Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Selma Walton Theatre on May 16, 2015 at 9:23 pm

The Walton Theatre had opened on August 10, according to the November 14, 1910, issue of The Moving Picture World. The original seating capacity was 500, 122 of them being in the balcony, and the rows were thirty-six inches apart, which was very generous spacing for a theater of that period.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Loew's Star Theatre on May 14, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Not surprisingly, Rochester’s own Leon H. Lempert, Jr. designed Gordon’s Photoplay Theatre. Here is an item from the June 26, 1912, issue of The American Architect:

“ROCHESTER—Gordon Brothers are planning to go ahead immediately with the construction of the new theatre in Clinton Ave. North, just north of the Masonic Temple. The theatre is to cost about $90,000 and is to be for vaudeville and moving pictures. Leon Lempert, 31 Pearl St., is the architect.”
The March 26, 1913, issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror ran this description of Gordon’s Photoplay:
“The Gordon photoplay house of Rochester. N. Y.,… is a fair example of the magnificent structures being erected in the larger cities throughout the country for the display of motion pictures. It was built by the Gordon Brothers Amusement Co., of which N. H. Gordon, of Boston, is managing director. The total cost of construction and equipment totalled $250,000. The house seats 1,827 people, 911 on the main floor and 916 in the balcony.

“A novel feature of the theater is a moving stairway used to convey patrons to the balcony floor. It is eighty-nine feet long, being eleven feet longer than any other of its kind used in a theater. With twentyseven five-foot exits opening directly out of doors, fifteen on the ground floor and twelve in the balcony, it is estimated that the entire audience can leave the building in a trifle more than three minutes.

“The screen, concave in shape and measuring nineteen feet five inches by fourteen feet five inches, is said to be the only one of its kind in use in New York State. Even from the most remote seats the pictures are clearly in view. On either side of the screen are stages set with columns, draperies, ferns, etc., and adjoining these are two art panels, one representing mirth and the other music.

“The organ installed was built by M. P. Moller. and is called a four manuel or console organ. It is the largest instrument of its type now in use. Richard Henry Warner, late of the Church of the Ascension, New York, is the organist. Other music is supplied by an orchestra of eleven pieces, under the direction of T. Quiry, of the Boston Conservatory of Music.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Coliseum Theater on May 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm

There was a Coliseum Theatre operating in Juneau at least as early as 1917, when it was mentioned in the September issue of the official organ of the Washington State Music Teachers' Association, Music and Musicians. It is the theater depicted in the 1918 photo kencmcintyre linked to.

On December 7, 1922, a local newspaper reported the W. D. Gross had bought property next to the Alaskan Hotel and planned to build a 1,000-seat theater on the site, after which the old Coliseum would be converted into a dance hall. I don’t know if this project was carried out or not, but if it was then the theater that got the Kimball organ in 1928 might have been the second Coliseum Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

The web page kencmcintyre linked to is gone, but PSTOS has this page about the Palace, with a couple of exterior photos, though both were taken from oblique angles.

A brief biography of John Spickett, original operator of the Palace, says that he was a former theatrical performer, producer and manager who settled in Juneau in 1898, and entered the movie business after his term as the local postmaster ended in 1912. His first venture was called the Orpheum, and after it closed he operated the Palace and another house called the Dream. The Dream closed in the late 1920s, and about the same time he sold the Palace to Lawrence Kubley, operator of theaters at Ketchikan.

It was Kubley who renamed the house the Capitol. He remodeled the theater and reopened it under the new name in January, 1931.

Spickett’s biography is one of many that were published by a fraternal organization called Pioneers of Alaska, the collection being available online in this PDF.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Uptown Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I’ve found a reference to the Uptown Theatre in Juneau advertising “Family Night” with an admission price of 25 cents in May, 1955.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Revilla Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 3:19 pm

I’ve noticed that (at least in the PDFs I have) in some of the editions from the 1950s the FDY’s drop the complete lists of movie theaters they had previously included and provide only lists of theaters operated by chains, which leaves out a lot of independent houses. I hadn’t noticed that they dropped an entire (future) state from the listings.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Revilla Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 8:07 am

The December 14, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World had an article about Alaska’s movie theaters. It said that L. H. Kubley, who had recently sold his Dream Theatre in Ketchikan, was planning to build a new house in that town. The original Dream Theatre was renamed the Liberty by its new owner, Jack Barbour.

Kubley’s new house was apparently the one that became the Revilla, so the house could have opened in 1919. The name change to Revilla was made in the late 1920s, according to this article about the Kubley family.

The June 21, 1952, issue of Boxoffice had a brief item saying that B. F. Shearer and his associate Lawrence Kubley were taking bids for the construction of a new, 700-seat theater on the site of the Revilla Theatre in Ketchikan. I don’t know if this project was carried out or not. If it was then later editions of the FDY should (but might not) list the house with an increased seating capacity.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 7:35 am

The December 14, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World had an article about Alaska’s movie theaters. It said that Ketchikan then had two theaters: the 225-seat Grand, operated by A. D. Bosworth, and, about one block away, the 330-seat Liberty, operated by Jack Barbour.

The Liberty had recently been renamed, having been the called Dream Theatre by its previous owner, L. H. Kubley, who had operated it for about five years. The Dream had been Ketchikan’s first movie house. Barbour had remodeled the Dream inside and out, and had expanded the house from its former 280 seats.

Kubley planned to open a new theater in Ketchikan, but the article gave no details about that project. This article about the Kubley family says that, in the late 1920s, Lawrence Kubley held a contest to rename his Dream Theatre and the winning name was Revilla. That Dream Theatre must have been the new house that the article said Kubley was intending to build.

This page at the British Columbia Movie Theatres web site says that in December, 1929, the Liberty Theatre in Ketchikan was the first house in Alasaka to be wired for Photophone sound pictures. It had been beaten to the punch as Ketchikan’s first theater with sound by the rival Coliseum Theatre, which had been equipped for Vitaphone and Movietone pictures in June, 1929.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mode Theatre on May 11, 2015 at 5:53 am

A March, 2014, article about the Mode Theatre can be found on this page of the web site of The Republic, the local newspaper. No photos, unfortunately, but the story says that the Mode Theatre opened on December 3, 1937.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theatre on May 11, 2015 at 5:35 am

The Knights of Pythias Building, also known as Castle Hall, was built in 1905-1906. The project included an amusement hall on the ground floor at the rear of the three-story structure. This hall had a level floor and portable seats, and was intended to accommodate a variety of events including dances.

The building was dedicated in January, 1906, and on September 3 that year the amusement hall began operating as the Orpheum Theatre, the first vaudeville house in Columbus. Sometime after 1909, a new owner changed the name of the house to the Crystal Theatre. In 1915 the theater was rebuilt with a proper sloped floor, and a balcony was added. In the later 1910s the house was renamed again, becoming the American Theatre. It had been renamed the Rio Theatre by 1939, probably at the same time it was remodeled in a Streamline Modern style.

The original architect of the Knights of Pythias Building was Elmer E. Dunlap, but I’ve been unable to discover who designed the Crystal Theatre rebuilding of 1915 or the 1930s remodeling as the Rio.

Most of this information comes from various posts on the Historic Columbus Indiana Message Board, but the information is scattered over several pages, so I won’t link to all of them. Near the bottom of this page is a postcard showing the Knights of Pythias Building as it originally looked, and some patron reminiscences of the Rio Theatre can be found on this page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on May 10, 2015 at 12:48 am

It would probably be best to delete them, but save the information for when a Sandusky Star page is added.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Star Theatre on May 10, 2015 at 12:28 am

David: The article you linked to is about the theaters in Sandusky, so the Star theater it mentions is the one in the lakefront city. Upper Sandusky is an entirely different town some fifty miles inland from the lake. The only thing they have in common is that they are both located along (and named for) the Sandusky River. I don’t think there is a Market Street in Upper Sandusky. The Star Theatre in Sandusky is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures. Also, the photo currently displayed above depicts that theater, not the Star in Upper Sandusky.

Here is a photo of the Star in Upper Sandusky. The caption says that Roscoe Cuneo opened the Star in the 1930s, though the 1913 book I cited in my previous comment says it opened in 1910. As the theater in the photo is quite old fashioned the house it shows was undoubtedly the same one operating in the 1910s, and the caption is mistaken about the opening period. The sign advertising an admission price of five cents is evidence that the photo is much earlier than the 1930s.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Theater on May 7, 2015 at 11:38 pm

The plans for the renovation of the Rock Theatre were prepared by the firm of Myers Anderson Architects, with offices in Pocatello, Idaho, and Evanston, Wyoming.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Wilson Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Several photos and three renderings of the Wilson Theatre project can be found in this 2009 album on the Facebook site of Myers Anderson Architects, the firm that handled the renovations.

The Wilson Theatre is open with live events. Here is the official web site.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 7:16 pm

A few photos of the reopened Strand Theatre can be found on its Facebook page. I don’t know what the interior was like at the time of the 2007 fire, but the designers of the rebuilding, Myers Anderson Architects, have gone with a classic Streamline Modern look. Myers Anderson have designed two other theater renovation projects: the Rock Theatre in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and the Wilson Theatre in Rupert, Idaho.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 4:04 pm

The Nashville Bijou was originally built for Jake Wells' Richmond, Virginia, chain the Bijou Theatre Company. Beginning in the mid-1910s, Wells gradually retrenched to his Virginia holdings, selling off houses throughout the south to other firms. The Nashville Bijou was one of several theaters that were picked up by the Starr Family’s Bijou Amusement Company.

The September 15, 1904, issue of the Richmond Times Dispatch ran this item about the opening of the Nashville house the previous night:


“Opening of the Nashville Bijou Theatre Last Night.

“Manager McKee, of the Bijou Theatre, received a message from Manager Jake Wells, at Nashville, Tenn., last night, in reference to the opening of the new Bijou Theatre at that place. The message stated that the opening was entirely satisfactory, and that the house was crowded with an enthusiastic audience to see Walter Edwards and his fine company in a revised edition of the ‘Sign of the Four.’ Mr. Allan Jenkins, formerly of this city, and well known here as a newspaper and theatrical man, is the local manager of the Nashville house. The new Birmingham theatre, of the Wells circuit, was opened most successfully on Monday night, with the ‘Midnight Marriage Company.’ Mr. Mortie Seamon, of this city, is the local manager of this theatre for Manager Wells. The new theatre here will be ready for the opening Thanksgiving week. The attraction has not yet been settled upon, but Manager McKee said last night that one of the best of attractions would be offered. Manager Wells will be back in Richmond about Saturday.”

During this period when Jake Wells was rapidly expanding his chain, the new theaters being built for the Bijou Theatre Company, including the Nashville Bijou, were designed by architect Fuller Claflin of the New York firm the Amalgamated Theatre Building Association.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Strand Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 3:21 pm

The Richmond Times-Dispatch of March 5, 1902, said that Jake Wells had returned from a visit to New York during which he had consulted architect Fuller Claflin and visited some of the city’s newest theaters in preparation for replacing his Richmond Bijou. Claflin’s firm, the Amalgamated Theatre Building Association, subsequently designed several houses for Wells’s Bijou Theatre Company, including the new Bijou in Richmond, the chain’s flagship.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyceum Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Here is a brief item about the Lyceum from the September 10, 1904, issue of the New York Morning Telegraph:

“Fuller Claflin, architect of the Amalgamated Theatre Building Association of 1440 Broadway, left last night for Elmira to close contracts for the building of the new Lyceum for Col. D. C. Robinson.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm

The February 26, 1906, issue of The Atlanta Constitution had an article about the Bijou Theatre planned for that city, and noted that its architect, Fuller Claflin, was drawing plans for several other projects for the Bijou Theatre Company, including this house in Chattanooga.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Theatre on May 7, 2015 at 4:31 am

All the photo links above are dead. This might be the 1906 photo of the Bijou, and this one dates from 1934.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Royal Theatre on May 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm

I don’t know if one or the other address is wrong, if the Royal later moved to a new location nearby, or if Chattanooga altered its numbering system at some point, but the January 22, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World had this item about Chattanooga’s Royal Theatre:

“Chattanooga, Tenn.—The handsome new moving picture theater, the Royal, situated at 233 East Main street, erected at a cost of $15,000 by Weiner & Block, has made its initial bow to the public.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bijou Cinema 7 on May 6, 2015 at 6:24 pm

The former Bijou Cinema 7 has been converted into a mixed use project called The Block, with retail space, food service, and a fitness center equipped for rock climbing, which is apparently one of Chattanooga’s favorite activities. Even the facade of the building has been reconfigured to provide space for rock climbing, some of it on transparent walls (probably some sort of polycarbonate rather than glass.)

Their web site features a slide show. The building no longer contains any trace of the theater, and I’d never guess that it had once housed one.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Shawnee Theatre on May 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Although the item gives the location of the new theater as 37th and Broadway, this project that was listed in the February 26, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World was undoubtedly this house:

“New Shawnee Attractive.

The Shawnee theater, located at 37th and Broadway, in Louisville, is preparing to open its new theater inside of the next few days. The house has just been completed and is a very attractive suburban theater. A five-piece orchestra will be used at the opening, and it is understood that this musical arrangement will be continued, although it is unusual for an outskirts house. The operating room is equipped with two of the latest Standard machines.“

An earlier item about the project appeared in the November 6, 1915, issue of the same publication:

“Tom Trakes has just taken out a building permit for a brick motion picture house to be erected at 3723 West Broadway, in the center of a district which is rapidly building up. This theater will be on the western outskirts of the city, and in a district where a very good class of business is to be obtained. The theater will cost about $8,000. The theater will have a seating capacity of 500 and will be the ‘Shawnee.’”

The project was also mentioned in the November 6 issue of The American Contractor, but no architect was named. I believe that the notation “private plans” included in the item meant that the building had been designed by the builder or the owner.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Granby Theater on May 5, 2015 at 5:02 pm

I finally discovered what happened to the original Granby Theatre that Jake Wells built in 1900. On January 1, 1918, a fire that started in the theater destroyed almost two blocks of downtown Norfolk, including the Monticello Hotel. A New York Times story about the disaster can be read at GenDisasters.

The theater had apparently been closed for some time prior to the fire. The new Granby Theatre was built in 1916, according to this paragraph from a brochure for a self-guided tour of Norfolk:

“(B. 1916) The Granby Theater was designed by local architectural firm Neff & Thompson to replace a 1901 vaudeville house of the same name located behind today’s Federal Building. The Granby Theater was originally affiliated with Paramount Films. Patronage declined in the mid-20th century, and the theater closed in 1987, however it was reopened in 2005.”
The partnership of architects Thomas P. Thompson and Clarence A. Neff was established around 1902 and was dissolved in 1933.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Colonial Theater on May 5, 2015 at 2:25 pm

A 1907 guidebook called Illustrated standard guide to Norfolk and Portsmouth and historical events of Virginia 1607 to 1907 describes the Colonial Theatre briefly:

The Colonial Theater is located on Tazewell Street, between Granby and Boush streets. This is a new and modern playhouse, where only the highest class attractions are presented. This is one of the Schubert [sic], Belasco theaters, which insures only the very best productions of musical comedies, operas, and dramas. Prices of admission range from $2.00 to 25 cents according to location, and the seating capacity is about 1,800.“
A hotel was to be part of the Colonial Theatre project from the beginning, as noted in the October, 1905, issue of Engineering News:
"Norfolk, Va.—The Colonial Theater Co. has been organized by G. A. Woodward, R. W. Cooke and W. C. Cobb, to erect a combination theater and hotel at a cost of $150,000.”
The November 23, 1905, issue of Manufacturers' Record had another item about the project:
“Norfolk, Va.—Theater and Hotel.—The Colonial Theater Co., previously reported incorporated to erect theater and hotel, is having plans prepared by Albert Swazey [sic], New York, for the erection of seven-story building, to cost $100,000: the theater to have a seating capacity of 2000. C. A. Woodward is president.”
The December 14 issue of the same publication had a notice that J. H. Pierce had the $125,000 contract to erect the theater. Architect William Albert Swasey designed some thirty theaters in New York City alone, and numerous houses in other cities.