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Picture of the State from 1958:
An article in the February 20, 1920 Plattsburgh Sentinel mentions that the Pontiac Company of Saranac Lake is negotiating for the purchase of the Colonial Theatre in Saranac Lake. I don’t know if this is the same theatre or not.
The following is a quote from the Tupper Lake Free Press in 1914.
“A dozen men and an equal number of teams commenced clearing away the snow in the lot adjoining the Family Theatre on March 20th, marking the beginning of what will be one of the finest theatre buildings in Franklin County, estimated to cost close to $15,000. The red barn on the property is to be removed by the contractor. B.B. Lantry, to the Paul Prespare lot in French Village.” That was the groundwork for the Palace (later the State) Theatre.
I watched two of the clips and can’t stomach any more. The owner should have hired people who cared.
The Super 87 opened in 1964.
A postcard with the Strand Theatre is here:
The Plaza Theatre was sold to the Schine chain in 1926. Schine also purchased the Grand in Malone at the same time.
The State (Palace) Theatre was not the Family Theatre. The Tupper Lake newspaper shows that the Family Theatre was located on Main St., in the McNeeley Block.
The State has survived the loss of both of it’s adjacent buildings. There were fires in 1957 and 1966 that took those buildings down but the theatre survived intact due to it’s thick fire walls.
I found a newspaper article from 1908 which referred to Fairyland as “the old reliable”.
As shown in the above post, the building is now a Dollar General store and the theatre closed 12/9/1962.
The Weedsport Theatre was built in 1935 on the site of the Burritt Opera House which had been destroyed by fire. It was also known as Zimmer’s Weedsport Theatre and Recreation Center and included pool tables, lunch room and 4 lane bowling alley. It operated until December 9, 1962.
In 1956 it was discovered that the local Catholic church was in danger of collapse and the Zimmer family graciously allowed the theatre to be used for church services while the old church was demolished and the new one built.
The following is from joanhigham.com/weedsporthistory:
One of my fondest memories has to be my high school years. The 1950’s was a wonderful time to grow up in a small town like Weedsport. When people today watch reruns of “Happy Days” they think it was just another fanciful sit-com. Not so! We can relate very closely with the scenario and characters. We even had our own “Fonz”. Harry Surdam had the coolest car, loudest pipes, DA haircut—the works!
We didn’t have “Arnold’s Drive In” , but we had something just as good—Zimmer’s Weedsport Theatre and Recreation Center. The Zimmer family (and it was a true family operation) which included 3 generations of Zimmers. Grandpa( Fred) and Gramma (Christine) , Earl and Ann and their 5 children Fred, John, Henry, Joe and Christine. Besides the movie theatre they operated a great little drugstore and confectionery accessible from the street and also from the lobby of the theatre. The confectionery was Grandpa and Gramma’s domain where one could get popcorn, fountain drinks, candy and their delicious home made ice cream. I recall on Mondays you could get a “Lucky Monday Sundae” at a reduced price. The elder Zimmers lived in an apartment over the theatre lobby during the week, retreating to their Syracuse home on weekends.
The theatre itself with it’s marquee, box office and neon sign over the sidewalk was the next door to the North. Beyond that was the Recreation Center which included 4 bowling alleys, several pool tables, and a lunch room with a juke box and booths-just like Arnold’s! Alcoholic beverages were never sold at Zimmer’s , so parents didn’t mind if their kids hung out there. Earl ran the bowling alleys, Ann ran the lunch room and the rest of the family filled in wherever needed, be it making popcorn, running the box office, cleaning the restrooms, running the projectors, or whatever.
A pizza parlor type diner was eventually added on Erie Drive behind the Rec. Center. The Zimmer family had many “casual” employees over the years and I have always been proud to have been one of them. They seemed to have a knack for providing a paying job for a kid that really needed one and boy! ,I was that kid. I started working for the Zimmer family as a pin-setter in the bowling alleys. At a time when gas was 26 cents a gallon, a couple of nights pin setting at $7.15 per night enabled you to live pretty good as a high school student. Eventually I ran the projectors in the theatre for several years. It was a great job for a student, because you were by yourself with no distractions, so you might as well do homework. I’m sure many folks in the village can remember the blue neon W.H. Smith Buick Sales clock high on the wall in the upper right side of the auditorium and there are still probably people in the village using dishes that were given away as premiums for attending movies on week nights.
Before they had continuous tape and high powered projection bulbs, movies came to the theatre in large 15 inch diameter reels which were necessary to change about every 18 minutes, so a more or less standard hour and a half movie would have 5, or 6 reels. In the projection room were a pair of 35 mm Simplex projectors standing about 6 feet tall, with a carbon arc lamp attached. The machine had to be threaded to a certain point on the leader. Near the end of each reel will be seen a series of “dots” in the upper right side of the screen, followed by another set 5 seconds later.
As a reel of film was running out, a little arm riding on the top of the film fell and struck a small bell with about a minute left on the reel. At that point you had to strike and trim the carbon arc lamp, and peer out of the porthole at the screen. When the first set of dots flashed on the screen you opened the heat shield on the arc lamp and turned on the projector. When the second set of dots went by a few seconds later you stepped on a foot switch which opened the shutter on one machine and closed it on the other. At the same time you flipped a wall switch which changed the sound track from one machine to the other. Done correctly, the result is a seamless change which cannot be detected by the audience. Still today 50 years later if I am kind of dozing watching a movie on TV , I’ll snap awake with a start if I see the dots go by! There is little more disconcerting than hearing the bell ring and discovering that you’ve neglected to thread the alternate machine. If you can’t get it done in time you get the dreaded “white screen” and the accompanying jeers and cat calls, which can plainly be heard in the projection booth!
The Zimmers were always willing to let us hang around the Rec. Center and there was much there to amuse us, from watching an exciting bowling match, or sometimes a straight pool match that would go on for hours. I remember several times when Earl’s brother Leonard , who was a fine pool player would arrange for Babe Cranfield who was then the best pool player in the world to come out from Syracuse and show off for us.
Unfortunately, the theatre is now a Dollar General store and a parking lot paves over where the Rec. Center was. As television became more popular and affordable in the 1960’s it sounded the death knell of nearly all local theatres. During this same time there was a national trend toward large automatic bowling alleys, and soon a 4 alley operation could not survive. Finally, Grandpa and Gramma had passed on and the younger generation had their own careers and lives to live. Thus did our “Arnold’s” pass into history, much to our loss, but many of us remember with fondness and gratitude the Zimmer family’s contribution to Weedsport.
Denny Randall, President OBHS
Old Brutus Historical Society
This can’t be right. I thought old cinemas were turned into drug stores, not the other way around. Next you’ll tell me they tore down Wal-Mart to build a drive-in!!
2 GREAT PICTURES OF THE INTERIOR AT THIS WEBSITE
I am planning a trip to the Tower to see Furthur next March. Is this still a Live Nation venue?
I was never here for a movie but it is a great concert venue. They filled in the orchestra pit and add additional seating for some concerts. For the more rock and roll concerts they use the front space as a dance floor.
The theatre is really lovely, with wood paneling throughout much of the house. It does seem to have a roof problem now. There is some water damage to the plaster in a few places. It seems to be very heavily booked and I hope they can fix it before the damage becomes extensive.
I remember seeing Titanic and The Wizard of Oz here in the late 90’s and loving the feel of this house. I have been to about a dozen concerts at the Nokia Theatre and never realized it was the same place until now. I knew the escalator seemed familiar.
Having seen Titanic here on that large screen and with great sound, I can not watch it when it comes on TV.
The first query I ever entered in a search engine was “Where can I see pictures of classic theaters?” When I found this website and the thousands of links it provides, I was in heaven.
Thank you all for the great work!!
Will, That is a great picture of the beautiful interior. Thanks!
The correct address for this theatre is 12 White Street.
The theatre is scheduled for demolition starting as soon as tomorrow, 11/5/10.
“We’re mobilizing and demolishing the building” Mayor John T. McDonald III said Wednesday.
DiTonno and Sons of Colonie, NY had been contracted to demolish the building at a cost of $46,600.
If the policy of the website is to list theatres that have been converted to churches as closed, then this one needs to have the status changed.
Where could I see Ed’s photos of the Laurelton?
It’s great to have another old theater back in business. Planning to visit you soon.
ProfJoe, I feel the Fillmore East also did it’s part by “showing films or popular entertainment that held society together” and “giving and reinforcing a sense of community and belonging”. It was a different community and culture than in the past, but the theatre adapted with the times. I’ll bet when it changed from a Yiddish theater to a cinema, there were people that were also very unhappy, and thought the neighborhood was ruined. You celebrate the time it was the Loew’s Commodore, so as unhappy as you were with the Fillmore, please allow us to celebrate it. Myself and many of my friends consider that site hallowed ground.
The Turnpike was not located at Arlene Av., which runs north from Western Avenue. The drive-in was on the south side of Western Av., and what was the entrance to the drive-in is now Highwood Circle.
They are still open and the correct phone number is 518-532-9077.