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The Sorg Opera House had both gas and electric lighting when it opened in 1891. The stage was always lit with electric lights and used brine dimmers of which I had 3 at one time. There was a large gas-light chandelier hanging in the center of the auditorium. Gas-lights were also at the box seats and around the outside edge of both balconies. The remaining auditorium lights and side-lights were electric.
Above is an url to a video I posted on YouTube from photos and video I took of the Sorg in 1990.
Above is an url to a little video I posted on YouTube of the Loews Theatre. I used only the few photos that I had at the time so it is short.
Above is an url to a little video I posted on YouTube of the Classic Theatre on W Fifth st.
The Columbia also had an orchestra to accompany the silent films during Prime-Time and the organ was used the rest of the time. The rear of the Columbia backed up to the side of the RKO State theatre.
The Belmont theatre had a nice balcony where we always sat.
The Church Bldg on the left is the Masonic Temple.
The middle bldg. is the Lyceum Theater.
Across 5th St. on the far right is The Mayfair Theater showing the Mayfair Lady standing tall on top of it.
I have to comment on this, my favorite old theater in Dayton.
The building was built in 1887 as a YMCA, including The College of the YMCA now called Sinclair Community College, Housing for the YMCA which explains how the Hotel came to be in there, and the YWCA.
There was an older YMCA Association Hall that seated 750 people incorporated into the new YMCA building. There was always 2 theaters in the building. The main theater seated 1,100 people.
The Hippodrome started in 1909 and lasted until the great flood of 1913 and then sat empty until it was demolished.
The annex was a small theater installed in a room upstairs that had been part of the college and was no longer used when I went there in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.
The Federation was one of 4 Dayton, Ohio theaters that had a Page Theater Pipe organ installed in it. I went to this theater over 100 time when I was a youngster.
The convention center is on East Fifth St. not East Forth St.
Almost ervery theatre in Dayton was called ‘NEW’ after the great flood of 1913 that ruined everything downtown. They all had to be repaired and remodeled.
I goofed, RKO should be RCA, Keith’s, Orpheum, and Radio Pictures.
Dayton still does not have a theatre equal to the RKO Keith’s Theatre, which was only magnificent.
The Strand Theatre was on South Main St. burned down in the 1940’s It was an old legitimate and Vaudville theatre and later switched to movies. My organ teacher said that the pipe organ in the Stand was her favorite in the city.
The State theatre was built as a YMCA in the late 1800s (The largest in the world at the time). For a time it did have 2 theatres operating inside the building. As the YMCA it had a huge gymnasium on the lower level and that became the hippodrome theatre. The YMCA also had many rooms that the men lived in. After the YMCA moved out, The YMCA auditorium became the Auditrium Theatre, and the residential part became the Auditorium Hotel, the Hippodrome Theatre was on the lower level. There was no balcony, although they called the upper part of the theatre the balcony. It was early stadium seating. You entered the auditorium from the right side of the lobby (the only entrance to the house), that put you in the center of the theatre. You could then go down, closer to the stage or up to a higher seat. I spent many happy hours inside that theatre.
I have a photo of the interior.
I saw an excellent production of South Pacific “Live on Stage” there before it closed for good.
I’m Not sure but I believe Sinclair college was started at the third YMCA building on Monument St. in the late 1920s. The second YMCA building is now the City Municipal building. All 3 of Dayton’s YMCAs were the largest in the world at the time they were built.
I have been a theatre historian for over 30 years. I have many pictures of the Dayton theatres, including a photo of the auditorium of the Colonial, one of my favotite theatres. Just to set the record straight, the Colonial theatre did not have the oval skylight that was mentioned earlier. The only theatre in Dayton having that feature was the Lowes theatre on N. Main St. The skylight was closed-in a few years before the theatre closed because of people throwing things, even spitting down onto the audience below. Let me add vaudville did not die until the 1930s when talking movies opened the door for the great vaudville performers to go to hollywood and contribute to the golden age of hollywood, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland W.C Fields, Bob Hope and many more. RKO (Radio pictures, Keith, Orpheum) eventually had four superb theatres in Dayton The RKO Keiths, Colonial, State, and Strand.