Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Seattle Cinerama on Feb 18, 2015 at 4:12 pm

The J. Evan Miller collection of Cinerama Theater Plans lists six Martin Cinerama houses, including the one in Seattle, as having been designed by the architectural firm of Finch, Alexander, Barnes, Rothschild, & Paschal. It’s likely that Raymond H.Pack was only the local supervising architect for the project, FABRAP being located in Atlanta.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Center Theatre on Feb 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

The “New Corporations” column of The National Corporation Reporter for May 13, 1915, listed: “Milliken Theater Company, Youngstown; $5,000; T. R. Milliken, J. J. Hardgrove. F. R. Eistler.” The “R” for Milliken’s middle initial was probably a mistake. A more reliable source has an “E” instead.

A death notice from October 4, 1930, appears on this page at, and says: “Thomas E. ‘Ed’ Milliken, 71, former sheriff of Mahoning County, dies at the home of J.J. Hardgrove, 46 Ellenwood Ave., where he had made his home for many years.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Century Theater on Feb 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm

It has been done.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Avondale Theatre on Feb 17, 2015 at 4:39 pm

The Oliver Theatre, operated by Henry Klinger, was the subject of an article in the December 4, 1912, issue of Tonawanda’s local paper, The Evening News Klinger had received a rebate on the taxes for the theater after claiming that the assessment for the year 1911 had been erroneous.

Klinger operated the house until at lest 1915, when he became the first person to exhibit movies on Sunday in North Tonawanda, according to an item in the August 21 issue of The Moving Picture World. He later sold the house to Snyder and Zimmerman of Buffalo, but repurchased it from them in July, 1921, when the July 21 issue of The New York Clipper reported that he planned to remodel the theater and increase its seating capacity.

In January, 1922, The American Organist reported that the Avondale Theatre in North Tonawanda had anew Wurlitzer organ. No details about the instrument were given.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Century Theater on Feb 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm

robboehm: There were actually two movie houses called the Elite in San Francisco around 1916. The one that isn’t listed here was on Market Street opposite Seventh Street. The other was the house in Presidio Heights that is now called the Vogue. Our page for the Vogue is currently missing the aka.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Vogue Theatre on Feb 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm

The history page of the Vogue’s web site says that the house opened in 1910 as the Elite Theatre and was known as the Rex Theatre before becoming the Vogue in 1939.

San Francisco Theaters, Cinemas, Dancehalls, after 1906 lists 3290 Sacramento Street as the home of the Elite Theatre from 1912-1919, the Rex Theatre from 1919-1927, the Plaza Theatre from 1927-1939, the United Artists Vogue From 1939 to an unlisted date, and simply the Vogue Theater in 1982.

Around 1916 there was an Elite Theatre on Market Street opposite 7th in downtown San Francisco, so the two Elites must have overlapped for some time. The post-1906 web page doesn’t list the Market Street Elite Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mozart Theatre on Feb 17, 2015 at 2:49 am

Construction was about to begin on the Mozart Theatre when the Elmira Star-Gazette published an article about the project in its issue of April 8, 1908, which can be read in this PDF of the paper’s second page. The architect of the Mozart Theatre was Albert E. Westover (though the article mistakenly gives him the middle initial C instead of E.)

The December 19, 1908, issue of The Billboard noted that the Mozart Theatre in Elmira had opened on November 23.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lucille Ball Little Theatre on Feb 17, 2015 at 2:30 am

When Shea’s Theatre was extensively rebuilt in 1927, the architect for the project was Victor A. Rigaumont. This PDF of a page from the November 1 issue of the Jamestown Evening Journal has an illustration of the auditorium and a few paragraphs about Rigaumont.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on Feb 17, 2015 at 2:00 am

The Strand suffered a major fire in 1942. This PDF of a page from the February 14, 1942, issue of The Times Record of Troy, New York, has a photo. The theater’s marquee fell off.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roxy Theatre on Feb 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Rogersville, by Randy Ball and Rodney Ferrell (Google Books preview), has a photo of the Roxy on page 22, the caption of which says the house was built in 1946 and demolished in 1988.

The April 17, 1947, issue of the Rogersville Review had this item saying that the new Roxy would open the next week:

“Thursday, April 24, is the day set for formal opening of Rogersville’s new theater, ‘The Roxy.’ Opening show will be ‘Three Little Girls In Blue,’ a not too old musical in technicolor.

“The building, one of the finest of its size in this section, which has been under construction for more than 8 months, was built to replace the Rogersville Theatre, a comparatively new structure, which was destroyed by fire on April 14, of last year. It is of modern design and will seat 1000 people.

“W. P. Miller, the manager, has been in show business for more than 24 years. He says the new Roxy is dedicated to service and pleasure.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on Feb 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

This paragraph is from an article about Cincinnati’s movie theaters that appeared in the July 15, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“There was another Gayety in Cincinnati a few years back, this being the name first borne by the Star, on Fountain Square, referred to above as standing on the site of the former Loew arcade. The original Gayety was opened seven years ago, a year after the Bijou, its nearest competitor, by Ed. Hart & Co., the name being changed to the Star when the burlesque house was opened under the same name. Like its neighbor, the Bijou, it has always done a big business at its five-cent admission charge.”
That would indicate that this house operated as the Gayety from 1909 (the year after the Bijou opened) until 1913 (the year the Gayety Burlesque opened) and then became the Star.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Seattle Sundance Cinemas on Feb 15, 2015 at 6:30 pm

The renovation of Sundance Cinemas Seattle was completed over a year and a half ago, the house premiering its new look on July 19, 2015. The official web site provides this page of photos. A nice collection of black and white photos can be found in this post at Curbed Seattle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Loew's Regent Theatre on Feb 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

The Regent Theatre at Harrisburg was in operation by 1915, and was taken over by Loew’s in 1925. The May 9, 1925, issue of Harrisburg daily, The Evening News, featured several items about the theater, and a full page ad by the Regent’s former operator, Peter Magaro, which said that Marcus Loew would begin operating the house on May 11. The ad also mentioned that Magaro had been in the theater business at Harrisburg for twenty years.

Another article in the paper says that the Regent was on the site of a “store show” Magaro had run in his early days in Harrisburg. He later bought the property and had the Regent built on it, but the article doesn’t say what year the house was erected. Magaro and the Regent were mentioned in the September 4, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World. A 1916 MPW item gave the address of the Regent as 410 Market Street, so it was definitely the same location.

Items in various construction journals in 1917 indicate that Magaro was intending rebuild the Regent at that time. Plans, by Hoffman & Co., had been approved in April and bids were to be taken in September, but the next mention of the rebuilding I’ve found is from 1921, when the November issue of the construction journal Stone ran this item:

“The new Regent moving picture theatre, being built by Peter Magaro on Market Street, Harrisburg, Pa., will have a stairway of Pavonazzo marble, while the walls and wainscoting will be of gray Napoleon marble. The work is being done by Alexander Pelli & Co., of New York”
I’ve been unable to discover the reason for the delay of four years. An April 8, 1925 Harrisburg Telegraph article about the projected sale of the Regent to Loew’s said only that Magaro had rebuilt the theater “…several years ago….” Loew’s was offering $275,000 for the house, but Magaro had not yet accepted. Perhaps he got even more.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Marion Theatre on Feb 15, 2015 at 2:02 am

The October 16, 1915, issue of The Marion Star had an advertisement saying that the Marion Theatre would be celebrating its first anniversary that week.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on Feb 14, 2015 at 1:38 pm

The obituary of Henry Thomas in Motion Picture Herald in 1946 said that he had operated the Liberty Theatre at Oak Hill for the last 30 years, suggesting there was probably an earlier Liberty operating as early as 1916. The 1920 building was probably the project noted in this item from the September 6, 1919, issue of The American Contractor:

“Huntington, w. Va.—Theater (M. P.): Oak Hill. O. Archt. Richard H. Bates, Jr., Huntington. Owner Henry Thomas, Oak Hill. Brk., hollow blk. Archt. selected. Will call for bids in abt. 1 week.”
I have a suspicion that the middle initial H the item gave the architect was an error. Wikipedia has a page for the Mortimer Place Historic District in Huntington, West Virginia, and lists the architect of the project, built in 1915, as Richard Mortimer Bates. The page for Richard Bates at Find a Grave says that he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1920s and practiced architecture there until 1940. That means he was the same Richard M. Bates, Jr. who designed the Westlake Theatre in Los Angeles.

The facade of the Youth Center is characteristic of the late 1910s-early 1920s, so I suspect that at least the shell of Bates’s 1920 building survived the 1929 fire and is what we see today.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ely Theatre on Feb 14, 2015 at 12:50 am

Around 1935 the Ely Theatre was to have been remodeled and renamed the Rio Theatre, according to the caption of this photo from the files of Liebenberg & Kaplan, architects of the remodeling.

This photo, also from Liebenberg & Kaplan, shows a wider view of the theater.

Either the caption was in error about the renaming, or the owners changed their mind about it. Either way, the Ely Theatre was in operation by 1935. Not only is the photo dated that year, but the movie named on the marquee, King Solomon of Broadway, was released that year.

But I think the captions might be wrong about the photos having been taken before the remodeling. The streamlined look of the building and its signs were characteristic of the mid to late 1930s. I suspect that the photos date from after the remodeling, and that the house might have been renamed to Ely Theatre from some other name. I can’t find any references in the trade journals to a house at Ely called the Rio, but I found a reference to a house called the Elco operating in 1918, and to a Grand Opera House in 1929.

There was also an as-yet unnamed theater under construction in Ely in 1928, according to the October 27 issue of Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Feb 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm

The October 27, 1928, issue of Exhibitors Herald and Motion Picture World had a section listing theaters that had been completed, were under construction, or were in the planning stage, listed by the architects who had designed them. The list for Minneapolis architect J. E. Nason (misspelled by the magazine as Nasson) included a completed 450-seat house at Spring Valley. Nason’s list did not include theater names, but the project was most likely the State.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Marion Cultural and Civic Center on Feb 13, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Records of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Co. indicate that architect Samuel W. Bihr, Jr. designed alterations for the Orpheum Theatre in Marion. The records don’t list the year of the project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Fox Theatre on Feb 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

The records of the American Terra Cotta and Ceramic Co. list the Fox Theatre in Aurora as the work of an architect named Barfield. As the records also list him as the architect of the Hinsdale Theatre in Hinsdale, Illinois, it must have been William G. Barfield.

Barfield immigrated to the United States from England in 1882, establishing his architectural practice in Chicago, where he worked until his death in 1935.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Roma Theater on Feb 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

The November 26, 1921, issue of The Billboard said that Charles Ellison was organizing a stock company to play at the Roma Theatre in Youngstown. I haven’t found any later references to the company so I don’t know if Mr. Ellison succeeded in establishing it or not.

There was a Roma Theatre operating in Bellaire, Ohio, in 1915, owned by an Antonio Megna. I wonder if he eventually moved his operation to Youngstown? The Social Security Death Index lists an Antonio Megna born in 1889 who died in Youngstown in 1975. It’s not a common name, so it might have been the same Megna who operated the theater in Bellaire.

I also recall coming across a trade journal item from the late 1910s which said that among the many theaters then operating in Youngstown there were five that catered primarily to the city’s large population of Italians. If the Roma fell into that category then it might have switched its advertising from the Vindicator to Youngstown’s Italian newspaper, Il Cittidano Americano.

The Roma Theatre was also mentioned in the February, 1922, issue of American Photography. Someone named Frank Shea, with the Roma as his address, was offering to exchange prints with other photographers.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Varsity Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 9:34 pm

The November 28, 1898, issue of The Courier, one of Lincoln’s daily papers, said that the Lansing Theatre had been designed by E. C. Horn of New York, and built by the construction firm of Smith & Horn. The building was predominantly Romanesque Revival in style, but the interior featured some elements of Louis XV decoration.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Varsity Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

There are a couple of typos in the theater description. Lansing is misspelled as Lancing (also in the Previous Names field.)

The Lansing was renamed Olver Opera House in 1898, not 1889.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Varsity Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm

The January 24, 1942, issue of the Lincoln Evening Journal reported that demolition of the Varsity Theatre at 1500 O Street would soon be underway. The theater and adjacent buildings were being removed for the extension of 15th Street north from O Street.

The October 28, 1934, issue of the paper said that the Varsity Theatre, formerly the Rialto, would open November 1. The house had been closed for two months for remodeling.

The house had become the Rialto around 1920, having previously been known as the Majestic. The name Majestic was adopted when the new Orpheum opened at 12th and P Streets. The newspaper referred to the Majestic with the paranthetic (old Orpheum) several times in April, 1916, indicating that the name had been changed fairly recently.

I haven’t discovered when the Bijou opened, or when it became the Orpheum, but the Bijou was mentioned in The Billboard in 1906 and 1907. There was also a 1943 newspaper article saying that the Bijou had bacome the Majestic before becoming the Orpheum, so perhaps it was called the Majestic twice, both before and after the Orpheum period.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Feb 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm

The Grand Theatre suffered at least two major fires in its history, one of which was noted in theis item from The Reel Journal of January 23, 1926:

:“The Grand Theatre, Duquoin, Ill., was destroyed by fire on January 14. An overheated furnace is believed to have been the cause. The fire started about 5:15 p. m., an hour before the usual opening for the evening show.

“The theatre was the property of the Reed-Yemm-Hayes Circuit and seated approximately 1,200 persons on two floors. It was erected but a few years ago at an estimated cost of $150,000.”

The claim that the house had been built only “a few years ago” was a bit off. The theater had been expanded five years before the fire, but had been opened in 1914. An item in the May 28, 1921, issue of The Anerican Contractor said that Reid, Yemm & Hays were having alerations and an addition made to their Grand Theatre in Du Quion, Illinois. The project, designed by St. Louis architects Kennerly & Stiegemeyer, was to cost $25,000.

An article about the 1926 fire in The Daily Independent of Murphysboro, Illinois, said that the Grand had been built in 1914. But construction might have begun in 1913, as the August 30 issue of Construction News that year ran this item:

“Du Quoin, Ill.—Theater. Private plans. Owner, Reed & Yemm Theater, taking bids, no date set for closing. Brk., 2 stys., 40x100.”
Another major fire at the Grand was reported in the Carbondale Free Press of January 23, 1931. This fire, which gutted the auditorium, started in the wiring of the speakers. The house was by then operated by Fox Theatres, the original partners having sold out in 1929.

Reid and Yemm were operating a theater called the Lyric in Du Quoin at least as early as 1910, when they endorsed the Edison Projecting Kinetoscope in an ad for the company in the Octiber 5 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror. I’m not sure when Hayes became a partner of Reid and Yemm, but the January 8, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that a William R. Hayes had bought the Majestic Theatre in Du Quoin. It was probably the same guy.

Kennerly and Stiegemeyer designed other projects for Reid, Yemm & Hayes, including a 1921 house at Zeigler, Illinois. Since they were practicing by 1913, they might have been the original architects of the Grand as well as the architects of the 1921 expansion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theater on Feb 11, 2015 at 11:36 am

The official web site is dead, and contains nothing but a promo for GoDaddy and some ads. Their Facebook page is still up, but has this notice: “We regret to inform you that we will be closed as of January 8th, 2015.”