Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ras Tanura Theatre on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:59 pm

There is a photo of the Ras Tanura Theatre on this page of Boxoffice, February 4, 1950.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alameda Theater on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Decorator Hanns Teichert wrote an article about the Alameda Theatre for Boxoffice. It appeared in the issue of February 4, 1950. Here are links:

First page

Second page

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitan Theater on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Linkrot repair: The February 4, 1950, Boxoffice page about the Capitan Theatre can now be found at this link.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 9:59 pm

An article in the October 29, 1964, issue of the Petersburg Progress-Index said that the Strand Theatre building in Hopewell was being demolished. The Strand, which had been in operation by 1917, had been gutted by a fire in the mid-1930s and had remained derelict ever since. The rubble of the theater was to be used to fill in the hole which had once been the basement of the Grand Central Hotel.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Idle Hour Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 9:47 pm

The Idle Hour was one of Petersburg’s African-American theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Bluebird Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Here are some lines from a June 19, 1968, Petersburg Progress-Index article tracing the history of the Bluebird Theatre name:

“The present location of the Bluebird was originally the Old Lyric Theater back in 1910 or 1911. It was then used for vaudeville comedy acts. Then in 1918 or 1919 it became the Bluebird. Later the Bluebird Company moved the Bluebird to where the National Shoe Store is now and the old site became the Palace Theater. Neighborhood Theaters bought Bluebird from the Bluebird Company about 30 years ago.”
The name Bluebird had returned to its original location in 1959. That year, the September 9 issue of the paper said that the Palace Theatre would close for remodeling on September 16. The Rex Theatre, which had been closed for about a year and was being refurbished, would reopen on September 17. When the Palace reopened it would replace the Bluebird Theatre, which had closed on Labor Day and was being converted into a shoe store.

The Lyric Theatre was actually opened before 1910, and was mentioned in the September 8, 1908, issue of The Billboard, which said that the coming season in Petersburg promised to be bright, with the opening of the “…Majestic, Virginia and Lyric moving picture and vaudeville houses….” It added that contracts had been let for two more vaudeville and picture houses, and improvements had been made to the Academy of Music, the town’s legitimate house.

The September 20, 1964, issue of the Progress-Index noted that there was also a Palace Theatre in operation at Petersburg before the once-and-future Bluebird took that name. It was located on the east side of Sycamore Street a few doors below Franklin. The article did not mention its years of operation.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bluebird Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

The Bluebird Theatre in operation in 1919 was the house that opened in 1908 as the Lyric Theatre, then became the Bluebird, then the Palace, and then in 1959 the New Bluebird Theatre. An article in the September 20, 1964, issue of the Petersburg Progress-Index said that the second Bluebird Theatre (this house) had opened as the Colonial Theatre (the second Petersburg house of that name, just to add further complication) but the article doesn’t give the year of its opening or the year that it became the Bluebird.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Century Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 8:21 pm

An article in the September 20, 1964, issue of the Petersburg Progress-Index said that the Century Theatre Company was chartered in 1917, so the theater must have been opened by 1918. In its early years the Century featured Keith vaudeville.

The October 6, 1917, issue of The American Contractor had this item:

“Petersburg, Va.—Theater & Store Bldg.: $50,000. 1 sty. Asso. Archts. & Bldrs. C. K. Bryant, Craig & Isbell, Lehigh bldg. Owner Century Amusement Co., Walter Sacks, agt.. Center Square. Bldrs. & owner taking sep. bids.”
Richmond architect C. K. Bryant had a long career, but the Petersburg firm Craig & Isbell, apparently his associates on this project, I have not found mentioned in the trade journals after 1918.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theater on Jan 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

The Gem Theatre was advertised below the “Colored News” column of the Petersburg Progress-Index of February 10, 1954. One of the upcoming events was a live show called A Night on Lennox Avenue. The Gem continued to be advertised on a different page of the paper than other theaters through 1965, but in 1966 the paper’s movie listings were desegregated and the Gem’s ads appeared adjacent to those of other theaters. The Gem did not prosper, though, as by 1969 it was advertising “Adult Entertainment.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Beacon Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 6:45 pm

The Beacon’s Facebook “About” page (here) has a different history than our description. It says the theater was built by the Knights of Pythias in 1928.

There was a Broadway Theatre operating in Hopewell at least as early as 1916, when it was mentioned in the September 30 issue of The Moving Picture World, but it was apparently a different house than the Broadway that opened in 1928.

The NRHP registration form for the building says that the Broadway Theatre in the Pythian building opened on November 28, 1928. The house became the Beacon Theatre under new ownership after the original operators defaulted on their loans in 1932. The form also attributes the design of the building to both Fred Bishop and local architect Osbert L. Edwards.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ellet Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm

The April 11, 1941, issue of The Film Daily said that Louis Israel’s Ellet Theatre in Akron was to open soon. The new house was being outfitted by National Theatre Supply, Cleveland.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mystic Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 12:43 pm

The February 26, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World listed A. J. Meyerpeter of the Mystic Theatre, Denver, as a charter member of the new Rocky Mountain Screen Club, an organization of theater owners and operators.

Sometime prior to May, 1915, when he took over operation of the Plaza Theatre on Curtis Street, pioneer Denver exhibitor Lewis Erb had been connected with the Mystic Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:40 am

The opening of the Bon-Air Theatre was noted in the April 11, 1941, issue of The Film Daily:

“Watseka, Ill.— The A. B. McCullom circuit is opening the new Bon Air Theater here, seating 400. This will give the circuit two local houses, the other being the Watseka.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brooklyn Opera House on Jan 12, 2015 at 10:22 am

Thanks for the source, Hank. If a scholarly book published by the Iowa State University Press says that Broadway Theatre was an aka for the Brooklyn Opera House (which it does, on page 89 in a Google Books snippet view,) that’s good enough for me.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brooklyn Opera House on Jan 12, 2015 at 9:29 am

There is a Broadway Street in Brooklyn, but Google’s satellite and street views show that it is entirely residential, so it seems unlikely that it would have been the location of a theater. Brooklyn is a very small town, so a second theater also seems unlikely, but if Brooklyn did have a second theater I’d expect it to have been on either Jackson Street or Front Street, where most of the town’s other business are.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Elm Street Theatre on Jan 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm

The article in Worcester Magazine I linked to in the previous comment says that Poli’s Elm Street Theatre was a project originally to be called the Lincoln Theatre, though it never operated under that name. The builders of the new house, the Worcester Amusement Company, ran into difficulties partway through construction and the theater remained unfinished until Sylvester Poli bought it and completed it in 1912.

The letting of contracts for the Lincoln Theatre was noted in the August 13, 1910, issue of The American Contractor:

“Worcester, Mass.—Lincoln Theater: $175,000. Architects Leon H. Lempert & Son, Rochester. Owner Worcester Amusement Co., E. W. Lynch, pres., Worcester. General contract let to F. W. Mark, Worcester. See Rochester Building Notes.”
Multiple period sources indicate that Poli kept Leon Lempert Jr. on as architect (Lempert Sr. had died in 1909) after he took over the unfinished project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brooklyn Opera House on Jan 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

The caption of this photo says the Opera House was also known as the Broadway Theatre. The Flickr user photolibrarian is a retired university librarian who lives in Nevada, Iowa, so he’s likely to be a reliable source, though I’ve found no other references to an aka of Broadway Theatre for this house. I did find a Broadway Theatre in Brooklyn, Iowa, mentioned in a couple of trade journal items from the 1920s, and in a newspaper article from 1945, but without any details which would definitely connect it to the Opera House.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theatre on Jan 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm

The Empire Theatre is mentioned a few times in trade publications in the 1910s. In 1916, the house was sold by Dave Solari to an Alois Fischer. There is a reference to Fischer’s Empire Theatre in 1917. By August, 1919, the Empire was being operated by Blumenfeld & Knox, who were having plans prepared for a new theater. I haven’t found what became of that project. In March that same year, the American Photo Player Co. had sold the Empire a Beethoven model organ.

A couple of articles in The Napa Valley Register have some information about the house. This article about the 1906 earthquake says that the Hayes Theatre was built in 1904. It also says that after the earthquake “[b]ricks of the destroyed Hayes theater building, at First and Coombs streets, littered its interior and the surrounding streets. While the building appeared to be a complete loss, the owner reconstructed the Hayes with a new infrastructure of iron and wood trusses.”

Another article indicates that the Hayes Building was not demolished in 1924, but was purchased by Samuel Gordon and later extensively remodeled. The NRHP Registration Form for the Gordon Building also says that some of the Hayes Building survived:

“The 1929 section of the Gordon Building was constructed incorporating the infrastructure of the 1904 Hayes building, a squat two story structure with a ground floor housing the theatre, five retail spaces and a stairwell entrance to the second story offices. The new construction saw the height of the building increased. The old theatre lobby space became the lobby entrance to the second story office suites. Two small and one double size retail space encompassing the old theatre were constructed on the ground floor. The interior retail spaces had high ceilings with decorative molding and were supported by tall columns with decorative capitals. The double size retail space had a small curving stairway leading to a full mezzanine. Stair banisters and mezzanine rail were of polychromatic glazed terra cotta.”
It sounds as though the auditorium’s walls were kept, but the roof was removed and a floor of offices built above the retail stores that were put into the former auditorium space. A new facade replaced the back wall of the theater’s stage house fronting on Coombs Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jan 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm

The original Orpheum in Denver was designed by Willis Marean and Albert J. Norton. There are four photos of it on this web page.

The firm of Marean & Norton practiced in Denver from 1895 to 1936 and left a significant legacy of buildings in Colorado, some of which are now listed on the NRHP and others of which are designated local landmarks.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Studio Theater on Jan 10, 2015 at 3:29 am

Here is a 1994 photo of the Studio Theatre. The same year, this photo was made, showing the stage house.

A couple of web sites say that the reason the Studio didn’t get demolished in 2009 was because the city, which owns the building, couldn’t afford the expense. A lot of cities can’t afford to restore old theaters, but Middletown can’t even afford to knock one down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Stanley Theater on Jan 10, 2015 at 2:09 am

Here is a photo of the Stanley Theatre from around 1950. This is another view, undated.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rex Theatre on Jan 10, 2015 at 12:22 am

The Tehachapi earthquake took place on July 21, 1952. It’s likely that in the confusion of the next few days the theater’s ads just didn’t get pulled from the newspaper. As I recall, the earthquake hit about four o'clock in the morning (it was powerful enough to wake me up where I lived in suburban Los Angeles, about a hundred miles from the epicenter), so the last show at the Rex must have been on the evening of July 20.

Charles H. Biggar was one of Bakersfield’s most noted architects. Around 1915 he was briefly in a partnership with Charles H. Kysor (who later changed his surname to Kyson), son of pioneer Los Angeles architect Ezra F. Kysor.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Jan 8, 2015 at 8:25 pm

It seems that Archiplanet conflated two theaters. There were two houses in Portsmouth called the Lyric Theatre. The first one was a building with an arched entrance, and was located in the 400 block of Chilicothe Street. This must have been the theater dating from 1912.

The newer Lyric Theatre, at 820 Gallia Street, actually opened on September 3, 1925, as Law’s Hollywood Theatre, and was designed by the local architectural firm DeVoss & Donaldson. The Hollywood Theatre is advertised in The Portsmouth Daily Times through 1926, and is mentioned in January, 1927, but the September 8, 1927, issue of the paper has a reference to the Lyric Theatre Building on Gallia Square. As the Hollywood/Lyric was on Gallia Square and the original Lyric was not, the name of the theater must have changed in 1927.

In 1928, the Schine circuit took over operation of the Lyric Theatre, along with the LaRoy and Columbia Theatres. I haven’t discovered when Warner Bros. took over the house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about LaRoy Theater on Jan 8, 2015 at 2:38 pm

This web page has photos of several Portsmouth theaters, including the LaRoy about halfway down the page. A list at the top of the page gives the LaRoy’s address as 848 Gallia Street.

The August 1, 1928, issue of the Portsmouth Daily Times said that the Schine Theaters Circuit, which had recently acquired the LaRoy, Lyric, and Columbia Theatres, would install new and improved lamps in the projectors at all three houses.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alhambra Theatre on Jan 8, 2015 at 11:56 am

This article from the South Philly Review says that the Alhambra Theatre was converted into a roller skating rink in 1952. The building was sold to the city in 1963 and demolished to make way for a parking lot. During its last few years the Alhambra served as a boxing arena, and a more recent arena called the New Alhambra was named for it.

There are a couple of exterior photos of the Alhambra in the Irving R. Glazer Theater Collection at the Philadelphia Athenaeum. Thumbnails of them can be seen on this page at Philadelphia Architects and Buildings, but only subscribers to the site will be able to open the full-sized versions.