Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Liberty Theatre on May 13, 2015 at 4:35 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 2:53 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 2:35 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 9, 2015 at 9:48 pm

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 9, 2015 at 9:28 pm

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 8:38 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 7:35 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 4:16 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 1:04 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 12:21 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 12:11 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 10:54 am

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 1:31 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 3:49 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 3:24 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 1:00 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 2:02 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 11:25 am

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Capitol Theatre on May 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm

The theater in the Arcade Building was an early house called the Unique, 9 S. Capitol, which opened around 1906. I haven’t been able to discover how long it remained in operation. Also, the Capitol was not rebuilt in 1928- it was demolished and the Pekin Theatre built in its place.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Broadway Strand Theatre on May 3, 2015 at 12:51 pm

The web page Broan linked to in the first comment on this theater is gone from the Internet, and now the only web pages anywhere that mention an architect named J. H. Gernfeld are those at Cinema Treasures. As LouRugani noted, The Moving Picture World (December 1, 1917) attributed the design of the Broadway Strand Theatre to architect A. L. Levy. As Broan’s first comment on the Marshfield Theatre page notes, Levy designed that house too.

There is a surname Gernfeld, but as far as I can discover there was never an architect of that rare name in Chicago or anywhere else. Maybe J. H. Gernfeld was someone from Levy’s office (a clerk or draftsman perhaps) whose name was on a document where it shouldn’t have been, and somebody from the Historic Preservation Office got confused by it. Alexander L. Levy should be listed as architect of the Broadway Strand Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ritz Theatre on May 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm

The Crystal Theatre that was operating in 1943 (current second paragraph of introduction) must have been the one at 31 Market Square, which was called the Crystal from 1935 to 1946. If, as Ron Allen said, there was a Ritz Theatre on Western Avenue in 1935, then this house on Gay Street, which became the Ritz in 1930, must have closed by 1935, unless it operated later under yet another name.

Unfortunately, the web page with Ron Allen’s research that Will Dunklin linked to is gone. I can’t find it anywhere else on the Internet. This weblog post by Jack Neely says that Allen died in June, 2011. WorldCat lists only five libraries that have copies of his book, A history of theatres in Knoxville, Tennessee 1872-1982. Google Books doesn’t list any booksellers with copies for sale, so those five libraries might be the only source currently available.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Ideal Theater on May 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm

The rebuilt Ideal Theatre opened on January 7, 1918, as reported in the following day’s issue of the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light. The opening attraction was the musical comedy Have a Heart, with book and lyrics by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse and music by Jerome Kern.

The expanded theater featured three levels of seating, with both a balcony and a gallery. Dressing rooms for performers were under the stage. The organ console was located in the orchestra pit, along with a piano.

The article doesn’t mention the make of the organ, but in 1924 it was replaced by a two-manual, nine-rank Reuter organ, opus 134.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rio Theatre on May 2, 2015 at 12:17 pm

While the caption of Randy Carlisle’s photo (linked in the previous comment) says that the Rio Theatre was at 227 N. Beaton Street, Google’s street view shows it at 202 N. Beaton (west side, second building north of 5th Avenue.) It is currently occupied by the local offices of a medical services company called Family Care of Texas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Terminal Theater on May 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm

This photo of the Terminal Theatre from the Library of Congress features the 1937 movie Dangerous Number on the marquee. It’s not the same marquee that appears in later photos.

As near as I can figure, the Terminal Theatre was part of an annex added to the original 1907 terminal building in 1936 and designed by architectural firm Simon & Simon. An item in the March 31, 1937, issue of The Daily Sun from Hanover, Pennsylvania, makes reference to “…William Goldman Theatres, Inc., Philadelphia, an independent theater organization, operating many theaters in the Philadelphia area, including the recently opened Terminal theater, Upper Darby….”

This page at Philadelphia Architects and Buildings cites a January 15, 1936, Philadelphia Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide item referencing the project as “Phila. & Suburban Terminal Corporation / New Terminal Building and Theatres.” The plural “theatres” was probably a typo. I think there was only ever one in the building.

Edward Paul Simon would have been the lead architect on the project, as his brother, Grant Miles Simon, had withdrawn from the firm in 1927, though the firm name Simon & Simon was still in use as late as 1936.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Palace Cinema on May 1, 2015 at 11:56 am

Here is a YouTube video with some footage of the Palace Cinema in Sun Prairie during the last stages of construction. The project was designed by TK Architects.