Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cahaba Twin Theatres on Jun 13, 2017 at 10:14 am

The Cahaba Twin, operated by Cobb Theatres, was listed in the May 3, 1976, issue of Boxoffice as being among the 285 new theaters built in the U.S. in 1975.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plainfield Theatre on Jun 13, 2017 at 9:51 am

The Plainfield Opera House (also known in its early years as the Woodman Opera House) has not been converted to housing. The ground floor theater space was last occupied by a bar which closed in 2006, and the upstairs appears to have been vacant at least as long.

Last year the building was threatened with demolition, but the Plainfield Village Board entered an agreement last fall with the building’s owner since 2011, Matt Makaryk, who plans a multi-year renovation project to convert the theater to an event center and the upper floor to living quarters for himself and his family. The roof must be replaced and the damaged back wall repaired by November of this year or the village will probably order demolition.

This article from the Stevens Point Journal of May 9 this year includes video and a slide show revealing how badly decayed much of the building is. About the only remaining trace of the Opera House’s time as a movie theater appears to be the old projection booth.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dixie Theatre on Jun 13, 2017 at 9:02 am

It looks like there has been redevelopment north of Hampton Avenue, the old grid of streets being replaced by a housing project. The Dixie, being odd-numbered, must have been on the west side of Jefferson between Hampton and 22nd, but I was wondering if the Sanborn map showed it being at or near the corner of 22nd Street, or if it was closer to Hampton.

This must have been a very lively entertainment district at one time, with the Lincoln, Moton and Dixie Theatres all within a short distance.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dixie Theatre on Jun 12, 2017 at 8:59 pm

wsasser: Where was the Dixie in relation to Hampton Avenue on the Sanborn map? Currently the highest number on the block is the Food Tiger Market on the corner of Jefferson and Hampton, and its address is 2115 Jefferson.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on Jun 12, 2017 at 1:37 pm

The April 17, 1931, issue of the Brainerd Dispatch reported that the new Palace Theatre would open on Wednesday, April 22. The interior of the new, 475-seat showhouse would feature “…English architecture on the atmospheric type, a colorful arrangement of drapes, views of bungalows and blue sky ceiling effects….” The Palace, like the recently rebuilt Paramount Theatre, was designed by the firm of Liebenberg & Kaplan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Paramount Theatre on Jun 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

A more reliable source than the one I cited earlier indicates that the Park Opera House actually opened on December 2, 1901. It was designed by Duluth architect John J. Wangenstein. The house was remodeled in 1914, reopening as the Park Theatre on May 18.

A more extensive remodeling, including a new, larger entrance, was carried out in 1919, with an October 19 reopening. A severe windstorm on June 8, 1920, caused significant damage to the building, and the Park Theatre remained dark while repairs were made, not reopening until September 1.

By the late 1920s both of Brainerd’s theaters were being operated by Finkelstein & Ruben, who planned an extensive remodeling of the Park. When Paramount Publix took over the F&R interests in 1929, the project was undertaken by that circuit instead. The 1929 remodeling gutted the building, eradicating all trace of John Wangenstein’s 1901 interior, though the old fashioned exterior remained largely intact. The renamed Paramount Theatre opened on December 31, 1929.

The Paramount was taken over by Baehr Theatres in the late 1940s, and was closed in September, 1985. The Burlington Northern Railroad, owners of the land on which the Paramount stood, agreed to lease the theatre to the Brainerd Lakes Arts Center Incorporated in 1986, but the plans to renovate the theatre once again came to nothing. Despite having been listed as an historic site by the Minnesota Historic Sites Survey in 1971, the Paramount was demolished in April, 1994.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Brainerd Theatre on Jun 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

The Brainerd Theatre closed in December, 1985, and the building was remodeled for use as a roller skating rink. It was Brainerd’s last downtown theater, the Paramount having closed in September, 1985.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about El Rey Theater on Jun 11, 2017 at 9:55 pm

The El Rey’s Facebook page lists no events since a concert on February 10. I don’t know how long it’s been since they ran a movie, but I’m quite sure the place does not have any digital projection equipment.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Jun 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Street view is currently set too far to the right. Historic photos of the Hippodrome/Liberty show its entrance in the rightmost bay of the once-three story, now two story building housing J.K. Jones Financial Network. Here is a photo from the 1950s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Plymouth Theater on Jun 10, 2017 at 6:28 pm

The Deisler Theatre’s building, though somewhat altered, is still standing at the northeast corner of E. Main and Portner Streets. Mr. Deisler was still operating his theater in 1927, when the following item appeared in the January 7 issue of Motion Picture News:

“What is believed to be the most unusual method of theatre operation in Ohio, if not in the entire country, has been found at Plymouth, Ohio, where Reuben Deisler operates a small, but up-to-date house which bears his name. Deisler, a man in middle life, is sightless, having been blinded in a railroad accident some years ago. Although he has lost his sight, he has not lost his vision, as evidenced by the fact that, despite his handicap, he acts as cashier, seldom, if ever, making an error in giving out tickets or making change. He likewise personally attends to all bookings, billing, advertising, and the general business of the theatre. His wife is projectionist and a good one, at that.”
A notice about Mr. Deisler’s theater project appeared in the January 9, 1915, issue of The American Contractor:
“Picture Theater (seating 250): 1 sty. 25x70. $60M. Plymouth, O. Archt. Frank B. Hursh, 43 Glenwood blvd., Mansfield. Owner Reuben Deisler, Plymouth, taking bids. Postponed until spring.”
Mr Deisler died in 1928, and the theater was taken over by Ed Ramsey. An article in the August 11, 1963, issue of the Mansfield News-Journal said that Ramsey operated the house for many years as the Plymouth Theatre. By 1963 the building was being used as a laundromat, but Ramsey was still in the theater business as owner and operator of the Plymouth Drive-In.

Architect Frank B. Hursh began practicing in Mansfield in the 1890s. I’ve found references to a number of churches and private houses of his design, including one house listed on the NRHP, but so far no other theaters of his design have come to light.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jun 10, 2017 at 3:12 pm

I’ve come across a few references saying that, in its later years, this house operated for a while as the President Theatre. None of them reveal the years during which this name was used, but the name must have been changed by the time the new Orpheum Theatre was opened in 1927.

The name Orpheum has a rather convoluted history in Seattle. Prior to 1908, John Considine was operating an Orpheum Theatre in Seattle, but it did not present Orpehum Circuit vaudeville until that year, when Considine entered into a contract with Martin Beck, head of the circuit. Under that agreement, Sullivan & Considine, who operated their own low-priced vaudeville circuit in the region, would provide a theater in Seattle for the Orpheum Circuit, to be booked and managed by Orpheum, though Sullivan & Considine controlled 60% of the stock in the Seattle Orpheum Company.

Orpheum vaudeville was then presented at Considine’s Orpheum briefly, until the new Coliseum Theatre was opened in 1909. Orpheum Shows continued at the Coliseum until the Orpheum at Third and Madison opened. Not long after that event, the Sullivan & Considine circuit entered a period of turmoil, brought on by overextension and by the increasingly erratic behavior of the firm’s New York partner Timothy Sullivan, who was suffering from tertiary syphilis and was committed to a mental institution in 1912.

Sullivan’s death in 1913 was followed by legal wrangling over his estate, further weakening the Sullivan & Considine circuit, which soon collapsed. Considine’s 1908 agreement with Orpheum was ended in 1915, but a one-year contract with the newly-formed Orpheum Theatre & Realty Company allowed Orpheum Circuit shows to continue at the house into 1916. In that year the circuit’s shows in Seattle were moved to the Alhambra Theatre, and the following year to the Moore Theatre.

The Orpehum Theatre & Realty Company came under the control of the New York Life Insurance Company, and when the Orpheum Circuit attempted to use the Orpheum name at the Alhambra and then the Moore, the new owners of the Third and Madison house filed and won a lawsuit prohibiting the use of the name Orpheum at those or any other houses. The Orpheum Circuit did not regain control of its name in Seattle until the mid 1920s, at which time they built the final Seattle Orpheum, opened in 1927 on Fifth Avenue.

Interestingly, the first post-Orpheum tenant of the Third and Madison house in 1916, the Wilkes Players, a repertory company, moved to the Alhambra Theatre in 1917 when Orpheum vaudeville was moved to the Moore, and the Alhambra was then renamed the Wilkes Theatre.

The final use of the lavish 1911 Orpheum prior to its demolition in 1949 was as a storage warehouse. A photo of the auditorium taken during that period shows that architect William Kingsley’s ornate Renaissance-Baroque interior was still intact and appeared to be in good condition.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinema Detroit on Jun 10, 2017 at 1:13 pm

The 3rd Avenue location of Cinema Detroit is still open. The Midtown neighborhood, adjacent to Wayne State University, is one of the most rapidly regenerating areas in Detroit.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Cinema Detroit on Jun 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

A new page needs to be created for the new location of Cinema Detroit using the information in Trollyguy’s comment. The house on this page, the Burton Theatre/Cass City Cinema, is currently closed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Regent Theatre on Jun 5, 2017 at 12:09 am

A photo of the Regent Theatre in Erie appeared on page 4 of the November 20, 1920, issue of the regional trade journal Pittsburgh Moving Picture Bulletin (link.) The caption notes recent improvements to the house costing $22,500, so it had probably already been in operation for some time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about West Hills Cinemas on Jun 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm

The West Hills Shopping Center was at University road and Brodhead Road. The entire complex was demolished to make way for the Walmart Supercenter which opened on the site last November.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Academy Theatre on Jun 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

JeffRW: Comparing the three vintage photos on our photo page with modern Google street view, its clear that the bay windowed building next door to the theater on Broadway and the building with the arches on Grand Street which was adjacent to the theater’s stage house are still standing. I don’t see any alleys separating the theater from either of those buildings, so it must have taken up the entire space of the parking lot.

Unfortunately, the oldest aerial photos of Newburgh at the web site Historic Aerials date from 1965, long after the theater was demolished. They might get an older one showing the theater eventually, and then we’ll be able to see for sure how it fit onto its lot. I know of no other online sources that currently have older aerials of Newburgh.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Comerford Theatre on Jun 3, 2017 at 8:49 pm

This photo depicts the earlier Comerford Theatre in Wilkes Barre, divested by the chain in 1949 and renamed the Paramount, at which time the Capitol was renamed the Comerford.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Comerford Theatre on Jun 3, 2017 at 8:48 pm

This photo depicts the earlier Comerford Theatre in Wilkes Barre, divested by the chain in 1949 and renamed the Paramount, at which time the Capitol was renamed the Comerford.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Comerford Theatre on Jun 3, 2017 at 8:48 pm

This photo depicts the earlier Comerford Theatre in Wilkes Barre, divested by the chain in 1949 and renamed the Paramount, at which time the Capitol was renamed the Comerford.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Jun 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm

According to this web page, the Lyric Theatre was adjacent to the larger Capitol Theatre. Today the Lyric’s building is occupied by the bar and dining room of a restaurant, The Brick House. The restaurant’s game room and banquet room are situated in the former Capitol Theatre’s building.

The February 6, 1914, issue of Variety ran the following notice:

“Butler, Pa., is to have a new theatre. The present Lyric will be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $50,000. No policy has been announced.”
Here we come to a bit of a puzzle. Electrical Record and Buyer’s Reference of Noavember, 1915, has this item about the project:
“The contract for the electrical work in the Lyric Theatre Play House in North Main street, Butler, Pa. has been awarded to The Electric Shop, 111 West Jefferson street, Buffalo. This building is 40 by 200 feet, three stories high. Conduit will be used throughout, The fixtures will be largely semi indirect bowls, This concern has also completed the electrical work in the new YMCA building the largest electrical job ever done in Butler.”
The problem is that the main restaurant building, supposedly the former Lyric Theatre, is not 40 feet wide, but that is about the width of the former Capitol Theatre next door, which is also about 200 feet deep. While the fronts of both buildings are only two stories high, the Capitol’s auditorium is indeed a bit higher than the adjacent three story office block on the corner of New Castle Street.

Could it be that local historians have lost track of what actually went on in these buildings, and the Lyric Theatre that was built in 1915 and mentioned in trade publications through the 1920s and into the 1930s was actually the house that later became the Capitol? Perhaps someone has access to the archives of the local newspaper in Butler and can find information to clear up this historical puzzle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theater on Jun 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

The Liberty Theater Preservation Alliance maintains a web site with a history of the theater and several (small) vintage photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on Jun 2, 2017 at 11:50 pm

This web page says that the Capitol Theatre is still intact, and that it occupied the upstairs of the building that now houses the game room and banquet room of the Brick House restaurant.

Looking at the Google satellite view, though, it looks to me as though the “upstairs theater” might be only the former balcony of this fairly capacious house. The upper part of the building alone would not have been large enough to accommodate 900 seats. Quite a large stage house backs up to Jackson Street.

The page also says that the main restaurant and bar next door occupy another former theater, the Lyric, though all trace of that smaller house has been obliterated.

I’ve found the Lyric mentioned in trade publications from the 1910s, but so far not mentions of the Capitol. Still, judging from the facade in the vintage photo, I think the house must have dated from that decade or earlier. Butler had many theaters over the years, and I’ve found references to movie houses called the Imperial, The Carlton, the Grand, and the Orpheum, none of which are listed here yet (unless under later names and missing the aka’s.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crystal Theatre on May 31, 2017 at 1:03 am

The Crystal Theatre is mentioned in the May 2, 1919, issue of Southwest Builder & Contractor

“Porterville—The Crystal Theater, Gus Gemanis, manager, will be enlarged and remodeled. … An addition will be built to the rear of the building and the lobby will be finished in marble.”
A biographical sketch of Charles William Eyer said that he bought the Crystal Theatre after moving to Porterville in 1920. By the late 1940s, all four of Porterville’s movie houses, including the Crystal, were owned by the Howell family.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theatre on May 31, 2017 at 12:30 am

The American Theatre was in operation by 1923, when this brief notice appeared in the September 8 issue of The Moving Picture World: “The Apollo Theatre will be opened shortly at Ventura, Cal., by the owners of the American Theatre.”

The principal owner of the American was Charles Corcoran, later a local partner with West Coast Theatres in the Ventura Theatre. The partnership predated the construction of the Ventura, as noted in this item from MPW for March 6, 1926:

“Corcoran Sells

“The West Coast Junior Theatre circuit has completed a deal with the American Amusement Company of Ventura, Cal., through Charles Corcoran whereby the circuit comes into possession of more than 50 per cent of all the holdings of Corcoran in the American Amusement Company. This includes the Apollo Theatre and valuable real estate in Ventura.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Metro Theatre on May 27, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Mike, I think your photo depicted the Metro Theatre in Durban, a handsome Art Deco house from Thomas Lamb’s office.