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A Willis Norton opened the Classic Theatre, according to the local historical society.
$50,000 FIRE HITS WATERTOWN MOVIE.
Watertown, Wis. — (UP) — A fire which raged out of control for more than an hour ravaged the Savoy theater today, damaged offices above it and scorched an adjoining hardware store.
One fireman was overcome by smoke. Fire Chief Al Lindy estimated the total loss at more than $50,000.
The fire started in the theater. The front of the Kusel Hardware next door was scorched. Smoke swirled through the National Bank building on the other side of the theater but did no damage.
(Capital Times, Madison, Wisconsin, June 6, 1950)
Now Not Showing
When The Last Loop Movie Theater Closed In January, A Cultural Dinosaur Had Finally Breathed Its Last
(Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 2, 1989)
Essay by Paul Gapp, the Tribune`s architecture critic.
In Chicago and across America, downtown movie palaces were the dinosaurs of 20th Century architecture. They burst onto the urban scene in baroque splendor, multiplied, then sank into decay and died. Today, the relatively few that survive are gawked at like so many reconstructed brontosauri.
Still, the short history of their heyday does not diminish their importance as nostalgia-heavy icons and reminders of other losses. As the movie palaces declined and disappeared, so did such things as our old sense of wonder and innocence and our middle-class formality.
Chicagoans saw their first one-reel films around the turn of the century in storefronts, rented halls and even mortuaries that were pressed into temporary service by itinerant projectionists. The magic of moving pictures at first made audiences insensible to their surroundings.
Yet the flickering black-and-white images had finite allure. For more than 20 years they were silent, after all, and theater owners gradually employed piano players, organists and live stage shows to enhance the mute acting of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford.
Out of this need for embellishing the silent film grew the elaborately scaled and spectacularly ornamented movie palace. True, there had been fancy opera houses and legitimate theaters long before 1900, but nothing like the architectural extravaganzas so calculatedly aimed at mass audiences. Splashy theater design was almost as important to the box office as the artistic product on the screen.
In Chicago`s Loop, sound films were still nine years distant when the State-Lake and the Woods Theaters were built in 1917. Silent screens remained the rule when the Roosevelt and the Chicago opened in 1921. The first scratchy sound was just coming into use when the Oriental, United Artists and the Palace (a part of the Bismarck Hotel) were built in 1926.
These thousands of downtown Chicago movie-house seats were practically sold out on many weekend nights in pre-World War II days, and theaters were almost as full the rest of the week. Summertime crowds often came for the air- conditioning as much as anything else, since few other buildings were cooled.
Practically everyone, including people of the most modest means, dressed up for the downtown movie excursions-men in suits and ties, women in dresses and youngsters in their Sunday best. Their decorum as well as their costume was formal by today`s standards, yet it somehow fit the luxuriousness of movie-palace surroundings. The big theater was a place of escape for the common citizen. Everyone could feel like a big shot in so sumptuous a setting, as unbelievable as that may seem to the younger of us today. And during the grim Depression of the 1930s, what better way to forget reality for a few hours?
The decline of the downtown movie houses, beginning in the 1960s, was a sordidly messy business in Chicago and practically every other big city. Kung- fu and other low-budget, low-IQ fare was the rule. In lobbies originally intended to resemble Versailles or the Paris Opera, hot dogs rotated on spits and patrons played at pinball machines or video games. The jokes about sticky floors were all true, and rats as well as plainclothes security personnel roamed the aisles.
Virtually every downtown Chicago movie palace was officially doomed to demolition by the North Loop urban-renewal plan concocted in the 1970s, but economics and real estate developers beat the city to the punch. The theaters closed before the city could tear them down, and in January of this year the last screen went dark when the Woods closed its doors. That left only the restored but financially shaky Chicago Theatre, which in any case is now a venue for stage shows, not cinema.
Today, people dressed in the surreally chic, factory-faded sport clothes of the 1980s pay upwards of $10 to sit in a tiny contemporary movie theater while devouring bulimia-size containers of popcorn and soft drinks and watching screen fare heavy on dismemberment and sexual coupling. Where architectural splendor once compensated for the silence of films, food now fills the vacuum created by the sterility of theaters. The downtown dinosaurs are dead, and those who personally remember the glory days of picture palaces are fading away as well.
I recall the smaller theatre being known as the Cinema Annex.
(Appleton Post-Crescent, Friday, May 22, 1931)
The new Chilton theatre held its formal opening on Wednesday evening, an address of welcome being given by Dr. J. N. Higgins, mayor of the city. The picture shown was “A Connecticut Yankee.” Over 400 people were present.
Appleton Post-Crescent, Thursday, December 3, 1931)
APPLETON MEN LEASE NEW CHILTON THEATRE
Joseph Engel, former assistant manager of the Fox theatre here, and Raymond Arnold of this city have leased the new Chilton theatre. They will conduct their initial opening at 6:30 Saturday evening. Mr. Arnold has been employed at the Fox theatre here for some time. Marshal Tooley, Fox theatre organist, has been named assistant manager to succeed Mr. Engel. Mr. Engel came to Appleton Nov. 1, 1929, from Oshkosh where he was employed at the Midwesco theatre. On July 27, 1930, he was named assistant manager of the new Fox theatre here. Eaton Sizer is manager.
(Appleton Post-Crescent, May 9, 1931)
NEW THEATRE WILL OPEN AT CHILTON
Manager Announces Establishment Will Be Called “The Chilton"
Special to Post-Crescent
Chilton â€” John Steenport has announced that his new theatre, which is almost completed, will be called “The Chilton” and will be formally opened some time within the next two weeks.
(Waukesha Freeman via Burlington Standard-Democrat, January 30, 1913)
Buys Burlington Theatre
Martin Prailes has sold the Crystal Theatre in this city to E. D. Perkins of Waukesha and the latter took possession and opened the same for business last Saturday. Mr. Perkins has already taken up his residence in this city with his family. The Crystal, Burlington’s first picture theatre, had been dark during the holidays.
(Chippewa Herald, July 19, 2010)
At a time when itâ€™s hard to keep a small town theater open, the Eslinger family is bringing back the golden age at the Stanley Theater.
The 500-seat movie theater, a landmark on Broadway Street, is undergoing a facelift â€" not to make it look more modern, but to take it back to the theaterâ€™s roots in the mid-1930s.
The theater now has pretty much the same exterior appearance it did back in its heyday.
â€œIt was built in 1936 by Heywood Amusement out of New Richmond, which had a circuit of theaters at the time,â€ said Daniel â€œMussyâ€ Eslinger, who, with his wife Cecelia, bought the theater in 1968.
The theater is on the site of the old Star Theater, which dates back to the silent era around 1912-13. Heywood bought it in 1927 or 1928, with plans to build a new theater. The Great Depression put off plans until 1936.
The exterior was covered with what was known as Vitrolite or Carrara glass, an opaque structural glass used in architecture, according to Tim Dunn of Vitrolite Specialists of St. Louis, who is doing the exterior work at the theater.
The glass, which was ground to a mirror finish, was extremely popular at the time. It came in 32 colors, and Stanley Theater used a few of them, mostly black, with green and white for trim and decoration.
It also had the classic ticket booth jutting out from the entrance doors onto the street, the frames for posters of coming attractions, and the big lighted marquee displaying that weekâ€™s featured picture.
The building was solidly built, out of brick and concrete block.
â€œIt was considered a bomb shelter in World War II,â€ Eslinger said.
According to the Stanley Theaterâ€™s website, the theater was advertised at the time as the â€œfanciest placeâ€ between Milwaukee and the Twin Cities.
It is that look, with the Vitrolite glass, that Eslinger is bringing back with the current project. Itâ€™s not easy, since production of that kind of glass ceased around 1950, according to Dunn.
His business is to find the glass as old buildings are torn down around the country, retrieve the glass, and install it in restoration or other projects like the one at Stanley Theater. He is the tops in the field, worldwide, if you want Vitrolite glass.
â€œThey made millions of square feet,â€ Dunn said of the manufacturers of the glass. â€œWeâ€™re just moving it from one building to another. We travel the country, taking it off, and putting it on.â€
Eslinger figures the Vitrolite disappeared from the Stanley Theater sometime in the 1950s, likely due to the tendency for careless â€" dare we say, inebriated? â€" drivers to leave Broadway Street and crash into the structure.
That all happened before the Eslingers took over, of course.
When they bought the theater, it was still at a time when theaters could still be found in small towns across the Midwest, though they had seen hard times.
â€œI think what broke some of the original ones was the advent of TV in the 1950s,â€ Eslinger said.
But in his own day, Eslinger had to deal with the rise of the use of VCRs and subsequent technology, and improved transportation systems which made it easier for locals to get over to Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls to the multi-plex movie houses.
â€œIt has been tough at times,â€ he said. â€œYou run into the changes of the way things happen.â€
The toughest time of all was a few years ago, when Broadway Street was torn up for a total rebuild. The theater was closed during the project.
â€œThat damn near broke us. It took two years to come back from that,â€ Eslinger said.
A few years ago, Mussy and Cecelia sold the theater to their children, Louis, Theodore, Gloria and Theresa. Louis, the chief of police in Cadott and Boyd, is the chairman of the board.
Mussy is 84 now and Cecelia 69, but they still do most of the work, with the help of their children and some local volunteers.
The front of the theater is not the only restoration. Some details in the lobby match the look of the old days.
And the wall paintings inside the theater itself are restored original works.
Eslinger said the original design on the side walls was painted by a local artist named Bert Robertson, but it was covered up over the years. About eight years ago â€œthe ghost of Bert Robertson,â€ as Eslinger puts it, brought his work back from the dead. It started to re-emerge.
Old paint was stripped away and Eslingerâ€™s daughter Theresa traced the design out and repainted it.
It seems the Stanley Theater has a history that cannot be denied.
(Photos at Wisconsin Theatres: www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres )
(BOXOFFICE, July 24, 1967)
Larry Kelly, who formerly operated the Majestic and Cudahy theatres in suburban Cudahy and who is mayor of Cudahy, thought he had “troubles” as an exhibitor. Cudahy’s assessor is conducting the first complete reassessment of residential properties in the suburb’s history. Some of the aldermen admitted that when he first arrived they thought he “was a nice guy, the kind that won’t rock the boat.” They continued to think the assessor was a nice guy until they found out what he had been doing. Now, all they can do is await the forthcoming tax bill for the bad news. Kelly agreed that a reassessment was overdue. However, he is worried about the effect on people with fixed incomes.
Maybe that’s because some other websites keep insisting that the MID-CITY was in Racine. The MID-CITY was in the town of Somers in Kenosha County on Sheridan Road (WI 32, or WI 42 at its 1948 opening), a few hundred feet south of Kenosha County Highway A. Its actual exact numerical address isn’t easily available because the ads just listed the location as “Sheridan Road”, and Somers never had a city directory, and Kenosha’s city directory didn’t extend into Somers. There’s a photo at Wisconsin Theatres www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres .
(Racine Journal Times, December 22, 1953)
Start Razing Old Theater
Workmen started Saturday to tear down the State Theater building, Geneva and Pine Sts. to make way for one of two proposed new city parking lots.
The William J. O'Neil Co., Lake Geneva, was awarded the contract to raze the building, along with the adjoining building and the two other structures on another site on Washington St., between Dodge and Pine Sts.
O'Neil reported to Burlington police that over the weekend someone gained entrance to the theater building and stole a quantity of salvage lumber and electrical cable that had been torn from the building.
(Racine Journal Times, Tuesday, January 5, 1954)
City Landmarks Will Disappear With Razing of Two Buildings
Razing of two buildings in downtown Burlington, to make way for a new city parking lot, is destroying two of the city’s oldest landmarks.
The land on which the two buildings are located was obtained by Silas Peck, one of the early settlers of Burlington, from the United States on March 8, 1839. The property on which the State theater building is located was sold to a series of buyers and on Nov. 10, 1870, Charles Bollow purchased it. Then only a small wagon shed was on the property.
Bollow’s heirs sold it to Barney Brehm on April 10, 1895. At that time a Joseph Wackerman had an implement store at the site. The Bollow home stood between the building and Short St. and later was used as a clubhouse for the Burlington Cycle Club.
After Brehm bought the building Bert Mathews operated a livery stable there and later Brehm used the stable to house the horses used in his drayage business.
In 1911 Brehm built an addition to the existing building and remodeled it into a theater. Ed. Westberg and Charles Thiede, both of Racine, who were operating a movie house in the building that now houses the Tobin Drug Store, Chestnut St., took over the operation of the new theater.
In 1926, Willard L. Uglow purchased the building from the Brehm estate and operated the Crystal theater there for only a short time, It remained closed for several years but reopened shortly after the burning of the Orpheum theater left the city with only one movie house. Sound equipment was installed and some vaudeville acts were booked. Later it was remodeled again and the name was changed to the State Theater. J. H. Yeo, owner of the Plaza Theater, leased the building and installed new projection equipment. Yeo operated the theater until a year ago.
The City of Burlington recently purchased the two sites to be used for off street parking lots. A total of $27,500 was paid for the two properties. Workmen are now tearing down the two buildings.
(Accompanied by a photo of the demolition.)
Some photos of the STATE exist at Wisconsin Theatres www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres .
It opened as the CRYSTAL but I have no indication when the name changed at this time. Its location is the corner of Commerce and Pine Street. There’s a distant photo of the STATE just before its demolition (and the Rein building immediately west of it) in the Racine Journal Times of July 2, 1953.
(Racine Daily Journal, Wednesday February 22, 1911)
OPEN NEW THEATER
Racine People Attend Initial Performance at Burlington
Mr. and Mrs. William Tiede were at Burlington last night with twenty other Racine people, attending the opening of the new Crystal theater, Edward Westberg, formerly of Racine, Manager. A handsome souvenir program was issued. Mayor Zimmermann opened the house with a pleasant and appropriate address, and a good program was presented. Master Harry Bernstein took part and the other numbers were up to date. The theater is a handsome and up to date place of amusement and one the people of Burlington are proud of. Mr. Westberg is a thorough theater man and will see to it that the Burlington people get all of the high grade attractions and pictures in the business.
May 26, 1953: Willard L. Uglow
PALMYRA â€" Funeral services for Willard L. Uglow, 56, former
Palmyra resident who died in Burlington, were held there Saturday
with burial in the Burlington Cemetery.
The son of William and Mary Bucks Uglow, he was born Nov. 2, 1897, in Palmyra . He was married to Doris Steele, Whitewater, in 1919. He opened the Crystal Theater in Burlington and formerly owned the State Theater there before retiring.
Surviving are his wife and a son, William, at home.
A car driven by David Maglet, 35, of 218 Allen Avenue, Donora, hurtled into the Samuel H. Gaskill residence on Fourth Street, North Charleroi, Sunday morning at 6:30 o'clock, wrecking the porch of the home and the car.
John Barna, 33, of 265 McKean Avenue, Donora, a passenger in the automobile, was seriously injured, receiving a possible fractured skull. His condition is critical.
Both the passenger and driver were removed to the Charleroi-Monesson hospital for treatment of their injuries. Maglet was found to have a bad cut on his forehead. Three stitches were taken to close it, after which he was removed to the Charleroi jail.
On his arrival at the jail it was found he had received a bad cut on his lower right leg. He did not know he had been cut in the leg until his arrival at the jail, he said.
The two men were returning to Donora from Charleroi. The car had started up the hill when in attempting to negotiate the first turn, the driver lost contiol. The car bounded over a high place in the curb and crashed into the porch of the Gaskill home. The steps were wrecked and several concrete blocks in front of the house were moved by the impact. One of the corner posts of the porch was also moved out of place. Damage to the house will approximate $150, while the car was damaged to the extent of $250.
Maglet was released from the local jail when bond of $500 was furnished after a hearing tonight at 7o'clock before Justice of the Peace Harry W. Scott, of North Charleroi, on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Maglet, the driver, is an operator at the Princess theatre in Donora, and the car which he was driving is owned by Maurice Fruhlinger, of Windber, owner of the theatre. It is a 1937 model coach.
After the accident, Maglet was examined by a physician and an affidavit was furnished to the effect that “he was under the influence of liquor”, Officer George Dennis stated.
(April 24, 1937)
Bus Station To Be Closed In Donora
Donorans will be without a bus station for the first time in
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Toraaseski of Donora, who have served as ticket agents in the community for over 20 years, announced today that they will no longer continue to do so and expect to close the bus station at 428 McKean Ave. by tomorrow night.
The Tomaseskis will continue to operate the taxi service from a new location at Tenth St. and McKean Ave. where they will also operate a service station.
The Tomaseskis sold tickets for 88 Transit Lines of Belle Vernon and Greyhound Lines as well as handling freight transported by bus.
Officials of 88 Transit were not available this morning to comment on whether another ticket agent would be obtained for Donora.
Passengers boarding the buses in Donora will pay their fare to the drivers.
Tomaseskis started as ticket agents in 1945 when the bus station was located in the train station on Eighth St. and Meldon Ave. When the train station was razed, they moved their ticket agency to Caprio’s Restaurant which was located across the street from the present location.
When Caprio’s when out of business, the agency was moved to the present location, the former Princess Theatre.
Monessen celebrated a revamped movie theater as the Manos opened Dec. 3. 1932. The Monessen Amusement Co. had taken over the old Olympic Theater, built in 1912, and in the opinion of The Daily Independent, transformed it “into a veritable palace.”
(The Valley Independent, April 25, 1968)
Manos theatre chain adds a Valley drive-in
(May 8, 1958, The Daily Independent, Monesen PA)
Donora Theatre To Close Sunday
The Harris Theatre in Donora will close its doors after the last performance Sunday night, Mrs. I. Russell Davis, manager, announced
The Warner Brothers-owned theatre is being closed for the summer months because of present economic conditions, it was stated.
Mrs. Davis said it is hoped the theatre will open again in Sepember.
Wisconsin Theatres www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatresforum member Joe Zollner has been monitoring the PARADISE situation and provided the following updates:
Paradise Theater may be saved after all
By MARK SCHAAF
Posted: July 2, 2010
Former Rosebud Cinema Drafthouse owner Jay Hollis has purchased the Paradise
Theater, but the building’s future remains murky and a raze-or-repair order is still in effect.
West Allis Development Director John Stibal said the city is waiting to see what Hollis will do. Stibal said plans could include something similar to the Rosebud, but Hollis has the building listed as being for sale.
Hollis could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.
The city granted Hollis a six-month extension on the raze-or-repair order, in the hopes progress will be made on renovations. But West Allis officials won’t hesitate to act sooner than six months if the building continues to sit idle and deteriorate, Stibal said.
The Paradise Theater, 6229 W. Greenfield Ave., has fallen badly into disrepair to the point the city’s Building Inspection Department issued the order in the spring.
Hollis expressed interest in the buying the Paradise Theater last winter, but plans back then did not materialize.
Hollis opened Wauwatosa’s Rosebud Cinema, where movie-goers can relax on sofas and drink beer while watching films, in 1999. He sold the business in 2007.
Some other links:
http://www.westallisnow.com/news/78527167.html “City has interest in buying Paradise Theater” By MARK SCHAAF http://www.westallisnow.com/news/79320562.html “City may find after-life in Paradise Theater” View link “Ex-Rosebud Cinema operator interested in Paradise Theater” By Tom Dayk http://www.westallisnow.com/news/92891499.html “Paradise may come to an end” By MARK SCHAAF
http://www.westallisnow.com/news/97669169.html “Paradise Theater may be saved after all” By MARK SCHAAF
As the Lucille Theatre, it apparently closed in December, 1952.
(THURS., JUNE 11, 1942, THE DAILY NEWS, LUDINGTON, MICHIGAN, PAGE 9)
Ludington Has Two Fine Theatres
Lyric and Center Are Remodeled
Work on Butterfield Show Houses Expected to Be Wound Up This Week
Extensive remodeling and redecorating work at Ludington’s two theatres, the Lyric and Center theatres, making them two of the most modern, most elaborate theatres to be found in communities of comparable size anywhere in Michigan, will be wound up this week.
Center theatre, formerly known as the Kozy, was finished and put in operation last weekend. The theatre was completely rebuilt and re-equipped from the basement up. Interior was finished in knotty pine and a complete new lobby, front, canopy and marquee were installed.
Lyric theatre, where remodeling work has been carried on during off-theatre hours without necessity of closing the place, is expected to be completed this coming week-end. A new stoker and a new ventilating system are being installed, plus finishing touches on a new, enlarged box office. A complete new all-metal canopy, marquee and large theatre sign, elaborately illuminated with combination neon and fluorescent lighting, have already been installed, along with a new enameled front in cream and red. A new screen and new and improved projection equipment, new auditorium lighting and complete new streamlined theatre seating are among the other changes. Both motion picture theatres are in regular operation. They are operated by Butterfield Michigan Theatres Co., of which Wilfred Green is local manager for both houses.
It was back in March of 1954 when the beautiful Center Theatre in Ludington became another darkened motion picture house. It was a common trend across the entire country as the novelty of television began to take its toll.
Now â€" almost six years later â€" the lights of the Center Theatre
will glow again. However, there’ll be no Barrymores or western stars or cartoon characters on the silver screen because the Center is no
longer a theatre. “Extensive remodeling is under way at the present time to convert the former theatre into a plush canteen for young adults of high school and college age and will be known as ‘Center Town.’ Don and Shirley Wilkinson of Ludington have obtained the lease to the premises and will operate in association with Tommy Roy, top West Michigan disc-jockey and sportscaster. Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson were formerly partners in a local restaurant business.
‘Center Town’ will cater to the teen set of nine surrounding communities and will feature a sunken dance-floor and an ultra-modern
stage. A raised terrace will feature beautiful booths, tables, a
coke bar and a sandwich counter.
All-ceramic tile smoking rooms for both boys and girls will be another innovation. Also highlighted will be rainbow-hued lighting and plush carpeting.
Record hops will be a regular popular feature at ‘Center Town.'
Roller skating is being considered for the pre-teen set. Mom and Dad will have their nights, too, with special activities designed for them.
'Center Town’ is scheduled to open about mid-December and the first major attraction will be a mammoth New Year’s Eve Party.