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Hmm, sounds like something out of the Phantom.
Could possibly get a hint at what the chandelier might have been like by looking at other Allen theaters since C Howard Crane designed all of them for the Allens and they bore striking resemblances. The fixtures hanging in the two opera boxes were more art deco and may have been added when the organ was removed since the back of the boxes were heavily draped. I recall fluorescent lighting in the ticket area, and pot lights in the inner lobby around the concession stand. Also, they had a row of planter boxes in front of the lobby windows looking out to Donald St loaded with sanseveria plants (a la your local Chinese restaurant). Everything about that remodelling had 1950 written all over it.
Actually it isn’t. Several theaters predated it, including the Burton Cummings aka Walker which opened in 1907, the Bijou 1915, The Orpheum, Dominion, Winnipeg, Pantages, and if I dig far enough there’s a few more…all of which were in existence before the Lyceum (1920). Unfortunately, some of the info is very sketchy or non existent. Also, some of the theaters started life as live performance venues (vaudeville, etc) and gravitated to film later on as part of their presentations, with movies eventually taking over completely.
For sure it had been repainted, since none of the decorating you mention was original, especially the avocado green ceiling. At one time the mezzanine lobby was intact as built and you could get a real feel for what the lower level had been like, since it still possessed the original furnishings and lamps. You’re right, I’d forgotten about the Capitol chandelier. Under the balcony there were recessed stained glass fixtures with a spiderweb pattern opaque glass in them. The Met’s chandelier had a lot more sparkle to it (when it was clean).
The Capitol originally had a Warren 3/13 organ which was removed c1947. The organ is currently installed in the O'Brien theater in Renfrew Ontario, along with parts from two other area theater organs.
Now that I think of it, pink and rust were not in the original color scheme. In fact the walls had inset panels of rose and gold damask. As far as I recall the dome was deep blue. Surrounding the dome were cartouches containing allegorical figures.
I suspect the Met suffered a ‘remuddling’ through the years. It’s been a long time since I was last inside, but it was very lavish originally and far from bland. There were boxes to either side of the proscenium (lacking in the Capitol) which fronted the organ grilles. Also, the Met had an enormous crystal chandelier in the dome with matching wall sconces throughout the auditorium as well as cove lighting, whereas the Capitol just had cove lighting in the dome (although the dome was gilded, casting a golden hue overall). The 1950’s remodelling to the Met’s ticket area, lobby and lower facade was considered the last word at the time but looks silly with the original Palladian windows above and classic facade of the rest of the building. It was sad to see the Capitol being demolished. We
can only hope that the Met can be brought back to life before it’s too late.
The Northstar was located more or less on the site of the earlier Lyceum theater which was demolished in 1968 along with most of that city block to make way for the Radisson Hotel and parking garage.
I have it as being 1850 seats on opening in 1920. These could have been replaced with wider seats and more space between rows thereby reducing the capacity. Originally there had been an organ installed but no record exists that I’ve been able to find as to make, model, or when it might have been removed.
Also, the Green Blankstein & Russell remodelling consisted of relocating the ticket lobby to the north end of the building, installation of a concession island in the center of the original main floor lobby and replacing the original entrance and front with maroon vitrolite facing. A new marquee was installed (still there) as well as a new vertical. The original spelled out the name Metropolitan in individual bulbs. It was replaced with one that just read ‘MET’ with a bullseye above and below the name, radiating outward with chaser bulbs. It has been removed. The theater somehow avoided being divided, but it’s future is still uncertain and it remains shuttered. (condition unknown)
At the risk of offending just about everyone, it would seem to me that RCMH might do better staying away from the nativity sequence altogether and stick with entertainment. Leave the religious aspects to those institutions recreating nativity scenes already and in surroundings better suited to it.
It’s interesting that the Allen brothers holdings extended to Cleveland. So far all I’ve been able to learn about them is that they began building their empire with their first major house in Calgary in 1913, followed by others all across Canada. Apparently they were overextended and forced into bankruptcy. Since they operated as an independent chain they could not compete with the much better funded Famous Players corporation. Most, if not all, their theaters in Canada were taken over by Famous Players. According to sources C. Howard Crane was the architect for all the Allen theaters. The c1920 Allen theater in Winnipeg still stands, renamed the Metropolitan in 1923 after Famous Players took over, but has been shuttered since 1988. I believe the city owns it now, with no plans for it’s future. It is still a single screen theater.
Bob, the Roxy’s organ was a comedy of errors from day one. Installing it under the stage rather than the conventional approach of organ chambers on either side of the prosecenium was error number one. With musicians in the pit, the sound was obscured (and must have been hell for the musicians) since the orchestra masked the sound. Extending the stage apron blocked the sound completely. The main console was buried at the bottom of the lift. One of the managers hit on the idea of moving the console to one of the side boxes, but the only way for the organ to be heard was through the house PA system (barely hi-fi at the time). Finally, the perpetual leaking from the ice rink through the stage floor ruined it completely.
Apparently the Niagara Frontier Theatre Organ Society (NFTOS) has undergone a name change. They are now known as the Riviera Theatre and Organ Preservation Society (RTOPS)….I’m sure we wish them all the best.
22 miles??? Umm, I always thought the lyrics to the song went “…..26 miles across the sea, Santa Catalina waiting for me………” or maybe the island is on the move, drifting towards California proper. I knew those offshore earthquakes, sooner or later, would do it.
I had the opportunity to attend a 1925 silent movie last night at the Walker aka Burton Cummings theater. It was the reconstructed ‘Phantom of the Opera’ with Lon Chaney Sr and was part of a two night performance. The 2nd night the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ is being offered. Both films were presented with musical score played by live full symphony orchestra. According to the preamble before the movie, the score was assembled from the original film distribution notes supplied with notations as to what music was to be played for each scene and action. The presentation went off flawlessly with perfect synchronization of music and action cues.
It was a perfect opportunity to see classic movies played in a house that once offered such fare every day. I also wanted to see how the restored theater looks. It appears that monies spent so far have gone into restoring the auditorium only. The original ceiling has been revealed, covered up and lowered years ago when it was operated by Odeon. The 2nd balcony has also been rebuilt. New seats have been
installed on the main floor. Although sight lines are excellent in the first balcony (where I was seated), new seating with additional
leg room is desperately needed there. Much of the original decoration has been restored, but there are still traces of the Odeon ‘remuddling’ still evident with 1950’s era light fixtures and traces of the all over teal blue color scheme that the theater had been liberally covered in. Odeon’s solution was to paint every available surface in the same color thereby wiping out any detail. The plaster rosettes contained in the proscenium arch have been restored and highlighted as well as replacing the light fixtures in them and lighting them for the first time in 50 years. There are still a few holes in the ceiling from recessed light fixtures to be plastered over, but at least in the cover up job done, the original light fixtures were left in place and are now in operation.
Here and there in the lobbies and stairwells paint scrapings have been done to reveal original color schemes. This will eventually be restored to the original scheme.
The theater still has a long way to go before it is returned to it’s original appearance. Outside of the auditorium, nothing has been done to alter the marquee, entrance, ticket area or main foyer. It still looks the same as it did in the Odeon years, perhaps a little the worse for wear now. Also, the stage house, while it might have been adequate for it’s original purpose, is not huge by today’s standards and that will limit the type of offerings that can be presented. I might add, however, that the acoustics were excellent judging from last night’s performance. I heard no complaints from anyone who attended.
The Walker was renamed for Burton Cummings (of Guess Who rock fame) in return for donating portions of performance fees and doing promotional work for the theater. Since that announcement, approximately two years ago, little if anything has been done from all outward appearances.
It’s doubtful that the organ was still in the theater prior to TOY taking over and refurbishing it. A succession of operators over the years who just didn’t care allowed the place to fall into a serious state of disrepair. When restoration was first proposed it was reported that little of the original detail was still in place. I’m certain that the organ had been sold off years before.
PT. Information regarding the fate of the Garrick (Wicks) organ came from various sources, some of it hearsay. Some also came from a book on pipe organs located in this province. Unfortunately the information contained in the book on local theater organs is incomplete, incorrect, or in some cases nonexistent, other than saying a particular theater had once contained an organ. It had been reported that due to mishandling by inept persons during removal and storage, much of the Garrick organ had been damaged. Thankfully, you were able to salvage and restore it.
I do recall that Agnes Forsythe as well as Allan Caron were featured
artists playing the Garrick organ and have heard both of them play. By the time I returned to this city, the theater was closed, the organ and the players were gone. For that matter, only two theater organs originally here are still in operation. Both have been reinstalled (with modifications) in local churches. I’ve since tracked down three others, as well as a Fotoplayer, all currently in Ontario.
I somehow doubt that the Salvation Army would have kept the mural above the marquee either, unless they tried to palm it off as Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.
I recall that movie and got a laugh out of that sequence. It brought back memories of ‘dish nights’ at one of the local theaters. I wish they’d show it again in lieu of “A Christmas Story' which lately has been run into the ground on a number of tv channels. Shepherd’s other opus of summer vacation at ‘Ollie Hopnoodles Haven of Bliss’ is also seldom aired. I’ve never quite figured out the exact time frame that these stories took place, but I’m thinking it must have been pre WWII and in an era when many movie palaces still existed.
Had S. L. ‘Roxy’ Rothafel not been ousted as grand poohbah of RCMH immediately after opening, who knows what direction presentations there might have taken. There is every possibility that it might have followed his previous efforts at his namesake theater just down the street.
The lamps you’re referring to have /SSB in the stock number, the SSB indicating ‘silvered bowl’. They came in several versions, with the /SSB type having a mirror-like bowl that concentrated the reflected beam, while other styles had a dull silver finish that diffused the beam slightly. I used to have track lighting with reflectors that used this type of bulb. Likely you won’t find them at your local Home Depot or hardware store these days. About the only place that would stock them now would be lighting supply houses. In addition to Westinghouse, GE, Sylvania and Osram made them too. Still, if they’re available, you’d think the management would make the effort and relamp with the proper type.
Patsy, I lived not too far from both the Colvin and the Granada. I saw the Colvin being demolished…sad! I went to the Granada a couple of times…caught the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ there when they went all out with audience participation. They ran it every weekend for several years as I recall. Later Rocky Horror moved to the Amherst, just across from UB with weekend midnight showings. For the longest time after the Granada closed it had ‘for rent’ signs on it. Eventually the marquee was removed and the theater entrance was boarded over. I never went around to the rear to see if the auditorium was still there or had been demolished. I do recall
seeing the comedy and tragedy masks in the stonework above the
The listing for the Colvin theater’s address is inaccurate. It was on Kenmore Ave, east of Colvin Blvd in Kenmore NY. The dividing line between the city of Buffalo and Kenmore runs down the middle of Kenmore Av and the theater was on the Kenmore side. Around the time that it closed, there was an article about the theater in one of the local papers about the family that built it and it’s unique upstairs apartment with the window overlooking the auditorium as well as the crying room downstairs. The group that built the senior’s hi rise at the corner of Colvin and Kenmore Av. extended their holdings and built a 2nd seniors complex on the theater site.
I drove by that intersection of South Park and Bailey Avenue countless times and there is absolutely no hint that the building had a former life as a theater. It must have been a small theater since the laundromat that’s there now is not huge.
Having worked in retail in a large city in years past, I have adopted a somewhat jaded opinion of the Christmas season. Being bombarded by the insanity that the season seems to bring out in people I am now of the “let’s just get it over with” philosophy. If I feel that I need an uplifting experience, I’ll go to Lourdes or Palmyra NY and see the Passion Play. Let’s see, they hold that about every ten years…that should be enough. RCMH might do better with a lighter touch. Oh, to be able to go back to a simpler time!