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The August 11, 1945, issue of Boxoffice Magazine announced that permission to build the TCU Theatre had been granted by the War Production Board. Construction was to begin as soon as plans were completed and materials could be procured. Plans for the new independent house, owned by W.V. Adwell and A.J. Wylie, were being drawn by architect Jack Corgan.
The January 19, 1946, issue of Boxoffice magazine said that architect Raymond F. Smith was preparing plans for a new theater to replace the National Theatre in Bridgeport.
Built for B.R. McLendon’s Tri-States Theatres, this deluxe house was to replace Tri-States' Lyric Theatre as Idabel’s first-run theater, and would take the name of the company’s old State Theatre a half block south.
The new State was designed by Dallas architect Raymond F. Smith, according to Boxoffice Magazine, February 16, 1946. The theater was to be completed later that year, and was to have 1100 seats, with 850 on the main floor and 250 in a balcony.
On the opening of the new house, the earlier State Theatre was to be closed and converted to retail space, and the Lyric would be refurbished and become a second-run theater.
The Scott Theatre was designed by architect Raymond F. Smith. Like the earlier Rio down the block, it was owned by Maggie Scott. The announcement of Smith’s plans was made in Boxoffice Magazine of December 21, 1945. The difficulties of postwar construction delayed the completion of the house.
The February 1, 1947, issue of Boxoffice said that the formal opening of the Scott Theatre was scheduled for that night. The opening feature at the new house was to be the Bing Crosby-Fred Astaire musical “Blue Skies.”
The Nixon Theatre has a somewhat confusing history. The August 7, 1937, issue of Boxoffice Magazine reported that the Nixon Theatre had burned down the previous Monday, and that owner D.P. Luckie was remodeling another building into a theater to replace it. On August 21, Boxoffice reported that Luckie had opened the new location, which had 325 seats.
Then there’s an item in the December 21, 1945, issue of Boxoffice saying that Raymond F. Smith was designing a theater to be built at Nxon for Rubin Frels. The October 12, 1946, issue of the magazine announced that Frels' new house had opened, but the scan of the page is so bad that I can’t read the name of the new theater.
What is certain is that later issues of Boxoffice name Frels as the operator of the house, so the Nixon Theatre in the photos is probably the 1946 building designed by Raymond F. Smith. Boxoffice offers no clue as to whether or not this building occupied the site of either of the earlier theaters of the same name.
The new Gateway Theatre was featured in an article in the January 31, 1942, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house was jointly owned by P.G. Cameron and Interstate Theatres. The moderne design by architect Raymond F. Smith featured an unusual configuration, with an elevated stadium seating section that was accessible only by stairways from the foyer rather than from a cross aisle in the auditorium.
Boxoffice Magazine confirms that there was a second Texan Theatre in Hamilton, after catastrophe befell this one. In the New Construction section of the July 2, 1949, issue is this: “Hamilton, Tex.— Bids to be taken soon for new Texan Theatre, fire replacement by H.H. Stroud. Jack Corgan, Dallas, architect.”
The recent opening of the Lagow Theatre was noted in the June 19, 1948, issue of Boxoffice. The independent house, owned by M.S. White and Walter Armbruster, was designed by architect Raymond F. Smith.
An item in the April 6, 1940, issue of Boxoffice might be about the Life Theatre. It says that Sam Parrish, operator of the local Avon and Dorothy theatres, was planning a new, 800-seat house across the street from the Avon. I can’t find anything about the opening of this unnamed house, but several later issues of Boxoffice mention Sam Parrish as the owner of the Life Theatre.
The Life Theatre is mentioned in Boxoffice as late as 1970, when new owners were planning a renovation.
The Wilma Theatre at Wallace opened on March 25, 1947, and was scheduled to show its last movie on March 12, 1973, according to an item in the March 26, 1973, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The theater was being taken over by the Idaho Highway Department, and was to be demolished to make way for an extension of Interstate 90. Manager Gil Sessler said that the building “didn’t have a crack in it.”
Local opposition to the routing of the highway later forced a relocation of the project, and it was not completed until 1991, but the Wilma Theatre building apparently didn’t fare well under highway department ownership.
The Wilma was also the subject of an article in the June 7, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The house was built by Edna Wilma Simons, widow of Billy Simons, founder of the W.A. Simons Theatre Circuit. The Wilma was designed in the Art Moderne style by the Spokane architectural firm Whitehouse & Price, and was decorated and outfitted by the Seattle branch of B.F. Shearer & Co., theatrical suppliers.
At the time the Wilma opened, the Simons circuit operated twenty theaters in a dozen towns in Montana and Idaho. The Wilma featured a stadium seating section, and a stage for live performance. Mrs. Simons, a former actress, believed that live theater would make a comeback.
Billy Simons had arrived in Wallace in 1909, built the Wallace Hotel, and began exhibiting movies shortly thereafter, first in a theater in a converted storeroom and later in the Masonic Hall. He soon operated theaters in a number of towns in the region. In 1920 he moved his headquarters to Missoula, Montana, and was head of the Northwest Theatres Company and the Yellowstone Amusement Company. He died in 1937.
The architects, Whitehouse & Price, were best known for thier numerous churches and public and academic buildings, but did also design the Cordova Theatre at Pullman, Washington, and, as associates of lead architect Robert C. Reamer, the Fox Theatre in Spokane. In 1946 they designed a theatre to be erected at Lewiston, Idaho, for the Lewis-Clark Amusement Company, but it was apparently never built.
I’ve just seen the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation’s page about the Palace. It has a few interesting pictures but also has some errors in the text. It says that the third Orpheum in Los Angeles (the Palace) was built when the second Orpheum burned down, but in fact the second Orpheum didn’t burn down, and had a long post-Orpheum life as a movie theater called the Lyceum.
The page also says that the first Orpheum was built in Los Angeles in the 1880s. That’s a bit ambiguous, but if it means that the Orpheum Circuit began in Los Angeles it’s not quite right. The first theater in what became the Orpheum circuit was opened in San Francisco in 1887, and in 1894 its operator, Gustav Walter, entered a partnership with Martin Lehman, owner of the Grand Opera House on Main Street in Los Angeles, to present vaudeville shows there under the Orpheum banner. As a circuit implies more than one theater, the Grand could be considered one of the first two theaters in the Orpheum Circuit, as it was the first house Walter and Meyerfield operated outside San Francisco, but it was never the flagship of the circuit.
Incidentally, the Wikipedia article about the Orpheum Circuit also contains some errors. Most significantly, it is wrong in saying the company was founded by Martin Beck. Gustav Walter and his assistant Morris Meyerfield started the circuit. Beck, originally a vaudeville troupe manager from Chicago who became another of Walter’s assistants, acquired control of the company several years after it was founded.
Should have said that the item about Harry Buxbaum was published in 1967.
Also should have added the detail that Prudential’s Community House was at Ocean Beach, Fire Island.
I’ve found only a couple of mentions of a theater on Fire Island in Boxoffice. The September 24, 1949, issue said that the Community Theatre, a summer operation, was being closed until the following June. The operator of the 500-seat house was named Joseph Seider.
The October 17, 1966 issue says that the Community House at Fire Island was being operated by Prudential Theatres.
I find but one reference in Boxoffice to a theater in Shelter Island, and no name is given for it. It’s an item about one Harry Buxbaum, and says that in 1941 he had operated a summer film theater on Shelter Island.
There are a couple of references in issues from 1942 and 1948 to a Shelter Island Theatre Company (formed in the former year and dissolved in the latter), but it was “…formed to do business in Greenport…” N.Y., and the items say nothing about which theaters the company operated.
I find a listing on zvents for a Gaylord Cinema Downtown, 115 E. Main Street, with nothing currently scheduled, but it must be the vacant theater in this 2008 photo. Google Maps has no street view for the location, and Live Search has no birds-eye view.
I’m wondering if the Gaylord Cinema Downtown could be the Gaylord Theatre that turns up in a few Boxoffice Magazine items from 1943 to 1967.
The Bellaire Theatre-Gaylord Cinema West shows up hyphenated on some web sites. There’s a village of Bellaire in the area, but it’s over in the next county.
Belated reply to Tom DeLay’s question of Aug 8, 2007: The L.A. Library’s California Index contains a card quoting an item in a 1912 edition of The Rounder, which says that motion pictures were doing splendid business at the Bell Theatre in Visalia.
The Index also has a few cards citing 1910s and 1920s articles about plans for construction of theaters in Visalia, but names are not given for any of them, and its not clear which, if any, of these projects were actually completed.
Also, the June 26, 1943, issue of Boxoffice Magazine mentions a Bijou Theatre then operating in Visalia.
An interesting item in the October 7, 1946, issue of Boxoffice is a brief obituary of Okanosake Nakamichi, who it said had operated a theater in Visalia from 1911 until he was relocated to a prison camp in 1942. The name of the theater was not given, but given the prevailing attitude among Californians of that period I would imagine it served only Asian patrons.
The “Just Off the Boards” feature of Boxoffice Magazine, issue of December 8, 1945, includes a drawing of the Colony Theatre. The text reads in part
“…on this page (at left) is the front elevation perspective by architect Robert Boller of Kansas City, MO., for the new Colony Theatre, now under construction at Easley, S.C…..”
Joel Armistead (comment of Oct 1, 2004, above) must have gotten an incomplete version of his family’s history. The theater his grandparents ran in Easley in the 1920s was not the Colony but the Lyric.
An article about Harold Armistead, based at least in part on an interview, was published in the October 18, 1971, issue of Boxoffice, shortly after he had sold the Colony and retired. It said that Harold Armistead’s father had come to Easley in 1923, when he bought the Lyric Theatre on Main Street. Harold Armistead was operating the Lyric at least as late as 1950, the last year in which I can find it mentioned in Boxoffice.
This article also said that Armistead had opened the Colony Theatre in 1948. As construction was reported to have been underway in late 1945, that was a very long time for building. Perhaps the 1945 Boxoffice item was premature in announcing the start of construction. There can be no doubt of the 1945 date for the Boller design, though.
There’s also a brief item in the June 7, 1947, issue of Boxoffice saying that Harold Armistead was building a $35,000 theater at Easley. As the Colony looks to have been a considerably more costly building, I think this unnamed house might have been the theater for black patrons Armistead built and operated in then-segregated Easley for a few years, which was also mentioned the 1971 article.
The California Index contains a card citing an item in the December 11, 1931, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor saying that architect Clifford Balch was preparing the plans for a theater at Boulder City for Fox West Coast Theatres.
According to this page at the Boulder City Ballet Company’s web site, the Boulder was built in 1932 for Fox Theatres. I think we can add the Boulder Theatre to the list of Balch-designed theaters.
The only mention of the Yolo Theatre in the L.A. Library’s California Index cites an item from Motion Picture Herald of August 14, 1937, which said that Peter Garrett had reopened the Yolo Theatre in Woodland.
There are many mentions of the Yolo in various issues of Boxoffice Magazine from 1940 and into the 1950s, but most are brief items saying that Pete Garrett had been among the visitors to film row in San Francisco.
Peter Garrett built the Sunset Drive-In near Woodland, a 450-car operation opened in 1950. An October 5, 1957, Boxoffice item said that the Yolo Theatre and Sunset Drive-In had been leased to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Skellcock, who began operating them October 1. Pete Garrett was retiring.
I’ve found no later mentions of the Yolo, but the Sunset Drive-In shows up a couple more times, and the October 25, 1971, issue says that Bob Garrett, owner of the Sunset Drive-In, had applied for a permit to operate a flea market there, so ownership of that property remained in the Garrett family at least until then.
There was an earlier Galt Theatre in Galt. The California Index has three cards citing items referring to it in various issues of Motion Picture Herald from 1928.
From Boxoffice, February 5, 1949: “The new $75,000 Galt Theatre was opened recently by owners Albert Schauer and Eric Speiss, operators of a local real estate and insurance firm. The Galt seats 500 persons, with 134 in the loge section and 366 in the regular auditorium.”
The Galt is the subject of an item in the July 28, 1956, issue of Boxoffice. The theater had been sold to Ray S. Hanson, formerly operator of a theater at Fertile, Minnesota. The item said of the Galt: “The theater is one of the most modern and well-equipped for its size in California, and is completely air conditioned.
The October 20 issue of Boxoffice that year said that Mr.Hanson had installed a stereophonic sound system in the theater at a cost of $3000. I’ve found no later mentions of the Galt Theatre.
I wonder if students at Galt High School shout “Go Galt” at games?
The Fox is at 2215 Broadway (though they give their box office address as 2223), so 2114 is a block down and across the street, near the corner of Jefferson. The old courthouse is at 2200 Broadway, according to the current occupant’s web site.
Here’s Google Street View of the building that once house the first Sequoia Theatre. You’ll have to be patient while that page loads.
3319 Main and 3406 Main are on opposite sides of the street, of course. I think 3406 can be ruled out as a current address for the theater’s location. It might have been a former address, but it would have been extremely strange for a city to have flipped its odd and even numbers from one side of the street to the other.
Current Google Street View shows a bar called Davey’s Uptown at 3402 Main, and a business called Nick Carter and Company at 3410 Main, and the building in between where 3406 would be is certainly not the theater. It looks old enough that it could have held a storefront theater in the 1910s or 1920s though.
On Google Street View, the odd-numbered side of the 3300 block of Main is seen to be of quite recent construction, so the theater must have been demolished. The address 3319 does not appear to be in use currently.
I think the theater must have been about where the parking lot is in front of the Verizon Wireless store now seen in Street View, though the address of that store is 3385 Main Street. What must be the theater building can be seen in a 1969 aerial view available at Historic Aerials. Their 2006 aerial shows the modern building that has the Verizon store in it, but Google Maps' satellite view shows the site vacant, so the theater must have been demolished before 2006. I don’t know how old the Google satellite view is, but it has to be pre-2006.
A July 14, 1969, Boxoffice item does give the location of Dickinson’s Kimo South Theatre as Overland Park, so the Rio must be the one.
I’ve found both the Kimo and the Kimo South mentioned in Boxoffice’s columns about weekly grosses in Kansas City theaters as late as April, 1972, but in the 1973 issues I’ve seen only the Kimo South is listed.
The recent opening of the Kimo Theatre was reported in the June 17, 1944, issue of Boxoffice. However, the article contradicts some of Chuck Van Bibber’s original intro to this page. It states that the Kimo was the result of an extensive remodeling of the Alamo Theatre, while Chuck’s intro says that the Alamo Theatre was a block away from the Kimo.
Chuck also submitted Cinema Treasures' Alamo Theatre page which, if this Boxoffice article and another Boxoffice item from March 19, 1944, are correct is a duplicate listing.
In Google searches I thought I’d found contemporary mentions of the Alamo in Boxoffice from after 1944, but they all turned out to be items in the magazines “From the Boxoffice Files: Twenty Years Ago” feature. I think we can be pretty sure the Kimo was indeed the Alamo rebuilt, but it would be good to get confirmation from other sources.
The Boxoffice article said that the Alamo had been closed for several years at the time it was rebuilt into the Kimo, so it might not be listed in FDYs from the early 1940s. The Alamo might be listed at the Kimo’s address in earlier issues, though (unless KC did a block renumbering about that time.)
There’s some confusion about the theaters in Alva. Even the October 15, 1949, Boxoffice Magazine article about the new Rialto contains within itself some conflicting information.
One paragraph says that the first Rialto was a successor to the Liberty and was opened in “… an old, barn-like auditorium that also housed a grocery store and garage….” This is supposed to have taken place after the Liberty burned, which the article says happened on October 12, 1934. The item also says that the razing of the first Rialto began on July 5, 1948, and the new Rialto was then built on the same site (this part is probably accurate.)
However, another paragraph of the same article says that in 1928 Homer Jones “…purchased half interest in the Alva Theatre Company, which was operating the Liberty and Rialto.” A few lines later it says that Jones “…left the Liberty in 1931 to devote full time to the Rialto.”
So, was the first Rialto built in 1929, as the intro above says, or earlier, if the Alva Theater Company was operating it when Jones came to town in 1928 as Boxoffice says, or in 1934, after the Liberty burned, as Boxoffice says? Or did Jones actually operate three successive Rialtos in Alva?
Boxoffice doesn’t identify the source of its information for the 1949 article, but it contains so much detail about Jones’s career that he himself, or someone very close to him, must have been the original source. Most likely the copywriter garbled some of the information about the earlier Rialto, or Rialtos.
The various on-line sources of information about the Rialto and other Alva houses are sometimes not consistent with one another either. The Enid News item from 2008 says that Jones “…purchased the Rialto in 1929.” The OkieLegacy site’s item on the Jones family appears to have taken some of its information from the Boxoffice item I cited (using the first Boxoffice tale about the original Rialto but not their second tale), but also says that Jones owned another theater in Alva which burned in 1933.
Somebody will probably have to do some research in the archives of the area’s newspapers, in articles and ads from the period in which the various theaters were operating, in order to sort out the facts.
What is clear from the Boxoffice Item is that the new Rialto was operating by October, 1949, and that it had 800 seats. The 600 seat figure in the intro to this page must be for the original Rialto, though the seating capacity of the triplexed house of today might actually be pretty close to that if the auditorium had 800 seats on opening.
The marquee in the historic photo says “Vitaphone” on left end and “Movietone” on the front. The house was obviously equipped for both of these competing systems, as was not unusual at the time. It’s probable that neither Vitaphone nor Movietone was actually the name of the theater. The name Liberty might have been on the rooftop, out of the camera’s range in this photo.
In any case, this theater already has a Cinema Treasures page under the name Liberty Theatre. The same photo of it here is identified as the Liberty Theatre.