Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theater on Aug 30, 2018 at 11:13 pm

The August 21, 1919 issue of The Memphis Democrat (PDF here) has ads for both the Princess and a house called the Majestic Theatre (actually there are two ads for the Princess, and both theaters are mentioned several times in the text on the page.)

The 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory lists two houses at Memphis, Texas: the Princess and the Opera House. I’m thinking it’s possible that the Opera House became the Majestic. Later either the Majestic or the Princess might have become a house called the Palace, and the other might have become the Gem

Issues of Exhibitors' Herald from early 1926 have capsule movie reviews from two Memphis exhibitors, W. H. Hall of the Gem Theatre and Mrs. Edgar Adams, of the Palace theatre. The Gem is also mentioned in the October 17, 1925 issue of Motion Picture News.

The 1926 FDY lists only the 500-seat Palace at Memphis, but the 1927 edition lists both the Palace and the 450-seat Gem. Those two continue to be listed through 1931. In 1932 the 450-seat Gem is gone and the 450-seat Ritz appears. The Palace and the Ritz both continue in the FDY listings through 1957, the last year the FDY listed all the theaters in the U.S. by town.

The Texas Theatre first appeared in the 1934 FDY, and was last listed in 1954. There is a possibility that the house on Main Street that we have listed as the Texas as actually the location of the Palace, but I’ve commented about that on the Texas Theatre page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Aug 30, 2018 at 11:11 pm

The Texas Theatre first appears in the FDY in 1934, and is last listed in 1954. It was outlasted by the Ritz Theatre, first listed in 1932, and the Palace Theatre, listed in 1926 but probably older. Both the Ritz and the Palace were still being listed in 1957, the last year the FDY listed all the theaters in the U.S. by town.

The fourth picture from the bottom of this web page is of the theater at 611 W. Main Street, but the caption says it is the Palace. The page was submitted by someone named Dorman Holub, apparently in 2009, and the Internet tells me that Dorman Holub is a resident of Graham, Texas, and an expert on regional history. Memphis is quite some distance from Graham (about 200 miles), but I suppose in Texas it might be considered almost local. Holub doesn’t cite a source for his claim that the theater at 611 Min was the Palace, but then I can’t find a source cited for Cinema Treasures' claim that it was the Texas either.

Information about the theaters in Memphis is sparse in the Internet, so I’m not expecting this conundrum to be cleared up soon, unless someone from the town who remembers the theater when it was open shows up here, or somebody finds a photo from when the theater signage was still on the building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theater on Aug 30, 2018 at 10:13 pm

The Ritz was first listed in the FDY in 1932, with 450 seats. Because a house called the Gem Theatre, also with 450 seats, was last listed by the FDY in 1931, I thought perhaps that there was simply a name change, but if the earlier Sanborn maps show no theaters on Noel Street I guess couldn’t have been that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Sunset Theatre on Aug 30, 2018 at 6:07 pm

All I’ve been able to discover about the Sunset Theatre is that it was open by December of 1937 (it was mentioned in the December 18 issue of The Fresno Bee) and that around the end of 1949 or beginning of 1950 it was taken over buy a guy named Giles “Tiny” Turner, who operated it at least through 1952.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyceum Theatre on Aug 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm

This page about the Lyceum from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History doesn’t mention movies at the house. However, Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland does include the Lyceum, saying that it had a Biograph projector installed in late 1886, and in 1897 it was the Cleveland house that presented the movies of the Fitzsimmons-Corbett boxing match which attracted so much attention to film as a medium for displaying current events. But the Lyceum operated almost entirely as a live theater venue throughout its history.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Grand Theatre on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:55 pm

Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland says that the Lyric Theatre closed in 1908 and reopened in 1909 as the Grand Theatre. The Grand closed in 1921, putting an end to the house as a movie theater, but the following year it reopened as a burlesque house called the New Empire Theatre, replacing the recently razed Empire Theatre on Huron Street. The theater went permanently dark in 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Empress Theatre on Aug 29, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland says that the Priscilla Theatre opened in 1910. Dutka also notes that, as the Empress Theatre, the house remained in operation less than a month after opening on Christmas Day, 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Aug 29, 2018 at 9:49 pm

According to Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland (and other sources), the Cinema/Lake/Esquire Theatre was at 1630 Euclid, across the street and a couple of doors east from the Palace Theatre. The Esquire closed on May 28, 1951.

But the Esquire’s conversion to a television studio in the 1950s did not mark the end of its career as a theater. In the late 1970s it was the home of the Center Repertory Theatre, a group which was a member of the LOTR (League of Resident Theatres.) Dutka says the television studio moved out in 1975 and the theater group occupied the house from 1978 into 1980, but a Facebook page for the theater group says it was there from 1974 into 1980.

This Facebook page has a lengthy reminiscence about the Center Repertory Theatre’s time in the house by one of its members, Tom Fulton. After the theater group folded the building sat empty and decaying for a number of years before being demolished in the mid-1980s for a parking lot.

Dutka notes that more recently the parking lot itself was obliterated for a southward extension of East 17th Street. Comparing current street view with vintage photos, it can be seen that the building once next door to the theater on the east is now occupied by the Bonfoey Gallery, and is now on the corner of the East 17th Street extension where the Esquire once stood.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gaiety Theatre on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Alan F. Dutka‚Äôs Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland says that the Gaiety Theatre operated for thirteen years, from 1917 to 1930. It was never wired for sound. During the theater’s relatively brief life the management of the Gaiety carved out a niche for the house by becoming Cleveland’s principal venue for the many sensationalist movies, usually featuring sexual themes, which found a ready audience in the venturesome, pre-code 1920s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Reel Theatre on Aug 29, 2018 at 3:17 pm

Alan F. Dutka’s Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Cleveland says that the Reel Theatre opened as a second run house charging five and ten cents for admission. Manager George W. Ryder billed the house as “the most beautiful small picture theatre in the world.”

The Reel Theatre featured a Fotoplayer to provide musical accompaniment to the silent movies. A demonstration of a Fotoplayer can be found on this page of the Silent Cinema Society’s web site.

The conversion of a number of old vaudeville houses to movies and the construction of several new and larger movie theaters in Cleveland soon outclassed the Reel Theatre, and it was dismantled in 1919.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lincoln Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 11:09 pm

The Cleveland Architects Database identifies James W. Chrisford as the designer of the Lincoln Theatre. It opened in 1924.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 10:54 pm

The Cleveland Architects Database lists a 1907 project by architect James M. Bostick for a “[t]heatre, store and apartments for the Opera House Company” at Lorain, Ohio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Keith's Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 10:41 pm

Alan F. Dutka’s 2016 book Historic Movie Theaters of Downtown Clevelandprovides some updated information about the Prospect Theatre (Google Books preview.) Dutka says that the stock company remained in the Prospect only seventeen weeks after opening in April, 1904, before the Keith circuit took over the house.

After moving its two-a-day vaudeville to the Hippodrome in 1908, Keith ran the Prospect as a movie house, combination house, or (briefly) a live playhouse until closing in 1923. The building was still standing, though unrecognizable due to multiple remodeling jobs, into the early 21st century.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Union Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 8:07 pm

The Cleveland Landmarks Commission lists the Union Theatre at 10506 Union Avenue as a 1917 project designed by architect Ralph M(artin) Hulett (PDF here.) The document attributes two other Cleveland theaters to Hulett: the Reel Theatre, 2049 East 9th Street (1914) and the Gaiety Theatre, 1746 East 9th Street (1917.) Both have been demolished. He also designed two theaters in Akron, Ohio.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pearl Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 6:44 pm

The Pearl Theatre, 4256 Pearl Road (then an aka for this stretch of West 25th Street), is listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. In 1916 the Pearl was owned and operated by Otto and Joseph Tschumper, and a 1909 city directory lists a tin, copper and sheet iron working firm called Tschumper Bros. at 4256 Pearl Road. I don’t know if they converted their workshop into a theater or built a new theater on or adjacent to its site, but they clearly went into the theater business sometime between 1909 and 1914.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Garden Theater on Aug 28, 2018 at 5:51 pm

The Euclid Avenue Garden Theatre was a different house from the Garden Theatre on West 25th Street. Also called the Euclid Garden Theatre, it was on Euclid Avenue “…nearly opposite East 46th Street” and was used as a summer theater, the home of comic opera, according to the 1910 book A History of Cleveland, Ohio by Samuel Peter Orth.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Penn Square Theatre on Aug 28, 2018 at 5:19 pm

The Penn Square Building designed by George Grieble must have been a different building than the Penn Square Theatre. A Cleveland Landmarks Commission page about architect Morris Gleichman (PDF here) lists the Penn Square as his design, dated 1911. It is listed as “Penn Square Motion Picture Theatre for Joseph J. Klein” with the address 5409-15 Euclid Avenue. An item in the August, 1911 issue of Motography also mentions Klein in connection with the Penn Square:

“The Penn Square is the name of a new moving picture theater opened at East Fifty-Fifth street and Euclid avenue, Cleveland, by the Penn Square Amusement Company, of which the following are the directors: S. M. Hexter, Louis Klein, Joseph J. Klein, Syl Flesheim and Frank I. Klein.”
The Landmarks Commission list attributes five Cleveland theater designs to Gleichman. The other four include the Empire and Prospect, already attributed at Cinema Treasures, and a 1907 house called the Majestic, 1775-83 West 25th Street (but listed at 1771 West 25th in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory,) and a house called the Lafayette, with no date and no address. Neither is yet listed at Cinema Treasures.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brockville Arts Centre on Aug 27, 2018 at 8:28 pm

This timeline at the Brockville Arts Centre’s official web site says that the building was erected in 1858 as a town hall, market house and fire station. In 1880 it was converted into a theater called the Opera House.

The 1911 expansion of the building, after which it reopened as the New Theatre, was designed by architect Andrew Stuart Allaster, who had opened an office in Brockville in 1909, according to his page of the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada.

The timeline notes that the house was closed at the time of the 1937 fire, having gone dark in 1929 due to declining revenues.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rideau Theatre on Aug 27, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Cecil Burgess was the architect of the Rideau Theatre (Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada.) An entirely new auditorium was built behind the 1915 Princess Theatre, which was then converted into an entrance.

Burgess also designed major alterations to the Balderson Theatre at Perth, Ontario, in 1930, as well as designing a legitimate theater in Ottawa, the Little Theatre Playhouse, completed in 1928.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Balderson Theatre on Aug 27, 2018 at 8:08 pm

The original architect of the Balderson Theatre was Andrew Stuart Allaster(Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada.) The house underwent major alterations in 1930, with plans by Ottawa architect Cecil Burgess.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Clewiston Theater on Aug 26, 2018 at 2:58 pm

The NRHP registration form for this theater (PDF here) says that it was designed by Palm Beach architect Chester A. Cone, who also designed the Prince Theatre in Pahokee. The registration form also has information about several other movie theaters in the region. It also notes that this was the second location for the Dixie Crystal Theatre, the first house of its name having been opened in 1934.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harlem Theatre on Aug 26, 2018 at 2:52 pm

The Harlem Theatre was most likely located on Harlem Academy Avenue, in the town of Harlem’s very small business district. Harlem is not an incorporated city, the Census Bureau classing it as a census designated place, and the Postal Service considers it a part of Clewiston.

It is possible (though not confirmed) that the building in this Google street view housed the Harlem Theatre. It has a bit of streamline modern detailing, a small theater-like entrance lobby, and no ground floor fenestration on the visible side wall. It’s about the right size for 300 seats. The cafe next door has the address 1009 Harlem Academy Avenue, and the theater-like building would probably be 1007.

This article about Harlem from the January 11, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly indicates that the town had a movie theater in the 1960s and 1970s, but it doesn’t give the name or location. Most likely it was the Harlem. Eric Ledell Smith’s African American Theater Buildings lists three theaters for Clewiston as a whole in the 1940s and 1950s, the other two African American houses having been the Lincoln Theatre and the Queen Theatre, but I doubt the Harlem district could have supported three houses, so those two were probably elsewhere in Clewiston.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Victoria Theatre on Aug 26, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Clarence Castleman Bulger, architect of the Victoria Theatre, began his career in 1903 as the junior partner in the firm of C. W. Bulger & Son, after completing his BA degree at the University of Chicago. His father, Charles William Bulger, died in 1922.

Clarence Bulger was best known for designing churches, he and his father between them having completed more than 75 of them in at least 20 states. They also designed many impressive houses for well-to-do clients, and what is considered the first skyscraper in Texas, the 15-story Praetorian Building in Dallas, completed in 1909. Clarence Bulger died in 1956.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rivoli Theatre on Aug 23, 2018 at 6:06 pm

An article from the December 4, 2007 edition of The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, said that the building which had once housed the Rivoli Theatre in Colver was to be demolished the next week. The building, which was located on Reese Avenue, had been built in 1911 and had been vacant for fourteen years.

At one time the Rivoli had been operated by an Altoona-based chain called Rivoli & Hollywood Theatres, which ran houses called the Rivoli in Altoona, Beaverdale, Colver, Cresson, Ebensburg, and Portage, and houses called the Hollywood Theatre in Hastings and Johnstown.

The July 12, 1931 issue of Film Daily said that the Colver Theatre in Colver would be open only two days a week. The Colver first appears in the FDY in 1929. No theaters are listed for Colver in 1930. The Colver Theatre returns in 1931 and 1932 with 400 seats. It was listed as closed in 1933, and listed in 1934 with 348 seats. In 1935 it is gone and the Rivoli appears, with 350 seats. It seems most likely that the Colver and Rivoli were the same house, bought by Rivoli & Hollywood Theatres sometime in 1934 and re-branded with the chain’s favorite name.

From 1926 through 1928 the FDY lists a Strand Theatre at Colver, but gives no seating capacity. Still, it seems likely that this, too, was just an earlier name for the Rivoli.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avon Theatre on Aug 23, 2018 at 4:49 pm

The Mount Royal Theatre was built in 1913, and was active into 1945. The original Art Nouveau design was obliterated at some point, probably when it was remodeled and reopened as the Avon Theatre. This web page has a drawing of the original facade, which was designed by architect Joseph-Arthur Godin.