Showing 126 - 150 of 271 comments
The Empire Leicester Square originally contained a 4/24 Wurlitzer that was played and recorded by famed US theatre organist Jesse Crawford circa 1933. As I recall, Crawford’s version of “My Love Song” was recorded here during this tour.
The organ was removed from the theatre around 40 years or so ago and has been in a private home near London ever since. The organ is in fine shape and is played regularly. It has been described as being the finest sounding Wurlitzer in a home in the UK.
The Restoration efforts at the State started in 1992 by four of us, Brad Harlan, Gary Parks, Martin Schmidt, and myself started the installation of the organ. Ernie Smith was our guru for hositing the heavy organ parts up into the chambers.
Not too long after the organ was finished (1994), we started turning our attention to the theatre itself. With the exception of the removal of the UA-added balcony dividing wall, EVERYTHING you see in the auditorium was done by the four of us. None of us are any longer associated with the theatre, nor will we be under the present conditions.
I have sold the organ to the present owner of the theatre and am walking away from the place. The present owner has installed new seats on the main floor and loges, and restored the seats in teh upper balcony.
Much still needs to be done to bring the theatre to first class condition such as restoration of the ceiling, the upper most parts of the side walls and above the proscenium and a proper restoration of the stage. The exterior is still as bad a blight as it has been in the last few decades. However, the general interior effect, as far as the public is concerned, is a good impression and that is what it is all about—these are the people who will or will not keep the place open, not the present owner or any future owner. Without the public support of any ediface such as this, the place will fail.
1977 Not 1997!!! Typos!
We heard the 3/10 Barton organ during the CATOE (Chicago Area Theatre Organ Enthusiasts) hosting of the ATOS convention in 1977.
Ron Rhode played a very nice program on the organ. The theatre was tired in 1997, but still intact and worthy of preservation. It seems to me even the organ has since been broken up for parts after going to a restaurant somewhere.
Very good. Some of those organs were like that. It seems to me one of the early Chicago radio station Bartons was also a divided manual job. I think it was an early studio instrument for either WBBM or WGN. WGN eventually had a Wurlitzer/Kimball but an earlier organ was a Barton. I do not know if any of these divided manual Barton organs are still around or not. I have two Wurlitzers here that have a “divided manual”, but this was for a Concert Roll player—even though the manual has stops for both bass and treble parts of the manual.
Originally being a Saenger theatre, this theatre must have once had a Robert Morton pipe organ in it. Does anyone know what happened to the organ? I would guess the siaze of the organ was somewhere between 6 and 10 ranks.
I wonder if that 1920 Barton 3/8 was not one of those early jobs with the divided Solo/Third manual.
Information above is partly wrong. Don Story of Tucson pointed out that the organ in the Phoenix Fox was bought by the late Bill Brown and it eventually broke up for parts. Opus 473 did go to the Phoenix Fox.
However, the similar 2/9 Wurlitzer style 210 that was original to the Phoenix Rialto Theatre is the organ that is now being restored in Phoenix College where it has been installed for a few decades.
Thanks for the link Ken. The new 14 screen multiplex on the site of the old Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal is a very nice looking building—for a modern structure.
Evan after painting, if you know where to look on the wall of the brick building next door to the new Maya Cinemas, you can still see the outline of the Crystal’s balcony. Further back in an airspace between the old and new building is a wall that still has stencil work on it from the Brown’s Opera House/T & D/Crystal.
For some reason, the approximate date of this theatre’s operation failed to enter in the above description. The Colonial Theatre was in operation circa 1912 and probably opened about 1910 or so.
The Masonic Lodge was located above this theatre. Around 1928, the Masons built a new lodge hall a couple blocks north of the 1925 Grove Theatre and a short block east of Lighthouse. It is still in use while the 1925 Grove Theatre was destroyed in a 1951 fire.
The Grove Theatre was rebuilt within the original 1925 walls in a typical modern cinema style and reopened in 1952. The Grove building still stands, but it has been so changed that it is almost unrecognizable that it ever was a theatre—unless you go behind the building and see the blister on the former stage wall that house the
speaker array in 1952.
Newspaper accounts claimed the 1925 Grove seated 700 on the main floor and 300 in the balcony. Ken Roe told me yesterday that his documents show the Grove claimed 700 seats in 1941.
The State Lake opened with a Chicago-built W. W. Kimball pipe organ of 3 manuals. This organ was replaced by a Style 240 3 manual 13 rank Wurlitzer in late 1927. The console was factory finished in white. The dummy facade pipes on the chambers were typical of the period. Landsburgh did similar touches at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco and tt the Hill Street Theatre in LA.
This organ was eventually sold to Vern Gregory in California where it was installed for a number of years in the San Francisco Avenue Theatre. The organ was removed from the Avenue in late 1983 and eventually was installed in the tiny Town Theatre in San Jose', CA.
When Indian films took over that theatre, that was the end of the State-Lake Wurlitzer in that building.
It is my understanding the organ has been sold and shipped to a buyer in Florida.
Wurlitzer opus 473 was moved from the Theatre Visalia when that theatre closed circa 1930. The organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Fox West Coast organ man, Louis A. Maas and installed in the Phoenix Fox. Maas kept the organ relatively intact and added an English Post Horn. Wel before the theatre was demolished, parts of this of organ were installed in a Phoenix area college. Every once in a while there is a flurry of activity to restore the organ, but, as far as I know, the organ is not in very good condition.
Is it absolutely certain that the Grand Theatre was on the same site as the present Ohio Theatre? My understanding was that the Grand Theatre stood on the east side a side street about 4 lots north of Main Street. I was told the driveway that services the Elks Lodge was where the Grand stood before it burned. The Grand Theatre contained a 2 manual 4 rank Kilgen Theatre Pipe Organ.
I recall being in the Ohio when it was still a single screen theatre
back about 1961. It was a very nice theatre. I have not been in the Ohio since the multiple screen format was started.
Hopefully this church has not done to the Stamm what some useless invent-a-church did in Salinas at the former El Rey Theatre. This wonderful theatre was rented to some home-brew church that decided the one-of-a-kind wall murals were too risque' and painted them all white. Then the stupid church lost the building and it the former El Rey Theatre sits vacant.
This was the message in an article Fe. 3 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel"
“CAPITOLA â€” New owners are poised to take charge of the historic Capitola Theater, and city leaders have high hopes for the future of the oceanfront site. Again.
The hope is that the new owners â€" whose names were withheld by those involved in the transaction until it is completed â€" will demolish the now-empty theater and build a 50-room boutique hotel with a small convention facility."
I was able to see the exterior of the Capitola yesterday 2/7/06 and the place looks like it has been closed for some time. Remains of a message is still on the reader board of the marquee.
The El Rey Theatre was such a cool looking theatre. The well-dressed stage area (such as it was) was always very nice looking. And the murals on the sidewalls were unlike any other theatre in the Central Coast area.
For the most part, the exterior is quite intact and could look great again with some restoration. The building itself is a solid reinforced concrete structure.
Now, the theatre has been closed so long, and thanks to that miserable church the murals destroyed, and no seats, it would take a fortune to bring it up to code and restore.
I was looking at the building last week. Judging by the relationship of the rear wall to the north side exit, the stage cannot be more than 8' deep—just enough room for some big theatre speakers.
To Save the Fox California: Been there done that. We even met with the City Manager and Mayor. Zero, zip, ziltch. Don’t forget the Silliness mentality that, since the city budget was strapped, they decided to balance the shortfall by trying to close the city libraries to save money.
Of course did ONE of the city beaurocrats ever take a pay cut? Did they ever come up with a viable means to trim the city budget? Of course not. This was all a punishment from the City to the citizens for not passing a utility tax a few years ago. If the Fox were given to the city at a “fire sale price”, they would probably take it and then spend the next 20 years trying to figure out what to do with it.
The City of Silliness has a stellar reputation for taking forever to get things accomplished.
The City of Silliness was a pain in the neck to the theatre with snap inspections, and beaurocratic BS that only ended when a fine local attny. did pro bono work for the FOX Foundation and got the City off the Fox’s back (and ours.)
We have become disgusted with the entire idea and removed the Wurlitzer pipe organ. It is going into the Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute.
Back in 1968, the City of Silliness was offered the Fox and the former Elks lodge next door. Adequately remodeled and restored, this would have provided a very nice civic facility right in the heart of the city. Rather than that, the City built the Sherwood Hall well out of the city center, with no hotels nearby, no stage house, terrible, noisy portable seating in the front half of the house—but it was new and modern, not some tired old movie theatre;
their 1968 attitude, not mine.
My guess as to what the City of Silliness would do with the Fox if they owned it? After 20 years of trying to figure it all out, tear it down so there is a pass-thru from Main Street to the parking lot behind the Fox.
Sorry for the sour attitude, but, been there, done that.
You would be amazed at the difference of the theatre from then to now. It is by no means totally restored now, but the overall effect is pretty good.
Depending upon when you were in Monterey, there were once three major downtown theatres. The 1917 Strand/Rio/Regency still stands across the street from the State Theatre. Other than a facade, there is virtually nothing left of the original interior.
The 1904 T.A. Work Opera House/Monterey Theatre was demolished in 1967 during the urban renewal craze.
Smaller theatres such as the Star and Bagby Opera House/Rex Theatre were in operation thru the mid 1920s.
As to nearly intact, the State Theatre has remained the best preserved.
The present triangular marquee is what is left of the original rectangular marquee. I remember the original marquee—by then painted a dull white—and it was much more attractive and fitting to the building. The chopped up marquee was done in 1967 when UA took over the State from United California Theatres.
A blade sign has no purpose on the facade of the State Theatre as it would take away from the orante detail that is above the entrance. Once/if the facade is restored, it will all make sense. The State has had some really dumb signs over the years. That 4 story monster
was the first. That sign was reduced by a story or two and remained the longest. Once that was removed, two clunky small angular signs were protruded into the upper portion of the facade on each side, near the urn.
Further, if you look at the facade, you will see that the upper 10' or so does not match what is below it. The reason for this is simple.
The original facade was “raised” for the vertical signs via a clunky sheet metal cap that remains to this day, not slowly enough rusting back to nature.
Blade signs are fine in the right circumstances. In Monterey, it was not original to the facade and each time some pile of sheet metal was added to the facade, it took away from the original elegant design.
The URL for BANDA Recordings is:
Scroll down through the list and you will find recording of GW at the Rialto Wurlitzer.
>I discovered how wonderful “silent” movies and the theater organ >are, at the Rialto in the early 1960’s – first “The Mark of Zorro” >and then “The Eagle”. George Wright was organist.
>posted by RobXV on Jul 5, 2005 at 2:38pm
The organist for the silent films was Gaylord Carter. George Wright rarely, if ever, accompanied feature silent films.
George Wright did play some wonderful concert series at the Rialto over the years. He also recorded a legendary album for DOT records on the Rialto Wurlitzer. Many years after the organ was removed, George released some more recordings made at the Rialto from archival recordings on his own BANDA label. These CDs are still available. If I can find the website URL, I will post it later.
Sorry for the semi-double posting. The website is acting nuts tonight. My first post was sent and a reply claimed “page not found”; but, obviously it did. With all the hits, Cinema Treasures is “desperate with success.”
Unfortunately for the GST, Mat (Matt) is no longer the manager, hence the rosy-looking ad that appeared in today’s front page version of Cinema Treasures.
Any theatre that catches Matt for a staff member will have a real PLUS on their side. Matt is a superb person to work with who quietly went about his job in fine order. Matt worked under conditions at the theatre that I will only go into via “private” e-mail.
Unfortunately for the GST, Mat (Matt) is no longer at the theatre as manager, hence the rosy-looking ad that appeared on the front page of the Cinema Treasures for today.
Matt was a superb person to work with who did his job superbly under circumstances that I will only discuss under private e-mail! Any theatre that gets Matt as a manager will have a real PLUS for their staff.
Patsy—The theatre opened without a blade sign and remained so until 1929 when that monstrous ugly 4-story contraption was added to the facade.
Since this posting site is for the search for a new manager at the GST, we should carry this or any theatre history conversation on the Cinema Treasures page for the Monterey State Theatre (which I cannot get to right now because the Cinema Treasures theatre locator page is overloaded—again.)