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The opening of the Alhambra Theatre on October 18, 1920, was advertised in the October 16 issue of the Breckenridge American.
Another house called the National Theatre was in operation in Breckenridge before this house opened. It was advertised in the October 16, 1920, issue of the Breckenridge American, as were the new Alhambra Theater, set to open on the 18th, a House called the Broadway Theatre and another called the American Theatre, plus the Ruby Theatre. The ad for the National boasted of its “Photoplayer Supreme.”
The 360-seat Palace Theatre is last listed in the FDY in 1929, as is the 500-seat Alhambra. In 1930 the Palace is listed with 546 seats, indicating that it had moved to the old Alhambra Theatre building by the time that edition of the FDY was compiled. The name Buckaroo Theatre does not appear in the FDY until 1945, but I don’t think the old Palace was vacant all that time.
In 1932, a 375-seat Plaza Theatre appears in the FDY. The Plaza remains in the listings through 1938, though it is listed as closed in 1936 and 1938. It vanishes from the listing in 1939, but reappears in 1942, though with no seating capacity listed. It remains listed through 1944, but vanishes when the 350-seat Buckaroo Theatre appears in 1945.
The Alhambra Theatre is last listed in the FDY in 1929, with 500 seats. In 1930, the Palace is the only theater listed in Breckenridge, but it has gone from the 350 seats it had in the 1920s to 546 seats. Depending on when the 1930 FDY was compiled, the Palace must have moved to the Alhambra’s building in late 1929 or very early 1930. By 1931 the seating capacity of the Palace has gone to 536, where it remains thereafter.
The Valley is probably the theater that first shows up in the FDY in 1938 as the Avenue Theatre, with 450 seats. Probably opened in 1937, or very late 1936. The Avenue is last listed in the FDY in 1940, and the 470-seat Valley first appears the following year.
The Valley Theatre has not been demolished. The building seen in this 1995 photo by John Lewis at CinemaTour is still standing at 1088 Brackenridge Avenue.
“Near Tragedy Gas Overcomes 40 Children in Brackenridge” read a headline in The Pittsburgh Post of December 6, 1946. Due to a coal strike the Valley Theatre had converted to gas heating, and a defective flue filled the auditorium with carbon monoxide. Some forty children and a few adults in the audience of more than 100 were overcome by the fumes and collapsed, many of them after exiting the theater. No deaths were reported.
I have been unable to determine if the Valley Theatre was the same house that was in operation at Brackenridge by 1920 as the Luna Theatre, and which was renamed the Dreamland Theatre around January, 1923. The building does look old enough to have been there in 1920, and the rear portion looks as though it could have been built specifically to house an auditorium.
According to the following item from The Moving Picture World of October 14, 1922, Breckenridge than had about ten theaters, though several were closed:
“Ray Stinnett, who, two years ago, was manager of a local picture theatre, and who ran a shoestring into a sizeable bankroll through his theatre operations at Breckenridge, Texas, during the oil boom there, this week bought out the last of his opposition in that city, the National Theatre, from Mr. Zimmermann, the owner. The consideration is said to have been $36,000. Ray, as he is familiarly known along Film Row, now owns about ten theatres in Breckenridge, several of which are closed, and has full sway in the town.”
DriveInTheatre2001’s comment above and both of the photo links by Don Lewis pertain to the original Palace Theatre, later the Buckaroo Theatre, at 112 W. Walker.
This photo on the Buckaroo’s photo page shows the distinctive parapet of the National Theatre at the right, The marquee of the Palace, formerly the Alhambra, a couple of doors down, and, in the distance, the marquee of the Buckaroo, formerly the first Palace.
A color photo on the Buckaroo’s page shows the street from the other end, with the Buckaroo nearest, and the second Palace in the next block, though it’s difficult to make out the National/Regal.
The July 2, 1921, issue of Motion Picture News had this item:
“F. W. Zimmerman opened the new National theatre at Breckenridge, Texas, last week to pleased capacity business. The new house is strictly modern and up-to-date and said to have cost $750,000. The new theatre is strictly fireproof.”
A bit of confusion arises from an item in Boxoffice of October 9, 1967. It says that Regal Broadcasting, owners of local radio station KSTB, were building a new 300-seat theater to be called the Regal. The company had bought the Palace Theatre and the National Theatre, and the National had been razed so the Regal could be built on its site. The Palace would continue to operate until the new theater was completed.
It appears that the writer of the Boxoffice item got the names of the theaters switched, and the house that was demolished was the Palace. Presumably the new Regal never got built, and the National was renovated and renamed the Regal instead.
Buckaroo was an aka for the first Palace Theatre. The Palace name was moved to the old Alhambra Theatre, 102 E. Walker, at some point. The various photos of theaters in Breckenridge make this clear.
The brief article about the 10th Street Art Theatre that ran in Boxoffice of October 9, 1967, said that the house was Atlanta’s first all night theater, though since the article also said it closed at 4:00 AM, they were stretching the phrase “all night” just a bit.
If the article was correct I find it a bit surprising that a city the size of Atlanta didn’t already have at least one all night grind house in operation. Where did Atlanta’s winos sleep off their half gallons of cheap muscatel?
I’m not so sure that the Strand itself was converted into a bowling alley. Palace Bowling Lanes at 78 Daniels Street opened on March 5, 1937, and the Strand Theatre was still operating at least as late as 1950 when two pages of ads local businesses congratulating the house on its redecoration, appeared in the February 22 Fitchburg Sentinel.
The Sentinel of January 4, 1916, had an article mentioning the building in Cleghorn Square “…occupied by the Rambeau theater and bowling alleys, and owned by Louis N. M. DesChenes….” so it appears there was a blowing alley in the theater building quite early. The 1937 opening of the Palace might have been a re-opening.
The March 4, 1899 issue of The Engineering Record said that the new theater to be built at 21-25 Blossom Street in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for L. W. Cumings & Sons would cost $30,000.
The Saturday, November 11, 1899, issue of the Fitchburg Sentinel said that the initial attraction at the new Cumings Theatre, “The Gay Debutante” would be presented the following Friday and Saturday, which would give an opening date of November 17, 1899.
The October 19, 1914, issue of the Fitchburg Sentinel said that the new Universal Theatre would open the following day.
No fewer than four good-sized new theaters opened in Fitchburg in 1914, perhaps a record for a city of its size. The other three were the Lyric (later the Saxon) on Main Street, Shea’s Theatre (later the Gem) on Day Street, and the Rambeau Theatre (later the Strand) in the Cleghorn Square neighborhood. Of these four, only the Rambeau/Strand is still standing.
The January 13, 1970 Sentinel reported that the Universal Theatre building was undergoing demolition. E. M. Loew had operated the house until the late 1940s. In 1955, the theater was renovated and reopened by Francis A. Fasano, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Fasano, who had once operated the Cumings Theatre. Despite the new CinemaScope screen and projection equipment, the reopened Universal was not a great success, and Fasano closed the house for the last time in May, 1960.
One surprising thing in this article is the line “…a large pipe organ is being torn down with the building.” It was unusual for a disused organ to still be sitting in an old theater as late as 1970. Most of them had been either dismantled and parted out, or snapped up by collectors or churches by that time. I’ve found no other information about this lost organ.
Issues of the Fitchburg Sentinel from late 1906 carry ads for the Bijou Theatre with the notation “Formerly Whitney Opera House” indicating the period of the name change. Thus the now-vanished “Old Theatres of Fitchburg” web site was mistaken in saying the name change took place in 1904. The site was also wrong about the Whitney opening in 1880. The 1882 New York Clipper Annual gave October 20, 1881 as the date the Whitney Opera House was dedicated.
The original entrance to the Whitney Opera House was on Main Street, but in 1909 the Bijou’s entrance was moved to Prichard Street. Plans were noted in the December 7, 1908, issue of the Sentinel:
“The rear of the store now occupied by Mr. Batchelder will be used in providing a new stairway and entrance to the Bijou theater, which will be 10 feet in width and connect with the end of the main lobby of the house. Upon the completion of the improvements the main entrance of the house will be on Prichard street.”
The Strand Theatre was in operation under that name by early 1922, having been advertised in the February 10 issue of the Fitchburg Sentinel. Prior to that it had been called the Rambeau Theatre.
The house might have opened in October, 1914, as an item in the October 1 issue of the Sentinel said “[a]ll of the orchestra seats have been placed in the new Rambeau theater….” The Rambeau was advertised in the November 16 issue of the paper, so it was definitely open by then.
Shea’s Theatre was the subject of this notice in The American Contractor of September 6, 1913:
“Theater: 1 sty. & bas. 54x128. Day st., Fitchburg, Mass. Archt. D. H. Woodbury, 53 State st., Boston.
Owner P. F. Shea, Fitchburg. General contract let to S. J. Ledger, Fitchburg. Owner will take figures on electric wiring.”
The part of Spring Street on which the Festival Theatre was situated has been renamed Ted Turner Drive. As near as I can surmise, 142 was probably on part of the parking lot on the west side of Ted Turner Drive NW, just below Williams Street (between Williams Street and the Turner Building at the corner of Luckie Street.)
A March 11, 1913 article in the Fitchburg Sentinel told of Cornelius J. Quinlan’s plans to build a business block with a 1000-seat theater on Main Street opposite City Hall. This was the location of the Lyric/Saxon Theatre.
Plans for the project were being prepared by the firm of H. M. Francis & Sons. Henry Francis died in 1908, so the lead architect on the Lyric Theatre was probably his elder son, Frederick. Younger son Albert was also an architect, but less talented than his older brother.
The earliest mentions of the Lyric being open I can find are from February, 1914. A December 12, 1913 Sentinel article referred to the “…Quinlan Theatre block now in process of construction….”
We have the wrong address for the Fitchburg Theatre. It was at 717 Main Street, just a couple of door down from the the Saxon Theatre. The building is currently under partial renovation to provide space for Fitchburg State University, and there are long-range plans to renovate and reopen the theater itself.
Shea’s Theatre on Day Street was under construction in 1914 when this item appeared in the February issue of The Electrical Contractor:
“In connection with its contract to wire and equip two theatres in Fitchburg, Mass., the Bruce-Heustis Electric Co. makes the following report: Shea’s Theatre, Day street, has a seating capacity of 850. first floor with balcony. The stage is to be fitted with all modern conveniences for the putting on of vaudeville acts and moving pictures. This theatre is illuminated by the semi-indirect system of lighting, using Equalite glass bowls. Mercury arc rectifiers are to be used in the moving picture machines, and the outside of the building is to be decorated with about six hundred and fifty to-volt, 5-watt mazda lamps arranged in the shape of set pieces in the panelling on the outside of the structure.”
According to this history of Springfield’s theaters first published in 1927, the Grand Theatre opened at the southeast corner of Park Central Square in 1910. However, the July 12, 1910, issue of The Springfield News-Leader said that the Grand was at the southwest corner of the square.
I am wondering if perhaps the theater moved from the Kirby Arcade to the Elks' Arcade at some point, or if the writer of the 1927 article merely made a mistake.
The Princess operated in two locations, but if this web page is correct, neither was at the modern address 408 E. Commercial Street. The brief paragraph about the two Princesses appears to have been from an oral history (or perhaps was just awkwardly written, as the wording is a bit ambiguous), but it appears that the first Princess Theatre was at the second door east of Benton Avenue on the south side of Commercial Street, which would make its modern address 502 E. Commercial.
The first Princess was replaced by a new Princess in 1917, which must have been the one at 307 E. Commercial. That building appears to have been demolished. It’s impossible to tell if the building at 500-502 E.Commercial is an old building that’s been remodeled or is a replacement for the building the first Princess was in.
Internet says the Showplace Icon is on Seaport Boulevard. It opened earlier this year. Here is an article with lots of photos. It looks pretty nice.
This photo at Facebook shows Jasonville’s Main Street around 1950, the view looking east across Lawton Street. A former resident of Jasonville who attended the theater in the late 1950s-early 1960s tells me that the Crescent Theatre was in the white, two-story building on the right, just past Lawton. The theater’s marquee is discernible, though it doesn’t appear to have the theater’s name on it.
But this is the 100 block of West Main Street, not East Main, and the number of the building would have been higher than 115. Judging from the addresses of businesses on the opposite side of the street, I’d guess the Crescent was at about 140 West Main Street.
All the buildings on that side of that block of Main Street were destroyed in a fire some time ago— the second great fire in Jasonville’s history, the first having happened in 1914. I don’t know if the theater was still in operation at the time its building was destroyed, though.