design.

The firm designed a number of theaters for the Modern Theatres circuit, including the Mayland, but I also found a list of buildings designed by Matzinger before 1930 which includes a Park Theatre at 1207 Starkweather Avenue, Cleveland, built in 1907. This building is still standing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wood River Theatre on Aug 7, 2009 at 2:28 am

The May 20, 1968, issue of Boxoffice ran an item about the planned construction of a new, 1000-seat theater in Wood River, to be called the Wood River Cinema and to be located on Edwardsville Road. It was a project of Cinema Systems, Inc.. But the item also included the following information: “The old Wood River Theatre, converted in the early 1960s to a shopping center and cocktail lounge, burned to the ground in January 1966. It had been built in 1917….”

Judging from the style of the Wood River Theatre building as depicted in the painting Bryan Krefft linked to above, I’d say 1917 is apt be the correct opening year. That sort of tapestry brick and terra cotta trim was long out of fashion by 1932. The marquee in the painting certainly looks like something that could have been put up in 1932, but a February 4, 1939, Boxoffice item said that the Wood River Theatre had reopened after a complete remodeling, so that might be a more likely date for the installation of the spiffy moderne marquee.

An August 21, 1954, Boxoffice item said that the Wood River Theatre was being fitted for CinemaScope. The house was then being operated by the Publix Great States circuit.

As for the proposed Wood River Cinema, after a few more items in Boxoffice late in 1968, reporting that plans had been completed, the name never appears in the magazine again that I can find. Most likely the project never got built.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Victory Theatre on Aug 7, 2009 at 1:02 am

To revive the discussion that took place in April, 2006, about the architect of this theater, at least one author (architectural historian Gerard R. Wolfe) credits both Albert E. Westover and John B. McElfatrick for the design of the Republic Theatre. The 3rd edition of Wolfe’s “New York: 15 Walking Tours” says that Westover designed the theater in 1899, and McElfatrick was responsible for the renovation of the house the following year. Wolfe does not mention the remodeling for David Belasco, which some sources say was done by Bigelow, Wallis & Cotton. He does mention that the 1995 restoration was done by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer.

For what it’s worth, the Wikipedia article on the New Victory also credits Westover (but only Westover) for the design, and cites the 4th edition of the “AIA Guide to New York City”, by Norval White and Eliot Willensky as a source. I don’t have the AIA Guide, but from the snippet views available at Google Books, it looks like the 4th edition doesn’t mention either McElfatrick or Bigelow, Wallis & Cotton in connection with this theater at all.

But another vote for McElfatrick & Sons comes from a PDF of a 1987 document from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (available here) which is about the Hudson Theatre, but which mentions the Republic as one of the theaters designed by McElfatrick. This paper gives the building date as 1900, but both Wolfe’s Guide and the AIA Guide date the original construction to 1899.

Interestingly, the Hudson’s architectural pedigree was once in question as well, and the Preservation Commission researcher checked the theater’s plans on file at the New York Buildings Department and found that while McElfatrick did the early drawings, most of the Hudson’s design was attributable to the firm of Israels & Harder. Somebody will probably have to check the building records for the Republic as well, before we can be sure who did what to it and when.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center on Aug 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm

The Astro Theatre opened in June, 1962, according to the June 25 issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The theater had been mostly dark since 1952, with the exception of a few stage shows and the brief period when it had housed Omaha’s professional bowling league. In March, 1962, the theater was leased from Creighton University by Dubinsky Bros. Theatres of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Dubinskys were responsible for the hasty remodeling. As the Astro the house seated 1465, reduced from the nearly 3000 it had previously held.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theater on Aug 5, 2009 at 2:06 am

I wasn’t questioning the opening date the newspaper gave. I was just disappointed that Boxoffice didn’t run an item about the event. The magazine ran very few items about Marysville’s theaters, unfortunately. Other towns in the valley often got better coverage.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpha Theatre on Aug 5, 2009 at 1:00 am

The remodeling was quite extensive, so Lee should be credited. Also the aka Maybell Theatre should be added.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Aug 4, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Quirk Theatre is definitely an aka for the State. This page of Fulton postcards at Rootsweb includes one showing the Quirk Theatre. It’s recognizable as the State’s building, and the card looks to be from the 1920s or earlier.

This history of the Fulton Elk’s lodge mentions the Quirk Theatre: “The Elks Old Time Minstrel Shows always packed the Quirk Theater several nights each year.”

The July 22, 1968, issue of Boxoffice said that the State Theatre building had been taken over by the City of Fulton for non-payment of taxes. It was by then the only movie theater in Fulton, and city officials said they wanted to keep it open by any means short of actually operating it.

Various issues of Boxoffice from 1943 into the 1950s say that the State was a unit of the Oneida-based Kallet circuit. A June 8, 1964, item refers to the State saying it “..had been operated by Kallet.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theater on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Boxoffice Magazine mentions the Tower twice in December, 1940. The December 14 issue said that the Tower would be opening on Christmas Day, but the December 21 issue said that the opening had been moved back until the middle of January. I can’t find anything in Boxoffice about the actual opening, though.

The last mention (in fact the only mention I can find) of the Liberty in Boxoffice is in the September 23, 1939, issue which mentions that the employees of the house had given operator Harry Hunsacher a birthday party.

The most recent mention of the Tower I’ve found in Boxoffice is a line in the March 7, 1958, issue which said that the house had been closed. The Tower had been closed for at least part of 1957 as well. The December 21 issue of Boxoffice that year said that it had been reopened by the United California circuit.

Here’s a photo of D Street north from 1st in the 1920s, showing the Tower’s predecessor at right. The source identifies the theater as the Atkins. Here’s a photo of the same theater dated 1908, when it was called the Marysville Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on Aug 3, 2009 at 10:45 pm

This page duplicates the slightly earlier Fox Theatre page.

The October 28, 1950, issue of Boxoffice ran an item headlined “Revamped Strand Opened As Fox in Rawlins, Wyo.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wellman Theater on Aug 3, 2009 at 12:04 am

The church’s statement that they are located in the former Wellman Theatre is what makes me wonder if the name Wellman was not moved to the New Mock about 1963, the last year the name New Mock appeared in the Boxoffice in anything other than a retrospective context. It would make more sense if the older and smaller theater had been closed and the New Mock remained open under the name Wellman. Boxoffice never says anything about the name being switched at that time, but Boxoffice doesn’t always cover every small town change. But if the church building is the old Mock/Wellman then it must have been a fairly new building when Wellman bought it in 1934, or even the back section has been extensively remodeled. It just doesn’t look like pre-1930s construction.

Girard’s practice of putting odd numbers on the south sides of east-west streets confused me. The building next door I was referring to that might have been the Wellman is east of the church, not west of it, and would have had a smaller number. But while there are several buildings on that block that might have been the former Mock/Wellman, I don’t see any other than the church that look like they could have been the New Mock. They just aren’t big enough. They also look too old to have been built as replacements for a building that still existed in 1963.

New England Film News of April 12, 1932, mentions Mock’s Theatre, Girard, Ohio, in a list of theaters that had installed RCA sound equipment. It looks like both names were used at various times.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Curtain Call Dinner Theater on Aug 2, 2009 at 8:06 pm

The original owner/operator of the Tustin Theatre was Saul Mahler. An item in the June 11, 1962, issue of Boxoffice said that the house was scheduled to open on June 20. A special preview show was to be held on the 19th.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wellman Theater on Aug 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Boxoffice uses Mock’s Theatre and New Mock’s Theatre a few times, but after 1940 it appears to always be Mock. Mock was the surname of the previous owner. One Boxoffice item mentioned his first name, but I’ve forgotten it and lost track of the issue it was in. The possessive form Mock’s might well have been the actual name.

Google has no street views of Girard, but Bing Maps has a bird’s eye view, and the church/theater is easy to spot. The building looks like it was probably built in the 1930s (especially from the back) and seems to be the most modern building on the block. It seems more likely to me now that the church is in the New Mock building. The address is puzzling. If the church is at 29 W. Liberty, then the 35 W. Liberty address for the New Mock has a building that looks older than the church building.

There’s a Girard History web page, but it has little to say about the town’s theaters:

“One of the first theaters was the Luna Theater located on State Street. It ran silent movies, which were accompanied by piano mood music played by the owner’s wife. Later, the Mock Theater, which became the Wellman Theater, served Girard’s needs until the coming of TV when family movies faded from the scene.”
Then there’s this photo on Flickr showing the current front, which certainly has 1930s modern lines. Unfortunately it doesn’t show much of the adjacent buildings. In the Bing bird’s eye you can see that the back of the building next door to the west has one rear door correctly positioned for a theater exit, and what might have been another rear exit at the opposite end, so that might have been the Mock/Wellman. If so, then the church could be in the former New Mock at 35 W. Liberty and the building next door could have been the Mock/Wellman at 39 W. Liberty, and the addresses have been shifted.

As both theaters operated through the 1950s, there must still be some people from Girard who remember them, so I guess we can hope that one of them is on the Internet and discover this page and clears up the mystery.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grove Theatre on Aug 2, 2009 at 1:51 am

The January 18, 1941, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Oscar Lam was planning to build a theater at Grove Park in partnership with Wendell and Cooper Welch. Lam is mentioned again in the March 22 issue of Boxoffice which said that the new theater was under construction and expected to open in June or July. The opening was announced in the July 12 issue of Boxoffice.

I’ve found Cooper Welch mentioned as the manager of the Grove in issues of Boxoffice as late as 1957.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wellman Theater on Aug 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

The owner of the Wellman Theatre was Peter M. Wellman, and a short biographical article about him was published in the December 18, 1948, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. Wellman immigrated to the U.S. from Greece in 1916, and got his first job in a movie theater from Michael Manos at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and later owned three theaters in that state.

He moved to Girard in 1934 (a different issue of Boxoffice says 1936) after buying the Mock Theatre there. In 1937, he built a new movie house in Girard, calling it the New Mock Theatre. He then changed the name of the original Mock Theatre to the Wellman Theatre.

At the time of the 1948 article, Wellman was operating a circuit of ten hardtop theaters and four drive-ins, all in Ohio. The Wellman circuit operated the Wellman and New Mock theaters until 1959, when both house were sold to Al Garfield. Peter Wellman later took over his namesake theater again, because the April 26, 1966, issue of Boxoffice said that Paul DelVitto had bought the house from Pete Wellman. Then the May 8, 1967, Boxoffice reported that Wellman was operating the theater again, along with his Edgewood Cinema, and he called the Wellman his “hobby theater.”

The August 3, 1970, issue of Boxoffice said that George Pappas had leased the house from Wellman in 1969. Wellman apparently died not long after that. After a policy of showing regular films failed, Pappas began showing X-rated movies, with great success. He then renamed the theatre Cinema I. However, the town threatened to pass an ordinance banning such films, and after returning to conventional movies for three months, slack patronage led Pappas to close the house.

The last mention of the theater I’ve found in Boxoffice is in the February 7, 1972, issue which said that the Wellman’s Cinema I in downtown Girard had been sold to a company called Cinema I Ohio, Inc..

The fact that the New Mock vanishes about 1963, and the fact that later reports give the Wellman a seating capacity of 600 or more (the range of the New Mock in earlier reports, while the Wellman was usually reported to be in the 450-500 range) makes me wonder if perhaps Wellman closed the Mock/Wellman about that time and renamed the New Mock the Wellman. If this happened, Boxoffice apparently failed to mention it, though.

If somebody has FDY’s or other sources from around that time maybe they can check for changes of address for the Wellman Theatre. If I recall correctly, one issue of Boxoffice I’ve lost track of said that Wellman’s two theaters in Girard were next door to one another, so an address shift might be slight.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fair Theatre on Aug 1, 2009 at 6:51 pm

The Fair Theatre was an independently operated house named for its owner, Norman Fair. It is mentioned dozens of times in issues of Boxoffice going back as far as 1938. I’ve found Norman Fair mentioned as operator of the Fair Theatre in issues of Boxoffice as late as 1977.

The July 4, 1953, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Fair Theatre had suffered a major fire. The rebuilding was protracted. The March 20, 1954, issue of Boxoffice said that rebuilding was continuing and Norman Fair expected to have the theater open late that month or in the first half of April, but the reopening was not announced in Boxoffice until their July 31 issue, so there might have been even more delays.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Video Triple Theater on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:34 am

It was a twin when in the planning stage, according to an article in Boxoffice Magazine, May 24, 1971. The lower auditorium was to have 800 seats and the upper 300 seats.

The February 21, 1972, Boxoffice said that construction was underway on the Video 1 and Video 2, twin indoor theaters in Lawton, and the new house was expected to be opened by late June.

Another Boxoffice item, from March 11, 1974, doesn’t mention this theater by name, but says that Video Independent had acquired the Showcase Cinema I & II in Lawton, giving them two twin operations in that town.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theater on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:11 am

The Esquire Theatre in the photos dates from late 1969 or early 1970. It was built for Video Independent Theatres to replace an earlier Esquire Theatre which had been destroyed by fire on March 9, 1969. The new Esquire was the subject of an article with several photos in the Modern Theatre section of Boxoffice Magazine, February 16, 1970.

Boxoffice does not state explicitly that the new theater was on the same site as the old one, but it’s strongly implied by a quote from a Video Independent executive saying that the new house had only 500 seats, compared to the old Esquire’s 1100, partly because the new house was on one floor while the old theater had had a balcony.

The new Esquire was designed by Oklahoma City architect Larry Blackledge, son of Kenneth Blackledge, president of Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma. Larry Blackledge & Associates designed a number of other theaters for Video Independent.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Penn Theater on Jul 30, 2009 at 2:08 am

The Penn Theatre is featured in the November 20, 1967, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, in an article with several photos. The Penn’s 700 seats were arranged in a continental style, with no aisles interrupting them. The Boxoffice article says that architect Larry Blackledge “…handled the project for William J. Cavaness & Associates, Oklahoma City architects.”

Larry Blackledge was the son of K.C. Blackledge, president of Video Independent Theatres. Both Cavaness and Blackledge designed other theaters independent of one another.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about El Cameo Theater on Jul 30, 2009 at 1:01 am

Over on the Monterey Theatre page, ronp posted an excerpt from a 1990 interview with James Edwards, in which Edwards says that the Monterey, and not the Cameo, was his first theater. I’ve heard both theaters mentioned as his first by various people, but I guess I’ll take Jimmy’s word for it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tacoma Mall Twin Theatre on Jul 29, 2009 at 3:33 am

The May 27, 1968, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that the Tacoma Mall Theatre had opened on May 16. Among the celebrities attending the opening were Rudy Vallee, Tippi Hedren, and Troy Donahue. The article was accompanied by a small photo of the exterior of the theatre.

The similarity of the Tacoma Mall Theatre to the slightly earlier (and larger) Lakewood Center Theatre, and the fact that both were built by the Forman family, owners of both Forman United Theatres and Pacific Theatres (operating the Lakewood Center,) would lead one to expect that both houses had been designed by the same architect. Indeed, the Tacoma Library photos linked in comments above do attribute the Tacoma Mall to architect George T. Nowak, who was the architect of the Lakewood project. However, the Tacoma photo is the only source I can find saying that Nowak designed this theater.

The problem is that I’ve also found a source (but again only one) attributing the house to a different architect, that being a Boxoffice Magazine item of August 5, 1968, which mentions in passing that architect Ben Meyer, designer of United Theatres' new 112th Street Drive-In at Seattle had also designed the circuit’s new Tacoma Mall Theatre.

I think the Boxoffice item might be in error, but can’t be positive, and I don’t know the Tacoma Library’s source for the claim that Nowak designed the house. I suppose it is possible that the similarity of the two theaters stems from requests by the Formans that two different architects provide pretty much the same design for the different theaters (perhaps getting Mayer to do a less costly knockoff of Nowak’s design for Lakewood.) Maybe somebody can come up with a third source that will confirm one or the other of the sources I found.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lakewood Center 16 on Jul 29, 2009 at 3:04 am

While a couple of earlier items in Boxoffice attribute the design of the Lakewood Center Theatre only to architect George T. Nowak, an illustrated, multi-page article about the house in the May 20, 1968, issue of the magazine names both Nowak (George T. Nowak & Associates) and architect Mel Glatz of Mel C. Glatz & Associates as the architects of the theater. The article also says that the decoration of the house was handled by the Heinsbergen studio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about WGA Theatre on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:44 am

While the Wilshire-Doheny Plaza complex in which this theater is located was designed by Maxwell Starkman & Associates (see my comment of June 29, 2008, above), the February 23, 1970, issue of Boxoffice Magazine attributes the design of the theater itself to George T. Nowak, who was also the lead architect of the original, single-screen Lakewood Center Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about River Oaks praised as Houston's best on Jul 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

The River Oaks was one of many Houston theaters designed for the Interstate Circuit by the Dallas firm of Pettigrew & Worley. Most of them are gone. It would be nice if this one could be kept going, even in its triplexed state.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Santa Rosa Theatre on Jul 28, 2009 at 1:47 am

The Santa Rosa was one of several post-war Houston theaters designed for the Interstate Circuit by H.F. Pettigrew and John A. Worley of the Dallas firm of Pettigrew & Worley.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garden Oaks Theater on Jul 28, 2009 at 1:47 am

The Garden Oaks was one of several post-war Houston theaters designed for the Interstate Circuit by H.F. Pettigrew and John A. Worley of the Dallas firm of Pettigrew & Worley.