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A website on Mt. Upton history has a picture of the Mount Upton Opera House, at that point repurposed as a firehouse, in the 1950s. Its high, barn-like construction with narrow windows typical of the 19th century suggests it predates the movie era. Since it was in operation both before and after Smalley’s theater opened in 1913, it seems likely that Smalley’s movie theater was a separate business and thus building. I have so far not been able to locate any pictures or further information about the Smalley theater.
Whoa! Nice find, Ken! This is a completely new one on me.
I am wondering if this is an early name for the Ideal. The reason is that when I was researching the Ideal was unable to find any kind of grand opening notice or anything of that nature. It just kind of appeared in September 1914. If it had previously existed under another name and it simply changed monikers that September that would explain a lot – and assuming the handbill above is from Feb. 1914 (indicated by your post and the release year of “The Conspiracy”) the timeline fits. I’m fairly sure the “O.K. Theatre” as such wasn’t in existence much after that, or I think I or some other researcher would have stumbled across it. A delve into an old newspaper website might give us some some answers.
Nice catch! And mysterious since the ad has the address as clearly different and in line with the 1929 Press clipping. Which strongly indicates there were two theaters, despite the 1934 notice having the old address.
This is a first…apparently this should read “demolished…showing movies!” In August 2016 the Montrose Film Festival screened two movies in the parking lot where the theater once stood. Pretty cool!
Sorry, should not have said “Key Bank” above.
Some new information about the Citilyne.
There is an advertisement in the November 6, 1929 Binghamton Press that offers in the “Real Estate For Sale” section a theatre block at 344 Main St. “450 seats, full equipment, what have you to trade?” J.H. Bedell was the offering party. There is another 1928 item in the press indicating that the 344 Main St. block was a three story building. There are references to restaurants in the block from the 1940s, continuing into the mid ‘80s.
Old aerial photographs show a complex of buildings next to the current Key Bank (340 Main) that disappeared between 2002 and 2006, with the one closest to the bank about the dimensions of a theater.
There are old photos of the arch, which was a stone’s throw from the theater, but unfortunately they all face the arch, pointing away from the location of the building.
Good to know Igbirt.
The information about the whens and whys of the demolition came from the Press article at the time. Looks like from what you report some of the plans in motion then were delayed/didn’t happen.
Comment on the Colonia Theater thread indicates the Bijou building still stands and a picture of it exists – I’ve been so far unable to find that or more information. I wonder if that poster could do an entry for the Bijou (which apparently did not turn into Smalley’s, since the building still exists).
Original Smalley’s burned down “last spring” according to a November 1932 article in a movie trade.
There were two other theaters in Norwich at one point besides the three listed here; the Bijou and the Happy Hour (which was at least open 1915-17). I haven’t found much more information on them so far. I wonder if one of them turned into the original Smalley’s.
The Feb. 1, 1910 issue The Nickelodeon states that “A moving picture theater has been opened (in Clyde) at the corner of Main and Ford streets by Hamilton and Mack.” Apparently another theater predating this one.
Reported as just opened in the February 1, 1910 issue of The Nickelodeon.
Great detective work, Walter, thanks…
Those articles indicate changes to a theater that already existed in some form. I’m thinking that the Dreamland was probably an attempt to restart the Clinton Theater, perhaps with a different front entrance (which would explain the different numbering). Since the Clinton appeared to have been a slipshod affair it’s not surprising that there might have been code concerns. Given that the family who opened the funeral home apparently was living in the building from 1928, it indicates that the building was converted to that use around that time (or that the building was torn down and a new building constructed in its place). It would be interesting to know if the funeral home part of the building, which would have been the auditorium area for a theater, bears any earmarks of that kind of prior use.
As Joe said, it would be a great thing for somebody (who doesn’t live in California as I do), to head over to the library and go through the old microfilms of the Reporter, as I did in the ‘70s when I first researched this. Perhaps my recollection from that time that it closed prior to 1967 is mistaken. The one thing I can say with certainty is that the Press articles in '67 about the building burning down make no mention of the theater.
Regardless, there’s simply no question that the Whitney Point Opera House existed (a simple search of the Binghamton Press archives will confirm this), and that given they both were in the municipal building, that it and the Point Theater (and probably the Crescent, and perhaps the Peoples') were one and the same. No controversy. Peace.
This theater is still open, now renamed the Catherine Cummings Theater. Address is 16 Lincklaen Street. It was built in 1897. More info here:
Sorry, wrong caption, wrong photo. This is the DeRuyter Union Hall in January 1947, just after its destruction by fire. I meant to upload the other photo first.
Hold the phone. The 1927 Film Year Book indicates there WAS a Dreamland Theater in operation that year. Was there a brief resurrection of the Clinton in 1926-27, before the funeral home?
Earliest mention of the theater found so far is in a September 1914 news article in the Endicott paper.
Interior photos of the tattoo shop that now occupies this address indicate it has unusually high ceilings, further confirmation that this is the location of the Ideal.
A careful examination of old postcards and photos (very few of which, unfortunately, give a clear view of this block) and of googlemaps' satellite view finally gives us the answer to which building was the Ideal.
The current large block at 112-114 Washington is actually two separate buildings that were merged into one retail location sometime prior to 1958. These have since been repartitioned but the prior remodel gives the impression of these addresses being part of the same building. Google’s satellite image reveals that the 112 Washington Avenue building is long and narrow with the adjacent building being wider and less deep – almost certainly the Stack Block. Which leaves the 112 Washington Avenue address, then as now, the location of the Ideal Theater. While it appears to be the original building, it has been so greatly altered that no likely trace remains.
Sherrie Massman of the Cincinnatus Heritage Society has filled in the blanks on the history of Halbert’s Hall/Avon Theater:
“The small old theater was upstairs accessed by a double door to the street. The first floor of the building had always been a storefront. It later became a bowling alley upstairs and had I believe 3 or 4 lanes. When the building was demolished, I recall that someone in town salvaged the wooden bowling alleys, I never heard that any movie theater items came out of there. In fact, no one I have ever spoken with who knows local history had ever heard of the Avon Theater. I researched it, and finally found a reference to it in an old newspaper online. I also was able to speak to a 96 year old resident who actually saw movies there and he confirmed that it was a small theater in the upstairs of the building and it was called the Avon. It rivalled the Alhambra, but was smaller.”
Sherrie indicates the building was demolished around 1982-83.
Address was approximately 5754 Telephone Road, roughly where the entrance to the Family Dollar parking lot is.
Date of the opening of the Avon Theater (remodeled from Halbert’s Hall) in the main listing should be changed from 1919 to 1920.
The May 22, 1966 issue of the Press announces the sale of the theater, which is still open at that time. It was reopened by a former employer of the Comerford Chain, F. Fred DeRado, after the chain closed the theater in 1963. There is a good photo of the theater. Sale price was $200,000.
The August 24, 1966 issue of the Press carries an article about the end of the theater, with a couple of pictures of the interior being dismantled.
Finally demolished October, 1966. The October 13 issue has a picture of the demolition, but it shows only rubble.
Yes, with due respect to Mr. Ben Sunness, I really only posted to fill in the early dates of the theater’s history (also culled from the Press). I didn’t restate what Ben had posted, other than the bit about the 1962 fire, because I didn’t want to be duplicative – it was already upthread and in great detail. I only wanted to succintly fill in information that wasn’t already posted, about the pre-Jarvis era, and I just added the later bullet points for completion. I didn’t realize that my own post would used as the basis for the main entry about the theater. I’ve researched theaters in the Binghamton area as a hobby since ‘77, so I’ve just been trying to go through and fill in a few blanks, not just with this one but with others, so I was burning the midnight oil for several days finding press and pictures on various theaters. Glad to have the clarity, myself. BTW, I did try to go back last night and see if the Press had Sunness’ name originally listed as John when it was first sold, but the internet wasn’t cooperating. Doesn’t matter – it clearly was an error, either on their part in the article or mine, since Samuel Sunness is referenced as the owner from ‘37 onward on every other occasion. Glad we’re filling in some good information here!
Correction to the listing above; the theater didn’t close as a result of fire. There were two fires in ‘62 (one at the theater and one next door), closure happened in '63. Ben’s grandfather wanted to close in '61, and had planned to sell the theater to developers at that time, but relented because of community sentiment. This from news articles at the time.
Ben – may have been a typo either on my part or the news article. I was transcribing from an article in the Binghamton Press in 1937 recording the sale.
It is hard to track down the immediate post-theater history of the building because 193 Clinton Street (the 227 and 231 Clinton addresses seem to be eroneous – the Jan. 1934 licensing notice for the theater still shows its address as 193 Clinton) is associated with various business, particularly the restaurant business, both during its tenure as a theater and after. There’s reference to a nightclub/restaurant operating here in 1936, and the sale of restaurant fixtures in 1941, but based on the description to the latter this does does not appear to have been in the theater portion of the building.
Local book publisher Vail-Ballou had its warehouses in this vicinity; in a major 1944 expansion they purchased several lots, including the lots (said to be a garage and service station) at 189-191 Clinton. Since these were directly across from Charles Street this appears to be the same numbering then as now, and thus probably the same as the time the theater operated. It seems probable the theater building was also swallowed up in the 1940s as part of the Vail Ballou expansion of its plant, which included much of the block up to and including 193 Clinton. That plant’s subsequent demise almost certainly gave rise to the immense parking lot that now occupies most of the north side of this block. Vail Ballou went out of business, after 112 years, in 2012.