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The “Better Theatres” section of Exhibitors Herald and Moving Picture World of April 14, 1928, had two photos of the Ritz Theatre in Chariton, Iowa. Aside from the loss of a decorative parapet, the building appears to have changed little since then. The Ritz was designed by a local architect, William L. Perkins.
Another photo of the Ritz and a brief article appear on this page of the same magazine.
The November 9, 1901, issue of the New York Dramatic Mirror reported that Staub’s Theatre in Knoxville had reopened on October 14 after having been rebuilt over the previous summer at a cost of $40,000. The architect for the project was Frank Cox.
The Vendome Theatre was substantially rebuilt in 1901 to the plans of architect Tignal Franklin Cox, who had recently moved his office from New Orleans to Chicago. A photo of the Vendome’s original facade can be seen on page 10 of this PDF file, a short biography of Frank Cox by his great-granddaughter, Robin Yonish.
Capitol: Newspaper archives are a good place to start. At the very least they should have ads for the theater at least once a week. Keep in mind it might not have always been called the Capitol. I’ve found references to a house called the Kaypee (or Kay-Pee) Theatre at Mt. Gilead as early as 1926 and as late as 1934. In the late 1920s, the manager was named Griff Granger, and a 1928 item in Motion Picture News said that the Kaypee was the smallest first-run theater in Ohio.
There was also a house called the Rex Theatre in Mt. Gilead, which I found mentioned in 1931 and in 1935. Either Kaypee or Rex might have been an earlier name for the Capitol.
Are there any clues to what the building housed when it was built in 1894? It’s usually easier to find information about a building if you know what it was originally used for.
Articles in the Alton Evening Telegraph from September 24 and October 5, 1912, note that Frank Cox (Tignal Franklin Cox) of Chicago was both the architect and builder for the reconstruction of the old Lyric Theatre into the Hippodrome. The items can be seen about halfway down this web page, which features transcriptions of many newspaper items about theaters in Madison County. The formal opening of the Hippodrome took place on Monday, September 24, 1912.
A great deal of information about Frank Cox, architect of the Covina Theatre, can be found in The Life of Tignal Franklin (Frank) Cox (1854-1940), a brief biography by his great-granddughter, Robin Yonash, which is available here as a PDF.
Tignal Franklin Cox (called simply Frank Cox in publications from the period when he was working) had a long and successful career as a scenic artist, decorator, architect, builder, and developer. His first known work in theaters took place in the 1880s, when he began painting scenic drop curtains. He painted curtains for the Opera House in Batavia, New York (1883), and the Academy of Music in Auburn, New York (1884), and in 1885 became the scenic artist for Smith’s Opera Houses in Tarrytown, New York, and in Batavia.
He began his architectural career in New Orleans around 1893, though houses of his design were built from Texas to Illinois. He moved his operation to Chicago in 1900, and about 1918 moved again, to Southern California, where he settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Covina. There, in 1921, he designed the Covina Theatre for his son-in-law George Leonardy and his nephew Earl Sinks.
An item in the February 6, 1920, issue of regional trade journal Southwest Builder & Contractor noted that Frank Cox, then preparing preliminary plans for a theater in Phoenix, Arizona, had “…planned more than 50 theaters for the Klaw & Erlanger interests.”
A nice example of Cox’s work is his drawing of the New Lyceum Theatre in Atlanta, which can be seen on this web page. Unfortunately, the New Lyceum was destroyed by fire in 1901, six years after it was built. It was never rebuilt and so never had a chance to become a movie theater.
Several of his early stage and vaudeville houses did survive long enough to be movie houses, though, including the Majestic Theatre at Streator, Ilinois (1907) and the Grand Opera House in Galveston, Texas, both of which are still standing and serving as theaters.
The second Lyceum Theatre was designed by architect Frank Cox (Tignal Franklin Cox) who was then practicing in New Orleans. Later he moved to Chicago and then to Covina, California. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries he was a prolific theater architect with a national presence, a feat all the more impressive given that he did not begin practicing architecture until he was nearly 40 years old, having been a sign painter and a scenic designer prior to that.
This item from the May 22, 1920, issue of The American Contractor must be about the Grand Theatre (complete with misspellings):
“Alton. Ill.—Theater (M. P.): 1 sty. 145 x 90. Archts. L. Pfeiffenbergers & Sons. 102 W. 3d St. Owner John Jianakopolis. Gen. contr. let to H. H. Underbrinck.”
The Grand Theatre opened on December 4, 1920.
I don’t know what became of Bryan Krefft’s comment with a link to a painting f the Wood River Theatre, but I did find a photo of the entrance of the house on this web page which also has photos of four other hardtop houses and two drive-ins in Madison County, as well as a big collection of transcribed newspaper items about them.
The marquee of the theater in the photo (dated 1936) says WOODRIVER as all one word. I also found on another web site an October 14, 1929, newspaper item that called the house the Woodriver Theatre, so that might have been how the name was styled in the theater’s earlier years.
I see in street view that the storefront to the left of the Lowell Theatre entrance has the number 21 on it, so the theater’s address must have been 23 Erie Street.
The Lowell was one of 28 theaters operated by members of the Diamos family between 1912 and the 1970s. The Arizona Historic Society has two boxes of photos, mostly from the 1940s, donated by JoAnn Diamos which can be seen at the society’s library in Tucson. Here is a PDF of the finding aid.
Homeboy: You’re right about the area around Washington and Vermont having been the home of L.A.’s “Film Row” with a number of booking offices, but the only theater I recall in the immediate area was the Boulevard itself, and it was on the northwest corner.
The nearest theater on Vermont to the south was La Tosca, at 30th Street, and to the north there was the Fox Parisian, but that was all the way up at 8th Street.
To the west were the Arlington Theatre, on the north side of Washington just west of Arlington, and the Maynard Theatre, on the south side of Washington just east of Arlington. I don’t remember there being any theaters on Washington east of the Boulevard.
The only cluster of three theaters close together that I recall on the south side was the one around Broadway and Manchester. The Manchester Theatre was the big one, just west of Broadway, and then there were the smaller Mecca and Mayfair Theatres, about a block apart on Broadway south of Manchester.
There were several more theaters on South Vermont, but they were all south of Exposition Park.
The 1941 Baist map shows that the Sanders Theatre has to have been on the site of that building with “2001 A.D.” on its parapet, as the theater was too close to the corner to have been in the building with the White Rabbit Cabaret in it. The 1941 FDY gives the address of the Sanders Theatre as 1106 Prospect. The address 1108 on the map must have been a shop, and 1110 the entrance and stairway to either an upper floor or a basement. It was too narrow to have been anything else. If it was a stairway to an upper floor then the Sanders Theatre has either been demolished or the structure was cut down to a single floor.
The July 4, 1914, issue of The Moving Picture World noted the recent opening of the Garrick Photoplay Theatre:
“Addresses by Mayor Nye and other city officials of Minneapolis, Minn., were scheduled for the opening of John C. Karlson’s new Garrick Photoplay Theater at Nicollet Avenue and Twenty-sixth Street. The house, erected at a cost of $30,000, will seat 600.”
Council proceedings from March 28, 1919, noted the issuance of a moving picture relicense to the Garrick Theatre at 2541 Nicollet. A downtown theater called the Garrick had opened in 1915, so the two houses operated under the same name for at least a few years.
The October 13, 1912, issue of The Construction News had an item about a $10,000 moving picture theater to be built at 26th and Nicollet, but given the difference in cost, if this was the same project its scope was expanded considerably. Also, given the gap of more than a year between that item and the opening of the Garrick I don’t think it’s certain that the original architect (the Rose Engineering Company) did the final design, although the protest against granting a license to the theater in November, 1913, suggests that the house might have been completed some time before it was allowed to open.
There is a way for someone in Minneapolis to find out who did the final design for this house (and many other Minneapolis theaters) though. The Minneapolis Plan Vault Collection at the University of Minnesota has copies of plans submitted to the Buildings Inspection Department by architects or builders, and the finding aid lists quite a few theaters among them, including this one. The collection is available for public viewing and, in some cases, copies of items can be made. It is part of the special collections, which are apparently housed at Anderson Library. The library also has the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers, which includes plans and photos of many of the theaters that firm designed.
The earliest mention of the Gem I’ve found so far is from the October 2, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World:
“County Treasurer Swanson, owner of the Gem theater, Hobart, Ind., is to remodel the house. An addition is being built on the rear. Manager Coons has ordered a new picture machine and a new piano.”
It’s possible that this item from the July 5, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald World is about the Vogue Theater:
“EAST CHICAGO.— E. A. Varger & Company has plans by L. H. Warriner, 723 Washington street, Gary, Ind., for a two-story brick theatre to be located at Chicago and Forsythe streets. Cost estimated, $100,000.”
The May, 1925, issue of The Crimson, a monthly publication of Goshen High School, had an ad for “Ye Olde Hobbie Shoppe” which was “Opening Above Circle Theatre June 10.”
The photo just doesn’t extend high enough to show the second floor. The sliver of doorway seen at the left is the entrance to the upstairs.
This theater was around for quite a while before being renamed the Strand, and had operated as the Colonial Theatre and the Gem Theatre. This is from the entry (#57) for 236 Main Street on a 1979 list of historic buildings in downtown Hobart compiled by the Hobart Historical Society:
“236 Main Street…. was the Colonial Theater owned by Ed Spencer who sold to Pliny J. Truesdell who sold to H.T. Coons of Chicago, August 19, 1913. The Theater was called ‘The Gem’ until Sam Routes bought it and renamed it ‘The Strand.’ In 1913 the program listed three one-reel movies and two acts of vaudeville. [Ed] Prusieckis took over The Strand in 1939. It is now a saloon. This building and the next one on the corner were built in 1893.”
Tinseltoes' link to Boxoffice is no longer working. Here are fresh links to the first page and second pageof the article.
The article notes that the Art Theatre was designed by Chicago theater architect Erwin G. Frederick.
I should have noted in my previous comment that the Ridge Theatre and was renamed the Glen Theatre in 1968.
The January 4, 1941, issue of Showman’s Trade Review reported that James and Peter Bikos, operators of the Roxy Theatre, were contemplating a new theater to be built at Broadway and 39th Avenue. I don’t believe the project was carried out, but later that year V. U. Young began construction on the Ridge Theatre, located around the corner from the Roxy.
Additional research has revealed that James and Peter Bikos were cousins, not brothers, but Peter Bikos' brothers Dan and Nick also operated theaters in Gary.
The Roosevelt Theatre was operated by the Nick Bikos Theatre Company. Nick Bikos was involved in movie exhibition it Gary at least as early as 1919 and was operating the Roosevelt at least as early as 1932.
The correct spelling of the theater’s name is Tolleston, which is the district of Gary in which it was located.
The Tolleston Theatre was one of several Gary houses operated by the Nick Bikos Theatre Company. Other houses in the local chain included the Roosevelt, Indiana, and Fifth Avenue Theatres.
The February 18, 1956, issue of Boxoffice said that the Roxy Theatre was being converted into retail space.
The Roxy was one of several Gary theaters operated by the Bikos brothers.