Comments from Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 12, 2018 at 4:26 am

I’ve been hunting down more information about the Odeon and the Bijou, and though I’ve found out that both opened somewhat earlier than I’d thought, I haven’t had much luck unraveling the confusion over the later names used in the 1920s. I’ll put together what I’ve found so far and submit the new pages as soon as possible.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rose Garden Theatre on Jul 12, 2018 at 3:50 am

This item about the 1927 rebuilding of the Robinson Grand Theatre is from the July 9 issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Construction work on the Robinson Grand Theatre, Clarksburg, W. Va., is being speeded up by increased labor and a night shift in an effort to get the new playhouse ready for its formal opening, scheduled for Labor Day, or, perhaps, a little sooner. Interior decorating is to begin within a short time. All steel construction is being used throughout in the building, and it is said that the house is as near fireproof as engineers can make it.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Pictureland Theatre on Jul 12, 2018 at 3:48 am

An ad for the Pictureland Theatre appears in the November 7, 1924, issue of a publication called The Tower. The 1926 edition of Glenville State Normal School’s student annual, “The Kanewhachen,” makes reference to a showingof “The Ten Commandments” at the Pictureland Theatre on October 5, 1925.

The Pictureland Theatre is listed in the 1926 FDY, though with only 100 seats, so the house was probably either expanded or moved to a new location later. I did find this web page with the line: “Finally, Thelma told me she and Newsom were able to get an apartment over the new Pictureland Theatre owned by Judge Marsh in 1929.” The wording suggests a new location more than an expansion.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lyric Theatre on Jul 12, 2018 at 3:43 am

The March 11, 1939 issue of Boxoffice had this news from Glenville:

“Lyric to Haney

“Glenville, W. Va. — H. L. Stump has withdrawn from the operation of the new Lyric Theatre which was opened here less than two months ago. Bruce Haney is now in charge.”

The New Lyric Theatre was advertised in the January 17, 1939 issue of The Glenville Mercury.

There are references to an earlier house called the Lyric Theatre in Glenville, operating at least as early as 1925, which might have been the year it opened. The 1926 FDY has listings for the Pictureland Theatre and an “M. P. Theatre” at Glenville, which might indicate that the new house hadn’t yet been opened or named when the yearbook went to press sometime in late 1925.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Gillis Theatre on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:39 am

The December 21, 1921 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review ran this item about the relaunch of the Palace Theatre as the Gillis:

“The Palace, Clarksburg, W. Va., which has been a vaudeville house since it was built ten years ago, has changed hands and is now the property of the Gillis Amusement Co. On Oct. 22 the Palace was closed and opened up on Oct. 31 after some repairs and improvements being made. It was opened as The Gillis, as a first-run movie house under the management of the Gillis family, C. L., A. M., and George D. Gillis, who formerly owned and managed and made a success of the Bijou of this city, which they sold Sept. 1, last year, 1920.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 10, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Ken Roe: Having rechecked my sources I now believe I conflated the histories of two different theaters on this page. The Odeon at 311 Pike Street did not become the second Orpheum. The second Orpheum was the former Bijou Theatre at 331 Main Street.

My careless reading of the following two paragraphs from this web page was the source of my confusion, which was aggravated by certain puzzling inconsistencies in the FDY lists for Clarksburg:

“In 1920, a theater that was at one time named the ‘Odeon’ and at another, the ‘Bijou,’ existed during the second decade of the 20th century at 311 West Pike Street, near the current location of Jackson Square.

“In 1922, after purchasing the Bijou on West Main Street, Jack Marks changed the name to ‘Marks’ Orpheum' and opened the theater continuously until the time of his death in 1952.”

I now suspect that the house listed as the Bijou in FDY’s during the late 1920s was probably the former Odeon, and the first Bijou on Main Street, then operated by Jack Marks, was most likely the house listed by the FDYs of the late 1920s and early 1930s as the Main Street Theatre. Marks attempted to use the name Orpheum at the former Bijou in 1923, but a 1924 court decision awarded the rights tot he name to the new lessee of the original Orpheum, Claude Robinson. Marks was able to use the name Orpheum for his Main Street house after the original Orpheum closed.

The former Odeon was renamed the Bijou at some point in the 1920s, but it is not clear from FDY listings just when. Most likely it was when Marks started calling the original Bijou the Orpheum, and he ended up losing both names. The Odeon/first Bijou appears to have closed as the Main Street Theatre no later than 1931, in any case. It is not listed in FDYs after that year.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 10, 2018 at 10:18 pm

After Jack Marks lost the lease on the original Orpheum in, the house was taken over by Claude Robinson. Marks took over the former Bijou Theatre on Main Street and renamed it the Orpheum, leading to a contretemps with Robinson, as noted in this item from The Moving Picture World of September 15, 1923:

“The identity of two picture theatres is involved in an Injunction proceeding instituted by Jack Marks of Clarksburg, W. Va., proprietor of one of the theatres before Judge Maxwell of the Harrison County Circuit Court. Marks asks that Claude Robinson, proprietor of one theatre and lessee of two others, be restrained from using the name ‘Orpheum’ for a theatre at West Pike and Fourth streets. Marks for several years held a lease on the latter house as the Orpheum. Recently, when his lease expired he took over the Bijou Theatre at West Main street and changed the name to the Orpheum. He took the theatre name along with him, but it is contended by Robinson that the old Orpheum should retain its name. It is closed temporarily but will be reopened in a short time.”
The court’s decision went against Marks, as revealed by this item from MPW of March 8, 1924:
“The Orpheum Theatre is the name of the building located at the corner of Fourth and Pike streets, Clarksburg, W. Va., and this name will remain, according to a decision just handed down by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Jack Marks, former lessee of the theatre, and who now operates a house on West Main street, sought to enjoin Frank Moore, owner, and Claude Robinson, lessee, from using the name of Orpheum Theatre, but the restraining order was denied him both in the circuit court of Harrison county and the state supreme court.”
Marks was eventually able to use the name Orpheum for the former Bijou, but not until the original Orpheum had been closed and its building converted into offices.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Princess Theatre on Jul 10, 2018 at 5:58 am

A Princess Theatre, situated on Pike Street in Shinnston, was listed in a 1921 Clarksburg city directory. However, as the Princess building at 314 Pike features a parapet inscription reading “A&M 1940” I don’t think we can be sure the 1921 Princess was the same house. The Princess might have moved to a new building in 1940, or the original building might have been remodeled at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 10, 2018 at 1:46 am

I believe the seating capacity of 350 we list for this Orpheum was taken from a later FDY and was actually the capacity of the second Orpheum, aka Marks' Orpheum, which operated until 1952. The 1929 FDY gives the Orpheum a capacity of 1,400, which itself is probably a gross exaggeration. The 1914 edition of Gus Hill’s National Theatrical Directory lists the Orpheum with 700 seats, which is more plausible.

1929 was the original Orpheum’s last year of operation, after which the building was converted into offices for the Monongahela Power Company. Nevertheless, FDY continued to list the Orpheum with 1,400 seats as late as 1932. They finally corrected the error in 1933, listing the second Orpheum with 400 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Orpheum Theatre on Jul 9, 2018 at 11:52 pm

Clarksburg’s Orpheum was not part of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. The Orpheum circuit was primarily a western operation, while the east was dominated by the Keith-Albee circuit, with which the Orpheum circuit eventually merged. When the Orpheum circuit was founded in California in the 1890s, Orpheum was already a fairly common name for theaters, and the circuit was unable to trademark the name.

The Moller organ installed at the Orpheum in 1915 might have been a replacement for a piano or perhaps a Fotoplayer orchestrion, both of which were frequently used in early movie theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rose Garden Theatre on Jul 9, 2018 at 11:18 pm

This history of Clarksburg’s theaters says that the Robinson Grand Theatre opened on February 5, 1913.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about State Theatre on Jul 9, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Wilmer and Vincent’s Orpheum Theatre in Allentown opened on August 27, 1906, and was designed by architect Fuller Claflin, according to this article by Frank Whelan posted December 5, 2016, on the web site of Allentown television station WFMZ. The State Theatre building was demolished in 1954, though the house had closed some years earlier. Its site, occupied by a parking lot for more than six decades, was recently redeveloped with an apartment complex.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jul 9, 2018 at 5:52 pm

This brief article from the June 28, 2015 Reading Eagle says that, yes, the Hippodrome was renamed the Towne Theatre in the 1970s, but was closed before the end of that decade. The article also says the Hippodrome had opened in December, 1914.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Bow-Tie Wayne Preakness Cinemas on Jul 9, 2018 at 12:07 am

Ever-unreliable Google Maps broke my earlier link. Maybe they won’t break this one. (As if!)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about California Theatre on Jul 8, 2018 at 5:51 am

San Francisco architect Phillip Schwerdt of the firm of Laist & Schwerdt was the original architect of the Scribner Opera House. The Scribner was an upstairs house, and the 1919 rebuild designed by O. L. Clark gutted the building to put the California Theatre on the ground floor. It also increased the seating capacity from 800 to the 1,200 with which the house was listed in the 1926 FDY.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about California Theater on Jul 8, 2018 at 5:18 am

The earliest evidence of the California Theatre I’ve found was this project noted in the May 23, 1919 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor:

“Ontario- J. [sic] Stanley Wilson of Riverside is preparing plans for a two-story brick theater building to contain an auditorium seating 700 and ten offices, to be erected in Ontario for Dr. McClelland.”
The July 25 issue of the same publication had this item:
“Ontario- Dr. C. McClelland expects to begin work at once on the new California theater building at Euclid Ave. and B st., to cost $30,000.”
It’s possible that the California opened before the end of 1919. The 700-seat California and the 500-seat Euclid are the only theaters listed for Ontario in the 1926 FDY.

SWB&C appears to have gotten the architect’s first initial wrong. He was surely Riverside architect G. Stanley Wilson, who in the 1910s worked under Myron Hunt on the Mission Inn in Riverside, and later was responsible for designing a number of the expansions the hotel underwent over the years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Park Theatre on Jul 8, 2018 at 3:38 am

I don’t believe the Park Theatre building has been demolished. It appears to be the two-story building with two upstairs windows and red trim on the ground floor. The address is not visible in Google street view, but the building across the vacant lot to the south has the number 114, and the Chinese restaurant to the north has the address 126. The vacant lot was probably at 118-120. A brochure for a walking tour of downtown Ontario says this about the building:

“Lerch Building- 122 N. Euclid Ave.– Built in 1913 as a theatre by Jacob Lerch, the Lerch Building later became known as the ‘Park Theater’ and then ‘Euclid Theater’ until 1928. By 1951, the front façade of the building had been removed and altered. The only remnant from this building’s theater era is the marquees used to display movie posters. Local Landmark No. 18 (1998)
This PDF of the brochure has a (very tiny) photo of the building when the theater was in it, with its entrance in the right-hand bay. Whoever wrote the text for the brochure obviously knows less about the theater’s history than we do, but they were probably right that the building is still standing.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Grand Theatre on Jul 8, 2018 at 3:12 am

This item from the May 9, 1919 issue of Southwest Builder and Contractor might be about the Liberty Theatre, the Grand’s predecessor:

“Miami, Ariz.– Work will be started at once on a new theater to be erected on the property of Charles Goodwin for Theodore Souris, Peter Souris and John Kresos, proprietors of the Lyric Theater. The building will be fireproof and will seat about 700.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theatre on Jul 8, 2018 at 2:44 am

AMinton: The conflation of the two Towers would have been highly improbable. Aside from the fact that the Tower in Los Angeles had been built almost a decade earlier, the Architect & Engineer item I cited didn’t mention the name Tower:

“S. Charles Lee, 381 Bush Street, San Francisco, has let contracts for remodeling the Majestic Theater at 2465 Mission Street, San Francisco.”
I doubt that Lee maintained a full office in San Francisco, so 381 Bush must have been the quarters of someone associated with him, at least on this particular project. I checked the address in the 1937 San Francisco city directory, and among the 32 results were one architect, Douglas Dacee Stone, and one structural engineer, John B. Leonard, either of whom might have been Lee’s San Francisco associate for this project.

In any case (and I don’t know why I didn’t notice this earlier) Lee’s remodeling job took place in 1937, and since the correspondence you mention was dated 1941-42, it would have been about a different project. It was not unusual for theaters to undergo alterations requiring an architect’s involvement every few years. One thing we can be sure of is that the name was not changed after Lee’s remodeling job. The house was still listed as the Majestic in the 1939 city directory. That means it’s likely that the marquee and vertical sign with just enough spaces for the name Tower probably dates from Minton’s remodeling rather than Lee’s.

Coincidentally, the August, 1937 Architect & Engineer did have a brief article about a school auditorium in San Mateo designed by H. A. Minton, with illustrations on this page and the text on the previous page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Tower Theatre on Jul 7, 2018 at 10:31 pm

As Lee’s office was in Los Angeles, he would have hired a supervising architect from the Bay Area for the project, preferably one who, like Minton, had previous experience building theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Lenox Square Peachtree Road Sign on Jul 7, 2018 at 10:19 pm

LOL! Classic attraction board tampering. Kudos, anonymous Atlantan.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Texas Theatre on Jul 6, 2018 at 8:41 pm

The June 8, 1944 issue of The Jacksboro Gazette had an ad for the Texas Theatre with the line “Formerly the Jack.” The name of the house had changed after a new owner took over in May, but this was the earliest ad I’ve found noting the former name. The Jack Theatre was advertised in the paper at least as early as August 20, 1942.

What I have not yet been able to discover is whether the Jack/Texas Theatre was the same house that had operated as the Opera House Theatre at least as late as December, 1939. The Opera House had become predominantly a movie theatre in 1910, and in the mid-1930s had been operated as the Opera House Picture Show. The Opera House was apparently an upstairs theater, if I’ve correctly interpreted the phrase “…it is ‘all balcony’….” used in an article in the March 30, 1939 issue of the Gazette (scan at The Portal to Texas History.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Mecca Theater on Jul 6, 2018 at 4:12 am

In 1950 Jacksboro still had two walk-in theaters. An ad in the December 14 issue of the Jacksboro Gazette-News offered Christmas Coupon Books from the Mecca and Texas theaters. By 1955, only the Texas Theatre was still advertising in the paper, but the Mesquite Drive-In had opened by then.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Crazy Theatre on Jul 6, 2018 at 4:11 am

The Crazy Theatre was one of six movie houses listed for Mineral Wells in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. The Portal to Texas History says that this photo predates 1914, as the street had not yet been paved when it was taken.

On September 1, 1927, the Crazy Theatre ran an ad in the Jakesboro Gazette announcing the presentation of “The Big Parade” at the theater, with two shows a day from September 9 through September 12. “Now in its second year on Broadway in New York at $2.00,” the ad said, noting that all seats would be 50 cents for the matinees at the Crazy, with prices of 75 cents on the main floor and 50 cents in the balcony for evening performances. Tickets were on sale at the Grand Theatre’s box office, so the two houses must have been under the same management.

The Grand was most likely built by the owner of the Crazy Theatre, as an April 1, 1920 item in Texas Trade Review and Industrial Record said that architect A. B. Withers was preparing plans for the Crazy Theatre, but there doesn’t appear to have been any change to the Crazy itself in 1920. The plans were most likely for the house that became the Grand, which was designed by Withers and was open by 1921.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel commented about Rhea Theatre on Jul 4, 2018 at 4:02 am

The Rhea Theatre opened in 1939, and was a Griffith Amusement Company house, according to the November 6, 1939 issue of the El Paso Herald-Post.