Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theatre on Jan 18, 2010 at 6:34 am

There’s an error in the first line of my comment above. Emma Cox did not become the operator of the Gem in 1921, but in either 1931 or 1933 (the Boxoffice article I cited gives both years, and context gives no clue as to which is most apt to be correct.) The dates regarding the Joy and Murr theaters are accurate.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Murr Theater on Jan 18, 2010 at 6:32 am

The April 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice reported that Moses Sliman had opened his 500-seat Murr Theatre at Osceola on March 25. The Murr Theatre became part of the Kerasotes circuit on New Year’s Day 1976, as reported in the January 5 issue of Boxoffice.

The September 23, 1939, issue of Boxoffice gives the opening date of the Joy Theatre as September 10 that year, and at the time the Murr opened the Joy Theatre was still operating. The Joy was in operation at least as late as 1953.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gary Theatre on Jan 17, 2010 at 5:02 am

A brief item in Boxoffice of August 3, 1957, said the Gary was scheduled to open August 7. This was a week earlier than the tentative opening date given in a Boxoffice item of July 20, which had also said that “The Pride and the Passion” had been slated as the opening feature.

The August 3 item said: “Remodeling included air conditioning, installation of 1,350 foam rubber seats, new draperies, mosaics and murals, new carpeting and plumbing.” It was Benjamin Sack’s second Todd-AO-equipped theater, the Saxon having been the first.

The earlier Boxoffice item credited designer Louis Chiaramonte with both the design for the remodeling and the decoration of the theater, the same roles he had played for the conversion of the Majestic into the Saxon in Boston and the Lyric into the Saxon in Fitchburg.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lake Theatre on Jan 17, 2010 at 4:57 am

The Lake had a fairly brief life as a theater. A 1949 anti-trust decree required the Schine circuit to divest a number of its theaters, and the Lake went to an independent operator in February, 1952. Schine retained control of its “A” house in Canandaigua, the Playhouse. The independent operator did not make a success of the Lake. The July 24, 1954, issue of Boxoffice reported that the theater was being converted for business use.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Greendale Theatre on Jan 17, 2010 at 4:54 am

The Wisconsin Historical Society says the Greendale Theatre opened on April 29, 1939. Here’s their page about Greendale. There is a gallery of Greendale photos, and thumbnails of the front of the theater appear on the second and tenth pages of the thumbs. There’s also a thumb at the upper left corner of page 8 captioned “Commercial Buildings in Winter” which I’m pretty sure shows the theater auditorium from the other side— the big building with the chimney.

A few Boxoffice items mention the Greendale. One of December 21, 1940, gives the seating capacity as 650. The Library of Congress has a floor plan of the theater, also giving the seating capacity as 650.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on Jan 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

The original Star Theatre was demolished and replaced by a new building designed for Dipson Theatres by Rochester architect Michael J. DeAngelis. There is an article with a couple of photos in Boxoffice of June 21, 1941.

The article also features the smaller Lake Theatre at Canandaigua, New York, designed by DeAngelis for Schine Theatres at about the same time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pine Theater on Jan 16, 2010 at 4:53 am

The original interior of the Pine Theatre can be seen in three photos in a June 21, 1941, Boxoffice article about the rebuilding of the ventilation system in the house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sunn Cinema on Jan 16, 2010 at 4:36 am

The correct address for the Sunn Cinema is 113 E. Pine Street, which is currently the address of Heaven’s Beauty Salon. There’s been some confusion of theaters in Deming. The listing for the Cinema 3 gives it the aka El Rancho for that house, but that aka properly belongs to the Sunn.

I can’t find any Boxoffice items about a Deming Theatre, but there are plenty of references to the El Rancho, from the early 1940s until the late 1970s. The historic El Rancho photos and rendering I’ll link to below depict the same building in the Sunn Theatre photo of 1982. It did not open as the Deming Theatre.

The El Rancho was featured in this Boxoffice article of November 2, 1942, which also featured two of Jack Corgan’s other recent theater projects. The previous year, a rendering of the proposed El Rancho was included in the Just Off the Boards feature of Boxoffice’s June 21 issue.

Numerous comments about the El Rancho are currently found on the Cinema Treasures page for the Cinema 3, which was identified there as having been located in the former El Rancho building. This was apparently an error, as CT user Mr50s said that Cinema 3 had been located in a former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. That plant was at the corner of Pine and Copper streets, about a block and half west of the Sunn/El Rancho.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinema 3 on Jan 16, 2010 at 4:28 am

It looks like we’ve got two different theaters conflated on this page. Mr50s said the Cinema 3 was in the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. If that’s the case then El Rancho was not an aka for Cinema 3. The address of 113 E. Pine Street given for this theater was indeed the address of R.E. Griffith’s El Rancho Theatre, which was the original name of the house currently listed at Cinema Treasures as the Sunn Cinema. It was the El Rancho from opening in 1942 until the late 1970s.

A .pdf of the minutes of a 2009 Luna County Board of Commissioners meeting includes a reference to a proposal for a Luna County Youth Arts Center, to be located in the former Pepsi-Cola bottling plant at 101 N. Copper Street, Deming. It doesn’t mention the building having been used as a theater, but if Mr50s is correct, that must have been the address of the Cinema 3.

If the Albuquerque Journal article cited in the intro was correct and the Cinema 3 was in the former El Rancho (Albuquerque is 233 miles from Deming, and I’m more inclined to trust Mr50s, who actually lived in Deming) then the pages for the two theaters need to be combined. Otherwise, the address on this page and the aka’s on both pages need to be changed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Franklin Theatre on Jan 16, 2010 at 3:15 am

Hughes-Franklin was the name of a theater chain formed around 1930 by Howard Hughes and Harold B. Franklin. It was an extensive chain and they had a number of theaters in the Los Angeles area, and based on what little I’ve been able to find out about it some of their houses appear to have been operated in association with local partners. Considering the two names connected with it, I wonder if this could have been one of them? I don’t think the chain lasted very long, though, so it might not have been around by the time the Franklin opened in 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midtown Theatre on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:44 am

The Midtown Theatre was featured in an article in Boxoffice of December 6, 1941. It was built in a converted garage. The plans were by Dearborn architects Bennett & Straight.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Castle Theater on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:31 am

The Castle opened in October, 1940, as the Russell Theatre. It rated an article in Boxoffice of January 4, 1941. The Russell was designed by Robert S. Harsh, of Columbus, Ohio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:08 am

In 1941, the Colonial got a complete Art Moderne makeover, inside and out, designed by architect Michael J. DeAngelis. There are photos in Boxoffice of February 21, 1942.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fairfax Theatre on Jan 14, 2010 at 5:01 am

There are photos of the Fairfax in Boxoffice, February 21, 1942. The 555-seat house was designed in the Art Moderne style by architect Roy A. Benjamin.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Riviera Theatre on Jan 14, 2010 at 4:53 am

Judging from Google Street View, kdinkcmo is right. The building at 2209 Main Street housing the Riviera Theatre is clearly of 1920s vintage— probably late 1920s— and clearly was designed as a theater. A thorough search of Boxoffice Magazine references to Emmetsburg turn up only the Iowa Theatre in town, from the earliest reference in 1940 until the last in 1977.

There is a single 1929 reference to Emmetsburg but the name of the theater, which had just bought Western Electric sound equipment, is not given. I’d say the Riviera is almost certainly the Iowa renamed.

The Riviera is operated by Fridley Theatres. Here is the Riviera page at the Fridley web site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Saunders Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

Oh, wait. Midnight Cowboy came out in 1969. The book was from 1965.

In any case, the 1970 article said that the theater had been closed for several years before reopening that year as the Harvard Theatre, and it wasn’t a cheap remodel. The Harvard was a first-run theater. What film got the shorts of the local police in a wad in 1972 I don’t know, but there were plenty of mainstream Hollywood movies then that could have had such an effect in a small town.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Saunders Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:46 am

I don’t think the theater was actually showing pornography in 1965. I think the charge was probably over one of the early X-rated movies, perhaps Midnight Cowboy. The local officials of this small town were most likely a bit overwrought.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Western Plaza Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:41 am

The owners and operators of the Western Plaza throughout its history were apparently Mr. and Mrs. M. M. Weinig. The earliest mention I’ve found of the house in the trade journal Boxoffice is an item from 1942, and M. Weinig was mentioned in it, but a 1965 item about the closing implies that the Weinigs built the place.

The item in the Cincinnati news column of Boxoffice, December 6, 1965, says this: “Western Plaza, long a local theatre landmark, was closed by Mrs. M. M. Weinig. The Weinigs were among the pioneer exhibitors and Western Plaza was one of the early leading suburban houses. The theatre is to be torn down, the property having been bought in an expansion move by the Kroger Co.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gateway Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:37 am

Boxoffice of October 25, 1965, said that the Gateway Theatre, then under construction, had been designed by Ted Rogvoy & Associates, with interiors by Sam Garfinkle. Provision was made in the original design for the later addition of a second auditorium, at right angles to the original auditorium and connected to it by an arcade. This planned second auditorium, which was to seat between 700 and 1000, was apparently never built.

The Gateway Theatre derived its name from a large wrought-iron gate designed by Louis Sullivan which had been salvaged from a Chicago skyscraper and was to be installed in the theater. I can’t find anything else about this on the Internet, but if a Sullivan artifact was installed in the Gateway I wonder what has become of it since?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

A survey of new theater construction in the St. Louis area published in Boxoffice of October 16, 1937, lists Eddie Rosecan’s Rialto at Hannibal as one of the projects underway. Two other theaters Rosecan operated in small towns in the area were also called Rialto.

The Rialto was expanded and its front rebuilt in 1946, according to Boxoffice of February 6 that year. The item said the capacity would be enlarged by 50 percent.

If this house was ever called the Tom Sawyer, it must have been after Rosecan sold it to Frisina in 1955, but I’ve been unable to find any evidence that it was renamed. Frisina’s Orpheum was renamed the Tom Sawyer following a 1949 remodeling, according to Boxoffice of July 30 that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

This theater opened in 1903 as the Halloran and was renamed the Grand in 1913. It suffered a fire in 1914, was rebuilt, then burned again in 1925 and was rebuilt yet again, with plans again by Boller Brothers. The history of the theater was recounted in a February 29, 1960, Boxoffice article about the closing.

The article says that A.H. Pekarek had been manager of the Grand since 1927, but that was a typo. His appointment to the Grand was noted in Boxoffice of June 22, 1957. The latter article calls the house the Fox Grand, as does one 1939 Boxoffice item. The rest of the time Boxoffice just calls it the Grand.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:39 am

Boxoffice of April 26, 1952, says “The Frisina Amusement Co.’s Star Theatre in Hannibal is being used as a third-run house. The Tom Sawyer is the city’s first run and Eddie Rosecan’s Rialto is the second run theatre and occasionally obtains first runs.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Spartan 3 on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

The exact opening date for the Spartan Twin was October 11, 1967, according to an item in Boxoffice of October 30. Operator Fox Eastern Theatres was a subsidiary of National General Corporation. The Spartan East originally seated 1,000, and the Spartan West 650.

The larger auditorium was slated to show first-run fare, opening with “A Rough Night in Jericho,” while the smaller Spartan West would be used for road shows, and opened with “The Taming of the Shrew.” The star-studded opening of the Spartan Twin was studded solely by actor Chill Wills. There’s no word on whether Lansing has yet recovered from the excitement. Chill Wills survived for another eleven years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

The Roxy has a longer and more interesting history than we suspected, and it probably last operated under the name Harvard Theatre. Oddly, so did the rival house, the Saunders Theatre.

A September 3, 1949, Boxoffice item said that William Johnson, operator of the Roxy Theatre at Harvard, had purchased the theater building from Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Carpenter. Johnson planned to completely modernize and redecorate the house, a project he expected to be complete by fall.

It looks as though it took him a bit longer than he expected. Boxoffice of February 4, 1950, reported that the new Harvard Theatre, formerly the Roxy, had been reopened by Bill Johnson after extensive redecoration.

Johnson didn’t keep his renovated theater very long, as Boxoffice of November 21, 1953, had this news: “H. W. ‘Bill’ Johnson, owner and operator of the Harvard Theatre here since 1939, has sold his business and has leased his theatre to the Harvard Theatre Corp., operator of the Saunders Theatre here and the Wentworth in Wentworth, Wis.”

The Papas brothers, owners of the Harvard Theatre Corp., didn’t operated their new acquisition even as long as Johnson had run it after the renovation. Boxoffice of January 30, 1954, said that the Pappas brothers were closing the Harvard Theatre, which had been in operation for 75 years. That means the opening year was probably 1878 or 1879.

I’ve been unable to find any theaters listed for Harvard, Illinois, in any edition of Julius Cohn’s Official Theatrical Guide, but I did find volumes of the annual report of the Wisconsin Horticultural Society from 1906 and 1907, each of which said that the society had held its annual convention at the Opera House in Harvard, Illinois. There is a single Boxoffice reference to the Harvard Opera House, in an item from 1943 about a theater manager who had begun his career as a prop boy there 35 years earlier.

I’m quite disappointed that I’ve been unable to find any mention of the Majestic Theatre at Harvard. 12 N. Ayer Street is currently listed in the Internet as the location of the Salvation Army. I don’t know how up-to-date that is. It’s also listed as the address of something called Milk Center Senior Citizens. Somehow I don’t think it’s named for Harvey Milk.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Saunders Theater on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:22 am

Boxoffice of December 6, 1947, said that the Saunders Theatre had been taken over from Bertha Saunders by the Papas brothers and their father, John. The theater was to be remodeled and renamed the Harvard. Apparently they changed their minds about the renaming. Perhaps they decided it was cheaper to refurbish the existing signage. As I found C.J. Papas mentioned in Boxoffice as owner of the Saunders as early as 1943, the 1947 item must have meant that Bertha Saunders had sold the building to them.

A November 7, 1942, Boxoffice item says “C.J. Chapin has resigned as manager of the Saunders Theatre in Harvard after being associated with its operation for 35 years.” If there is no error in that report, that would push the opening of the theater back to at least 1907.

Eventually, the Saunders did get renamed the Harvard Theatre. Boxoffice of April 29, 1969, made the announcement that Robert and Roberta Hume of Harvard would renovate and reopen the old Saunders Theatre, which had been closed for several years.

A Boxoffice article of March 23, 1970, says that the Harvard Theatre had opened on February 23, after a year of remodeling which converted it into a “…luxurious 400-seat showhouse.” The last mention of the Harvard Theatre I’ve found is in Boxoffice of September 18, 1972, when operator Hume, Inc., was charged with showing an obscene film. The name of the film was not given, but the address was given as 21 N. Ayer Street. (I checked Google and sure enough, there’s no “s” on the street name.)

The current occupant of the building at 21 N. Ayer Street is a restaurant called Pico de Gallo, according to the Internets. On Google Street View it looks like a single floor, but the 1970 item about the Harvard Theatre said there was a balcony. Perhaps the upper floor has been chopped off, or maybe it was actually in the two-story building next door (probably 23 N. Ayer) and Boxoffice was off a bit.