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The Majestic opened around 1922 and in the mid-‘60’s became the Paris Cinema with a new marquee and updated front exterior. Foreign and art films were shown here for many years.
Around 1984, it was renamed the Elm Cinema and showed family films.
It closed around 1988. A few years after, it’s marquee and entrance lobby was removed for lawyer’s offices that were built upstairs. The theater remained intact behind the offices until it was transformed into a stage theater by The Theater Project in 1996.
It returned to being called The Majestic and became a very successful live theater for West Springfield.
The Phillips Theater opened in 1923 as The X’s and Forest Park’s neighborhood theater. It had no balcony and was small inside.
It closed in 1964 and in 1965 became Cinema X with a new marquee.
Art and foreign import films were shown.
Cinema X closed in the mid ‘80’s and remained vacant until being razed around 1991.
Adding to the above summaries, the Paramount Theater opened on September 28, 1929. It closed in 1969. In 1980, it returned to being the Paramount and closed again in 1986 until becoming the Hippodrome in 1999. Records showed that the Paramount had 708 seats on the main floor and 858 in it’s balcony. It survived the demise of all of downtown Springfield’s theaters.
The Parkway opened in 1948 and closed in 1987. In 1988, it was razed.
It was a large, very well maintained drive-in and was the last one to close in the Springfield area.
The Sundown opened in 1947 in a rural area near Hampton Ponds.
It always remained a country drive-in without the cosmetics that others had. It closed and was razed in 1983 to make way for a shopping plaza.
The Strand had an impressive downtown-style marquee for a small neighborhood theater. It opened in 1921 and closed in 1958. In the early ‘60’s, it was demolished for an extended parking lot needed by a then popular nearby grocery store. It had 738 seats on the main floor and 226 seats in it’s balcony.
This magnificent theater opened as the Poli Palace in Dec. 1913, the same year as the Broadway. It was named after Sylvester Poli and later renamed Loew’s Palace when E.M. Loew bought it. In 1921, it became Loew’s Poli Theater. It’s transistion from playhouse to movie theater took place in the 1930’s.
The Poli had a balcony and loges on both sides. A prosenuim arch stood above the stage/screen. It’s ceiling was designed in square blocks with frescos inside. The entrance vestibule was lined on both sides with large mirrors leading up to the lobby, grand staircase and refreshment stand. An upstairs lounge stood at the top of the stairs.The exterior front had a good sized marquee that could be read from the corner on Main St. Above the marquee was a marble prosenium arch similar to the Capitol’s. Two stone lion heads with stone chains coming from their mouths attached themselves to either side of the marquee.
The Poli closed in 1966. In a public auction, the lion heads and chains were sold along with many items.
In July/Aug, 1967, the Poli was demolished.
The Liberty opened in 1928 and closed in 1958. It was a neighborhood theater for the Liberty St hill and nearby Hungry Hill areas.
The buidling wasn’t razed but became various warehouse companies.
The Jefferson opened on Oct. 6, 1921 and closed in 1962.
In the early ‘70’s, it reopened briefly as the Jefferson Fine Arts before closing forever. The theater was gutted and it became an electrical supply buisness. Later, the building stood empty and boarded up with only it’s name carved in stone above where the marquee once hung.
The Garden closed in 1953. In 1954, the then popular downtown grocer, Springfield Market, took it over, gutted the theater and it became a grocery store until the mid ‘60’s.
Adding to Mr. Larkin’s summary, the Court Square, during the early 1900’s, had many great names grace it’s stage. Some were Al Jolson, Will Rogers, George M. Cohan, the Barrymores and Sarah Bernhardt.
1920-1928 were it’s golden years. In 1936, E.M. Loew leased it as a movie house. In 1941, the Playgoers of Springfield took it over for Broadway and road shows until they disbanded in 1953.
On April 22, 1956, the curtain came down for the last time following the final performance of “Tea and Sympathy” starring Martha Hyer.
In July, an onsite public auction was held and equipment, seats, curtains, etc. were sold. The theater had 700 seats on the main floor and 398 in the balcony.
In March, 1957, the Court Square was torn down to become a parking lot, meeting the same fate that The Broadway Theater met four years earlier. The 1950’s brought to a close Springfield’s two historic playhouses. It’s movie theaters would meet their fates a decade later
The Capitol was originally built as the Gilmore Opera House in 1857!
It burnt down in 1864, remodelled and reopened in 1865. In April, 1920, it became the Capitol Theater. It had a balcony with a total of 1,450 seats. A prosenium arch curved around the stage/screen and to the right of it, in a wall niche, was a 2,500pipe Austin organ that was played during it’s silent movie days.
The exterior front had a long marquee with narrow title space on the front. Two verticle signs spelling Capitol hung on the building above either side of the marquee. Above the marquee were large windows with a marble arch crowned at the top by the face of a muse
wearing a helmet. This was a very impressive sight staring down on
Main St. directly across the street from Johnson’s Bookstore.
A ticket booth stood outside in front of it’s doors. The lobby was
marble with side doors on the Pynchon St. side. The Capitol closed
on Feb. 29, 1968. It’s final film was “Bonnie and Clyde”.
In November, 1972, it was demolished and downtown Springfield lost an important part of it’s history.
The Broadway Theater opened in 1913, the same year as the Poli Palace, at 161 Bridge St. It was a vaudeville, then later, legitimate playhouse equal to the Court Square Theater. It’s exterior had a small marquee and it’s roof boasted it’s name that lit up at night. It stood directly across from the Hotel Bridgeway.
It’s interior lobby had both stairs as well as an escaltor to take patrons up to the balcony. This escalator was the only one of it’s kind in this region.
The theater’s interior was styled in a Greek architecture decor with a large prosenium arch above the stage/screen. The main floor had 1,800 seats and the balcony and loges totaled 1,100. A very large and ornate movie palace. By the 1950’s, time and lack of vision took it’s toll. Prior to closing in 1952, it was being used for wrestling events. In Sept, 1953, The Broadway and adjacent buisnesses was torn down so a parking lot on the corner of Columbus Ave could expand up Bridge St, another victim to the parking lot mentality of the time.
This entire area of Bridge St was razed in the late ‘60’s for I-91 to come through.
The Bijou opened on Feb. 19, 1910 as a playhouse. It’s exteriors/interiors were designed in the then popular Moorish decor.
As Mr.Larkin states, it never had a full marquee, only it’s name on the sides of an overhang that was above a glass enclosed ticket window. One had to walk down from Main St to it’s entrance to scan the movie poster windows to see what was playing.
The Bijou had a balcony and loge box seats on either side of the stage and screen. In the late ‘60’s it was called the Bijou Cinema during it’s porno years. In 1973, new owners returned it to it’s real name, showing family fare films in an attempt to save it. The attempt failed and it closed in 1974. In Sept,1975, it was razed.
The Bijou was the last of Springfield’s downtown movie theaters to be torn down.
Built and opened in 1909 as Nelson’s Theater, it became the Fox in 1919. In 1934, it became the Art. It closed in 1956 and was razed in July, 1961. The Art had no balcony. It’s exterior front had a small, old marquee (left over from it’s Fox years) with small spaces for titles on it’s sides and on the front. Looming above the marquee was a verticle sign spelling out ART that was capped by a circle. This sign lit up at night and was a bookend to the Paramount’s own verticle sign just seven doors down on Main St. A ticket booth stood in the center with two doors on either side of it.
The Arcade opened in 1931 as a legitimate movie theater rather than a stage theater. It had no balcony and 1,060 seats on it’s main floor.It had a tan colored curtain in front of the screen. It’s marquee was red and hung over the sidewalk on State St. It closed in 1971 and was demolished in November, 1972
The Airline opened in 1952, closed in 1984,and demolished in 1987