Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theater on Dec 12, 2016 at 1:45 am

The Nebraska State Historical Society’s page about Omaha architectural firm John Latenser & Sons includes in its references section a listing of the Orpheum Theatre as a 1954 project. Given the timing, this was likely a renovation that included adapting the house for CinemaScope movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Symphony Space/Peter Jay Sharp Theatre on Dec 11, 2016 at 2:55 am

The June 29, 1918, issue of Dramatic Mirror said that Aubrey M. Kennedy’s new Symphony Theatre had opened on June 14. The opening night feature film was The Unchastened Woman, starring Grace Valentine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Dec 11, 2016 at 2:04 am

The Rhapsodic commentary on the opening of the Rialto that appeared in the June 22, 1918, issue of Motography is worth quoting in full:

“New $750,000 Theatre Opened at Omaha

“A. H. Blank and Associates Give Pictures a
Home That Has Few Equals in the Country

“THE Rialto Theatre of Omaha, Nebraska, built at a cost of $750,000, was recently opened to the public.

“It is one of the most beautiful playhouses devoted to pictures in America. The exterior was designed by John Latenser, Jr., and the interior by Frank Latenser, two Omaha architects. The structure is a composite of Venetian renaissance with modern adaptations. The building is 132x132 in dimensions. The dominant tones of the exterior trimming are of old ivory and blue terra cotta, with panels of tapestry brick in soft tones.

“The interior gives the spectator the effect of overlooking an Italian formal garden. Mural paintings form a per-> spective in which Lombardy poplars and ornamental shrubs lead the eye away to far-off mountains. There are marble balustrades and balconies with alcoves containing cleverly lighted fountains.

“The house is flooded with light from concealed electric globes and many beautiful color effects are gained.

“The seating arrangement is in keeping with the perfection of the house. The seats in the pit are so located that a perfect view of the screen is given from any part of the floor. There are no columns or pillars to obstruct the view.

“The draperies of the curtain and screen are of old rose silk velour, and all of the carpets are of soft-toned gray. Usherettes are costumed in gray, in keeping with the color scheme.

“The ventilation and heating system is the best obtainable. The washed air system is used and the air is entirely changed in the theatre ten times in an hour.

“One of the largest organs in the world has been installed. A prominent musician, Kenneth Widenor, is the organist. The orchestra is under the direction of Harry Silverman.

“The Rialto is essentially an Omaha institution, owned by Charles Grotte, Walter Brandes, John Latenser, Sr., and A. H. Blank.

“The opening play was John Barrymore in ‘Raffles.’ Paramount and Fox standard pictures are shown.”

Of interest are the revelations that the interior was designed by Frank J. Latenser in “…a composite of Venetian renaissance with modern adaptations.” The “modern adaptations” must have referred to such things as the art nouveau lighting fixtures I noted in an earlier comment.

The firm of John Latenser & Sons was formed in 1914 when John L. Latenser, who had practiced architecture in Omaha since 1885, established a partnership with his sons, who thereupon took over most of the work. On the Rialto project, John Jr. designed the exterior and acted as structural engineer and supervising architect. The Rialto was the first of five theater projects designed by the firm, including a 1954 remodeling of the Orpheum.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Phoenix Theatre on Dec 8, 2016 at 8:16 am

The Phoenix Theatre was opened on June 14, 1913, according to the December 6 issue of The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cavalier Theatre on Dec 8, 2016 at 4:19 am

The January 2, 1929, issue of The Film Daily noted briefly that the Suffolk Amusement Company’s new Cavalier Theatre at Suffolk, Virginia, had opened recently.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cavalier Theatre on Dec 8, 2016 at 3:47 am

The Cavalier Theatre has been demolished, but the buildings across the street are still standing. The one that in the vintage photo looks like it is probably directly opposite the theater has two storefronts with the addresses 147 and 149 N. Main, so the Theatre was probably at 148 N. Main. The theater’s site is now under the footprint of the courthouse.

Courtesy ads in school yearbook from as early as 1942 and as late as 1952 indicate that the Cavalier was during that period operated by the Pitts' Theaters chain.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garberville Theatre on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:49 pm

The Garberville Theatre was another victim of the cost of converting to digital projection. A 2014 gofundme attempt at funding the conversion raised only $1,061 dollars of the owners' $70,000 goal. The house has apparently been closed for quite some time, but I haven’t been able to find any reports giving the date.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Phantasy Theatre on Dec 4, 2016 at 7:52 am

The history page of the Phantasy Concert Club’s web site has a photo of the theater as the Homestead, sometime in the mid-1950s. There are also some modern photos, including two (rather dark) of the auditorium.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Utopia Theatre on Dec 4, 2016 at 6:58 am

The July 26, 1912, issue of The American Contractor reported that a store building in Painesville would be remodeled into a motion picture theater for the Utopia Amusement Company. The architect was A. C. Wolfe of Cleveland.

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission’s list of Cleveland architects says that Alexander C. Wolfe (1880-1966) was active as an architect in Cleveland from 1911 to 1954.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wade Park Avenue Theater on Dec 4, 2016 at 3:51 am

The Wade Park Theatre was open at least as late as 1920, when it was mentioned in the April 3 issue of The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Abby Theatre on Dec 4, 2016 at 3:37 am

I’ve found the Abby Theatre mentioned in the Galesburg Register-Mail as early as 1953, but the newspaper archive is incomplete so it might have been operating long before that. The house appears to have closed and reopened several times over the years. Here is a brief item from the Abingdon news section of the Register-Mail of October 22, 1963:

“Commended were efforts of Abingdon Chamber of Commerce for reopening Abbey Theater and Robert Edmiston stated Mr. Purtle, owner, today, was scheduled to be in Abingdon for conference with a party interested in its operation.”
Ads from 1972 and 1974 tout live music shows at the Abby on Saturday nights, but don’t say anything about movies being shown on any other nights. Its career as a movie house might have been over by then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alvin Theatre on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:38 pm

Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland, by Alan F. Dutka, gives a bit of the history of the Alvin. It began as a 50-seat nickelodeon, but the owner later rented a space next door formerly occupied by a saloon, demolished the wall, and expanded.

The opening date is not given, but if the Alvin was indeed Cleveland’s first nickelodeon, it must have opened very early in the 20th century. Nickel movie theaters were fairly common even before the word nickelodeon was first applied to them, around the time John P. Harris opened his Nickelodeon in Pittsburgh in June, 1905. Dutka says that the Alvin closed in 1926.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alvin Theatre on Dec 3, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Here is a photo of Ontario Street dated November 22, 1923, with the Alvin Theatre still operating.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Showplace 3 on Dec 3, 2016 at 6:08 am

Records of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Co. say that the Moon Theatre in Vincennes was designed by the architectural firm of Warwig [sic] and Hagel. The correct name is Warweg & Hagel (architect Earl O. Warweg and engineer John Hagel) who designed the Carlton Theatre at Evansville and at least two other Indiana houses.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Showplace 3 on Dec 3, 2016 at 5:55 am

Dokeefe: I’ve been unable to find in any of the sources available to me any mentions of anyone named O'Keefe in connection with this theater. That doesn’t mean that there was no connection, of course. Many theaters in small cities and towns were mentioned in such trade journals as Film Daily or Boxoffice infrequently, and some never.

A local newspaper archive would be the best place to search, but the only such archives from Vincennes that I can find online are from the 19th century- pretty much useless when searching for information about movie theaters. The Knox County Library probably has some archives, but it’s unlikely that they have been digitized, and non-digitized newspaper archives are tedious to search even if you have a good idea of which period you are looking through. Still, a visit to the library is probably your best bet, until somebody puts some newspaper archives from Vincennes online.

But I will keep an eye out for the information. New sources show up on the Internet from time to time, and I do try to keep up with them. And, if your relatives were indeed operators of this house, there’s always the chance that simply having your request on this page will attract some local Googler who knows about them. I’ve seen such things happen.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Riviera Theatre on Dec 3, 2016 at 1:07 am

The October 24, 1924, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor had this item about the house that would open as the Riviera Theatre:

“Motion Picture Theater—Scott Building Company has contract for 1-story motion picture theater at southwest corner of Adams and Longwood for Miguel Montijo, 5000 West Adams; 50 x 166…seating capacity 801 people, large lobby, rest rooms, organ loft, foyer; $30,000”
The December 26 issue of the same publication said that the Lowith Iron Works would erect an ornamental iron marquee at 5000 W. Adams Blvd. “…for M.M. Mantijo” [sic] at a cost of $800. Given the publication dates, it seems likely the project would have been completed fairly early in 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Riviera Theatre on Dec 3, 2016 at 12:36 am

On our page for the Variety Theatre, Cinema Treasures member Rongee, who grew up in the neighborhood, says that the Riviera Theatre was renamed the Fremont Theatre. This is confirmed by the Riviera’s entry at Bill Counter’s Los Angeles Movie Palaces. The house was being advertised in movie listings as the Fremont by 1945.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Dec 2, 2016 at 3:38 am

Local architect E. H. (Enos Henry) Eads was interviewed for an article in the April 15, 1920, edition of the Chickasha Daily Express, at the time construction of this theater began. Because it was a conversion of an existing structure, Eads made the far too optimistic estimate of forty days for completion of the project.

The project was apparently scaled down a bit as well, since the newspaper reported that it would have 942 seats, and would include a balcony, and twelve boxes each seating four people. Eads also acted as contractor on the project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Nov 30, 2016 at 12:12 pm

The NRHP nomination form for the Provo Downtown Historic District says that this theater was built by John B. Ashton and opened as the Ellen Theatre in 1911. It was renamed the Strand in 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uinta Theater on Nov 30, 2016 at 12:09 pm

It appears that the newspaper obituary I cited in my previous comment was wrong about the original name of this house. The NRHP nomination form for the Provo Downtown Historic District says that the theater at 25-27-35 E. Center Street was originally the Princess Theatre, also built by John B. Ashton.

The building was still standing when the form was prepared in 1977, but had been altered, what remained of the original facade with its ornate arch having recently been covered by an aluminum false front.

The Ellen Theatre, opened at 152 W. Center Street in 1911, became the Strand Theatre in 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theater on Nov 30, 2016 at 11:33 am

The NRHP nomination form for the Provo Downtown Historic District says that the Paramount Theatre was built by John B. Ashton in 1914, and opened as the Columbia Theatre. The house became the Paramount in 1927.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uinta Theater on Nov 30, 2016 at 11:02 am

The obituary of John B. Ashton in The Salt Lake Tribune of November 12, 1941, said that the Uinta Theatre had been opened by Ashton as the Ellen Theatre. The obituary didn’t give a date, but the Ellen Theatre was being mentioned in theater trade journals in the early 1910s. I believe the Ellen predated Ashton’s larger and more ornate Princess Theatre, which opened in 1912.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Nov 30, 2016 at 3:53 am

Here is the State Theatre’s official web site. The grand reopening took place on November 4. So far they are running quite a mixture of older movies and recent releases (Fantastic Beasts is upcoming in December.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Nov 29, 2016 at 3:22 am

A table compiled by downtown Aberdeen historian Don Artz (page 51 of this PDF) does not include any theaters called the Majestic, nor any theater at 215 S. Main Street.

A house called the Lyric, in operation by at least as early as 1916, was located at 216 S. Main, but it never had any other names. The Lyric was still in operation at least into the late 1940s.

The name Princess Theatre was an aka for the house at 12 S. Main Street which opened prior to 1916 as the Cosy (or Cozy) Theatre and last operated as the Time Theatre. So far I’ve found no indications of a second theater at Aberdeen called the Princess.

However, I have found one mention of a theater called the Majestic at Aberdeen. This was in a column in the July 1, 1937, issue of Motion Picture Herald, and it said that the Majestic was being operated by a Mrs. Elfrieda Mass (perhaps a misspelling of Maas) and her husband, and that the author had last visited their theater about four years previously. No address was given, unfortunately, so any aka’s for the house remain undiscovered.

The column also mentioned the Ritz Theatre, operated by A.S. Mannes, and an Astor [sic] Theatre operated by J.P. Hartman. Artz’s table lists Ritz as one of the seven aka’s of the house at 19 S. Main which opened as the Bijou in 1909 and closed as the World in 1957. The table lists Aster (with an e) as one of the four aka’s of the Cosy/Princess/Time.

It’s possible that the Majestic somehow left off of Artz’s table. It’s possible that it was a short-lived house that never had any aka’s at all.

Aside from the Lyric, two theaters from Artz’s table are not yet listed at Cinema Treasures: The Colonial/State at 10 S Main (opened in 1916 and apparently closed around 1927) and the Idle Hour/Rialto at 404 S. Main, opened by 1910, renamed Rialto by 1918, and operating at least into the late 1920s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Time Theatre on Nov 29, 2016 at 1:21 am

According to a table compiled by downtown Aberdeen historian Don Artz (page 51 of this PDF), the house last known as the Time Theatre was located at 12 S. Main Street. It had opened as the Cosy Theatre, had been renamed the Princess Theatre by 1926 (actually 1916, when it was listed at that address in the city directory), later became the Aster Theatre, and then the Time.

Garrick, State, and Ritz were aka’s of a house across the street at 19 S. Main, which operated under seven different names between opening as the Bijou in 1909 and closing as the World Theatre in 1957.