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The foyer walls were blue-green with niches containing Indian art, Kachina dolls and relics. The carpet was a grayish blue. There was a couch, coffee table, lamps and several chairs arranged to look like a home living room.
The Ramona billed itself as the ‘Home of Westerns’ in the 40’s. They ran older films and were near the Spanish language theaters, the Azteca and Rex. Most kids never went that far east on Washington Street. The Marquee had a large RAMONA at the center and a sign that said ‘Always 2 Features.’ At an angle on each end were the sign letters for the movies playing.
The marquee was interesting, it was quite high sitting at a right angle at the top of a pole. To change the letters, the sign actually was lowered to ground level with a motor. Love’s used to be a popular restaurant nearby and Bob’s Big Boy was on the corner.
There was a candy, drink counter right in the center of the lobby, on the wall, as you walked in; the aisles to the theater were on either side. The little lobby has alcoves in the walls with Kachina dolls I believe. An old time restaurant called Durant’s was across the street and is still there. Up the Street a bit was the Polar Bar, a popular ice cream drive-in restaurant that featured the Zombie, a quart of ice cream with everything but the kitchen sink on it for $1.
After looking at my photos of this theater, I see that the three sided marquee had phoenix birds rising from flames at the top. It must have been something else lit up at night.
The Vista was located at 215 North Central. The entire block was torn down to make way for the Valley Bank center in 1970. Across the street was the San Carlos hotel. The Flame was up one block and west on Adams St. They had a jungle bar with a live monkey. There are photos of all this at acmeron.com.
It was located across from Newberry’s. Woolworth was two blocks east near the Fox theater.
The Palms Theater was located in what was then north Phoenix near Thomas Road. Many teenagers went to the Palms because their mothers would not let them go downtown, which was deteriorating. The theater was small but had a very ritzy look to it. It was very modern with flagstone in front. The lobby had a wild 40’s carpet with fan shaped swirls and several large space age stuffed chairs. The windows had gold roman shades. The main feature was an indoor, outdoor pond that people threw money into; there was a large picture window and the water went underneath it to a larger outside area. Outside the theater there were rows of old palm trees. Nearby, with the same architecture, was the Upton Ice Cream parlor.
The Rialto originally had a huge neon sunburst above the marquee. That was later changed to a right angle Rialto sign. The wall above the marquee was a restrained Spanish Revival. The top of the marquee had fantastic curling motifs with large ‘jewels’ inserted. The free standing ticket booth had emerald green tiles all around. Inside was fabulous. As you went in the front doors, the superb classical staircase went up and then split into left and right stairs to a square balcony that overlooked the lobby. There was fine furniture, golden Grecian statues and gilded ornament all over. From the landing you entered the balcony. The ceiling in the theater had a huge painting on it; I think it was a stylized Native American maiden. The rest of the decoration looked right out of the Italian Renaissance.
Here is a website with current pictures of the Orpheum Theater.
I believe the Cine Capri opened in 1961 with El Cid. The theater was ultra modern; when it was torn down, the only thing they could salvage were the blue tiles and a ‘starburst’ chandelier. There was no other decoration.
The Strand was located at 106 West Washington Street. It specialized in cowboy movies during the 40’s and early 50’s. After that it continued to run ‘B’ movies. It had a slightly Art Deco design above the marquee. Inside, there was a strange seating arrangement, a one story theater with the balcony on the same floor. You would walk in down the middle to the floor seats. About one third of the way in, there were steps on both sides that took you to a raised area. Mothers would never let their girls go to the Strand; the only ‘proper’ theaters were the Fox, Vista, Paramount (Orpheum) and Palms.
The Fox Theater in Phoenix was located where the old Phoenix city hall was. The loss of the city hall was sad, the loss of the Fox was 100 times worse for it was the only Art Deco theater in Phoenix. It fronted on Washington street; the southeast corner of Washington and 1st Streets.