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The Family Theatre was built as the Hersker Opera House in 1895. It was a second-floor theater, and housed Hersker’s hardware store on the ground floor, at 101 E. Centre Street. The house had been renamed Family Theatre by 1909, the name under which it was listed in that year’s edition of the Cahn theater guide. At some point the building was gutted and rebuilt as the State Theatre, a ground floor house.
There is a photo of the Family Theatre on page 34 of the book Mahanoy Area, published by The Mahanoy Area Historical Society (Google Books preview>)
In this early panoramic viewof Mahanoy City, the Family Theatre building looms over the town’s lower business buildings at center right.
The May 27, 1922, issue of The American Contractor reported that the Family Theatre in Mahanoy City would receive alterations and additions, planned by Philadelphia architect Benjamin R. Stevens. This is the only theater project listed among the works of Benjamin Rush Stevens at the web site of Philadelphia Architects and Buildings.
Bhamwiki’s Famous Theatre page has two photos of the house, a cropped version of one of which has already been uploaded to our photos page. An earlier Famous Theatre operated at 306 18th Street North around 1925.
The Champion Theatre can be partly seen in this 1940s photo of the Famous Theatre. The Champion’s marquee is at the far left, though the name of the house isn’t visible.
Premocar— Made in Birmingham, by J.D. Weeks, a history of the Preston Motors Company, says that the North Birmingham Theatre opened in late 1923. However, he also says that the first movie shown there was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which was released in 1921 (IMDb says it premiered March 6 in New York.) The movie was quite successful, with extended runs in major cities and even enjoying a re-release in 1926, so it is possible that it was still available and a good choice for the opening of a neighborhood theater in late 1923.
The April 15, 1922, issue of The American Contractor carried a notice saying that Memphis architect R. B. Spencer was preparing plans for the rebuilding of a burned theater for the Marion Theater Company at Clarksdale, Mississippi. The project was to cost $75,000.
The caption of a photograph of a Mr. A. Alexander Wall, Vice President of the Alabama Exhibitor’s League, appearing in the July 12, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World says that he “…is connected with the Odeon Theater of Birmingham, Ala., and operates five theaters in other towns.”
Bhamwiki’s brief entry for the Odeon says that “[i]n 1916 it was known as the Odeon One, to distinguish it from the Odeon Two on 20th Street.” At that time the Odeon One was a five cent house subscribed to the Mutual service, and known for showing Chaplin movies.
This photo depicting a group of boy scouts standing in front of the 2nd Avenue Odeon is dated 1925.
The Lyric was definitely at 325 SE Dewey Avenue, and it has been demolished. Check the distinctive cornice and parapet of the building housing Chad Louis Designs (321 SE Dewey) and Southern Abstract (323 SE Dewey.) It is identical to the cornice and parapet seen adjacent to the theater in the 1947 photo added by DavidZornig. Next door, where the theater was, is now a parking lot.
The Lee Theatre was almost entirely demolished to make way for its successor,the Vogue Theatre, in 1940. The article about the new house in the January 11, 1941, issue of Motion Picture Herald said that only one wall of the original theater, and that one shared as a common wall with an adjoining building, was retained in the rebuilding. The Lee was 30x70 feet and seated 340, while the new Vogue was 45x140 feet and seated 540. Larry Larsen was the architect for the rebuilding.
I suspect that Mr. Lyons was speaking of another theater, perhaps the Adams Theatre at 1898 W. Adams. Bard’s West Adams was a fairly large house, and Lou Bard always had organs installed in his theaters. This theater was even equipped with a stage house and presented vaudeville as well as movies in its early years, as did Bard’s two other big houses, the Colorado in Pasadena and the Garfield in Alhambra.
Here is a movie review by manager A. R. Rosenbloom of the Home Theatre, Rochester, Pennsylvania, from the March 13, 1926, issue of The Moving Picture World
“LIMITED MAIL. (7,144 feet). Star, Monte Blue. A box-office knockout. Picture is well directed and is filled with many laughs, thrills, and good suspense. Monte Blue very convincing in his part. One great picture. Tone, okay. Appeal, ninety-five percent.
“Mixed class town of 7,000. Admission 10-25. A. M. Rosenbloom. Home Theatre (350) seats), Rochester, Pa.”
“Mixed class town of 7,000. Admission 10-25. A. M. Rosenbloom. Home Theatre (350) seats), Rochester, Pa.”
JenniWiethe: You can upload photos to Cinema Treasures. Click on “Photos” button above the photo at the top of this page. Scroll to the bottom of the subsequent page. Click “Add New Photo” button, and follow upload instructions. Articles might be impossible to read because Cinema Treasures resizes files, and the size displayed isn’t very large. Readability would depend on the size of your original file, and how much it had to shrink to fit CT’s maximum size.
While the December 18, 1923, issue of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, writing about the new Lyric Theatre that was soon to open, explicitly stated of the new house that “…none of the wall space of the old Lyric [was] used in the new structure,” I doubt that was the case with the rebuilding of the second Lyric as the State in 1949. For one thing, the State has a stage house, and it seems very unlikely that the movie-oriented Butterfield interests would have built an entirely new, small town theater with a stage house as late as that year. It must have survived from the Lyric of 1923.
For another, the Record-Eagle article of 1923 was at pains to note the fire resistant design of the new Lyric, though it did say that parts of the theater featured wooden wall paneling. What with the paneling, and all the upholstery, draperies, carpets, and other accouterments of the theater there was undoubtedly plenty to burn in the 1949 fire, but it is very likely that the solidly built 1923 walls would have survived and that the State Theatre was built within them.
An article in the December 18, 1923, issue of the Traverse City Record-Eagle indicated that the second Lyric Theatre was an entirely new building, saying “[a]ll of the walls are new, none of the wall space of the old Lyric being used in the new structure.”
In short, I suspect that steelbeard1 was correct in saying that the Lyric (the second Lyric) “became” the State Theatre. The 1923 Record-Eagle article especially noted the fireproof construction of the new theater, so I think it very likely that the walls, and perhaps even the roof, survived the 1949 fire and are part of the State Theatre today.
Though it mispells the theater’s original name as Bronco, the October 2, 1972, issue of Boxoffice ran an item noting that this house had reopened as the Academy Theatre following a $75,000 remodeling. The Academy was operated by a new theater circuit based in Okalhoma City called the Heisman Theatre Corporation. Heisman was soon to open new four-plexes in Norman and Stillwater.
Cinema Treasures is the only source on the Internet that mentions a house called the Waurika Theatre (not even CinemaTour has it.) I think it might be a phantom name, or the name of a theater that operated only briefly, and long ago. Waurika’s principal and longest-running theater was called the Empress.
This photo might depict the site of the Empress Theatre. At least there is a sign saying “Empress Theater” on a vacant lot. It is a mid-block location, and it could be at 111 S. Main Street, so it could be the house on the 1923 map Lauren found. The Empress Theatre was in operation by 1912, though I don’t know if it was then in the same building depicted in the photo (CinemaTour lists both an Empress and a New Empress, though neither is given an address.) This item appeared in the September 27, 1912, issue of the Waurika News-Democrat:
“Manager GAIL DURHAM opened the Empress Theatre on Thursday night of last week for the season with a three night stand of MR. TRUMAN DEROAME Company of 12 people.”
The March 15, 1917, issue of Texas Trade Review and Industrial Record reported that a Mr. B. Divers planned to build a two-story, approximately 850-seat theater building, 50x140 feet, at Waurika. I don’t know if that project was carried out. It was too wide to have been on the lot in the photo, which looks to be about 25 feet.
Multiple items in construction journals in 1914 indicate that the Cresco Opera House was designed and built by a St. Paul firm called Monarch Theater Construction & Supply Co.
So far I’ve been able to find three other theater projects involving the same firm, all from 1914. One was the Auditorium Theatre in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The others were in Montevideo and Willmar, Minnesota. I’ve been unable to establish the identity of either so far, though the Montevideo house was probably called the Star.
The 1914-1915 edition of The American Motion Picture Directory lists a Grand Theatre at 214 1st Street in Montevideo. I haven’t been able to discover if it occupied the same building that now houses Hollywood on Main. The directory also lists a Montevideo Opera House, with no address.
A trade journal from 1914 noted an expansion underway at a Star Theatre in Montevideo, and a construction journal notes a new theater being built there for a Mr. Starbeck. Either of those might have become the Grand. In 1919, there is a reference to a Monte Theatre, and in 1923 to a State Theatre, so we are still missing some of Montevideo’s theater history.
The Auditorium Theatre was owned by George and Gustave Frellson. Mutiple items in construction journals from 1914 say that the $50,000 theater being built at Waukesha for the Frellsons was designed and built by a St. Paul firm that went by the name Monarch Theater Construction & Supply Co.
I’ve found two other theaters erected by the same design/build/outfitting firm, both 1914 projects; one at Willmar, Michigan, and the other at Creston, Iowa.
An article in the August 8, 2002, issue of The Clay County Leader said that the paper began publishing in 1932 from a building “…between the Royal Theater (previously the Majestic) and the building occupied by Brad Staggs Tailor and Cleaning Shop.”
Later, Henrietta had a theater called the Ritz, but I’ve been unable to discover if this was a third house or just a later name for the Majestic/Royal. As far as I know, the town’s other house, the Dorothy Theatre, never operated under any other name.
There was a house called the Dorothy Theatre in Henrietta prior to 1920. Operated by H. L. Bear and named for his daughter Dorothy, the theater was mentioned in the January 3, 1920, issue of Exhibitors Herald. The item said that Mr. Bear had purchased a lot adjoining the Dorothy and planned to build a 350-sea theater on it. The Dorothy was to be remodeled in the spring.
Mr. Bear’s plans for a new theater were apparently delayed, as they were announced again in the 1921-1922 edition of Wid’s Year Book, which was published in September, 1921. I’m not sure the plans were ever carried out.
Bear did eventually open a second house, though, as an item in the “Theatre Deals” column of the November 21, 1945, issue of The Film Daily said that he had sold the Dorothy Theatre and the old Ritz Theatre building. No location was given for the Ritz. The item said that he had operated the Dorothy for thirty years, which would give an opening year of about 1915.
Numerous sources indicate that the Dorothy was located on the east side of the Courthouse square. It was still in operation at least as late as 1966.
The May 29, 1963, fire that destroyed the Gem Theatre was noted in the June 3 issue of Boxoffice. Damage was estimated at $50,000. The theater had also suffered a major fire in 1952. The magazine had been unable to contact owner Claude Thorp to see if he intended to rebuild in Ryan or not. He also operated theaters in Waurika, Oklahoma, and Henrietta and Burkburnett, Texas.
The recent history of the Island Theatre has been troubled. Twice last year the building was declared unsafe by inspectors, the second time in November when part of the ceiling collapsed following inadequate repairs that were made in response to the first citation.
According to this article in the Vinyard Gazette of March 16, 2017, the town has ordered repairs to be done, and if the theater’s owners do not make them, is debating whether to have the repairs done at public expense and file alien on the building, or simply have the theater demolished.
The building “… is estimated to be about a century old…. and has been vacant for several years.” The issue is slated to be discussed at the town meeting on April 11.
The Palace Theatre was built by and originally operated by Sylvester Enea and his brother-in-law, David Solari. Solari, who had studied engineering for two years, acted as architect, as well as managing the theater once it opened.
This web page at Silent Era says that the Palace opened in 1910 and originally seated 600. It finished its run in the 1960s as a Spanish language movie house, and was demolished for the town’s urban renewal project in the 1970s.
The page quotes a 1911 magazine article about the Palace which notes that it had a “Welts Orchestrion”, which probably should have read Welte Orchestrion. In its early days the Palace also presented vaudeville on weekends.
A 1920s photo of a “Capital” Theatre in Tallahassee can be found on this web page at Florida Memory. A book called The Community of Cinema: How Cinema and Spectacle Transformed the American Downtown, by James Forsher, has this line on page 97:
“Before 1920, African Americans were forced to go to the Capital Theatre, started by Mrs. Yellowhair, a graduate of Florida A & M University, the historically black university in Tallahassee.”