Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Centre Cinema on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

Capsule movie reviews by O. Troyer of the Lyric Theatre, Rugby, N.D., were published in issues of Exhibitors Herald from 1920 through 1924.

The following item appeared in the May 8, 1926, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Rugby, N. D., will have a new theatre in August. J. A. Troyer, of the Lyric Theatre there, and his brother, O. O. Troyer, who has a theatre at Dickinson, are building the house.”
I don’t know if the new theater got built or not. It’s possible that it was just a new home for the Lyric.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:26 am

Someone was advertising in the classified section of The Moving Picture World in late 1913, seeking to buy a movie theater in a small town west of Chicago. The address the advertiser gave for responses was Grand Theater, Oakes, N.D.. The building in the photo does look old enough to have been around in 1913, so it might have been this same house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Trail Theatre on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:08 am

The Trail Theatre would not have opened until sometime the 1950s, as construction on New Town itself wasn’t begun until early that decade. New Town was built to replace three small towns that were inundated by Lake Sakakawea, the reservoir behind Garrison Dam. It’s possible that there was an earlier Trail Theatre in Van Hook, Legion Park, or Sanish, the towns drowned by the lake, and that its signage was moved to New Town.

This page at CinemaTour Forums has a photo of the back of the Trail Theatre, which shows that it was a bit unconventional for a quonset hut. Most quonsets have a semi-circular roof, but the Trail’s roof has a slight peak to it, like a Gothic arch. Perhaps this form made it easier for the roof to withstand North Dakota’s heavy snowfalls?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Alma Mater Theatre on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

Judging from Google Street View, the Alma Mater Theater operates in the auditorium of an old school.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about DelChar Theatre on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:17 am

NRHP nomination forms do sometimes have mistakes, but the Film Daily Yearbooks have more. This particular NRHP form, prepared by a planning firm in Fargo, cites Traill County assessment and real estate records as well as items published in the local newspapers as early as 1927 as sources, so it looks to be reliable.

The editors of the Yearbooks were not very good at updating their records, unfortunately. The theater in the neighborhood I grew up in was listed in the Yearbook as late as 1963, even though it had been converted into a church at least five years earlier. I’ve also found some cases where a theater didn’t get listed in the Yearbook until some years after it had opened.

The “Circuits” section of the Yearbooks is even more unreliable than the theater listings. I have come across theaters listed under circuits which had vanished from the main theater listings decades earlier.

Film Daily itself was probably more reliable overall than the Yearbooks, but even then you have to be wary of such things as seat counts, which were frequently wrong, and the magazine was loaded with misspellings and typos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Dixie Theater on Jul 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

A document from the Grundy County Historical Society mentions that the Dixie Theatre was across the street from a Presbyterian church that once stood at the southeast corner of Laurel and Depot Streets.

There is a photo of the theater at the bottom of page 85 of Marion County in Vintage Postcards, by Billyfrank Morrison (Google Books preview.) Judging from the photo, the Dixie must have been on Laurel Street at the northeast corner of Depot Street. The caption says that the theater was built in 1926 and closed in 1960, and the building burned down in the late 1970s.

The Dixie Theatre at Tracy City, Tennessee, was mentioned in the September 7, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World, so if the house in the photo was built in 1926 there was an earlier Dixie Theatre in Tracy City.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Herald Square Theatre on Jul 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

Ron: 1837 in your comment must be a typo. The Internet Broadway Database says that The French Maid, by Edward E. Rice, opened at the Herald Square Theatre in September, 1897. The length of the run is unknown, but perhaps the date on your clock indicates the closing of the play, an event that was sometimes observed by a ceremony of some sort. It might also commemorate the 100th performance of the play. If it opened in September and had eight or nine performances a week (six evening and two or three matinees) then December 20 would be about right for the 100th performance.

The theater itself was opened in 1883 as the New Park Theatre and was remodeled and reopened as the Herald Square Theatre in 1894.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Topic Theater on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

“Frank Gilbreath is now manager of the Topic Theater at Mandan, N. D., succeeding Wuerst & Foster,” said The Moving Picture World in July, 1914.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theater on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:21 am

There is modern construction at 106 Third Avenue NW, so the Palace has been demolished. There is a glimpse of the Palace Theatre’s marquee in this photo from the 1920s. The house can be seen in the background again in this 1933 photo

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Theater on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:09 am

The April 6, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World mentions Harry Hartman of the Palace Theatre, Mandan, North Dakota, as a recent visitor to Minneapolis. The May 4 issue of the same publication has this item:

“Harry L. Hartman, of the Palace theater, at Mandan, N. D., has boosted the Third Liberty Loan in his city with a specially constructed U-Boat on wheels, operated by a man, pedaling within. The U-Boat made a decided hit in the Loan drive at Mandan and brought some patrons to the Palace as well.”
Those are the earliest mentions by name of the Palace that I’ve found, but it’s likely that the Palace Theatre was the house Hartman was planning to build in the summer of 1916, according to the November 6, 1915, issue of MPW:
“H. L. Hartman, manager of the Grand theater at Mandan, N. D., has purchased the interest of Rex Sanderson in the Grand and Rex theaters and now is sole owner of both houses. Plans for erecting a new theater now will be held in abeyance until next summer.”
The October 7, 1916, issue of MPW indicated that the new theater project was nearing completion:
“Mandan. N. D. — H. L. Hartman has announced that the new Hartman theater here will be ready for the opening about October 15. This theater is said to be one of the finest not only in the Dakotas but in the entire northwest.”
There must have been some delay, judging from this item from the October 21 issue of the journal:
“Mandan. N. D. — The Grand theater has been closed. Shows will be given at the Rex until the new Mandan theater is opened.”
I haven’t yet found the exact opening date of the Palace Theatre, but it was probably open before the end of 1916.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about DelChar Theatre on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:02 am

The 1985 NHP nomination form for the Delchar Theatre (PDF here) says that the house opened on February 6, 1928. It was built by Charles M. Tolan, and the name was derived from combining his first name with that of his wife, Della. The form says that Tolan had operated theaters in Mayville since 1917, but doesn’t give names or addresses for any of them.

This PDF has a photo of the Delchar Theatre, apparently taken in 1985 for the NRHP nomination.

The NRHP form uses the -re spelling of the T word, but the theater’s official web site uses the -er spelling.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Esquire Theatre on Jul 13, 2014 at 6:50 am

A photo of the original, San Joaquin Street entrance building of the Yosemite Theatre, probably taken in the 1890s, can be found at the very bottom of the Stockton Theatres Over the Years page on Wright Realtors' web site. There is also a photo of the original proscenium arch with its advertising curtain.

Farther up the page (theaters are in alphabetical order) there are photos of the Main Street entrance of the house as the State and as the second Esquire.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Columbia Theater on Jul 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

Although first listed in directories in 1915, the Columbia Theatre was probably opened before the end of 1914. The Columbia was the house in this item from the May 2, 1914, issue of The American Contractor:

“Picture Theater (seating 1.400), 62x125. $40,000. Genesee nr. Mortimer st. Archt. Martin C. Miller, 1009 Mutual Life bldg. Owner Fred. Ullman, Mutual Life bldg. Archt. ready for bids about May 15th on construction with & without gallery, and with and without stage. Brick, terra cotta, fireproof, comp. roof, struct. & orn. iron.”
This house was probably a replacement for an earlier theater of the same name, as the New York Clipper mentioned a Columbia Theatre in Buffalo operated by Fred Ullman in October, 1912.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about New Ariel Theater on Jul 10, 2014 at 7:34 am

This Microsoft Word document has a list of Buffalo’s early nickelodeons. The original Ariel Theatre that the New Ariel replaced was right down the block at 173-175 High Street from 1910 to 1914. It, too, has been demolished.

The New Ariel must have opened in late 1914. The January 2, 1915, issue of Motography had this announcement of the opening:

“The new Ariel motion picture palace on High street, Buffalo, has been opened. The beautiful new structure has a capacity of 700 and is equipped with all the latest appliances. Joseph Welte is manager.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Community Theatre on Jul 10, 2014 at 6:38 am

The Electric Theatre probably opened in December, 1914. This is item from the January 2, 1915, issue of Motography: “The Electric theater at Litchville has been opened to the public.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harlo Theater on Jul 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm

A lawsuit was filed against various film distributors and theater chains by Don Harlo, operator of the Harlo Theatre at St. Joseph, Michigan, on February 5, 1953. The record of the suit indicates that Harlo began operating the theater on July 1, 1944. It doesn’t say if the theater was new at that time or was an existing theater that Mr. Harlo took over.

An early comment by James Dumdei on this Facebook post says that the Harlo Theatre was at 107 State Street. This location opens the possibility that the Harlo was a house previously called the Cozy Theatre, which was listed at 105 State Street in a 1940 Benton Harbor-St. Joseph directory.

The site of the Harlo Theatre is now part of the parking lot of a hotel.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Majestic Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 9:43 am

I still haven’t found a first name for the Mr. Cooney who was probably the original architect of the Majestic Theatre in 1910, but the September 18, 1920, issue of Motion Picture News has this item about a remodeling of the house:

“Bloomington — The Majestic theatre closed on June 5th to be entirely remodeled. Mr. A. T. Simmons is the architect, in charge of the improvements. A new ventilating system and new operating booth and equipment are a few of the changes.”
Architect Aaron T. Simmons is best remembered as the probable designer of all 50 houses in the historic Cedar Crest neighborhood of Normal, Illinois, and of 71 Carnegie libraries in 13 states. The remodeling of the Majestic is the only theater project to which I’ve been able to connect him so far.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

The original blueprints of the Princess Theatre are in the Arthur L. Pillsbury Collection at the McLean County Museum of History. Pillsbury was on of the leading architects in Bloomington, Illinois, over the three decades prior to his untimely death in an automobile accident in 1925. His involvement in the Princess Theatre project was noted in the April 15, 1916, issue of The American Contractor:

“LeRoy, III.—Moving Picture Theater & Store: 1 sty. & bas. 40x100. Archt. Arthur L. Pillsbury, 708 People’s Bank bldg., Bloomington, 111. Owner Marcus West, LeRoy. Plans In progress.”
The Pillsbury collection inventory list says that Pillsbury designed the theater in LeRoy for Marcus West in 1916, and it is listed as project #900. Pillsbury designed ten projects in LeRoy from 1905 to 1921.

How the building came to be attributed to W. W. Van Atta I don’t know. No architect of that name appears in any of the construction or design journals of the period, and every instance of his name on the Internet is connected with this theater. The Pillsbury collection inventory list gives the names of Pillsbury’s associates and successors, and no Van Atta is among them.

The source of the attribution appears to be the history page of the theater’s web site, but that history provides no original source or documentation for the claim. It does say that the manager of the theater in 1928 was a Harry W. Vanatta, so it sounds as though there could have been some conflation going on somewhere along the line.

In any case, until somebody can come up with sound documentation that a W. W. Van Atta did design this house, the presence of the actual 1916 blueprints in the Arthur L. Pillsbury collection provide a pretty good argument that we should attribute the design of the Princess Theatre to Pillsbury.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 7:45 am

The Gore Bros. and Sol Lesser took over the Belvedere and American Theatres in 1920. The acquisitions were announced in the September 20, 1920, issue of Motion Picture News.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Harvester Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 7:26 am

This item comes from the September 18, 1920, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Corcoran — Garfield Jones is building the new Harvester theatre on Whitley avenue. The theatre is rapidly nearing completion.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 7:15 am

The Lyric probably opened in 1910. An ad for Power’s projection equipment in the September 2, 1911, issue of The Moving Picture World included this encomium from the Houze Bros.:

“‘We have used the No. 6 machine for over a year and it has given us the best of satisfaction. Our patrons tell us that they have never seen a clearer or more steady picture.’ Pomona, Cal., June 10, 1911. Houze Bros., Lyric Theatre.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about American Theatre on Jul 9, 2014 at 6:51 am

When West Coast Theatres, Inc. was formed through the consolidation of the holdings of Gore Bros., Sol Lesser, and Adolph Ramish, the American and Belvedere Theatres in Pomona were among the thirty theaters that became part of the new circuit. The formation of the corporation was noted in the January 19, 1921, issue of The Film Daily.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jul 8, 2014 at 6:11 am

A list of movie theaters in the July 28, 1917, issue of The Billboard has only the Constantine Theatre listed for Pawhuska, with Albert Jackson as the manager of the 715-seat house. A list in the February 22, 1919, issue of The Billboard has only the Jackson Theatre in Pawhuska, and gives its seating capacity as 715. Again, Albert Jackson is the manager. I’m wondering if the identical seating capacities were a coincidence, or if the magazine conflated one theater with another one year, or if the names of theaters in Pawhuska did actually get shifted about during this period.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jul 8, 2014 at 6:09 am

I’m sorry if the comment comes across as hostile. The tone might be a bit curt, but it’s just a plain statement of the information I’ve come across, with no hostility intended (not even toward whoever it was at the State Historical Society who misidentified the 1913 photo of Masonic Hall. It was an understandable mistake, given the sign attached to the building.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Constantine Theater on Jul 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Mr. Constantine went bankrupt in 1926, and his theater changed hands. This item is from the September 11, 1926, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Albert Jackson, one of the pioneer theatre men in Oklahoma, who sold his theatre in Pawhuska, ‘The Jackson,’ to A. B. Momand early in the year, has again entered the theatre business in Pawhuska, temporarily at least. Jackson was recently appointed receiver of the Constantine Theatre by the Bankruptcy Court, with the understanding that if the theatre becomes solvent, it will again revert to Mr. Constantine.”
The September 25 issue of the same journal had a follow-up item:
“F. B. Pickrel and his associates who own the Majestic, Murray and Mission theatres at Ponca City, have just purchased the Constantine Theatre at Pawhuska, from the bankruptcy court. This sale releases Albert Jackson, who was appointed receiver by the court a few weeks ago. Pickrel will have charge of the Constantine Theatre in addition to the three Ponca City ones.”
The October 7, 1927, issue of Motion Picture News refers to Fred Pickrel’s “Hi-he-kat” Theatre in Pawhuska. Pickrel probably renamed the house the Kihekah not long after buying it. Motion Picture News had ongoing difficulty with the theater’s new name. As late as April 20, 1929, they called it the “Ki-he-kak” Theatre.