Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lakeport Cinema 5 on Jul 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm

The Lakeport Cinemas in the 1986 photo is the former Lakeport Theatre, now the Soper-Reese Theatre. I didn’t know it had been twinned before closing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theater on Jul 1, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Unless the name was used for more than one theater in Bonham, the American was much older than the facade seen in the photos would suggest. Earl Moseley’s column in the July 14, 1956, issue of Boxoffice Magazine mentioned that long-time Texas theater man L.E. Holloway had worked at the American Theatre in Bonham in 1928.

A couple of late 1970 issues of Boxoffice ran items saying that the American Theatre had reopened after extensive remodeling. Perhaps the rippled facade dates from that time, or perhaps from an earlier remodeling, a $30,000 project mentioned in the July 17, 1948, issue of Boxoffice. It certainly wouldn’t have looked like that in the 1920s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Glendora Theatre on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm

The October 22, 1938, issue of Boxoffice said that H.E. Brookings had purchased the Beacon Theatre from the McDonald brothers.

The November 5, 1938, issue said that Brookings had changed the name to Glendora Theatre.

It’s surprising how frequently the Glendora is mentioned in Boxoffice from the 1940s through the 1950s, and almost every time it gets mentioned it is changing owners. Various owners after Brookins included: Sid Smith; Tony Blanco; Dave Fred and Perry Morgan; W.G. McKinney; B.G. Meyers; the Western Amusement Company (for almost six years, 1945-1951); Mr. and Mrs. L.D. Dover; Joe Pokorny; Willard Blunt; and finally Fed Stein, whose Statewide Theatres operated the house from at least 1960 to 1967.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Donner Theatre on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:02 pm

From the January 9, 1961, issue of Boxoffice: “When fire destroyed the Donner Theatre at Truckee recently, seven families living in the second-floor apartments were left homeless. The cause of the fire was not determined.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lando-Grand Theatre on Jun 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm

The Lando Theatre was offered for sale or rent by the Lando Realty Company in an ad in the November 8, 1940, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. There is a photo of the theater, and the way the building was arranged on the steeply sloping site makes me suspect that this might have been a reverse theater, with the screen and stage at the front of the house instead of the back.

This place seems to have switched names frequently. The July 7, 1931, issue of Exhibitors Forum said that the Lando Theatre, Central Avenue, had been renamed the Grand. It apparently became the Granada in 1934, when it was leased by Hendel and Rosen, who opened the New Granada in 1937.

The September 18, 1937, issue of Boxoffice carries an item saying that the Lando-Grand Theater on Center Avenue, formerly the Granada, had been reopened.

Then the August 5, 1939, issue says that the Former Lando-Grand Theatre had been reopened as the Central Theatre.

In its issue of September 21, 1940, Boxoffice said that William Lando was reopening his Lando-Grand Theatre on Center Avenue after the previous operator had failed.

In any case, the last name under which I find any mention of the house is Lando-Grand (probably chosen to differentiate it from the Warner Grand/Stanley Grand operating in Pittsburgh at the same time) so that’s probably the name under which it should be listed at Cinema Treasures. That would, of course, also help differentiate it from the New Granada Theatre. The Lando appears to have been known as the Granada only from 1934 to 1937 in any case.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Howard Theatre on Jun 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I found a mention of the Howard Theatre as early as the March 21, 1942, issue of Boxoffice. The item said that Beverly Richards, 22, was the new manager of the Iowa and Howard Theatres at Jefferson, both operated by the Pioneer Theatre Corporation of Minneapolis. She was the first woman ever named manager by the company.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Jefferson Theatre on Jun 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm

The Jefferson was the fourth theater opened in Oak Ridge. Its recent opening was announced in the November 4, 1944, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The Ridge, Center, and Grove Theatres had already opened. All four were being managed for the Recreation and Welfare Section of the Clinton Engineering Works by Walter Morris, a Knoxville theater owner.

The September 1, 1945, issue of Boxoffice says that seven theaters had been built at Oak Ridge by that time. Only the Middletown and Jefferson theaters were mentioned by name. The July 10, 1948, issue said that the Middletown Theatre in Oak Ridge had closed due to lack of business.

The May 4, 1952, Boxoffice mentioned the Skyway and Elza Drive-Ins at Oak Ridge, but I’ve been unable to discover if they were built by 1945, so they might or night not have been the other two theaters in the town. I got the feeling the two missing theaters were hardtops, though. Oak Ridge reached a population of about 75,000 during the war and could easily have supported seven walk-in theaters.

In 1952, a segregated theater was opened at Oak Ridge. The February 2 issue of Boxoffice gives the name as the Gambles Valley Theatre, and the seating capacity as 338. The item said it was the first Negro theater in Oak Ridge. The May 3 issue of Boxoffice said that a theater had recently opened at Gamble Valley in Oak Ridge.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grove Theater on Jun 30, 2009 at 9:14 pm

The December, 1981, issue of Boxoffice mentions a Grove 1-2-3 Theatre in Oak Ridge, along with the Ridge Theatre, both being operated by the Greater Huntington Theatre Corporation. Does anyone know if this was the original Grove Theatre triplexed? There’s also a possibility that the Ridge Theatre was triplexed at a later date.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ridge Theatre on Jun 30, 2009 at 9:09 pm

The August, 1993, issue of Boxoffice makes a reference to a Ridge 1-2-3 Theatre in Oak Ridge. Was the Ridge Theatre triplexed, or was this a new theater?

The December, 1981, Boxoffice had mentioned the Grove 1-2-3 and Ridge Theatres at Oak Ridge. Both were operated by the Greater Huntington Theatre Corporation.

The Ridge Theatre dated to the early 1940s, having been already in operation when it was mentioned, along with the Grove and Center theaters, in Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of November 4, 1944, in an item about the opening of the Jefferson Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Little Theatre Off Broadway on Jun 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm

The November 8, 1947, issue of Boxoffice said that the Kingdom Theatre had changed its name to the Grove and was now operating seven days a week instead of two to four days.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granada Theater on Jun 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

A photo of the Granada Theatre was featured in an ad for Texlite porcelain enamel products appearing in the March 2, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The ad named the architect of the Granada as Raymond F. Smith.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Valley Theatre on Jun 29, 2009 at 11:11 pm

The Valley Theatre is mentioned in Boxoffice magazine as early as 1943. However, the last mention of it is in the March 10, 1956, issue, in an item that says the Valley had been closed and the building would be sold to the Wahpeton National Bank which intended to use it as a banking house. However, as the Cinema in the 1980s photo is at the Valley’s address, perhaps either the deal fell through or the place became a bank for a while and was later reconverted into a theater.

A Valley Drive-In opened in Wahpeton in 1957.

There is a goatload of stuff about the Gilles Theatre in various issues of Boxoffice, but the hardtop Valley Theatre is seldom mentioned and I can’t find anything at all about the Cinema.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Jun 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Here’s the official web site for the Rialto.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theater on Jun 29, 2009 at 9:10 pm

The Rialto was rebuilt in 1945. The November 24 issue of Boxoffice said that “Henry Hall reopened his Rialto Theatre in Sinton on November 16. The house which was recently damaged by fire has been completely rebuilt.”

The August 11 issue of Boxoffice had said that the old Rialto had been almost completely razed by the fire, and that the new theater was being decorated by the King-Lewis Studios of Dallas. The walls were to be painted with murals depicting the evolution of navigation from the canoe to the Queen Mary. The front of the building would feature glass brick, neon, and indirect lighting. The Rialto was operated by the Hall circuit, headquartered in Beeville, Texas.

The Rialto at Sinton dates back to at least the 1920s. The September 22, 1928, issue of Motion Picture Times ran an item about the Hall Brothers, mentioning that they operated theaters called the Rialto in the Texas towns of Sinton, Taft, Three Rivers, Kenedy, and Beeville. The Beeville Rialto was the circuit’s first, and by then had been operated by the Halls for six years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wasco Theatre on Jun 29, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Southwest Builder & Contractor’s issue of March 27, 1925, said that a 600-seat, reinforced concrete theater building was being erected at Wasco for A.W. Thesher, proprietor of the Wasco Theatre. As Wasco was then probably too small to support two movie houses, it’s likely that the new construction was meant to replace the existing theater.

The Wasco Theatre was among many movie houses listed in ads for the Beaded Screen Corporation appearing in issues of Exhibitors' Forum in 1931.

The November 20, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine said that Sam Levin had recently acquired a part interest in the Wasco and Selma Theatres and that improvements and restorations were being made.

The July 13, 1939, issue of Boxoffice said that Frank Panero had bought the Wasco Theatre.

The finding aid for the S. Charles Lee papers at UCLA lists the Wasco Theatre, for Frank Panero, among Lee’s projects. In a comment of March 12, 2008, on the Sierra Theatre page, JillCh says that Frank Panero, her grandfather, had the Wasco Theatre renovated after buying it. That was probably the Lee Project, but the UCLA collection has no pictures of it online.

Kern County Library has this photograph of the Wasco Theatre. The library gives the date as ca.1938, so it might have been taken before the Lee remodeling- assuming the Lee remodeling plans were carried out.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bank Street Theater on Jun 28, 2009 at 11:36 pm

From the October 2, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, in an article about recent theater construction in Connecticut: “In New Milford, Steve Panoras completely razed the Star Theatre, rebuilt and enlarged it on modernistic lines, and opened in June as the 800-seat Twentieth Century Theatre.”

Most later issues of Boxoffice give the surname as Panora.

The June 26 issue of Boxoffice said that the rebuilt Twentieth Century had been scheduled to open June 25.

The May 14, 1949, issue of Boxoffice says that the Panoras (Steve and John) were offering the Twentieth Century Theatre for sale. This item gives the seating capacity as 718.

The last mention I’ve found of the Twentieth Century name is in the June 19, 1950, issue which says that the house had been bought by Arthur Smith. The name was apparently changed to New Milford Theatre some time after that. Unfortunately, there was also a new Milford Theatre at Milford, Indiana, which dominates the search results. The earliest reference to the Connecticut house as the New Milford Theatre I’ve found is in an item in the February 6, 1954, issue about the installation of CinemaScope.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theater on Jun 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

The May 31, 1947, issue of Boxoffice said that the Tower, then under construction, was expected to open about June 30. However, both the completion of the building and the opening were delayed. The July 24, 1948, issue of Boxoffice reported that the house had finally opened on July 16. The house had been completed in October, 1947, but was kept dark due to a legal dispute between the lessor and the lessee. The seating capacity at opening was 886, according to Boxoffice.

Also, does anyone know the name of a former theater at 4200 W. Douglas Avenue in Wichita? The 375-seat, quonset style house was under construction in 1947 according to the April 26 issue of Boxoffice that year. Google Street View shows a quonset hut building there, and Google search returns an Orth Roofing & Construction at that address. I can’t find a theater listed for that address at Cinema Treasures, though.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Jun 27, 2009 at 8:50 pm

The Davis Theatre was renamed the Vista Theatre in 1958, after the Davis family sold the house. I’ve found no mentions of the Vista Theatre in Boxoffice after 1958, though.

Dean Davis died in 1953, and Boxoffice published an obituary in its February 7 issue. The obituary said that he built the Davis Theatre in West Plains in 1927 (but didn’t name the source for the date) and that the house originally had 620 seats. The additional seating must have been in the missing balcony Grigsby mentions in his Sep 7, 2005, comment above.

At the time of his death, Davis also operated the Avenue theater and a drive-in at West Plains, and the Davis and Cameo Theatres and a drive-in at Mountain Grove MO.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avenue Theatre on Jun 27, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Dean Davis operated an Avenue Theatre in West Plains prior to 1950, when this house was built. The January 21, 1950, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that construction bids had been taken for Dean Davis’s new theater at West Plains on the 17th of that month. The item didn’t give the name of the new house, but said that Davis was the operator of the Davis and Avenue theaters in West Plains. The new theater had been designed by Boller & Lusk of Kansas City.

The March 11, 1950, issue of Boxoffice said that construction was proceeding and the new house would be open by June. It would be called the New Avenue Theatre and would have 500 seats (the January 11 issue had said 510 seats.) Equipment from the old Avenue Theatre would be moved to the new house. The item gave the location of the old Avenue Theatre as a leased building on the east side of Washington Avenue, and its seating capacity as 350. It said that Davis had operated this house for several years.

The name New Avenue Theatre must not have stuck for very long, as Boxoffice was back to calling it simply the Avenue Theatre within a couple of years. I don’t know what became of the old Avenue Theatre, but as Davis didn’t own the building it might have been reopened by another operator under another name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Smithers Theater on Jun 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm

There was new development in Smithers in 1938. The November 12 issue of Boxoffice said this: “The Black Diamond Theatre Company, Montgomery, W. Va., is opening a new home at Smithers, W. Va., November 9. The company operates ten theatres in West Virginia.”

This was apparently a new theater at that time. The August 6, 1938, issue of Boxoffice had run this item: “SMITHERS, W. VA.— A new theatre is being erected here by the Black Diamond Theatres, Inc., with headquarters at Montgomery. Gene Hensley and Archie Clemens, executives of the company which operates a half dozen theatres, state that the Smithers Theatre will have a seating capacity of 400 and that opening is scheduled for early October.”

The August 20 issue of Boxoffice also had a brief item saying that Black Diamond had a theater under construction at Smithers. This was probably not the Fountain Theatre, which is mentioned in 1931 issues of Movie Age. If there was a Smithers Theatre listed as early as 1930, it must have closed before this 1938 project was built.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theater on Jun 26, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Another long, tedious comment:

I finally found the Soledad Theatre mentioned in Boxoffice. The October 5, 1946, issue said “The Soledad Theatre in Soledad burned to the ground recently. Owners are Gnesa and Franscioni.” The January 11 issue of Boxoffice ran an item saying that Edward Gnesa had been issued a permit to build a $35,000 theater at Soledad to replace one that had burned. No theater name was given.

Then there’s an item in the February 8, 1947, issue saying that A. Blanco, Ralph Martin and Frank Jaimes had bought a tract of land at Soledad from Ernest Gnesa and Edward Franscioni where they planned to erect a theater. This item said that the CPA permit had been granted and construction would start immediately. Again, no theater name was given.

Then there is an item in the June 28, 1947, issue saying that the Soledad Theatre had opened recently. It said that the house had 700 seats and that the owners were Blanco and Martin. This doesn’t match the description of the Rio in the item earlier that year, saying that it had 528 seats, was scheduled to open in May, and was owned by J.C. Friedrich.

The Rio and the second Soledad must have been different theaters that operated at the same time for a while. But while there are quite a few mentions of the Rio in subsequent issues of Boxoffice, I’ve found no more mentions of the Soledad after June 1947 until a passing mention of a Soledad Theatre at Soledad in the June 18, 1979, issue of Boxoffice. Puzzling. That’s a total of three mentions of the name in 33 years.

The Rio Theatre in Soledad was sold to Al Klokkevold, according to the November 15, 1947, issue of Boxoffice, though the item doesn’t say who the sellers were. But then there’s the August 25, 1951, issue which says in its San Francisco news column that Joe Friedrich of the Plaza in Salinas and the Rio in Soledad was in town on business. He must have gotten the theater back, but then he apparently soon found another buyer. The March 23, 1957, Boxoffice said that Roy Martinez had then been operating the Rio Theatre for five years. Martinez was mentioned as the Rio’s operator as late as the June 1, 1970, issue.

Wherever the mysterious second Soledad Theatre was, I’m sure it wasn’t in the building on Kidder Street. That vertical sign space has just enough room for the name Rio. Soledad would never have fit.

I suppose there’s a possibility that Roy Martinez or some later operator got hold of the second Soledad and moved the Rio name there, which would account for the January 1970 Boxoffice claim that the Rio was on Front Street, but I still think a Boxoffice error is more a more likely explanation for that claim, even though such a move could explain the 1980 photo as well. And it wouldn’t explain the 1979 Boxoffice mention of the Soledad Theatre. We might have to wait for somebody familiar with Soledad to turn up here and solve the mystery.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Novato Theatre on Jun 26, 2009 at 7:15 pm

From the current text of the intro above: “In 1996, the theater was purchased by a non-profit, which intends to restore the theater as a performing arts center for Toledo’s small downtown.” What, Toledo doesn’t have a theater of its own to renovate?

On the photos: 1960s shingled mansardish roof extension. Ugh. If they renovate I hope they peel that thing off.

Don Donohue frequently wrote pieces for Boxoffice Magazine’s “The Exhibitor Has His Say” feature in the 1950s. Here’s a sample- from the December 8, 1951, issue, his comment on the Universal-International release “You Never Can Tell” with Dick Powell: “This is a real turkey— my poorest Sun., Mon. in many a week. I went along with U-I on top terms because of a saturation booking, but never again. My fingers will burn for weeks.” And that was one of his less acerbic reviews. I sure wouldn’t have wanted to cross Don.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theater on Jun 26, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I’ve found no mention of any other theaters in Soledad either in Boxoffice or the California Index. One 1970 issue of Boxoffice placed the Rio on Front Street, but that must have been a mistake.

Rio was a pretty common theater name, so it will probably be hard to track down the actual location of the house in that 1980 photo.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ignacio Theater on Jun 26, 2009 at 5:53 pm

The part of my comment above about the Novato Theatre Company having been located in the old Novato Theatre is wrong. The Novato Theatre was to be used by another local arts organization, but that deal fell through.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coddingtown Cinemas on Jun 26, 2009 at 5:22 pm

This house actually opened as a single-screen called the 20th Century West Theatre in 1965. Here’s copy and paste from my comment on the Tower Theatre page from May 21 (because I’m too lazy to rewrite it here):[quote]“The 20th Century West Theatre is mentioned in the April 26, 1965, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, which says that "The Greatest Story Ever Told” was the first movie shown at the recently opened house.

“Originally built for independent operators Mr. and Mrs. William Blair, the theater was bought in 1968 by the Sonoma Theatre Corporation, headed by George Mann, Robert L. Lippert, and Charles J. Maestri. Sonoma Theatre Corp. also bought a twin-screen house elsewhere in Santa Rosa from the Blairs at the same time.

“The July 22, 1974, issue of Boxoffice said that Sonoma Theatres would expand the 20th Century West by adding two 400-seat auditoriums adjacent to the original 800-seat house, with all three sharing a common entrance and lobby. The theater would be renamed the Coddingtown Cinemas.

“Mike Rivest’s list of Sonoma County theaters says that the house was expanded to four screens in the late 1980s, was last operated by the United Artists circuit, and was closed about 2000.:[/quote]

My guess would be that the four-plexing was accomplished by splitting the original 800-seat house, but never having been there I can’t say for sure.