Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theater on Sep 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm

An item in the July 3, 1927, issue of The Film Daily said that the Sutherlin Theatre in Sutherlin, Oregon, had been sold to J, Higginbottom, so the Rand was not the town’s first movie theater. The 1927 Film Daily Yearbook lists a 300-seat Gem Theatre at Sutherlin. As the town was still quite small (1927 FDY lists the population as 515,) it is unlikely to have had two theaters, so the Sutherlin Theatre Mr. Higginbottom bought around the middle of the year was probably the same house as the Gem the FDY listed in January.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Sep 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

Here’s an example from the De Luxe Theatre at Hutchinson, Kansas, of old-school, local movie publicity, or “ballyhoo,” as the industry called it in those days, as reported in the July 24, 1923, issue of The Film Daily:

“Street Cars Boost ‘Souls’

“Hutchinson, Kans — The street car system of Hutchinson, was roped 100 percent, into helping exploit ‘Souls for Sale’ at the De Luxe. Each car on the system carried a four foot banner on the front fender.

“At a cost of $1.75 an hour an old street car was chartered and each side covered with a 24-sheet poster. The car was run through the city between the hours of 11 to 2, and from 5 to 8 the day before the opening and each day of the run.

“Cut-outs from the one-sheet were placed in 10 conspicuous windows; a shadow-box, 25 feet long, with lettering patterned after that on the six-sheet, was placed in front of the theater; a register was placed in the lobby in which girls who wished to receive a letter from Eleanor Boardman wrote their names.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Johnson Hall Theater on Sep 20, 2014 at 12:47 am

A Flickr album with eight photos showing the rough condition of the third floor space of the Johnson Hall Theatre can be found at this link. Mike Miclon, head of the Johanson Hall Performing Arts Center, was reported in the local newspaper last May saying that the organization intended to have the third-floor opera hall ready for full time operation within five years.

This articleposted at on September 14 shows the auditorium set up with temporary seating for the first performance in three decades, a concert held last Saturday.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crest Theater on Sep 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm

The November 23, 1994, issue of the Mineral County Independent-News, published at Hawthorne, Nevada, had a column prepared by the Nevada Historical Society which gave a brief biography of a Nevada pioneer named Henry Anderson. It says that “…he built the Wigwam Theatre Block on Second Street in downtown Reno in 1908-09….”

The Wigwam Theatre in Reno is mentioned in the February 13, 1910, issue of The San Francisco Call. At that time it was presenting live performances.

Here is a photo of the Wigwam Theatre which the University of Nevada dates to the period 1930-1948, but I think it’s more likely from 1924, the year the movie the stagecoach parked out front is promoting, The Iron Horse, was released.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granada Theatre on Sep 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

The March 8, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had a couple of paragraphs about the T & D circuit’s theater in Reno, which had opened recently. I haven’t yet been able to establish a definite connection between the T&D house and the original Granada, but I suspect that they were the same theater. The T & D was reported to have 1,600 seats, and the original Granada certainly had a large enough footprint to accommodate that many. The only other candidate, the Majestic, was built in 1910.

This weblog post, mostly about the Majestic, says that the Granada opened in 1915 as the Rialto Theatre and was renamed the Granada in 1926. It might have been called the Rialto for a while, but all the first Turner & Dahnken houses in a given city that I’ve come across so far were originally called the T & D Theatre.

Here are the paragraphs about the unnamed T & D house at Reno from the 1916 article:

“The Reno, Nev., house of this concern, representing its first venture outside California, was opened a short time ago and has been doing an exceedingly heavy business ever since. The opening attraction was ‘The Ne'er-o-Well’ and at the opening performances the crowd could not be handled through the main entrance, necessitating the use of the exits. Governor Boyle, Mayor Byington and many men prominent in the political and commercial life of the State were present at the opening and brief speeches were made, the firm of Turner & Dahnken being represented by E. B. Johnson. Later a banquet was tendered by R. L. Fulton, of the Reno Amusement Company to the stockholders of the concern and the honored guests.

“This theater is the finest in the state of Nevada and was designed by architect George A. Ferris. It has a seating capacity of more than 1600, about one-third of the seats being in the balcony. Music is furnished by the magnificent organ which attracted so much attention last year in the Palace of Mines at the Exposition at San Francisco. The new house is under the management of R. G. Hunter, formerly of Vacaville, Calif.”

Architect George A. Ferris established his practice at Reno in 1906, and became one of the region’s leading architects, designing such landmarks as the El Cortez Hotel in Reno and the Governor’s mansion in Carson City, as well as a large number of the public schools in the region.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about T & D Theatre on Sep 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm

The article about the proposed T & D Theatre in Oakland that was published in the August 28, 1915, issue of the trade journal Motography is worth quoting in full, as this was one of the earliest of the immense movie palaces that proliferated in the 1910s and 1920s to be built.


“The Turner and Dahnken Circuit of San Francisco has just completed arrangements for the immediate erection of a new theater in Oakland, to take the place of the Oakland Photo-Play, on which the lease will expire at an early date.

“A lease for 15 years has been secured on the property of the James K. Moffitt estate, southwest corner of Eleventh and Franklin streets, the lot being 100 feet on Franklin, and 175 feet on Eleventh street.

“For months, this concern has been negotiating for a site at Fourteenth and Franklin, and the change to the location secured came as a great surprise.

“Plans for a high-class motion picture theater are being prepared in the offices of Cunningham and Politeo, the architects who designed the Imperial and Alcazar theaters in San Francisco.

“This house will be the largest and most modern on the Pacific Coast, with a seating capacity of 4,000.

“There will be but one balcony and no stairs, the balcony to be reached by inclined planes only. Between the main floor and the balcony a large mezzanine floor is to be arranged with reception rooms for ladies and gentlemen, ladies' dressing room, men’s smoking room and a nursery.

“The theater will be constructed exclusively for moving pictures, the stages and flies being eliminated. An organ that will cost not less than $25,000 will be installed, and the house will be built to accommodate this instrument.

“The operating room will be a model, built on the lower floor, thus giving a straight throw to the screen.

“The interior will be most modern, with special attention paid to the lighting, heating and ventilating systems. Fresh air will be brought from above, cleansed and warmed and completely changed twelve times an hour.

“The foyers and lobby will be entirely of marble and tile. An innovation here will be checkrooms where hats, coats or bundles may be checked free.

“The auditorium will be wider in the rear than it is in front, thus affording an unobstructed view of the screen from every seat and facilitating the planning of the aisles. The aisles will be bordered with white tile through which light will shine in sufficient intensity to enable patrons to see their way.

“The exterior is designed in modern art and reflects to a marked degree the influences of the Panama-Pacific Exposition in architecture. The front will be illuminated by indirect lights, producing a soft effect that will enhance the beauty of the designs and colors employed.”

Although as built the T & D Theatre had a seating capacity a bit less than the 4,000 reported in the article, I think the completed house had all the other advanced features originally proposed. The Strand Theatre on Broadway in New York City, opened in 1914, is considered by some theater historians to have been the first true movie palace, but the Strand also had one of the largest stages in New York. There might have been one or two theaters as large and palatial as the Oakland T & D that were built exclusively for movies as early as it was, but if so I don’t know about them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Owen Theatre on Sep 19, 2014 at 11:58 am

Counting the number of lots up the block from Don’s Pizza (110 W. Washington) to the Police Department (entrance at 124 W. Washington, but also occupying the adjacent building at 122) I’d surmise that the correct address of the Owen Theatre is 120 W. Washington Street. Maybe Google Maps can find that, because the sure haven’t been able to find the Square.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Old Town Theater on Sep 19, 2014 at 2:21 am

A two-page article about the Richmond Theatre appeared in the September 7, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News. It featured before and after photos of the front and rear of the auditorium, showing the changes made during the recent renovation of the house. The project was designed by architect Harry A. Brandt.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Center for Performing Arts on Sep 19, 2014 at 1:53 am

The Bektash Temple and Capitol Theatre were designed by Manchester architect Chase Roy Witcher. Motion Picture News of February 27, 1925, said that bids would soon be taken for the $250,000 project. Construction proceeded slowly. The Temple was dedicated in October, 1926, and the theater went into operation in early 1927.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Sep 19, 2014 at 12:59 am

The NRHP Registration Form for the Hobart Downtown Historic District says that this house opened around 1930 as the Rialto Theatre. The timing, and the size of the building, suggest that it was this project noted in the April 10, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Bids were closed August 6 on the construction of a new theatre at Hobart, Okla., for the Griffith Amusement Co. of Oklahoma City. The plans call for a one story, basement, balcony and mezzanine. The building will be 50 by 150 feet. Harold Gimeno of Norman, Okla., is the architect.”
The Esquire building bears a very strong resemblance to the Sooner Theatre in Norman, also designed by Harold Gimeno.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cine 1 & 2 on Sep 19, 2014 at 12:27 am

The August 3, 1929, issue of Moving Picture News attributes the design of the State Theatre to the Boston architectural firm Hutchins & French. This weblog post at Cow Hampshire says that Hutchins & French are listed in John Eberson’s records, so there must have been some sort of collaboration. Possibly Hutchins & French acted as supervising architects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Surf Theatre on Sep 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

The July 27, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News had this news about the original name of this theater:

“Theatre Named After U’s ‘Show Boat’

“PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 25.— Hunt’s ‘Show Boat’ Theatre, Ocean City, N. J., erected by Camp & Co., of Philadelphia, in record time of 64 working days, is probably the first theatre in the country to be named for a picture. While Universal’s talking triumph did not open the new house, it will be an early attraction there. The ‘Show Boat’ is a 2000-seat house designed by Ritter and Shay, Philadelphia architects. It is equipped with De Forest Phonofilm.”

The partnership of architects Verus T. Ritter and Howell L. Shay was founded in 1920 and dissolved in 1936. The Show Boat is the only theater I’ve found listed among their projects.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rialto Theatre on Sep 18, 2014 at 10:49 pm

A brief notice acknowledging the recent death of Baltimore architect E. J. Blanke in the July 6, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News credited the design of the Rialto Theatre in Washington to him.

A 1906 publication of the Maryland Institute of Mechanic Arts also spells the architect’s surname as Blanke. As he was a member of the faculty at that time, it is likely they got it right.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Davis Theatre on Sep 18, 2014 at 10:33 pm

The July 6, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News had this item about the new Publix house under construction in Montgomery:

“Publix Building 1500 Seat Theatre in Montgomery

“ACCORDING to plans prepared by McDonald & Company, architects and engineers, of Atlanta, the de luxe theatre which Publix Theatres Corporation is to build at Montgomery, Ala., will be one of the handsomest and most completely equipped houses of its kind in the South. The house will seat 1,500 and will be of stadium type. Steel, concrete and brick will be used in the construction, the exterior trim being in limestone. Light buff will be the color of the brick.

“Work already has started, the old buildings on the lot having been removed and excavating is now in progress. It is planned to have the theatre ready for opening about the first of the year. It will be located at the corner of Montgomery and Molton Streets and will represent an investment said to be approximately $275,000.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Sep 18, 2014 at 10:23 pm

The July 6, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News said that the new State Theatre in Newark, Delaware, had been designed by Philadelphia architectural firm Hoffman & Hennon.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Center Theater on Sep 18, 2014 at 3:51 pm

The March 21, 1925, issue of The Reel Journal reported that W. Lee Vaughan of the Art Theatre, Kansas City, Kansas, had bought the New Center Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. The May 9 issue brought more news about the house:


“The New Center Theatre, Fifteenth and Troost, Kansas City has been remodeled and refurnished by J. D. Lynn and W. Lee Vaughan, new managers. A Wurlitzer Hope-Jones organ has been installed. The theatre seats 1,500.”

A letter from J. V. Lynn, manager of the New Center Theatre, was published in an ad for Arctic Nu-Air Systems in the August 14, 1926, issue of The Reel Journal. Mr. Lynn describes the New Center as having “…an unusually long auditorium and deep pocketed balcony….”

An unusual policy in place at the New Center Theatre is mentioned in the March 8, 1930, issue of The Film Daily:

“Talker Nickelodeon

“Kansas City — Talkers at nickelodeon prices have made their bow here in the New Center, 1,450-seat house owned by L. O. Gardner, who offers ‘Bargain Monday’ performances that are advertised as the biggest show in the U. S. for a nickel. On other nights the scale is 10 and 15 cents.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Central Theatre on Sep 18, 2014 at 3:47 pm

The April 11, 1925, issue of The Reel Journal noted the progress of construction on the New Central Theatre in Kansas City:


“The New Central Theatre, which is under construction at Thirty-first street and Indiana avenue, Kansas City, rapidly is nearing completion and is expected to open on Easter. The theatre, a suburban house which, represents an investment of $70,000, is being erected by T. H. Brougham and will be managed by Jack Tiller, formerly of McCook Nebr. The theatre will seat 900 persons.”

The May 2nd issue said that the New Central had opened that week. Then the May 23rd issue ran this item:
“Hardly had the new Central Theatre, a suburban house of Kansas City, opened its doors the other day until the sale of the house was announced. The theatre was purchased by Gregg & Crandall from Jack Tiller of McCook, Neb., for $12,000.”
$12,000 for a brand new $70,000 theater would have been quite a bargain, so I suspect that Gregg & Crandall also had to assume a substantial outstanding debt on the house as well.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Oxnard Opera House on Sep 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm

A photo of the boxoffice and vestibule of the Oxnard Opera House, dated 1920. It does indeed look very much like an unsanitary firetrap.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Agate Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 10:34 pm

External trusses are rare in any type of construction (other than bridges, of course, where they must be external.) I have never seen a theater built that way, though I recall having seen in an architectural journal photos of a large factory with its roof suspended from exposed trusses. I can’t recall how long ago it was, but I think it was in the 1970s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Benton Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Mattr833: There was once an Auditorium Theatre in Kansas City, but it was built long before 1911. It was originally called the Warder Grand Opera House and was at the northeast corner of 9th and Holmes. As far as I know there were no other theaters called the Auditorium in Kansas City.

The cornerstone was probably used as fill when the road it was under was built or improved. Rock fill might have been trucked to the site from anywhere around the region, including any of the small cities and towns on either the Missouri or the Kansas side of the border. The cornerstone might have come from a municipal auditorium in one of them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Ron, the first Strand is listed at Cinema Treasures under its later name, the Gem Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Agate Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

The Agate Theatre has not been demolished, but the building has been drastically altered. It is actually down the block from the karate studio, close to the corner of 23rd Street. It is occupied by Precision Grind Coffee House (2223 Franklin East) and the Mezzanine Salon (2225 Franklin East.) The back of the former auditorium (or possibly a stage house) is occupied by Boneshaker Books, which has a 23rd Street address.

If you look at the side of the building from 23rd Street you can see that part of the original roof has been removed to lower the ceiling, but that the steel trusses that once supported it are still in place as part of the design. The walls are still standing, but the one facing 23rd Street has been fenestrated, and an addition has been built for what looks to be an apartment or an office above the book store, with a third-floor terrace supported on a couple of the old trusses.

There’s a third floor addition at the front of the building too, but the facade has what are probably some original features, including a cornice with central vault and some very nice tapestry brick work. Though the theater has been lost, the building is a creative example of adaptive renovation for a new use.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mark Twain Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Oops. We have an address discrepancy. The Strand building in the photos I linked to, occupied by T&J’s Appliance shop, is at 115 Main Street. I wonder if the Strand could have operated at two different locations?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mark Twain Theatre on Sep 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm

An article in the July 27, 1916, issue of the Perry Enterprise said that the Strand Theatre had opened on the previous Thursday, which would have been the 20th. The house had 350 seats on the main floor and a small balcony with 30 seats, and there was a small stage 14 x 25 feet.

The Strand was sold to Fred M. Rich in early 1923, and a few months later suffered a fire that was reported in the September 1 issue of Exhibitors Herald:

“Fred M. Rich, owner of the Strand theatre, Perry, Mo., reports that his show house caught fire on July 21 and although a near panic insued [sic] no one was seriously injured. The theatre was seriously damaged.”
Here is a photoof the Strand building, and this closeup shows the tile with the theater’s name on the floor at the entrance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hilan Theatre on Sep 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I’m glad you dug up that accurate information, Ron. I was about to link to a web page that mistakenly says that the Fox was the Hilan with a new name.