Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Cinema on Feb 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm

The Roxy Theatre was located in the Canfield WPA Memorial Building, 132 S Broad Street. The building also housed a library, an American Legion hall and a Masonic lodge, as well as facilities for youth groups. It is now privately owned and has been converted into offices.

Construction on the building began in December, 1936. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style by Youngstown architects Cook & Canfield (William H. Cook and W. Canfield.) The project was financed in part by local subscription and in part by funds from the Works Progress Administration.

In 2007 the building was declared an historic site by the Ohio Historical Society, who placed a marker. The text of the marker can be read on this web page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Poly Theatre on Feb 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

The May 3, 1946, issue of The Film Daily said that R. F. Smith was the architect for the New Poly Theatre being built by Tri-States Theaters at Forth Worth.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bison Theatre on Feb 24, 2015 at 9:20 pm

The only theater in Shawnee that is attributed to Boller Brothers on David and Noelle Soren’s list of known Boller Theaters is the Misson Theatre of 1927.

The May 1, 1946, issue of The Film Daily has a death notice for Shawnee architect Gates Corgan and attributes the design of the Bison Theatre to him:

“Gates Corgan Dead

“Shawnee, Olka. — Gates Corgan, 68, prominent Shawnee architect and contractor who from 1925 until his retirement two years ago was architect and contractor for the Griffith Amusement Co., died here. He built the Bison here in 1926 and built other theaters in Oklahoma and Mid-western states. He is the father of Jack Corgan of Dallas, well known Southwestern theater architect.”

Another item in the same magazine said that Gates Corgan had designed more than 100 houses for the Griffith Amusement Company.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:29 pm

The Friday, February 7, 1908, issue of The Orrville Courier of Orriville, Ohio, had an item about the opening of the Princess Theatre:

“The Princess theater, Youngstown’s newest playhouse, opened its doors to the public Monday night. From the dazzling electric lights in the front of the theater to the last act of the interesting program the place and entertainment is attractive and pleasing. Pretty girl ushers are only one of the novelties.”
The Princess was opened by Proctor E. Seas, a former resident of Orrville.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 10:16 pm

The September 27, 1934, issue of The Film Daily had a brief item saying that the Princess Theatre in Youngstown, which had been dark since spring, had been reopened by Stephen Grapa with a stage policy (I’m pretty sure the magazine misspelled the Italian surname, which was probably Grappa, or even di Grappa.)

The item also said that the manager of the Princess was named Ralph Pitzer. Interestingly, Ralph D. Pitzer was listed as the manager of the Princess Family Theatre at Youngstown in the 1913-1914 edition of the Cahn guide. The guide listed the house as a ground floor theater with 800 seats, 500 on the main floor and 300 in the balcony. It was then playing Gus Sun vaudeville shows exclusively.

The Princess began running the Sun shows in 1910, as the November 6 issue of Variety said that the remodeled house would reopen with Gus Sun vaudeville on November 14. A later Variety item datelined Youngstown, November 24, said that the Princess, booked by Gus Sun, and the Park, booked by another vaudeville office, Feiber & Shea, of New York, were both doing fine business.

The Princess had a very diverse history. I’ve found references to stock companies playing the house in 1915 and the early 1920s, as well as vaudeville, movies, and burlesque. The August 30, 1929, issue of the New Castle News ran an item touting the opening of the New Princess Theatre in Youngstown, “…all repaired, repainted. redecorated, renovated….” and featuring something called the “Billy Leich Teddy Bear Girls Company, The show with a kick….” The item also boasted of the house’s new “lighted runway,” so it was surely a burlesque operation at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fairfax Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 1:06 am

Thanks for the information, Don. I totally missed the Ponce de Leon Theatre in my search.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empire Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 12:58 am

In January, 1928, Motion Picture News noted that the Empire Theatre, then under construction, would be operated by Neighborhood Theatres, the regional Universal Pictures subsidiary partly owned by Oscar Oldknow.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ponce de Leon Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 12:52 am

The January 27, 1927, issue of Motion Picture News had an article about Universal Pictures expanding its theater holdings in the Atlanta area. One line pertained to the Ponce de Leon Theatre: “One of the company’s most recent acquisitions was a fifty per cent interest in the community theatre just being completed on Ponce de Leon Avenue near Boulevard, one of the city’s most flourishing centers.”

The Universal affiliate in Atlanta, Neighborhood Theatres, was partly owned by Oscar Oldknow, the regional vice president of Universal’s theater arm. Other Neighborhood Theatres houses in which Universal acquired an interest at this time included the Fairfax in East Point and the Madison in East Atlanta. In 1928 the chain opened the Empire Theatre on Georgia Avenue.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 23, 2015 at 12:04 am

I’m glad to be of help.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm

The Strand Theatre opened the second week of November, 1915. The house was built by local businessman Robert M. Frey and initially operated by Harry A. Sellers. It was designed by Harrisburg architect C. H. Lloyd (Charles Howard Lloyd.)

The Strand was extensively remodeled in 1938 after being taken over by the Chertcoff circuit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Champaign architect George Ramey designed the 1938 rebuild of the Rialto Theatre’s interior, according to an article in the September 28 issue of The Daily Illini that year. Raney’s design sounds decidedly Streamline Modern, judging from these lines: “Modernistic simplicity is the keynote of interior decoration. The undecorated walls, completely soundproof, are lighted by blue and amber indirect lighting.”

The Rialto apparently still had an organ in 1938, as the final line of the article read thusly: “A grill concealing the organ has been held up in shipment from the east coast due to interrupted transportation and has been transhipped to reach Champaign for the opening night.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Albro Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm

The Urbana Daily Courier of August 11, 1913, had an article saying that construction of the new theater on Market Street had begun and was expected to be completed within thirty days. The architect for the project was J. W. Royer.

Joseph W. Royer (1873-1954) lived in Urbana all his life. He was an 1895 graduate of the University of Illinois, and designed many important buildings in Champaign County.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Belmont Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

An item in the September 4, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World noted the retirement from the theater business of pioneer Philadelphia exhibitor Samuel Wheeler, and said that he had built the Belmont Theatre:


“Samuel F. Wheeler, one of the leading lights in the local field of the moving picture industry, recently announced his intention of retiring from that line of endeavor. When the moving picture business was in its infancy Mr. Wheeler built the Fifty-second Street theater, Fifty-second and Sansom streets, and experienced remarkable success from the first. He soon began looking around for ground upon which to erect a much larger house, with the result that he erected the Belmont theater, Fifty-second street, above Market. Following this he built the Apollo theater at Fifty-second street and Girard avenue.

“Following the construction of the Apollo things began to break in the wrong direction for Mr. Wheeler and he soon sold his latest theater. Business continued to fall away on account of keen competition in the neighborhood of his theaters and Mr. Wheeler came to the conclusion that he would devote his entire interest to his original occupation as a lawyer. The Fifty-second Street theater and the Belmont theater may either be bought or leased. It has been rumored that the Felt brothers, proprietors of the Locust theater, Fifty-second and Locust streets, will buy the Belmont.”

The January 22, 1916, issue of MPW said that the Felt Brothers had taken over both of Wheeler’s 52nd Street houses:

“The Felt Brothers, proprietors of the Locust, West Philadelphia’s leading moving picture theater, recently added to their place in the local field by taking over the Fifty-second street and Belmont theaters, which were formerly conducted by Samuel H. Wheeler. With the acquisition of these properties by the Felt brothers comes a change in the management policy of both houses. Henceforth in the afternoon the price of admission will be five cents at the Fifty-second street theater and ten cents at the Belmont. In the evenings the prices will be fifteen cents at both establishments. It is planned to show nothing but first class pictures and Messrs. Felt and Felt, who have already made themselves known in Philadelphia moving picture circles, expect to meet with their usual success in this enterprise.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivoli Theater on Feb 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm

According to an item in the December 1, 1909, issue of The American Architect, the 95x107-foot store and moving picture theater building being built at Sansom and 52nd Streets, which architect Jacob Nasehold had designed, was being built for Samuel Wheeler. The February 14, 1914, issue of The Moving Picture World had this bit of information about Mr. Wheeler:

“WE comment specially upon the election of Mr. Samuel Wheeler as President of the State League of Pennsylvania, because it is typical of the remarkable improvement of the personnel of the exhibitor. Mr. Wheeler has a substantial stake in the exhibiting business. He is the owner of a chain of prosperous motion picture theaters in the city of Philadelphia. He is an attorney, and has on more than one occasion asserted the rights of the exhibitor in the courts of his state. He is essentially constructive. He has exalted ideals of the mission and the responsibility of the exhibitor. He is progressive, and places the welfare of the exhibitors' organization above any consideration of self. We congratulate the exhibitors of Pennsylvania upon their excellent choice.”
The June 21, 1912, issue of The Player also had an item about Mr. Wheeler:
“Samuel Wheeler, who owns and operates the Fifty-second Street theater, has arranged to build a new moving picture house at the corner of Fifty-second and Market streets. This will make two houses that he owns within a short distance of the Nixon theater. He opened the Fifty-second street house before the Nixon was completed, and when that house got running he switched to pictures and made money. Now he will build a new house still nearer than his former one, to the Nixon, and will arrange it so that he can add vaudeville as an attraction in case pictures do not get the money he expects.”
I had thought that the house at 52nd and Market might have been the mysterious Grand, which operated only for a few years, but an item about Samuel Wheeler’s retirement from the theater business in the September 4, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World says that he owned the Belmont Theatre, which was up the block from Market Street, but didn’t mention the Grand.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 11:47 am

EdwardsBrynele: I found only the January obituary. Obituaries in the trade papers were always brief unless the deceased was a major figure in the industry. Major figures might get a short notice in one issue and a longer obituary in a later issue, but local theater operators typically only got one item, and that often only in one trade paper. Undoubtedly many got no notice in the trades at all.

I’ve searched for other references to Henry Thomas in the trade publications but haven’t found any. There probably are some but the limitations of current search engines are preventing them from being found. I’ve also searched for additional references to earlier theaters in Oak Hill, but again with no success.

A second floor hall does sound very likely for the earlier Liberty Theatre, though. In the late 19th century second floor theaters were probably more common than ground floor houses, especially in smaller cities. A lot of them ended up as early movie houses before being replaced by more modern theaters.

Even though the original front of the Liberty Theatre was destroyed by the 1929 fire, I suspect that the rebuilt front was probably not much different from the original. The brickwork is much more typical of the early 1920s than it is of the late 1920s. They might even have used a lot of the original bricks in the reconstruction.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Little Theatre on Feb 22, 2015 at 10:18 am

I just noticed that Google Street View now allows you to look inside the Little Theatre. The camera only visited the lobby and the main auditorium, and I don’t see any interior signage directing patrons to the additional auditoriums. It leaves me wondering where they are hiding the other four screens.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Feb 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

The Lyric Theatre at Wymore, Nebraska, was listed as a subscriber of the American Motion Picture League in an ad for that organization in the December 20, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Shubert Theater on Feb 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

meheuck: The Cox Theatre doesn’t have a page at Cinema Treasures because it never showed movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 21, 2015 at 9:55 am

Wid’s Year Book for 1920 lists the Victory Theatre as being operated by The Dome Amusement Co., also operating the Dome Theatre.

Comparing old maps of Youngstown with Google’s current map, I’m pretty sure that the Victory was located on what is now called Teamster Drive, on part of the site now occupied by the City of Youngstown Department of Public Works Maintenance & Service Building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about South Side Theatre on Feb 21, 2015 at 7:54 am

That was supposed to be November 25, 1916, in my previous comment.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Feb 20, 2015 at 10:04 pm

The Garrick Theatre, 30th and Illinois Streets, was on a list of Indianapolis theater in the November 25, 1916, issue of The Indianapolis News.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cassell Theatre on Feb 20, 2015 at 9:57 pm

The Daisy Theatre was on a list of Indianapolis theaters that appeared in the November 25, 1916, issue of The Indianapolis News.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bandbox Theatre on Feb 20, 2015 at 9:47 pm

A list of theaters in the November 25, 1916, issue of The Indianapolis News also places the Crystal at 119 N. Illinois, so the 1919 directory listing was likely not an error. If the house ended up at 137 Illinois either it was renumbered or it moved.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about South Side Theatre on Feb 20, 2015 at 9:29 pm

A list of movie theaters in the November 25, 1915, issue of The Indianapolis News has this house listed as Hair’s South Side Theatre. Two other theaters were listed that must have been under the same ownership at the time: Hair’s Lincoln, East Ave. and Lincoln, and Hair’s Apex, Stevens and Virginia Avenue. “Bair’s” was probably a typo in the source Chuck got this theater from.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Delight Theatre on Feb 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm

The Delight Theatre was mentioned in the January 25, 1914, issue of The Indianapolis Star. The address 2407-09 College Avenue was listed for the Delight in 1916, and prior to that the paper just gave the location as 24th Street and College Avenue.