Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Dec 1, 2014 at 11:08 am

The “Theatre Projects” column of Exhibitors Herald World of August 30, 1930, had this item from Illinois:

“SALEM. — The Lyric Theatre, a Fox-Midwest house, has been improved, redecorated and modern cooling system installed.”
The Lyric Theatre in Salem, Illinois, was on a list of theaters that had contracted to run the war documentary Pershing’s Crusaders that was published in the August 17, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on Nov 30, 2014 at 10:55 am

KenRoe: Historic sources (and most modern sources) spell the architect’s surname as Bedell, not Bedall. We have it misspelled in both the architect field and in the description of this theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 10:40 pm

David: Although the streets in the vintage photo (which is probably from a postcard) are the color of dirt, I suspect that they were paved with granite blocks. This was the most common paving material for important streets in New England towns during that period. Lesser streets got cobbles or brick, or wood blocks treated with creosote.

The colors in old photos can be misleading in any case. There were color printing presses, but no color film, so the black and white photos would be hand tinted, and the person doing the tinting usually couldn’t be sure what the exact original colors in the scene were and would just make their best guess based on a written description. Essex Street might have been paved with a pinkish granite that was quarried around Milford and was quite popular in the late 19th century.

The book Salem: 15 Historic Postcards has a later photo of the Empire Theatre (Google Books preview) which shows considerably more of the building’s detail. The Empire Theatre was on the site of Mechanic Hall, built in 1839 and destroyed by fire in 1905.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Patio Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I don’t believe that the Patio Theatre has been entirely demolished. The narrow building fronting on Galena Street, which is the right size for a theater entrance and lobby, is attached to a larger building which backs up to Spring Street and has two walls that angle inward, as do the walls either side of a theater’s proscenium. This building is also occupied by the Farm Bureau. There is a vacant area that I suspect held the stage house, which appears to have been the only part of the theater that was demolished. The bulk of the auditorium structure remains, and can be easily seen in Google’s satellite view.

The January 7, 1930, issue of The Freeport Journal Standard said that the Patio Theatre was designed and built by United Studios. That Chicago firm employed various architects at various times, among whom were Fred Jacobs, Ralph Beaudry and Larry P. Larsen, but I don’t know which of them worked on the Patio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm

An advertisement in the January 14, 1948, issue of the Freeport Journal-Standard said that the New State Theatre would open the following day.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Nov 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm

There’s a very early photo of the Palm Theatre about two thirds of the way down this web page. The caption says that it closed about 1929, so it could have been dark for a couple of years before being renovated and reopened as the State in 1931. The names of the movies can’t be seen in the photo, so I can’t date it by them, but Billie Burke made her movie debut in 1916, so it has to be no earlier than that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Nagels Grand Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 1:06 pm

This web page about the Ritz Theatre, says that its architect, George V. Bedell, also designed the Dream Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tacoma Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 1:05 pm

This web page about the Ritz Theatre, says that its architect, George V. Bedell, also designed the Tacoma Theatre.

The Tacoma Theatre opened in 1913. The November 29 issue of The Moving Picture World had this item:

“The Tacoma Amusement Company, which recently opened a beautiful new $15,000 motion picture theater at East Washington street and Tacoma avenue, has announced an increase in its capital stock from $15,000 to $25,000.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Black Curtain Dinner Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

This page about the Talbott Theatre from Historic Indianapolis says that i was designed by architect George V. Bedell.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plaza Theater on Nov 29, 2014 at 12:46 pm

The original Plaza Theatre was built in 1913. The site had previously been occupied by a house called the Witch Theatre which had burned down earlier that year. The Plaza was to have been fireproof, but apparently wasn’t if it burned again in 1917. This is an item from the November 29, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“The Plaza Amusement Company, of Boston, is a new concern, with authorized paid in capital of $15,000. The promoters are: Harry F. Campbell, Samuel Grant and Ephraim N. Cook. This concern has taken a ten-year lease on the property in Salem, Mass., formerly occupied by William Game’s Witch Theater, which was burned some months ago. The house is being entirely rebuilt, and will be a modern, fireproof theater, with a seating capacity of 1,000. The house will now be known as the Plaza Theater, and Warner’s Features will be the special attraction here. The new owners show their faith in the pictures by so building the stage that no vaudeville acts could possibly be used.”
Destruction of the Witch Theatre had been reported in the April 16, 1913, issue of Fire and Water Engineering:
“Game’s Witch Theater, on Theater row, Essex street, Salem, Mass. was burned during a recent night fire, as was also the furniture store of the J. L. Lougee Company. The blaze started in the office of the theater, and for a time the entire district was threatened. Help was called for from Peabody, Marblehead, Beverly and Lynn. The theater was empty when the fire started.”
A later issue of MPW said that the Plaza Theatre opened on December 31, 1913. I’ve been unable to find anything in the trade publications about the later fire and rebuilding in 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Nov 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm

An ad in the November 22, 1914, issue of the Lima Daily News said that the Majestic Theatre would open on Thanksgiving Day (November 26.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theater on Nov 28, 2014 at 5:48 pm

A house called the Majestic was one of two theaters listed at Nelsonville in the 1914-1915 edition of The American Motion Picture Directory. The other was called the Pearl Theatre. At various times Nelsonville also had theaters called the Pastime and the Orpheum.

Also, Stuart’s Opera House was listed in the 1927 FDY, so it must have been showing movies at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theatre on Nov 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

This item is from the October 12, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“NEWPORT NEWS, VA.—J. Ormof, 20th street and Jefferson avenue, has plans by W. H. Simpson, Board of Trade Building, Norfolk, Va., for one-story theatre, 50 by 100 feet, to cost $25,000.”
An item in The American Contractor of November 2, 1918, probably gets the owner’s name right, but mistakenly places the address in Philadelphia:
“Newport News, Va.—Theater: $25,000. 1 sty. 50x100. Archt. W. H. Simpson, Bd. of Trade bldg., Norfolk, Va. Owner I. Ornof, 20th & Jefferson sts., Phila., Pa. Gen. contr. let to J. R. Osbourne & Son, Inc., 1014 25th St., Newport News.”
The name I. Ornof also appears in a news item mentioning the project in the September 1, 1918, issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

I can’t find any other references to an architect named W. H. Simpson in Norfolk and suspect that MPW and AC both got his first and middle initials switched, and it was actually Norfolk architect H. W. (Herbert Woodley) Simpson who designed the Lincoln Theatre. Simpson had previously practiced in New Bern, North Carolina, where he designed the Athens Theatre. He moved to Norfolk sometime prior to 1915 and was quite successful in his new location.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pantheon Theatre on Nov 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

Although the spelling Sophlet somehow got into the NRHP registration form for one of their buildings, the correct spelling of the architects' surname is Stophlet. That is the only spelling I’ve found in trade journals from the period in which they practiced, but more importantly it is the spelling used in the files of the American Institute of Architects, which includes their membership application forms and other documents.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Oakbrook Center Cinemas on Nov 28, 2014 at 8:12 am

Is there any word on the fate of the 50-year time capsule I mentioned in this earlier comment? As Boxoffice said it was to be installed on December 16, 1964, it’s now almost time to open it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theatre on Nov 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

The April 3, 1920 issue of Motion Picture News said that the Princess Theatre in Springfield, Illinois (though the headline mistakenly identified the city as Springfield, Massachusetts) was being expanded and remodeled with plans by the architectural firm of Bullard & Bullard. A Web page about the firm reveals that they were also the original architects of the building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ohio Theatre on Nov 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm

An earlier comment by wcjfrisk says that the Ohio was the only theater designed by the firm of Stophlet & Stophlet, but this is mistaken. The Pantheon Theatre, opened two years earlier, was also their design.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pantheon Theatre on Nov 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm

The March 27, 1920, issue of Motion Picture News said that M. M. Stophlet and M. B. Stophlet were the architects of the Pantheon Theatre. Following a precedent set a few years earlier by Detroit architect C. Howard Crane, Stophlet & Stophlet gave the Pantheon Theatre a large section of stadium seating accounting for about half the capacity of the house. They would again use the stadium configuration in Toledo’s Ohio Theatre, opened in 1921.

As in the Ohio, the architects gave the interior of the Pantheon Theatre a very simple, almost austere, style with minimal decoration, and what there was being based mostly on Roman Classical elements. The front, on the other hand, was fairly ornate, with its eclectic details including elements suggestive of both the Italian Renaissance and the Gothic styles, but not exactly replicating either. The contrast between interior and exterior must have been quite startling for the theater’s patrons.

Manfred M. Stophlet appears to have been more frequently the lead architect on the firm’s projects, with the trade journals of the period more often attributing designs to him than to his brother Mark B. Stophlet.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:12 pm

The May 7, 1921, issue of The Moving Picture World ran this article about the Strand Theatre the day it was scheduled to open:

“THE Saxe Amusement Enterprises, of Milwaukee, franchise holder in the Associated First National Pictures, Inc., for the Wisconsin territory, has announced May 7 as the opening date for its new theatre in Green Bay. The date was set on the same day that the contractors who are constructing the new house announced a definite time for the conclusion of their work.

“The new theatre has already been christened the Strand. In architecture and interior finish as well as appointments it is one of the finest in the Middle West. The seating capacity is 1,000 and roomy over-size concert chairs have been selected. The interior color scheme is an original conception with rose, crimson and gold predominating. The aisles will be Wilton carpeted. and the drapes and other furnishings have been specially selected to harmonize with the interior color scheme.

“The stage is twelve feet deep, eighteen high and twenty-four wide. The ventilation provides for 2,500,000 cubic feet of fresh air an hour. Simplex machines are being installed and a screen of the latest type as well as a $10,000 organ.

“It is the intention of the Saxe Amusement Enterprises to conduct the Green Bay theatre on the same lavish scale as it conducts its Strand in Milwaukee. E. J. Weisfeldt, whose arrangements of prologues and general presentation for the Milwaukee Strand, has made Weisfeldt synonymous with the best in picture shows in the Middle West, will perform the same duties for the Green Bay Strand.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm

The Capitol Theatre opened on July 14, 1917, as the Allen Theatre. According to Reel Time: Movie Exhibitors and Movie Audiences in Prairie Canada, 1896 to 1986 by Robert Morris Seiler and Tamara Palmer Seiler, the Allen Theatre was designed by architect J. W. Kirkland. Page 153 of the book has photos of the Capitol’s marquee around 1960 and the Allen’s auditorium around 1920 (Google Books preview.)

The Allen Theatre in Brandon is one of three theaters pictured on this page of Motion Picture News for March 27, 1920.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:22 pm

The Colonial Theatre can be seen at upper right of this page from Motion Picture News of March 27, 1920.

As Google Maps provides no street view for this location, here is a bird’s eye view from Bing Maps.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avon Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:15 pm

The Auditorium Theatre can be seen at the lower right of this page of Motion Picture News from March 27, 1920.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Waukesha Civic Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

This web page about Waukesha’s movie theaters says that this house opened as the Empire Theatre in 1906 and the building was remodeled and became the Pix Theatre in 1940.

I can’t find any references to an Empire Theatre, or a Pix Theatre, in Waukesha during the 1920s or 1930s in any of the trade publications or in the local newspaper. I suspect that the Empire was converted to other uses for at least two decades, and then reconverted into a theater again.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 12:02 pm

A story in the May 2, 1947, issue of the Waukesha Daily Freeman said that the Park Theatre opened in December, 1920. An earlier house of the same name was in operation prior to 1912 at a location on Broadway. It had closed by 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avon Theatre on Nov 26, 2014 at 11:54 am

The opening of the Auditorium was a bit earlier than planned. The August 27, 1914, issue of the Waukesha Daily Freeman reported that the theater had been formally dedicated and opened on Monday, which would have been August 24. The opening production was the stage play Seven Keys to Baldpate. Another item in the same issue said that the Auditorium was to be equipped with a Wurlitzer organ to accompany silent movies.