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The Sterling closed as a neighborhood movie house more than 50 years ago, but it is still in use as the home of Little Theater of W-B. I think the seating number has to be high, as I’ve been in it. It is art deco on the inside, but not on the outside, as it was remodeled in the ‘30’s from a former boxing arena.
Still again, long before my time in W-B, but I know it was closed & demolished either before or just after the ‘72 flood. I’m told it was an adult house in its last days, possibly under another name.
This one must have been gone for a long time. I lived in the W-B area from 1985-2004 and read about a lot of former theaters, but never heard of the Palace!
Once again, way before my time in the W-B area, but I know it was originally Poli’s Theater, opened in the 1st decade of the 20 century, a prominent vaudeville house which featured such performers as George Burns & Bob Hope. Closed probably before 1960, demolished in the ‘60’s.
Long before my time in W-B area, but I know it was on S. Main St., it was operating at least into the early ‘50’s, and the building is long gone.
I’m surprised that Bobs is surprised! Luzerene County PA seems to have been a fertile ground for theaters, with almost every little boro having one or more at one time. From what I read, I counted at least 42 indoor theaters having existed in the county in the ‘40’s. Incidentally, I knew of a town in Ill. that never had more than 1,000 people and had 2 theaters: Augusta (the Cozy and the Lee), and knew of several others in Ill. of under 1,000 that had theaters (Chandlerville, Kansas & Maquon to name just 3)!
The Hart was the largest W-B theater that was not downtown, being in the “Rolling Mill Hill” section. It opened in 1938 and had only a 30-year life. I never saw it except in a great state of deterioration, as it sat empty for nearly 25 years before it was demolished for a church parking lot. It was named for a 1920’s mayor of W-B who also gained some fame as an actor.
Again, this was well before my time in the W-B area, but I do know that the Family was in the 300 block S. Main, not 100. It was in what was originally the auditorium of the GAR Hall, which was demolished in the 1960’s along with other buildings to make way for the present W-B Post Office. I think it was probably always a 2nd-run house.
I lived in the W-B area for 19 years, and tho it was before my time I know something about the Capitol. It probably went back to the ‘teens. After 1949 it was the Comerford because an anti-trust suit led to the newer theater on the square being changed from that name to the Paramount (now the F.M. Kirby Center). After the disastrous l972 flood the Capitol/Comerford was divided into 3 houses: Barre Ease, Barre West & Barre Loge, but survived only until about 1977, closed and was demolished not long afterward.
The Woodford was an art deco house which opened in 1937. It closed in 1957 while I was a student at Eureka College. A community group decided to open it as a non-profit and sold memberships. A college group I belonged to bought a membership and I was asked to represent them on the board. We did a pretty good job of saving it, as it survived 26 years under the community aegis. It’s interesting that I remember in those early years of non-profit operation the only films we could be sure of at least breaking even on in that college town were Disneys!
I’m really sorry to hear that the West has closed. Ever since they resurrected the Colonial (closed about 20 years) to twin with the West in the ‘70’s, I bragged that my old hometown was possibly the only place of its size which had preserved 3 of the 4 downtown movie houses they had post-World War II. From what I remember of the Colonial as it looked in the '40’s & '50’s, I would say it went back further than 1920.
The Warner was known earlier as the Little Palace and, I think, as the Grand, but a theater operated there much earlier than the ‘40’s. The building was still standing last I knew. Again, Bill Adams’ “Only Yesterday” (collection of his Journal Star reminiscence columns) is the best source for information on Peoria theaters.
The Varsity opened in l939 and was the last new theater to open in Peoria until the Fox in 1965. The style was very much art deco. It lasted longer than most single-screen theaters because of its proximity to Bradley University. It was considered sort of a “twin” to the Beverly, opened just 2 years earlier and located on the other side of the “bluff” area of Peoria.
For some reason I liked the Rialto best of all 6 downtown Peoria theaters in my time. It was considered 3rd among the first-run houses (after the Madison & Palace) but it sometimes got the “big” pictures held over from the Madison, which never ran any movie more than a week in the ‘40’s & '50’s. It’s a real shame that they couldn’t incorporate it into the Peoria Civic Center as a performing arts center, as some preservationists implored them to do.
The Princess in my time (l942 until it closed in 1954) was always a 2nd-run downtown theater. I find it hard to believe that it only seated 550, as it seemed larger. It had a large balcony, which you could feel shake when anyone of any size walked up or down the steps!
The Palace was indeed a beautiful theater and seated slightly more than the Madison on the opposite corner of Main & Madison. However, the Madison in my memory was considered the “premiere” downtown house, which ran single features when all the others, including the Palace, ran doubles.
I don’t know that much about it, but it was the New Cuba in 1950.
I lived in Peoria from 1942 and the Majestic was not showing any movies in my time. I think there were occasional special live performances there before it became the WMBD-TV studios in the early ‘50’s. Bill Adams, who wrote many reminiscence columns for the Peoria Journal Star in the '80’s & '90’s is the person to contact about the history of theaters in Peoria (he managed the leading theater, the Madison, for many years). He could be contacted thru the newspaper.
The Columbia was the first of the long-time downtown Peoria theaters to close after the advent of TV in 1951. It was distinguished by being a half-block long and only 10 seats & and one aisle wide! It was one of those theaters which had the reputation of providing “free shoeshine” along with the movies!
Living first in Galesburg & then in Peoria in my early years, I passed thru Knoxville many times. The Earl was opened about 1942, at which time the Tivoli was closed. It was a very attractive art deco house from the outside (I was never in it), but regrettably closed probably by 1960 and has long-since been demolished.
The Grove opened in about 1941 and was the only movie theater outside the downtown business district ever to exist in Galesburg to my knowledge. It was a nice little art deco house seating perhaps 400-500. It was one of the principal independent theaters in a high-profile suit in about 1947 against the studios/chains for the right to show first-run movies, which it did for sometime after that. It has not been a movie house since probably the early ‘60’s.
But you DO have a picture of the Crest on a separate site! I grew up in Peoria and attended the Crest many times. It opened, I think, in 1939, was are deco, seated 500-600 I would estimate, and closed sometime before 1960. It was demolished and replaced with an undistinguished business building.