Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Aggie Theater on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:14 pm

The Aggie was built for the Griffith Amusement Company in 1926, according to The Reel Journal of June 12 that year.

The January 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice reported that the Aggie Theatre had been gutted by a fire on January 18. The house was rebuilt.

The fire led to a delay in completion of the Leachman Theatre, then under construction. Equipment intended for the Leachman had been stored on the second floor of the Aggie building and was lost to the flames.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Camera Theater on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:10 pm

The Reel Journal of August 7, 1926, had some information about the Camera Theatre: “E.B. Tull has increased the seating capacity of his Camera Theatre at Stillwater, Okla., from 300 to 400. Mr. Tull will erect another theatre building in Stillwater in the near future.”

That September, Mr. Tull leased the Camera to Roy H.H. Russ, and I find no later references to him, so perhaps his second theater was never built. Roy Russ is mentioned in the February 3, 1951, issue of Boxoffice, which said that he had sold the Camera Theatre to Johnny H. Jones and his sister Ruby Jones of Shawnee, Oklahoma.

A brief item about the death of Roy Russ appeared in the May 3, 1952, issue of Boxoffice. It said that the Joneses had remodeled the Camera and renamed it the Crest.

The June 29, 1957, issue of Boxoffice ran an article about Johnny and Ruby Jones which said that they had bought the Crest Theatre in Stillwater in 1951, and operated it until 1954. One Boxoffice item that year said that Jones sold the Crest to Griffith Amusement and Claude Leachman’s Video Independent Theatres. I’ve been unable to find any mentions of the Crest after 1954, so unless it got another name (and if it did, I’ve been unable to discover it) it might have been permanently closed that year.

As this house apparently operated as the Camera Theatre more than ten times as long as it operated as the Crest, I’d suggest that it continue to be listed as the Camera instead of by its final name, which was so briefly used.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alamo Theater on Jul 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm

And I can’t find any mention of an Alamo Theatre in Stillwater in Boxoffice Magazine or its predecessors. Is it possible this was a very early theater, perhaps closed or renamed during the silent era?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on Jul 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm

An article about Johnny and Ruby Jones in the June 29, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine attributes the design of the marquee of the Ritz Theatre to Jake Jones, with architect A.C. Davis working from a pasteboard model made by Jones.

The firm of Davis & Sons was based in Shawnee, and Davis is known to have designed a theater as early as 1926 (the H&S Theatre in Chandler) so it would be surprising if the Ritz had not been designed by Davis, Shawnee’s leading architect for many years. The question is whether or not he did the original 1899 building. Davis was definitely practicing architecture in Shawnee at least as early as 1908, according to a book published that year.

Also, commentors above are correct that the style of this theater is Federal Revival, not Art Deco. Unfortunately, Cinema Treasures doesn’t provide Federal Revival as an option among its choice of styles. The closest would probably be Adam, as the original Federal style in the United States was a variant of the British Adam style, and is frequently referred to by architectural historians as Adamesque-Federal.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Elite Theater on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Boxoffice has the story. The April 1, 1968, issue contains an item headed “San Francisco Man Leases Crawford, Neb., Theatre” It reveals that the Elite was owned by Isabella Strohmeyer, former operator of the Surf Theatre in San Francisco. The original Elite Theatre had been built by her mother, Georgianna Higgins, and had opened on May 29, 1909. Mrs. Higgins operated the original Elite for 22 years, and then built a new theater next door to replace it in 1931.

The wording of the item is not precise, but it appears that for some time (from the early 1930s until 1944) the house was leased to Sid Wisebaum and Linn McDonnel, who operated it as the Sioux Theatre. Mrs. Higgins died in 1941, and Isabella Strohmeyer took over operation of the theater in 1944, renaming it the Elite. In 1946, operation of the Elite was taken over by Fred Barnes, and that was apparently when Mrs. Strohmeyer decamped to San Francisco.

Barnes gave up the Elite in 1959, and it was subsequently leased to a number of operators over the years, closing and reopening several times. The lessee who was the subject of the 1968 item was Gerald Thomas, a 21 year old native of San Francisco. He operated the house for about a year.

The last mention of the Elite I’ve found was from the January 19, 1976, issue of Boxoffice, which said that Clarence Moffitt had reopened the house as a weekends-only operation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Center Mayfield Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 12:22 am

The Center Mayfield Theatre opened in 1936, and was (as noted by Warren in comments above) designed by architect George B. Mayer. The Art Moderne auditorium seated 1,200 patrons, and a photo of it appeared in the November 11, 1936, issue of Boxoffice Magazine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Shaker Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 12:13 am

A September 12, 1942, Boxoffice article about the Fairmount Theatre mentions the Shaker as another of the many theaters designed by the Fairmount’s architect, George H. Burrows.

The Shaker opened in 1936, and the November 11 issue of Boxoffice that year published a photo of the auditorium, but the caption misspelled the architect’s name as Burroughs. Boxoffice described the style of the Shaker as “…predominantly Colonial… though with strong modern notes throughout.” The photo bears out the description.

Though the article does not give the Shaker’s seating capacity, the photo reveals a spacious, four-aisle auditorium that clearly would have accommodated well over 1000 patrons.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fairmount Theatre on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:58 pm

The Fairmount Theatre actually opened in 1942, and was featured in a two-page spread in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of September 12 that year. Architect George H. Burrows, also the designer of the Shaker and Telenews theaters in Cleveland, gave the Fairmount a Colonial exterior but used an Art Moderne style in the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harris Theater on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm

The Harris Theatre of Jeannette was in operation prior to 1939, at the time the Harris Amusement Company took a lease on Michael Manos’s new Manos Theatre in the same town. The new house operated as the Harris-Manos Theatre until 1949, at which time operation was taken over by the Manos circuit. The Harris circuit continued to operate the Harris Theatre as well during this decade.

In 1950, Manos bought the Harris Theatre, ending the Harris circuit’s presence in Jeannette. The March 25 issue of Boxoffice that year said that Michael Manos had closed the Harris Theatre. I’ve not found any later mentions of the Harris in Boxoffice.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Manos Theater on Jul 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Through the 1940s, Boxoffice sometimes hyphenates the name of this theater, sometimes calls it the Harris Manos Theatre or Harris' Manos Theatre, and sometimes just calls it the Manos Theatre. The theater was built by Michael Manos in 1939, and then leased to the Harris Amusement Company until 1949.

The November 8, 1939, issue of Boxoffice reveals that the Manos Theatre was designed by architect Victor A. Rigaumont. Arnold Picchi of Tuckahoe, New York, was the decorator. Both John Harris and Michael Manos were present at the opening night ceremonies, November 7, 1939.

The March 18, 1949, issue of Boxoffice ran an item about the Manos circuit which included the information that the Harris circuit’s lease on the Manos Theatre in Jeannette would expire on October 1, and that Manos would then take over operation of the house. After 1949, Boxoffice always calls the house the Manos Theatre, and the name Harris never appears in conjunction with it again.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kichel Theatre on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm

The name of this theater is currently misspelled. The spelling Kihchel is used throughout the various items about it in issues of Boxoffice. I’m sometimes skeptical of spellings Boxoffice gives, but in this case they agree with posts about the Kihchel family of Jeannette at a couple of genealogy sites, and a history of the town published in 2005.

The Kihchel Theatre was built by Mrs. Bessie Kihchel, widow of Princess Theatre owner Oliver A. Kihchel, and her sons Oliver D. and Burt R. Kihchel.

The April 8, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that construction was about to begin on the new Kihchel Theatre. The item said that the Princess Theatre would be closed in May, and that all but its alley-side wall would be demolished, so the new theater was almost entirely new construction.

The September 2, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that the Kihchel Theatre had opened on August 25. With 800 seats, the new theater was almost twice the size of the Princess. The new house was designed by architects Sorber & Horne.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Telenews Theatre on Jul 22, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Cleveland’s Telenews Theatre was featured in an article in the April 26, 1941, issue of Boxoffice. The design of the theater was attributed to Cleveland architect George Howard Burrows, best known for the hundreds of houses he designed in such neighborhoods as Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights. Boxoffice gave the seating capacity of the Telenews as 480.

Among the features of this theater were a modern art gallery featuring works by local artists, with exhibits changed twice monthly, and a radio studio (including seating for an audience) in the basement, from which programs could be broadcast over a number of area stations.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Temple Theater on Jul 22, 2009 at 6:44 pm

A photograph of the auditorium of the Temple Theatre appeared in the April 26, 1941, issue of Boxoffice magazine. The 750-seat house featured the first installation of black light illumination in the area. The walls were covered in a velour fabric printed with luminescent dyes in a pattern matching the theater’s carpet. The Art Moderne design of the Temple was the work of Pittsburgh architect Robert C. Bowers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coast Cinemas on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

The September 21, 1964, issue of Boxoffice gives the exact opening date of the Coast Theatre as September 10.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coast Cinemas on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:15 pm

The recently opened Coast Theatre was featured in an article in the January 18, 1965, issue of Boxoffice. It was originally a single-screen house of 682 seats. Built for the Mann family’s Noyo Theatres, the Coast was designed by San Francisco architect Gale Santocono in a California Modern style. The exterior remains largely unchanged today.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Jul 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

A May 18, 1970, Boxoffice Magazine article about the groundbreaking for the Lark Theatre said that the Lark was a replacement for the Grand, and that the Grand was to be demolished after the opening of the new house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fargo Cinema Grill on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:31 pm

The Lark Theatre opened on November 19, 1970, according to the November 23 issue of Boxoffice. It was built for the North Central Theatres division of ABC Theatres. The August 24 issue of Boxoffice had said that the new house was intended to replace the circuit’s Grand Theatre, which was located adjacent to the new theater.

The May 18, 1970, issue of Boxoffice ran an item about the groundbreaking for the project. This item said that the new theater was designed by New York City architect George Henry Greene, who designed many theaters for ABC during this period. The seating capacity given in the Boxoffice item was 688. It also said that the old Grand Theatre was scheduled for demolition following the opening of the new house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Joseph E. Rosatti was the lead architect for the 1935 rebuilding of the Grand, with the Minneapolis firm of Liebenberg & Kaplan as consulting architects. The August, 1983, issue of Boxoffice Magazine featured an article about Jack Liebenberg which included a small photo of the Grand from around the time of its opening.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Parkville Theatre on Jul 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm

DFC is correct. As the theater was on one of the corners with an obtuse angle, it had to be on either the northwest or southeast corner, and the photo shows the front on Gravesend/McDonald Avenue (note that the street sign shows that Washington/Parkville Avenue ran along the side of the theater, not along the front.) The 1915 directory probably got the number right but the street wrong. There is no 1028 Parkville Avenue. The street is too short to reach that number. The correct address today must be 1028 McDonald Avenue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:55 pm

The “From the Boxoffice Files (Twenty Years Ago)” feature in the magazine’s issue of February 8, 1947, says that Harry Tanner had bought the Dixie Theatre in Vandalia from S.E. Pirtle.

The March 8, 1941, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported on extensive fire damage to the Liberty Theatre building, with the total loss estimated at $80,000. The IOOF lodge on the third floor suffered $20,000 in equipment losses, and the building’s $20,000 air conditioning system was destroyed.

The theater was obviously repaired, but I’ve been unable to find a date for the reopening.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Round Up Theatre on Jul 17, 2009 at 9:16 pm

The current occupant of the former theater building, and apparently the building next door to the south as well, is an outfit called Medical Purchasing Corporation. It might be a buyer’s co-op of some sort. They use the address 5419 S. Vermont. In Google Street View I don’t see any signage on the building at all. They probably use the space mostly for warehousing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Round Up Theatre on Jul 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Not demolished. The Round Up’s building still stands. The L.A. County assessor’s office lists buildings at 5419 and 5425 S. Vermont. From the street they look like one building, but they are separate structures remodeled with a common facade.

The theater was in the northerly building, now using the address 5419 (probably originally the address of a store front, with another store front at 5423, and the theater’s entrance would have been between them.) It’s a 5400 square foot building erected in 1920, very likely as a theater. If you use Google Street view and look up the alley at it from 55th Street, you can see that it still has the paired rear exits characteristic of theater buildings.

Interestingly enough, the 1929 City Directory has the address listed in the Motion Picture Theatres section, but doesn’t give a theater name. Instead, it gives the personal name “Fisher W.D.” for that address. I don’t have access to city directories from earlier in the 1920s, so can’t check to see if the address was listed with a theater name then. However, it is listed in the 1936 directory as the Colonial Theatre, so there’s another aka.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Omak Theater on Jul 15, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Boxoffice provides lots of confusion in its few items about Omak. To add to the complications, an October 26, 1940, Boxoffice item dateline Omak reads: “‘Dreaming Out Loud’ broke all boxoffice records for a Saturday here at the Gem Theatre, which opened two years ago.”

But a Gem at Omak, Washington, was mentioned in an ad in the December 7, 1929, Movie Age, so the name Gem must have been used for two theaters, unless Boxoffice mistakenly called the new Omak Theatre by the name Gem (and was off about how long it had been open, since the July 1939 opening of the Omak was well covered.) It’s also possible that Boxoffice mistakenly called the rebuilt Gem the Omak Theatre in the 1939 item, but that seems less likely.

After a few more searches, I’ve concluded that the New Omak Theatre, no town specified, mentioned in the same 1929 ad that also mentioned the Gem was probably just misread by Google’s search, and the ad most likely said New Omaha. The fuzzy scan of the magazine itself is as difficult for me to to read as it is for Google.

But Boxoffice in 1938 was quite specific about there being two theaters in Omak, both operated by Charles Grieme, and one of them was called the Gem. Unfortunately the 1939 article about the opening of Charlie Grieme’s new Omak Theatre didn’t mention there being another theater in town.

Here’s the gist of five relevant Boxoffice items in chronological order.

June 11, 1938: Charlie Grieme turns over operation of his two theaters at Omak to his son Will.

June 3, 1939: Charley Greime, owner of the Gem at Omak, says the town will get “…a brand new theater.”

July 15, 1939: Charlie Grieme opens his new Omak Theatre in Omak on July 12.

The next two are an example of Boxoffice’s left and right hands being ignorant of one another’s actions (even the spelling is inconsistent:)

July 22, 1939, p. 20" “Omak— Charley Greime who operates the Gem will build second house here.”

July 22, 1939, p 78: “Filmrow looked deserted for a couple of days this week when the gang went to Omak to attend the opening of Charlie Grieme’s new house, the Omak.”

Trying to puzzle out from Boxoffice what really happened in this town is a series of WTF moments. What’s clear is that a theater opened in Omak in 1939, and it was probably the one that is now called the Omak. In the photos linked above it certainly looks like something that would have been built in 1939. This theater might have been the Gem rebuilt and renamed, and most likely was.

I’ve found only two mentions in Boxoffice of a Fox Theatre in Omak. The April 10, 1948, item says: “As soon as building restrictions are lifted, the old Red Apple Theatre here will be rebuilt and reopened as the Fox, according to Ike Rodgers, manager here of the Omak Theatre.” (Perhaps Red Apple was an aka for the Red Fox?) And then The May 1 issue the same year has a longer item which says that the old Fox Theatre in Omak was to be renovated and reopened, that it had been dark since 1940, and that it had 300 seats. I can’t find any later mentions of the Fox. Perhaps the project to reopen it was abandoned.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitan Theatre on Jul 15, 2009 at 6:57 pm

The Capitan Theatre was nearing completion according to the July 20, 1946, issue of Boxoffice. It was part of the Underwood-Ezell circuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pioneer Theatre on Jul 14, 2009 at 11:52 pm

According to the caption of a small photo of its facade published in Boxoffice Magazine, December 8, 1945, the Pioneer Theatre had recently opened at Falfurrias, Texas.