Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Glenwood Theatre on Jun 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm

There is a tantalizing item in the “Building Operations” column of the July 15, 1905, issue of The Minneapolis Journal:

Charles S. Sedgwick, architect, is preparing plans for a two-story store and office building at Glenwood, Minn for J. H. McCauley. It will be 68x115, with pressed brick front operahouse.“
Type for the item was obviously badly set, and the McCauley Opera House as built was three stories, not two, but the timing, six months before the theater opened, the mention of McCauley, and the appearance, oddly placed though it is, of the word operahouse, suggests that Sedgwick might have been the architect of the McCauley Opera House.

The only other connection between Sedgwick and Glenwood I’ve found is a 1902 item inviting bids for construction of a two-story brick commercial and office building at Glenwood that was designed by Sedgwick. That project might have been the McCauley Block, another building McCauley owned in Glenwood.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Glenwood Theatre on Jun 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Here is a 1987 photo of the McCauley Opera House/Glenwood Theatre at Glenwood, Minnesota. The 1935 FDY lists the Opera House in Glenwood as part of the small regional theater circuit operated by B. J. Benfield (spelled Benefield in the book) which was headquartered in the Strand Theatre at Morris, Minnesota.

The McCauley Opera House was built by James H. McCauley, who was, among other things, vice president and cashier of the Glenwood State Bank. The Opera House was opened in 1906, an event that was noted in the February 6 edition of The Minneapolis Journal.

McCauley also built another Glennwood landmark, the Lakeside Ballroom, which opened in 1909 and operated until being destroyed by a fire in 2003.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jun 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

This page at the Morris Theatre’s web site says that the Orpheum opened in 1912, and competed with the Strand into the mid-1920s, but then both houses were bought by B. J. Benfield and the Orpheum was shuttered.

Although the Orpheum ceased to operate as a full-time movie theater at that time, a local resident remembers it being used occasionally through the 1930s for traveling shows, local live events, and what he called “cowboy shows,” which took place on Saturdays and for which admission was ten cents.

I presume that “cowboy shows” means western movies. Larger towns often had a full-time theater that specialized in westerns, or westerns and adventure moves, while the town’s “A” house offered more varied fare. Morris was probably just too small to support two full-time theaters, but large enough to have both houses open on Saturday when the farmers and residents of smaller outlying settlements came into town.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theater on Jun 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I now think it very likely that the 1935 FDY entry I cited in my previous comment was already out-of-date. The same entry appears in the “Circuits” section of the 1950 yearbook, even though the only house in Morris listed in the “Theatres” section that year is the Morris Theatre. Local sources in Morris say that the Orpheum was shuttered in the mid-1920s and the Strand closed when the Morris Theatre opened in 1940.

Also, the FDY almost always gives the owner’s name as Benefield, while local sources (and at least one item in a rival trade journal) use Benfield. I suspect that this is a case where the FDY failed to update its listings, this time for at least a decade, as well as repeating a misspelling year after year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Morris Theatre on Jun 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I can find no evidence that B. J. Benfield was actually trained as an architect. In fact Benfield (or Benefield, as his name was usually spelled in the Film Daily Yearbook) was the owner of the Morris Theatre, and had previously owned the Strand and Orpheum Theatres in Morris as well as several theaters in other small Minnesota towns. It’s quite possible that he designed the Morris Theatre, as exhibitors did occasionally design theaters for themselves, but he probably had to have hired a licensed architect or engineer to draw up the plans.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theater on Jun 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

The Strand Theatre in Morris had been operating as a playhouse when this item appeared in the August 12, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Morris, Minn.—The films have captured another playhouse built for the ‘legitimate’ business. The new Strand theater here has been turned over to the projection machine and the screen.”
The opening of the Strand as a movie house was also mentioned in the June 24, 1916, issue of The Billboard, which named the owner as J. J. Gaffnery.

The Strand was listed as the home office of the B. J. Benefield circuit in the 1935 FDY. Bennefield’s houses were the Star, Beardsley; the Clinton Opera House in Clinton; the Crystal in Elbau Lake; the Opera House in Glenwood; the Grand in Graceville; the Hancock in Hancock; and the Orpheum and Strand in Morris.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Maple Theatre on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm

So 420 W. Main Street was the second of three locations for the Princess Theatre?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empress Theater on Jun 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

The NRHP registration form for the Fremont Historic Commercial District says that the Empress Theatre was built in 1913 as a vaudeville and moving picture house.

Given the name and the timing, there’s a high probability that this theater was built for the Sullivan & Considine circuit.

Here is a 1949 photo of the Empress Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fremont Theatre on Jun 27, 2014 at 12:14 pm

The 1927 FDY lists the Fremont Theatre as one of several Nebraska houses operated by the World Realty Co. of Omaha. A photo of the Fremont Theatre appeared on this page of Motion Picture News for December 28, 1929.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Columbus Theater on Jun 27, 2014 at 11:37 am

The groundbreaking for the Columbus Theatre was reported in the May 27, 1926, issue of The Lincoln Star. Local investors in Columbus were building the house, which had been leased to the World Realty Co., theater operators of Omaha.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gem Theatre on Jun 27, 2014 at 12:39 am

An April 19, 2008, post in the Caruthersville forum at Topix said that the Gem Theatre had been torn down a couple of months earlier.

The Saturday, January 17, 1942, issue of the Blytheville, Arkansas Courier-News said that the Rodgers theater circuit had opened the Gem Theatre in Caruthersville the previous Thursday. It wasn’t clear from the item if the Gem was then new or if it had just been taken over and reopened by Rodgers. The item also said that the opening of the Gem gave Caruthersville four operating theaters, but it only mentioned the Rodgers Theatre and the Stadium Theatre.

The January 2, 1942, issue of The Film Daily also had an item about the Gem:

“A new theater is being erected in Caruthersville, Mo., to be operated by I. W. Rodgers & Co. It will be christened the Gem Theater.”
1942 is the first year the Gem appears in the Film Daily Yearbook. It was also the first year for the Stadium Theatre and for a 286-seat house called the Cozy Theatre, which was listed as closed. The Cozy must have been the fourth theater mentioned in the newspaper item.

Here is a photo of the Gem Theatre taken in the late 1990s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paris Theatre on Jun 26, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The Paris Theatre is still open and has converted to digital projection. I can’t find an official web site, but there is a Facebook page.

There’s probably little, if anything, remaining of the old Lincoln Theatre. An article about the remodeling of Kerasotes' Broadway Theatre at Cape Girardeau in the October 19, 1970, issue of Boxoffice said that Kerasotes Theatres had also completely rebuilt the Lincoln Theatre in Paris, Illinois before reopening it as the Paris Theatre the previous May.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rodgers Theatre on Jun 26, 2014 at 10:03 am

I suspect that the theater name should be spelled Rodgers rather than Rogers. This history on the web site of the Rodgers Theatre in Poplar Bluff mentions that I. W. Rodgers operated a theater in Caruthersville. It was probably this house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rodgers Theatre on Jun 26, 2014 at 9:58 am

The Liberty Theatre in Caruthersville was mentioned in the May 20, 1915, edition of the Hayti, Missouri Herald. The paper also mentioned a Dixie Theatre in Caruthersville.

The March 4, 1922, edition of The Southeast Missourian newspaper of Cape Girardeau had an ad marking the 10th anniversary of Paramount Pictures with listings of movies scheduled to appear that month at twelve theaters in the region, and the Liberty Theatre at Caruthersville was among them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cox Theatre on Jun 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

It’s quite possible that the Perry Street Theatre never became the Cox Theatre. In fact I have no idea why I made the assumption in that comment (though as I was on the Internet at 6:07 pm there’s a good chance my dinner was late and my blood sugar had crashed, taking my higher brain functions with it.)

There is an old postcard that shows up now and then at auction websites depicting a “Cox-Pier-Theatre” on the Cape May Boardwalk (it might have been the postcard in teecee’s long-dead link), but I don’t know if that house was called the Cox Theatre, the Pier Theatre, the Cox Pier Theatre, or something else altogether (it might even have been the Palace Theatre, a house opened by J. P. Cox in 1916.) Houses called Cox’s Old Pier, Cox’s New Pier, and Cox’s Palace were all mentioned in the 1924 FDY. There’s not much information about Cape May’s old theaters on the Internet, so it might be quite a while before anybody comes along to fill in the gaps.

Anyway, my apologies for assuming that Mr. Cox had only one theater. It was pretty stupid of me.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Beverly Theatre on Jun 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Alan, the “Firm” field on this page says that the Beverly Theatre was designed by William Riseman Associates. Riseman himself might have been the lead architect, but it was a large and busy firm so most of their projects would have been team efforts, and various associates might have taken the lead on any number of projects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coral Theatre on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Smith & Neubek also handled the remodeling of the Arlington Theatre in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Arlington Theater on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

The links to the Boxoffice articles in my earlier comment are dead, but the articles are still available online for the time being. The web site is no longer easily navigable internally, so here are direct links to each page of the first 1942 article:

Page 1, page two, page 3 and page 4.

Here are links to the second 1942 article:

Page 1and page 2.

Here is the link to the 1962 article:

Short, no illustrations.

An article about the reopening of the Arlington Theatre in the August 1, 1963, issue of the Arlington Heights Herald credited the architectural firm of Smith & Neubek with the plans for the remodeling. The same firm did the plans for the remodeling of the Coral Theatre in Oak Lawn for the same exhibitor.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:36 pm

There’s a very good chance that whoever designed the Sandon Theatre was one of the young architects who had worked for a time in Wright’s office. Wright and his own mentor, Louis Sullivan, were the chief progenitors of the Prairie style.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

A few genealogy web sites have pages with references to the four Sandon brothers (Harry, Sam, Bill, and Cash) who opened this theater in 1916. One page says that prior to opening the Sandon Theatre they operated a house called the Wonderland Theatre, also in Mankato, which they purchased in 1913. The Sandon brothers had been itinerant musicians, and after going into the exhibition business frequently played in their own theaters. They later operated theaters in Jackson, Blue Earth, and Elmore.

The March 18, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had this item about the opening of the Sandon:

“Mankato, Minn.—A modern moving picture theater has been opened by Sandon Brothers on Walnut street. It has seating capacity of 850 and cost $40,000.”
I’d love to know who the architect of the Sandon Theatre was. The Prairie style was rarely used for theaters, though its geometric elements had some influence on the zig-zag phase of the Art Deco style. In fact, two Prairie school architects, the husband and wife team of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, emigrated to Australia in 1914, and a few years later they designed there one of the iconic theaters of the Art Deco period, the Melbourne Capitol Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cozy Theatre on Jun 24, 2014 at 8:54 am

This Cozy doesn’t appear to have been part of a chain. An item about G. A. Peterson appeared in the July 1, 1927, issue of Motion Picture News that suggests he only operated in Hollis:

“The Peterson Freezem Cooling System, an Oklahoma product, will open a factory in Oklahoma City, it was announced this week. G. A. Peterson, an exhibitor of Hollis, Okla., is president of the concern.”
Cozy appears to have been a fairly popular name for theaters at one time, but I don’t know of any chain of them. There was an independently operated Cozy Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles at least as late as the 1960s. It was a tiny grind house on Broadway. I never went to it, but it had one of my favorite downtown marquees.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Time Theatre on Jun 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm

If the Lyric was on Main Street and the Time on Front Street then the Lyric was certainly a different theater and should have its own page.

The Time might be older than we thought, though. The “Theater Changes” column of the September 26, 1935, issue of The Film Daily listed a “Times” Theatre at Mankato as a house recently closed. It’s possible that “Times” was a typo for Time, and if so then the house might have first opened under that name in 1935, or even earlier.

For some reason Google Maps is fetching for us a location in the village of St. Clair, several miles from Mankato.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Urban Theatre on Jun 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm

The opening of the Urban Theatre was noted in the November 4, 1936, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Open at North Mankato

“North Mankato, Minn., Nov. 3. — The Urban, 800-seat house built by H. E. Gilbert, Minneapolis contractor, and leased to Phil Gillman of St. Paul, was given a civic opening, participated in by the Chamber of Commerce, Mankato’s junior chamber and the Mayor.

“A parade was led by the high school band and included floats. Speeches were made from a platform in front of the house and the Mayor snipped a ribbon to signalize the opening.”

By 1937, the Urban had different operators, who entered a partnership with the regional Paramount-Publix subsidiary, the Minnesota Amusement Company. This item is from the July 9, 1937, issue of The Film Daily:
“Sheldon Grenge and his associates, Nick and Don Grenge, have entered into an agreement through which the Urban Theater, North Mankato, will be operated in conjunction with the Minnesota Amusement Co. theaters in Mankato. Don Grenge will continue as manager of the Urban.”
There were inconsistent reports of the Urban’s seating capacity. The Urban was clearly the unnamed house in this item from the September 5, 1936, issue of The Film Daily:
“H. C. Gilbert will open his new $50,000 theater at North Mankato, Minn., about Oct. 1. House seats 650.”
The October 5, 1936, issue of Motion Picture News had this item:
“The new 800-seat Urban at North Mankato. Minn., has been leased by Harry E. Gilbert to Phil Gillman.”
The inconsistent reports of the seating capacity were typical of the trade journals, including The Film Daily and its Yearbook, which too often gave inaccurate seat counts.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Geitner Theatre on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm

An article titled “Standard Theatres Built Under Cooperative System” by architect G. E. Eichenlaub, published in the October 13, 1923, issue of Exhibitors Herald features two photos of the Geitner Theatre (article begins at this link and continues here.) The Geitner was one of the houses built from one of Eichenlaub’s standard plans for small-town theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Jun 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm

S. G. Harsh, operator of the 249-seat Princess Theatre in Mapleton, Iowa, wrote numerous brief movie reviews that were published in Exhibitors Herald in the last quarter of 1823. He also had two reviews in the May 30, 1925, issue of The Moving Picture World. I’m not sure that it was the same theater that operated in the American Legion Hall, though. Theater owners sometimes moved from one building to another, taking the name with them.

Mapleton had an opera house to which I’ve found references from 1909 and 1929. There is also an item datelined Mapleton, IA., in The Moving Picture World of January 2, 1915, which says: “John Robinson is planning to make extensive alterations to his one-story moving picture theater to cost about $2,000.” It seems likely that these were two different theater buildings. Either (or both, or neither) might have become the Princess, Orpheum, and/or Maple.