Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alpine Four Theatre on Nov 7, 2009 at 2:04 am

A page of Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of October 25, 1971, was devoted to the Alpine Twin Theatre (its original name.) There were a few pictures of the theater. The twin auditoriums each had 325 seats in a continental arrangement. The side walls were curtained, and the back walls were faced with acoustic tile. The project was designed by Mel Glatz Associates.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colby Twin Theatre on Nov 7, 2009 at 2:00 am

The Colby was remodeled in 1971 but apparently not twinned at that time. It was scheduled to reopen on October 27, according to the October 25 issue of Boxoffice, and the opening feature would be “Big Jake” with John Wayne. There were 430 seats. The remodeling project was designed by Mel C. Glatz. I don’t know if Glatz was responsible for the shingled faux-mansard the building now sports, but the brick front with carriage lamps was part of his design.

The Colby Theatre was long run by Don Phillips, who also operated the town’s drive-in and a theater called the Lyric, which dated back to at least 1925 (then being operated by J.P. Phillips) and was open part time at least as late as 1956.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lake Theater on Nov 7, 2009 at 1:33 am

Boxoffice of October 25, 1971, has an item about Lake Theatre operator John Huebel’s intention to build a 296-seat theater next to the Lake. The two houses would have separate entrances, but would share lounge space and concessions area, and would share one box office during most of the year but would use separate box offices during the summer season.

I don’t know if this project was carried out or not, but the Boxoffice item says that the architect for the small theater, Lloyd Borget, had worked with architect Alden Dow on the original plans for the Lake Theatre in 1942, and was the architect for a remodeling of the Lake done about 1967.

I’ve been unable to find any other movie theaters designed by Alden Dow, but he was the architect of McMorran Place, a public facility in Port Huron, Michigan, which includes a small arena, a convention hall, and a 1,157-seat theater used primarily for live events but which is also equipped to show movies. McMorran Place dates from the early 1960s.

I’ve been unable to find any other theaters attributable to Lloyd Borget, either, but he did work for the Houston architectural firm MacKie & Kamrath during part of the period during which they designed several theaters in Texas.

The Lake’s web site is gone, but it now has a MySpace page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Manos Theatre on Nov 6, 2009 at 1:05 am

I’d just assumed that it was a renaming that took place in 1934. The Boxoffice item didn’t give any details, and didn’t mention the name Liberty, but that’s often the case with Boxoffice items.

I found a May 14, 1949, Boxoffice item about the remodeling of the Manos that year, and it said that Victor A. Rigaumont was one of the guests at the reopening, so he was most likely the architect for the project. He did design a number of projects for the Manos circuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:34 am

The Electric Theatre was a couple of doors north of the Liberty, in a much plainer building. It is listed at Cinema Treasures under its later name, Glockner’s Automatic Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Barrow Civic Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:13 pm

The Kayton Theatre in Franklin opened May 8, 1946, as reported in Boxoffice of May 18. The new theater, designed by architect Victor A. Rigaumont, replaced the smaller (550 seat) Park Theatre which had burned in November, 1944, not long after a costly renovation. The Kayton’s lobby occupied the site of the Park, and the auditorium was built on formerly vacant land behind the Park’s site. On opening, the Kayton had 1037 seats. The house became the flagship of the small Kayton Amusement Company circuit.

On June 1, 1946, Boxoffice published a photo of the Kayton’s spacious auditorium, but it was printed upside down. The art moderne ceiling looked as though it would have made a splendid dance floor.

The Kayton was originally operated by a partnership consisting of Leonard T. Houghton of Franklin and Paul V. McKay of Montgomery, West Virginia, where they operated another Kayton Theatre. The partners also then operated the Avalon Theatre in Montgomery, the Orpheum in Franklin, and the Camden and Hollywood theaters in Weston, West Virginia. A Kayton Theatre the partners had operated in Grove City, Pennsylvania, at least as early as 1938 had been sold in early 1946 and renamed the Lee Theatre by the new owners.

Not especially relevant, but the history section of the Barrow Civic Theatre’s web site features the delightful observation that “…in 1991, provenance shined on Civic through the generosity of Franklin native Charles A. Barrow.” Oh, how wonderful it is when provenance shines- especially in some place more needful of its shining than, say, Rhode Island!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Kayton Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:09 pm

The Kayton at Montgomery was in operation prior to 1946, when its operators, Leonard T. Houghton of Franklin, Pennsylvania, and Paul V. McKay of Montgomery, opened another Kayton Theatre in Franklin. The Kayton Amusement Company also operated the Orpheum Theatre in Montgomery during this period.

There had also been a Kayton Theatre at Grove City, Pennsylvania, operating at least as early as 1938, but it had been sold in early 1946 and renamed the Lee Theatre by its new owners.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Main Theatre on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:05 pm

The July 17, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said “F. W. Rolands is about to build a 1,500-seat house at 1336 E. Main St., Columbus. General contract has been let to N. J. Mulligan, Columbus.” An August 3, 1946, Boxoffice item mentioned that “Contractors… Mulligan & Case… designed and built the Main Theatre.”

The December 25, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said that Fred Rowlands was opening his new Main Theatre in Columbus on Christmas Day. Rowlands also operated the Parsons Theatre in Columbus.

On April 3, 1954, Boxoffice said “Fred Rowlands' Main neighborhood was the first subsequent-run house here to install CinemaScope equipment.”

On January 16, 1961, Boxoffice said “Frank Yassenoff purchased the Main from Fred Rowlands and installed a reserved-seat policy for ‘Can-Can.’”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Guthrie Theatre on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm

An item in the July 31, 1937, issue of Boxoffice said that J.G. Carruthers and H.M. Carruthers had bought the Guthrie Theatre from Mrs. Martha Guthrie, widow of the original owner, and would take over operation of the house on August 2. John Guthrie had opened the house ten years earlier, on August 1, 1927. The Guthrie Theatre had 870 seats at the time of the sale.

An August 7 Boxoffice item about the sale said that J.G. Carruthers had begun his theater career in John Guthrie’s Lyric Theatre at Grove City, the town’s first movie house, which Guthrie had opened in 1907. Carruthers mentioned the Guthrie Theatre’s mascot, a stuffed eagle then mounted over the foyer fireplace, which had originally been placed over the boxoffice of the Lyric and had thereafter been displayed in each of Guthrie’s theaters.

Mrs. Guthrie, who had taken over the theater after her husband’s death in December, 1934, was interviewed for Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of June 1, 1935. The article included three small photos of the theater, and said that Mrs. Guthrie (to whom it referred rather quaintly- or perhaps disturbingly- as “an exhibitress”) had recently redecorated the theater. She described it thus:

“The stage set represents a Spanish exterior, side walls treated with over drapes and backings decorated with placques copied from the ‘Guthrie’ and ‘Montgomery’ coats of arms (Martha Montgomery having been my former name.) The curtain is appliqued with a Spanish character design. The organ grilles have balconies decorated with Spanish shawls, carrying out the same scheme as the balcony of the theatre. The foyer arch and standee rail are also draped, and double doors with glass panels were also added to the foyer, as well as a fireplace which was built in. The ceiling is covered in a canopy effect. A baby grand piano refinished in antique ivory is placed on the stage. The organ has been entirely overhauled by Mr. Herman Stahl of Erie, Pa., who built it.”
The accompanying photo of the auditorium shows the expanse of fabric it sported, including the great billows suspended from the ceiling. It makes me wonder what her fire insurance must have cost, and how the place ever escaped becoming an inferno during her tenure there.

Martha Guthrie made use of her Mad Decorating Skilz later on, as the August 28, 1943, issue of Boxoffice said that she was then running an interior decoration business in Grove City. She continued to be mentioned in the magazine occasionally as late as 1948, then vanished until 1969 when the issue of July 28 carried a brief notice of her recent death. By then she had become a “former exhibitor,” rather than a former “exhibitress.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Manos Theatre on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Mike Manos opened the Manos Theatre in Ellwood City in 1934, according to the “Ten Years Ago” feature in Boxoffice of September 16, 1944.

The May 21, 1949, issue of Boxoffice revealed that the Manos Theatre had reopened after a $70,000 remodeling. The May 28 issue gave the exact date of the reopening as May 5.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm

An October 15, 1949, Boxoffice item about a remodeling of the Majestic said the house had originally opened in 1917. Through most of its history, the Majestic was operated by members of the Biordi family. The web site Ellwood City Memories says that Frank Biordi operated the Majestic from either 1918 or 1921 (the page has contradictory information) until selling it in 1924, then repurchased the theater in 1936.

Andy Biordi is mentioned as operator of the Majestic in many issues of Boxoffice from the 1930s into the 1960s. Mrs. Frank Biordi was mentioned as owner of the Majestic in Boxoffice Magazine as late as 1977. Frank Biordi died on October 29, 1974, according to a notice in Boxoffice of December 16.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

norelco, the Internets can help jog your memory of the date. The story of the Strand projectionist who died in the booth appeared in the November 2, 1970, issue of Boxoffice, and it said the event had taken place on Monday, October 9.

The scan of the magazine online is a bit fuzzy, but it looks like it says the unfortunate projectionist’s name was Clermont M. Zimmerman. If my given name were Clermont, I think I’d prefer to be called Harry, too.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:28 am

An architect’s rendering of the proposed Texas Theatre in Kingsville was published in the July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice. The Texas Theatre was designed by Jack Corgan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ben Bolt Theatre on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:26 am

The July 2, 1949, issue of Boxoffice has an architect’s rendering of the proposed Ben Bolt Theatre. It, too, attributes the design to Boller & Lusk.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Don Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:24 am

The Don Theatre was built in 1947. Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of December 6 that year featured an illustrated article about this strikingly modern house. The base of the facade was described as being faced with Minnesota cold water granite at the base, and the upper portion of the facade was of horizontally fluted blue porcelain, striped with aluminum.

The interior was rather severe, except for the leaf-pattern carpet used throughout the lobby and auditorium, but the auditorium had a stepped ceiling with coved lighting. The curved walls of the auditorium narrowed sharply toward the screen, and I would imagine that installing a full-sized CinemaScope screen would have necessitated removing a few front rows of seats in order to bring it far enough forward to accommodate its width. I don’t know if this was done or not, but the original proscenium would have been much too narrow to accommodate a proper wide screen.

The Don Theatre was the fifth house in the small circuit operated by Don George. According to Boxoffice it had 1,200 seats.

Boxoffice misspelled the names of the Don Theatre’s architects as Nield and Sobol once, and as Nield & Sombal once, but the correct name was Neild & Somdal. The successor firm, Somdal Associates, is now the oldest architecture firm in the state of Louisiana, founder Edward F. Neild having begun his practice in Shreveport in 1908.

Edward F. Neild, lead architect of the firm until his death in 1955, was one of the architects who worked on the reconstruction of the White House during the Truman administration, and was the lead architect for Truman’s Presidential Library, though he died before that project was completed.

It’s especially unfortunate that this theater has been demolished, as it might have been the only movie theater designed by this regionally important firm that was actually built. The Somdal Associates web site features a time line that shows a small drawing of a hotel and theater project planned for the Interstate Company, on a site on Lafayette Street in Baton Rouge, in 1931. Although the hotel was built, and is now called the Hotel King, I’ve been unable to confirm that the theater part of the project was ever completed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theater on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:23 am

Boxoffice Magazine of April 3, 1948, said that the Capitol Theatre had closed on March 31 that year. The building had been leased to Rubenstein’s Department Store and was to be remodeled for their use. The building had been converted into the theater in 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theater on Nov 4, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I wonder if this theater could have been called the Grand at one time? The July 14, 1945, issue of Boxoffice has an item saying “Lloyd Royal of Meridian is expected to open the new Grand in Waynesboro, Miss., July 12.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theater on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:10 am

The Strand was extensively remodeled by United Paramount Theatres in 1951. The project included the demolition of a building next door to provide space for a greatly expanded facade and lobby. Boxoffice Magazine of March 3, 1951, says that Michael J. DeAngelis was the architect for the remodeling.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Woodland Theatre on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:06 am

Jack: I can find plenty of references to the firm of Marr & Holman, formed in 1913, but I’ve been unable to find anything about an architect named Arch who was ever associated with the firm. Could somebody have been using “Arch” as an abbreviation of Architects?

It’s certainly possible that Marr & Holman designed the Woodland, as they were among Nashville’s busiest architects during the 1920s, and theaters were one of their specialties.

Beginning in the 1920s, they had a long-running contract with the Crescent Amusement Company to design all the circuit’s theaters in the Nashville region. The Woodland was definitely part of the Crescent circuit by the 1940s, and it it was built for Crescent, then it was almost a certainly a Marr & Holman design.

Here is a PDF of the nomination form seeking the addition of a number of Marr & Holman works to the National Register of Historic Places. Though it has little information about their theaters (none of which were among the buildings being nominated), it does say they designed 61 theaters over the fifty-year history of the firm, and spcifically names the Princess Theatres at Bowling Green and Murphreesboro, Tennessee, as being among them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about River Oaks Theater on Nov 3, 2009 at 12:35 am

This page still needs an update for the architects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Midland Theatre on Nov 3, 2009 at 12:33 am

ziggy (Sept 16 comment above) is correct. The Midland is far too ornate to be considered Adam in style. It looks like a hybrid French-Italian interior with a Renaissance Revival exterior.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on Nov 3, 2009 at 12:28 am

The August 3, 1957, issue of Boxoffice refers to “…Gus Kerasotes, pioneer exhibitor who opened one of the nation’s first movie theatres, the Royal at Springfield, in 1909.”

And the photo linked above does show that the building is indeed still standing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about North Dekalb Theatre on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Boxoffice of August 9, 1965, said that “Lord Jim” had opened at Storey’s new North DeKalb Theatre in Decatur. That must have been the premier feature at the theater, as the August 23 issue of Boxoffice mentioned that the house had opened “Two weeks ago….”

Two small photos depicting the North DeKalb’s marquee and lobby appeared in Boxoffice of April 17, 1967. The article was about the Storey circuit’s new Lakewood Theatre in Atlanta, and said that both the Lakewood and the North DeKalb had been designed by the same architects, the Atlanta firm of Finch, Alexander, Barnes, Rothschild & Paschal, which was fairly active in theater design about this time. Each of these theaters had 900 seats, according to Boxoffice.

The June 21, 1976, issue of Boxoffice reported that the North DeKalb Twin had opened the previous month, bringing the total number of screens operated by the Storey circuit to 21. The twinned house had 450 seats on each side, according to Boxoffice, so given that the single-screen configuration had also provided 900 seats, and some space must have been sacrificed for the new dividing wall, the new seats must have been somewhat smaller.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about South Dekalb Cinemas 12 on Nov 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

The June 1, 1971, issue of Boxoffice reported that Georgia Theatres had opened its new South DeKalb Twin Cinemas on May 20. Each of the auditoriums had 550 seats, according to Boxoffice. The opening features were “In Search of the Castaways” and “Cactus Flower.”

The project was designed by Atlanta architectural firm Stevens & Wilkinson. I’ve been unable to discover if any other theaters were designed by this noted firm (which is still in business, now as Stevens & Wilkinson Stang & Newdow) but they did design an office building for the Wilby-Kincey circuit in 1955.

For page update: note that former manager Stan Malone, in his comment of Jan 14, 2006, above, gives the seating capacity of this house as 1,312 after it was reconfigured as a quad in 1977.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Glen Theatre on Nov 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

The earliest mention of the Glen Theatre I’ve found in Boxoffice appears in the January 10, 1953 issue. The owner/operator was named William Greene. William and Lavinda Ann Greene are noted as owners of the Glen in a Boxoffice item on March 20, 1961. That is the most recent mention of the Glen I’ve found in the magazine.

Prior to 1953, William Greene is mentioned a few times as operator of the Palmetto Theatre in Palmetto, Georgia.

I’ve been unable to find any references at all to a Glenwood Theatre at Decatur in Boxoffice, though the Glenwood Drive-In is mentioned a few times.