Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Varsity Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 10:24 pm

The January 24, 1942, issue of the Lincoln Evening Journal reported that demolition of the Varsity Theatre at 1500 O Street would soon be underway. The theater and adjacent buildings were being removed for the extension of 15th Street north from O Street.

The October 28, 1934, issue of the paper said that the Varsity Theatre, formerly the Rialto, would open November 1. The house had been closed for two months for remodeling.

The house had become the Rialto around 1920, having previously been known as the Majestic. The name Majestic was adopted when the new Orpheum opened at 12th and P Streets. The newspaper referred to the Majestic with the paranthetic (old Orpheum) several times in April, 1916, indicating that the name had been changed fairly recently.

I haven’t discovered when the Bijou opened, or when it became the Orpheum, but the Bijou was mentioned in The Billboard in 1906 and 1907. There was also a 1943 newspaper article saying that the Bijou had bacome the Majestic before becoming the Orpheum, so perhaps it was called the Majestic twice, both before and after the Orpheum period.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

The Grand Theatre suffered at least two major fires in its history, one of which was noted in theis item from The Reel Journal of January 23, 1926:

:“The Grand Theatre, Duquoin, Ill., was destroyed by fire on January 14. An overheated furnace is believed to have been the cause. The fire started about 5:15 p. m., an hour before the usual opening for the evening show.

“The theatre was the property of the Reed-Yemm-Hayes Circuit and seated approximately 1,200 persons on two floors. It was erected but a few years ago at an estimated cost of $150,000.”

The claim that the house had been built only “a few years ago” was a bit off. The theater had been expanded five years before the fire, but had been opened in 1914. An item in the May 28, 1921, issue of The Anerican Contractor said that Reid, Yemm & Hays were having alerations and an addition made to their Grand Theatre in Du Quion, Illinois. The project, designed by St. Louis architects Kennerly & Stiegemeyer, was to cost $25,000.

An article about the 1926 fire in The Daily Independent of Murphysboro, Illinois, said that the Grand had been built in 1914. But construction might have begun in 1913, as the August 30 issue of Construction News that year ran this item:

“Du Quoin, Ill.—Theater. Private plans. Owner, Reed & Yemm Theater, taking bids, no date set for closing. Brk., 2 stys., 40x100.”
Another major fire at the Grand was reported in the Carbondale Free Press of January 23, 1931. This fire, which gutted the auditorium, started in the wiring of the speakers. The house was by then operated by Fox Theatres, the original partners having sold out in 1929.

Reid and Yemm were operating a theater called the Lyric in Du Quoin at least as early as 1910, when they endorsed the Edison Projecting Kinetoscope in an ad for the company in the Octiber 5 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror. I’m not sure when Hayes became a partner of Reid and Yemm, but the January 8, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that a William R. Hayes had bought the Majestic Theatre in Du Quoin. It was probably the same guy.

Kennerly and Stiegemeyer designed other projects for Reid, Yemm & Hayes, including a 1921 house at Zeigler, Illinois. Since they were practicing by 1913, they might have been the original architects of the Grand as well as the architects of the 1921 expansion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Feb 11, 2015 at 1:36 pm

The official web site is dead, and contains nothing but a promo for GoDaddy and some ads. Their Facebook page is still up, but has this notice: “We regret to inform you that we will be closed as of January 8th, 2015.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Louvee Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 1:12 pm

The March 4, 1939, issue of Motion Picture Herald had this item about Wellston:

“Chakeres Theatres, Inc., of Springfield, Ohio, have taken over the 1,000-seat Virginian, and the recently completed Louvee, which has a capacity of 600, in Wellston, Ohio, from the Guilfoyle Amusement Company.”
I came across a trade journal item about a 1,000-seat theater being built at Wellston in 1904, but I’ve lost track of it. That project might have been the Virginian.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colony Theater on Feb 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

An article about Chakeres Theatres in the March 4, 1939, issue of Motion Picture Herald said that “…the Chakeres organization took over Bell’s Opera House, with 750 seats, at Hillsboro, where it also recently opened the new Colony”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Feb 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

The February, 1904, issue of The Ohio Architect and Builder said that the Lyric Theatre, under construction at Bolivar Road and Erie Avenue (now 9th Street) had been designed in the Art Nouveau style by architect Frederic William Striebinger.

Cleveland native Striebinger, born 1870, studied at Columbia University and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris before establishing his architectural practice at Cleveland in 1897. In 1896 he and fellow American student Hugh Tallant shared the Ecole’s prestigious Prix Jean Leclaire.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Keith's Theatre on Feb 10, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Cleveland Architects Database (PDF here) attributes the design of Keith’s Prospect Theatre to architect Morris Gleichman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theatre on Feb 10, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Cleveland Architects Database (PDF here attributes the design of the Empire Theatre to architect Morris Gleichman.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uptown Theater on Feb 10, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Linkrot repair: The before-and-after photos of the remodeled facade of the Uptown on the cover of Boxoffice of May 1, 1967, can now be found at this link. The remodeling was done in 1966.

It seems likely that the original facade is still mostly intact behind that false front (which looks to be an anodized aluminum grill), as the grill extends out a couple of feet from the front of the building. Restored, it would add a touch of glamor to this fairly plain block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theater on Feb 10, 2015 at 5:41 am

The Orpheum Theatre that opened in 1927 was on the same site as the old Orpheum. Testimony from a court case involving the house included this line: “…some time in June, 1927, the old house was torn down and practically a new house was built up on the same place.”

A half page ad in the November 26, 1927, issue of The Kingston Daily Freeman said that the rebuilt Orpheum would open the following night. An article in the August 2 issue of the same publication said that the architect for the project was Gerard W. Betz.

The Orpheum was about a third of a century old when rebuilt in 1927. An October 31, 1908, item in The Billboard said that the old Fordon Opera House had been bought by the Bijou Theatre Company and would be remodeled and reopened as a vaudeville and movie theater called the Orpheum. It opened on December 3. The theater had originally opened in 1894 as Liscomb’s Opera House. Today the Rondout Neighborhood Center, opened in 1971, occupies the site of the Orpheum.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about UA Quartet on Feb 9, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Boxoffice of August 30, 1971, has two pages about the UA Quartet. It includes a cutaway drawing showing how the four small auditoriums and new foyer had been arranged inside the gutted auditorium of the Roosevelt Theatre. There are also a few photos.

First page

Second page

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ohmann Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Here is the description of the new Ohmann Theatre that was published in the December 25, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Open Theater in Lyons.

In Lyons, N. Y., the new Ohmann moving picture theater was opened recently. This building was built for Ohmann Brothers, of Lyons, at a cost of $20,000. The new house is on the ground floor, located in the rear of the Wayne Press building in William street. The building is 80 by 60 and 35 feet high, and is reached from the street by a corridor 75 feet in depth with a canopy over the walk. The construction is of steel framework, covered with concrete and hollow tile. The floors are concrete and set with opera chairs. The main floor has a seating capacity of 800, and the balcony seats 175 more. The interior finish is of buff and oak.“

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm

As there is no place called South Chattanooga today, but this location is south of Chattanooga’s downtown, this item from the December 8, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture Worldis probably about this Strand Theatre:

“SOUTH CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — The Strand is the name of a new moving picture theater opened here by A. Solomon and A. J. Alper.”
The fire station that occupies the block now looks like it might have been built as long ago as the 1930s, so my guess would be that the Strand has been gone for a very long time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park 70 Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm

An article in the June 12, 1953, issue of The Mason City Globe-Gazette said that the Cecil Theatre opened on June 3, 1912.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dome Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 3:33 pm

The archives of the New York Architectural Terra Cotta Company also list Louis Boucherle & Son as architects of the Dome Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sun Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 2:49 pm

An article called Movie Theaters of Holdrege, by Patti Simpson (PDF here) says that the Sun Theatre opened in 1927 on the site of an earlier theater called the Crescent. The earlier history of the Crescent is a bit muddled, as there was a house of that name in operation by 1910, and probably in 1908, and it was at the Sun Theatre’s address. Simpson says that the Crescent Theatre was destroyed by a fire in 1924, and the Sun opened three years later at the same location. Old photos show that the front wall of both theaters was the same, so it’s possible that the Crescent was only gutted, though it might have lost its roof as well.

The building was either built, or perhaps merely enlarged, in 1915, when this item appeared in the December 4 issue of The Moving Picture World:“HOLDRIDGE [sic], NEB. — The Crescent is the name of a new moving picture theater opened here by L. C. Severns. It has seating capacity for 600 persons.”Simpson’s article says that an L. C. Severns bought the Crescent and another house called the Empress in 1914. It also cites a 1911 newspaper article saying that an A. J. Severn of Lincoln, Nebraska, had bought the Crescent early that year. The 1911 article might have simply gotten the newcomer’s name wrong.

The article mentions some other theaters in Holdrege, but doesn’t say if any were operating during the period between the burning of the Crescent and the opening of the Star, but there must have been at least one as Holdrege had a population of about 3,000 and was unlikely to have gone without a theater for so long. A house called the Majestic Theatre, later renamed the Magic Theatre, operated from 1927 until 1937. An earlier house Called the Empress opened in late 1912 or early 1913, and a house called the Sterling opened in 1908, but no closing dates are given for either. There were also two early houses called the Gay and the Edison, both apparently short-lived nickelodeons.

The article does not mention a theater called the Auditorium, which might have been a public facility but which hosted at least one movie, an event which was reported in the March 18, 1921, issue of The Film Daily. The Auditorium seated about 2,500, and almost the entire population of the town showed up for the single showing of the Cecil B. DeMille-Jesse Lasky production Something to Think About.

As for the Sun, it was taken over by Central States Theatres of Des Moines in 1937, along with the Magic Theatre, which the company closed. The Sun was operated by Central States until 1968, and then again briefly in 1970 until going independent again in July of that year. From 1971 until 2008, the house was operated by members of the Braner family. In December, 2008, the Sun was bought by the current owners, Strategic Community Investments Group LLC, who upgraded the house. SCIG is primarily a national residential real estate investment firm, so I doubt they operate the theater directly.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theatre on Feb 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Here’s an item from the December 4, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“YOUNGSTOWN, O. — A new fireproof moving picture theater, the Lincoln, located on Himrod avenue, between Murdock and Front streets, was recently opened to the public.”
Google Maps says the theater was between Murdock and Fruit, not Front, Streets.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olympic Theater on Feb 8, 2015 at 8:37 pm

John Papulius, proprietor of the Olympic Theatre in Steubenville, was mentioned in the June, 1915, issue of The Ohio Architect, Engineer & Builder. Given that the theater was operated by a Greek, and Athenian is Greek, I have been wondering if this item from the February 14, 1914, issue of The Construction Record could be about the Olympic Theatre:


“Bids are now being taken on the construction of a one and two-story steel, brick and hollow tile building, to contain stores, offices and motion picture theatre at Steubenville, O., for the Athenian Amusement Company. Plans for the building were made by Architect Edward Bates Franzheim, Schmulbach building, Wheeling. The building will measure 60x115 feet and will contain two stores, four offices and theatre having a capacity of 700. Specifications will include ornamental iron, tile or terrazzo vestibule flooring, first floor flooring of concrete and second floor of white pine, metal ceilings, roof ribbed glass, patent store fronts, etc.”

The Olympic Theatre appears to have been the right size to have been the 1914 project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Penn Theatre on Feb 8, 2015 at 5:28 pm

The Orpheum Theatre in Altoona was built in 1908, but the site already had a theatrical history, noted in a 1990 publication about Altoona, Railroad City, from the National Park Service (Internet Archive scan):

“In 1887 Louis Plack built the Mountain City Theatre, a four-story brick building, on the corner of 11th Street and 12th Avenue; it burned in 1889 and was rebuilt as the Phoenix Block, an office building. In 1906 the building was converted back into a theater and reopened as the Lyric, managed by the Keith Vaudeville Company. Destroyed by fire in 1907, the theater was again rebuilt and subsequently named the Embassy, Penn, and Orpheum.”
Although this item in the March 7, 1908, issue of Variety doesn’t mention the name Orpheum, many later references indicate that the Orpheum was the Wilmer & Vincent house in Altoona until at least 1914:

“When the new vaudeville theatre opens at Altoona, Pa., on Monday, March 9th, it will be considered as one of the Wilmer & Vincent chain. The firm has been booking the attractions for the house. Under some arrangement entered into, Wilmer & Vincent hold an interest in the theatre, as well as Henry B. Harris, and others.”

The house was known as the Embassy Theatre by 1927, and most likely retained that name until becoming the Penn in 1933. The Penn Theatre was demolished in 1951.

This page at GenDisasters has a photo of the burned out Lyric Theatre, the Orpheum’s predecessor. I don’t know if any part of the Lyric building was incorporated into the Orpheum’s construction.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Olympic Theater on Feb 8, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Several construction trade journals from late 1914 indicate that the theater being built on Eleventh Avenue in Altoona for A. Notopoulos had been designed by the Altoona architectural firm of Shollar & Hersh. Frederick James Shollar and Frank Austin Hersh were among Altoona’s most successful architects during the first third of the twentieth century.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ohio Theater on Feb 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Although the Elks Club bought the gutted Opera House building in 1911, and had plans for rebuilding the theater by late 1912, the project was not completed until 1914. The house,originally leased to Gus Sun, opened as the Alhambra Theatre on November 9 that year. This web page has a photo showing part of the original entrance of the theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Market Street Theatre on Feb 8, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Items about a remodeling job at the Market Street Theatre appeared in the May 20, 1916, issue of The American Contractor. The project was designed by local architectural firm L. Boucherle & Son. Louis Boucherle and his son Paul established their partnership in 1911, according to the February 15 issue of The American Architect that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Century Gateway 12 on Feb 8, 2015 at 1:18 am

There are loads of photos at CinemaTour, which also says that the Century Gateway 12 opened on May 15, 1992.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Century Cinema on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:12 pm

The Century Cinema in Corte Madera was opened in December, 1969, by Blumenfeld Theatres, in partnership with Cinerama Corporation of America, and was originally known as Cinema 1. The house featured a 56-foot curved screen and continental seating, and was designed by architect William B. David.

Anything but a typical shopping center theater of the period, the free-standing house on its raised podium, with its white columns and mansard roof, was designed to recall the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center (the Cinema 1’s front originally featured large windows which have since been filled in with red brick, greatly lessening the effect.) David was using a regional style that came to be called Hollywood Regency, which had been pioneered in the 1940s by architect John Elgin Woolf.

Hollywood Regency became a fad in the 1960s, especially in southern California, when block after block of Spanish style bunglows, Tudor and Norman cottages, and nondescript small office complexes around the region were remodeled and suddenly sprouted faux mansards, thick, arched window reveals, and non-functional shutters frequently painted in shades of pale blue, green, or gray, all in emulation of the pricey mansions Woolf had designed for a long list of people in show business. Even many of the dingbat apartment blocks that were put up at the time sported Hollywood Regency facades.

The style was rarely used for theaters, though, so the Century Cinema is a pretty rare type. It’s a bit ironic that it is going to be knocked down just when a revival of Hollywood Regency decor has gotten underway.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about AMC Loews Foothills 15 on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Local firm CDG Architects designed the 8-screen expansion of the Cineplex Foothills 7, according to this page at the web site of the builders, BFL Construction.