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Patsy — I am afraid that absolutely nothing has happened since last May 24th. I have seen nothing further at all & still have no idea who the buyer was nor anything about their intentions. Wish I had better news. Jim Macumber
Patsy .. Being retired now I had the opportunity to go to a public opening to see the interior of the Riviera Theatre (Stone Opera House) at 8:00 yesterday morning and attend the auction 3 hours later at 11:00. However, as this was the first time I had ever in my life attended either of these type events, I was unprepared for the harsh realities entailed. The interior of the theatre requires very careful walking about with dirt, garbage, chunks of wood and various other “crap” make walking difficult & dangerous, to say anything of the obvious structural problems you could encounter. AND a lot of it is DARK !!! You REALLY NEEDED a GOOD FLASHLIGHT to navigate around which I had not come prepared with. I was EXTREMELY FORTUNATE to meet John Darrow, a board member of PAST (The Preservation Society of the Souther Tier) who is also a architectural restoration expert. He was extremely friendly & well-prepared & I was able to accompany him & his flashlight on my time inside the building. I really cannot thank him enough. I followed him up to the second floor & got up onto the balcony with him in confidence knowing he knew what he was doing & feeling pretty safe … I would never have gone up there alone without a flashlight. He did travel up the long stairs from the balcony to go behind it & got into the projection booth. I did not follow in that trip since the stairs did not seem to have any kind of railing & were quite debris covered & I was afraid of falling … though I really would have loved to see the projection booth. The 15 minutes I spent at the open house were extremely eye-openingly painful. I found out the roof which I had THOUGHT was repaired in September was NOT completed & much of the north west corner of the theatre is still open to the elements. (John told me the “owner” who contracted the job DID NOT PAY AFTER THE FIRST HALF OF THE JOB WAS DONE … so the cntractor simply abandoned the job.) The north wall which showed some paint left & ornamentation when those pictures were taken & posted on “Treasures of the Tier” website, is now virtually completely bare & shows virtually no idea of what it looked like in the days the theatre was running. The railing & part of the structural front kneewall of the overhead balcony has broken off & is lying across the orchestra seats below. Like I said … very depressing. John said to restore the building to ant real functionality would probably take about 4 MILLION Dollars. I’m guessing that to restore it to it’s original glory as a theatre would probably be 10 MILLION assuming it to even be possible.
At the auction itself, there were probably about 300 people in a room that holds 150!!! IT WAS STANDING ROOM ONLY !!! There were 32 properties on the docket for this auction & The Stone Opera House was to be the 24th offering. It took half an hour or more for the auctioneer to just explain all the rules & status of the properties & once he finally got started auctioning the first 3 properties (in what they call a “Buyer’s Choice”) his banter was so difficult to follow & the room was so noisy that I really wasn’t getting much out of the proceedings … plus I was standing & getting tired. When The Stone Opera House was offered assumably a couple of hours later, I was pretty sure I would not be able to tell who bought it & for what so I left about 11:45 & decided I’d wait until today’s news to see what happened. This morning’s paper listed how all the properties sold … amounts vs. assessed values but no mention of high bidders. The Stone Opera House sold for $68,000 (I am not sure if that includes the 5% buyers premium or not) against an assessed valuation of $60,000. The paper DID say that the new owner has revealed no plans for the building. I am hoping that with that kind of investment that their intentions are to restore the building. But I am sure it will never be the glorious theatre it once was.
That’s my full report !!! Jim Macumber
Patsy, On the “Treasures of the Tier” page which comes up when you click on the link in my post, you will see a list of articles you may click on to navigate to. Scroll down to the one entitled “Fixing a hole where the rain gets in – Major repair begins on Opera House”. To update you to today’s status, the roof was repaired in Sept 2009 which I would assume stopped further damage to the interior of the theatre. But nothing else has been done as far as I am aware. It goes on the auction block again this coming Thursday May 24th with no reserve. But, like the neighboring Strand Theatre which was sold at auction in November 2010 with so far NOTHING being done to the property or any announced plans for it by the new owners in the past 18 months, I fear the auction will not not result in a new owner really doing anything to save the property. Jim Macumber
Yes, Admiral37 .. The Jarvis Theatre was still standing & operating when Mutual Furniture was ravaged by a fire on Sunday Nov 11, 1962.
Actually The Jarvis Theatre itself had a bad fire 10 months earlier on Wednesday Jan 3, 1962 & it took 2 months of repair & refurbishment to reopen for business on Friday March 2, 1962.
The theatre closed for good 8 ½ months later after the days' screenings on Tuesday July 30, 1963.
The vacant lots of both The Jarvis & Mutual Furniture were sold 2 years later to Public Service Garage, Rambler City, Inc. & was announced in June 14, 1965 with construction to begin in 10 days for the new Rambler dealership.
Yes, jeffret … The Crest Theatre was originally The Suburban Theatre. I am unclear as to when the name changed. I am currently working on a Triple Cities theatres history project involving going through the microfilms of the newspaper in the Broome County Library to gradually gather all this information. But it is a very long slow process. It takes me about 3 hours to look through each month of microfilm !!! When I come across the definitive information, I will let you know !!
I just read the obituary in this morning’s Press & Sun-Bulletin. I want to express my sympathies to her family on her loss. She was a very nice lady & she, with her husband Kenneth, provided many years of happiness to the Triple Cities movie-going public. After Kenneth passed away, she continued that effort alone for many years. One her many accomplishments, which I complimented her on several times, was her successful bidding on “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979. As an independent theatre operator, she “beat out” the mighty Cinema National chain (which owned almost every other theatre in the Triple Cities!) for the exclusive right to show the film locally! I had the pleasure of speaking with her a couple of times over the past 3 years. After telling me each time that she didn’t know what she could tell me about the “old days” of the Triple Cities' theatre history, she spent better than half an hour bubbling over with her fond remembrances of her years in the movie business with Kenneth & later carrying on alone. She still went next door into the theatre regularly to be sure “everything was OK”. I also had the pleasure of stopping over to her house this past March to present her with pictures of Binghamton Classic Film’s (of which I am a member) annual display at the Broome County Library which featured several wonderful 8x10 color photos of The Cameo (including one night shot showing the lighted marquee of which Kenneth & she were so proud) & a huge newspaper article about her & The Cameo from 2000. I know her family, as well as many of us in the Triple Cities, will miss her. I hope her theatre will end up being acquired & hopefully reopened someday. Sincerely, Jim Macumber
To Bobc007 — thanks for the link to your documentary on The Uptown Theatre in Washington DC … I really enjoyed it. Looks like an impressive theatre. Jim Macumber
Note to ALL & in particular “Bobc007”: it is certainly correct to point out that it was not “greed” on the part of the original theatre businesses that has allowed this “demolition by neglect” to occur. However, I still think that today if these theatres were still in any kind of decent, renewable shape movies could still be shown & a fair business could be run with proper promotion & management. The responsibility for the “demolition by neglect” rests with the absentee landlords who owned but did not make any attempt to maintain these old buildings —– allowing roofs & windows & back doors to deteriorate to where the elements constantly tore in & subjected the buildings to interior destruction as well as pidgeons with their helpful contributions & also intrusions by homeless people & others for shelter or mischief. (Landlords are not forced into this kind of neglect … they are responsible for it!!! Fran Robinson, who is EIGHTY YEARS OLD & STILL owns The Cameo Theatre on Robinson Street, goes into the theatre once a week still to keep an eye on things & tries to mantain the building.) If you look at the interior photos of both the Riviera & the Strand ….. available on-line at http://nyslandmarks.com/treasures/ ….. , they are obviously way beyond any imaginable repair or restoration. That is sad …. but unavoidable now. I wish it were not so but there it is … The businesses closed & the multiplexes moved in & built their complexes with the gradual loss of the old theatre owners' business viability. (It was Cinema National which I believe ran most of the theatres throughout the Triple Cities at the end … with the exception of a couple of independents … having inherited that mantle from The Carrols Corporation & Comerford Theatres of Scranton, Pa before them.) So again … you are correct that it was not greed on the part of the theatres … but sad nonetheless & as I always say, “How I miss our old theatres!” [ … and by the way Bob, I too am a Bond Fan !!! and for your understanding, I am 61 years old & have have lived in the Binghamton area all my life & knew all our theatres well ,,, even to having an opportunity one fine evening in 1977 of spending two hours with the projectionist in his booth at The Crest Theatre to talk to him & learned in the process all about the busy job a projectionist had in that era showing a “six-reeler] Jim Macumber
In Binghamton’s Mon 7/26 morning Press & Sun-Bulletin, there is a front page article with photo announcing that Matt Thorn & Anna Kovach of the Art Mission Theatre are working on plans & applying for grants to save this wonderful old movie theatre. They are planning on subdividing it into 3 theatre auditoriums on the first floor with the upstairs balcony converted into 2 smaller 75 seat theatres plus additional space to be converted into art galleries & space for local theatre groups. An ambitious plan to be sure but there seems to be a glimmer of hope that this building will be saved. Like the Riviera Theatre (Old Stone Opera House) next door, it saddens me some that there is absolutely no possible way to restore those 2 theatres to the glorious auditoriums they used to be from the utter desolation that has befallen them in the past 40 years … plus the filling of large auditoriums as they used to be is a modern implausability … but the buildings may be saved nonetheless. Good news !!!! Jim Macumber
I am planning on attending this presentation on Weds Oct 21st, too. Anyone who has contributed here and also attends, please take a moment to introduce yourself & say “Hi”. I will be wearing a “Binghamton Classic Films” name tag. Jim Macumber
I have FANTABULOUS NEWS for anyone who has been lamenting (as I had) the almost certain “destruction by neglect” of the Old Stone Opera House & Riviera Theatre. In Sunday July 26th’s Press & Sun-Bulletin there was a LARGE article about the owner committing himself to saving this historic building. Many kudos to him & his efforts & I pray for eventual success. You can see the online version of the article here: View link
Just as a little aside … It is almost completely inconcievable that at 15 years old on Weds August 12th 1964 I attended the PREMIERE of The Beatles' A HARD DAYS NIGHT in this gorgeous Riviera Theatre !!!! ….and NOW, 45 years later, it’s glory has been completely annihilated by the passage of time & utter total neglect. OW-WICH !!!!! Jim Macumber
Mike R. clued me in (Thanks Mike !!! I THINK !!!!) to this site to see a large set of just taken photos of the interior of the Old Stone Opera House/Riviera Theatre. If anyone would like to take a gander here is the site info … though be WARNED the photos are very painful to look at & I cannot see any hope at all for the theatre to ever be able to be restored. It is a tragedy & a travesty!!! First go to the NYS Landmarks website at http://www.nyslandmarks.com/ Then click on “Treasures of the Tier” under the search bar on the upper right and then click on the article “January 11, 2009 Stone Opera House… Historic Theater faces Demolition by Neglect” … after reading the article you can go into the set of 24 photos by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page “Click Here for Interior Photos: nysLandmarks.com/stone” Jim Macumber
Steve … With your connection to The Crest I am quite sure you will be quite interested in hearing about 3 very special rememberances I have of The Crest.
1st … in December 1969, I remember going down to Riverside Drive in JC with my very best friend from where we lived on Ingraham Hill in the Town of Binghamton to his grandmother’s house across from the Baptist Bible Seminary & shovelling her driveway after a major snowstorm. We were both college juniors (without much money)home on Christmas vacation & both huge James Bond fans. After we finished our job, we WALKED up to The Crest to see “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” !!! After shovelling & then walking a couple miles through all that snow to see the film it seemed very appropriate to see a film full of so much snow & skiing !!! AND it WAS A GREAT FILM !!!
2nd … I about 1976 I was working for Fowler’s in the Oakdale Mall & had gotten to know Joe Hazlett who was then regional manager for Cinema National. The Enjoy Theatre was up for sale & I was interested in possibly running a theatre but with a difference. I wanted to run kind of a cinema dinner club that would offer classic films … one per week with each month of the year having a different theme … mysteries one month, sci-fi another, westerns another etc etc. But I was not sure about the availability of non-current films for exhibition & when I asked Joe he said that the projectionist at The Crest had been in the business forever & if anyone could help me he could & he set up an appointment for me to meet with the projectionist one evening in the projection booth. I saw & learned with him all about changing the carbon rods in the twin projectors … how to start up the next reel when the “spot” appeared on the screen to come on the screen flawlessly as the previous reel ended … rewinding the previous reel as the new one played & re-canning it & getting the next reel set up for when the present one finished. (every 20 minutes !!! learning THAT was why a 2 hour film was known as a “Six Reeler” !!!) It was an education I will never forget & am very thankful for experiencing. (even though my idea for the Enjoy turned out to be unfeasable)
My last rememberance is the World Premiere of “Twilight Zone – The Movie” at The Crest on Sat June 11, 1983. I got tickets for myself & my Mom for the full experience with the pre-screening party at Binghamton City Hall with Mayor Juanita Crabb, Kevin McCarthy, Rod Serling’s daughters & others & riding the special bus to the theatre & walking in on the Red Carpet just like the movie stars !!!
HOW I MISS OUR OLD THEATRES !!!!
Steve … Henry’s Hamburgers was not next to The Crest Theatre but instead was on the corner of Clarke Street & Main Street … right next to where the new McDonalds is located now … actually the Jarvis Theatre (previously known as The Laurel Theatre) was located exactly where that new McDonalds is. How I miss our old theatres !!!
I have sad news to report … if you will take a look at today’s Binghamton paper with the following link, you will see that Stone Opera House/Riviera Theatre building has deteriorated to the point that it is beginning to crumble. No way of knowing whether it CAN or WILL be saved.
I remember going to this theater at least once when I was growing up & yesterday’s morning paper had a photo of it in a “Memories” article that I thought you might like to see … possibly The Press & Sun-Bulletin would give you permission to add the photo to your webpage on the theater. Here is the link to the on-line article as well as the picture. View link
I apologize … I am not sure where I got the idea to put the “–” in the name … there was none. It was the “Enjoy”. I have Binghamton Press newspaper ads from 1956 to support this. And, yes, it was housed in The Goodwill Theatre that is now in process of hopefully being restored.
I worked at AIRPORT KIDDIELAND in the summer of 1966, the summer before my senior year in high school. There were no teacups. The rides were almost all completely from the Herschell Carousel Company in North Tonawanda, NY (yes, the same company which made all 6 of the Triple Cities Carousels donated by the Endicott Johnsons in the 1930s — the company had an entire division CALLED Kiddieland with all these small kiddie-size rides) Airport Kiddieland was owned & operated by Dr. Naim N. Khuri. He built & opened it in the 1950’s simply because he loved children. I had myself ridden all those rides there as a child !! Airport Kiddieland did a booming business in the 50’s & early 60’s but by the late 60s & early 70’s business had fallen off. Dr. Khuri also started the Airport Drive-In with, I believe, 2 other partners in the early 60s & soon the 2 businesses complemented & bosltered each other’s business. Airport Kiddieland started out & maintained 8 rides: a small carousel, a rocketships ride (they went around in a circle & there was a lever I used to raise & lower the altitude of the circle path & they had guns on the front for the kids to shoot), boats (they went around in a circle on real water & had bells on the fronts the kids could ring with a little rope), a cars ride & a tanks(also with guns on the front to shoot) ride (both of which went around in a circle), a small ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, and the TRAIN. All of which I ran for the kids during the summer of 1966. I also helped maintain the rides & the train tracks. It was just like a miniature railroad with real tracks & ties & spikes!! There was also a small 9 hole miniature golf course in the train’s tracks front loop. In about 1965, the Kolba family added a bumper cars unit into the park. I have absolutely no pictures of Airport Kiddieland or the Airport Drive-In & wish that I did. (Anyone out there have any ??) Many many fond memories of Airport Kiddieland (and Dr. Khuri) as a child AND as a teenager entertaining a new generation of kids myself. Jim Macumber, Binghamton, NY