Comments from jsomich

Showing 1 - 25 of 56 comments

jsomich commented about Shaker Square Cinemas on Mar 6, 2005 at 4:37 pm

The Vogue was only about 2 miles from the Colony and in a better section of Shaker Hts. Shaker Square, the location of the Colony, is officially Cleveland. Right on the border. The Vogue, however, was not as nice as the Colony. The Colony had real class.
Alas, even Shaker Hts. is not what it used to be. There are some streets of the super-rich, but more and more Shaker is becoming upper middle class.
There was probably not a finer house than the Colony outside of downtown.

jsomich commented about Shaker Square Cinemas on Mar 6, 2005 at 4:16 pm

It is impossible to make a buck with a single screen these days. Couple that with the decline of the neighborhood and you have this result. It is probably still better than the alternative which is a dark theatre or a wrecking ball. This has happened in thousands of instances around the country. Another nice single screen in Shaker Heights (Cleveland) was the Vogue at Van Aken & Warrensville Rds.

jsomich commented about Circle Theatre on Feb 16, 2005 at 11:41 am

The Park would be approximately across Euclid ave from the Circle.
Keiths and University were back behind the Circle shot, on the Southeast quadrant.
The Keiths was closest to E105th st and the University was further east.
If you divide the area into quadrants with Eucid and E105th being the center, the Keiths and University were on the Southeast quadrant, the Alhambra and Park on the Northwest quadrant, and the Circle on the Southwest quadrant.
See my picture links for the other theatres.

jsomich commented about Circle Theatre on Feb 15, 2005 at 2:11 pm

You can see the circle marquee in the upper right-hand portion of the picture. It is easy to spot. The view is looking west down Euclid Aavenue from E105th St. The theatre on the right is the Alhambra.

jsomich commented about Circle Theatre on Feb 9, 2005 at 4:57 pm

Here is a photo of the Circle from the ‘40s.
BTW Bill Randle was the emcee for the Elvis shows at the Circle.
Bill died last year (2004)
I assume the Circle was named for “University Circle.”

jsomich commented about Alhambra Theatre on Feb 6, 2005 at 12:58 pm

Here is a picture of the Alhambra from the 40's

jsomich commented about University Theatre on Feb 6, 2005 at 12:35 pm

Here is a rare shot of the University Theatre (background) with Keith’s 105 in the foreground.

jsomich commented about Fairmount Theatre on Feb 6, 2005 at 12:33 pm

Here is a pic of the marquee

jsomich commented about Keith's 105th Street Theatre on Feb 6, 2005 at 12:31 pm

Here is a picture of the marquee

jsomich commented about Loew's Stillman Theatre on Jan 21, 2005 at 2:22 pm

The STILLMAN THEATER was among the most elaborate motion-picture houses in the U.S. It opened in 1916 on the former estate of STILLMAN WITT†, a railroad builder, at 1115 Euclid Ave., and had a seating capacity of 1,800. As one of the 3 downtown outlets of the Loew’s movie chain, it shared first-run MGM feature films with the STATE THEATER and the OHIO THEATER. The Stillman closed on 28 July 1963. While the auditorium was demolished in favor of a parking garage, remnants of the lobby could still be viewed in the garage entrance in 1993.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 21, 2005 at 11:57 am

to roger:
I have had good success checking the microfilms of the Cleveland newspapers at the Cleveland Public Library. This is a rather crude system where you find the frame you want and the machine spits out a copy (in negative form!). But, in the end, it works even though the copies are lousy! I don’t know how it is today, but they used to have the papers going back into the 20’s.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 21, 2005 at 9:07 am

Me too! Can’t wait to see ‘em

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 20, 2005 at 6:54 am

I think it came down to “real estate.” The theatre was run down and so was the office space. Cleveland had been “downsizing” for decades.

There was a huge need for parking in the area because of new office buildings like the National City Bank building across the street.
The NCB building also ate up the Embassy theatre and the Roxy.

The era when the Hipp closed was the one of the “shoebox cinemas” in the suburban malls. The thought of doing anything like that with the HIPP was just too daunting and downtown was dying anyway. The only movies left in downtown Cleveland are the Hoyt’s Cinemas in Tower City Center.

If the HIPP had been a part of Playhouse Square, it might have been “saved” like the Palace, State, Ohio, and Allen.

jsomich commented about Allen Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 2:12 pm

The ALLEN THEATRE, 1501 Euclid Ave., opened on 1 Apr. 1921. It joined the Ohio, State, and Hanna theaters, which had debuted only weeks before. The Allen was constructed in conjunction with the Bulkley Bldg., an 8-story office building on Euclid Ave., just east of E. 14th St. Designed by architect C. Howard Crane, the $1 million showplace was developed by 2 Canadian theater impresarios, Jules and Jay Allen of Toronto.

An ornate lobby led to a pillared Italian Renaissance rotunda, its dome 33' high. The balcony seating area was reached from another domed entrance hall, while yet a third dome graced the main arena. Altogether, the Allen could seat 3,003 in opulent surroundings. Because the Allen brothers were not affiliated with a major motion-picture circuit, they experienced difficulty in securing first-run features.

In 1932 RKO took over. In 1949 Warner Bros. joined in the theater’s management, and finally, in 1953 Stanley-Warner Theatres assumed the lease. Despite the expenditure of $500,000 in 1961 to renovate the Allen, diminishing audiences led to Stanley-Warner’s decision to close the theater on 5 Mar. 1968.

Although the Allen hosted some of the earliest events in the campaign to restore Cleveland’s PLAYHOUSE SQUARE, it was nearly lost amid the subsequent festivities surrounding the reopening of its 3 neighbors, the OHIO THEATER, STATE THEATER, and PALACE THEATER. For several years it housed a restaurant in its lobby, but demolition had already begun in Jan. 1993, when the Playhouse Square Assn. signed a long-term lease to preserve the Allen as part of its downtown theater complex.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 9:52 am

The “Hipp” really had character. I never saw it in it’s heyday, but it was still magical in it’s later years. The downtown became much more sterile without it.
I guess we should be thankful for Playhouse Square. Those great theatres (Palace, State, Ohio, Allen) almost met the same fate.
We will never see movie theatres like these again. Unfortunately.
And what do we get?
More parking!

jsomich commented about Esquire Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 6:36 am

Here’s an interesting discovery. I have found this old picture where the “Esquire” was called “Lake.” This is something I never realized.
You can also see a few other marquees in Playhouse Square.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 6:26 am

I have posted a great (exterior) picture of the Hippodrome Theatre.
Can anyone date it?

jsomich commented about Keith's 105th Street Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 6:03 am

From the “Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:”

KEITH’S EAST 105TH ST. THEATER, which opened in Nov. 1921 as a vaudeville house, was built near UNIVERSITY CIRCLE to cater to the growing number of “suburban” residents who wanted entertainment closer to home.

At a time when Cleveland’s restaurants and theaters were located at PLAYHOUSE SQUARE, the Keith chain opened the E. 105th St. Theater. Although the location drew the desired crowds for 2 matinees and an evening performance on weekends, the actors felt secluded in a “theatrical outpost.” Eventually, the Keith’s 105th was joined by other theaters and popular Cleveland restaurants, making what was once called DOAN’S CORNERS the city’s second major retail and entertainment district.

To attract the public and to compensate the actors for their isolation, Keith’s 105th was a showplace, with an ivory, rose, and gilt lobby and 3,000 rose-velvet seats. The public lounges featured ivory toiletry accessories, while the dressing rooms, all identical and named after states rather than numbered (thus minimizing ego battles among the stars), had long ivory dressing tables, well-lit mirrors, and connected tile showers. Keith’s had a laundry room, billiard parlor, and nursery.

The theater hosted the vaudeville greats and launched the careers of others, such as Bob Hope. With the decline of vaudeville, Keith’s was converted to a movie theater. As the neighborhood changed, the quality of films and attendance deteriorated. Keith’s continued to operate as a movie house until 1967, when it and several other buildings in the area were claimed for urban renewal.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 5:55 am

I have posted a picture (exterior) of the old ROXY Theatre at
Since the ROXY had projectors, perhaps it should have a page of its own. This picture was posted at the Encyclopedia of Cleveland history and is a good one.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 5:45 am

Here is some interesting info from the “Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:”

The HIPPODROME THEATER was located in an 11-story office building at 720 Euclid Ave. Designed by Cleveland architect John Elliot, the “Hipp” featured exceptionally good acoustics, a lavish interior, grandiose spaciousness, and a second entrance on Prospect Ave. Considered to be among the world’s great playhouses, it attracted performers such as Enrico Caruso, Sarah Bernhardt, W. C. Fields, Will Rogers, Al Jolson, and John McCormack. The auditorium had boxes, 2 balconies with elevators, and seating for 3,548. The stage was equipped to handle large-scale productions and spectacles such as operas. The world’s 2nd-largest, next to the Hippodrome in New York, it measured 130' wide, 104' deep, 110' high, and could be lifted to 4 different levels by hydraulic jacks. On one level was an 80x40x10-ft. water tank used for water spectacles. The theater was built in 1907 by an operating company headed by Max Faetkenhauer at a cost of $800,000. After several years, theater operations were leased to B. F. Keith. In 1922 Walter Reasoner took over operations, followed by RKO in 1929. Remodeling in 1931 made it the largest American theater devoted entirely to motion pictures. A large portion of the stage was removed, while the main floor was lowered and a new mezzanine added to increase seating to above 4,000. In 1933 the theater went bankrupt, and operations were taken over by Warner Bros. In 1951 it became part of the Telenews chain, and in 1972 the property was purchased by Alvin Krenzler. The last of the major downtown movie houses to close, the Hipp’s downfall came when the office space was closed and the theater’s revenues proved insufficient to support the building. The Hippodrome was demolished in 1981 to make way for a parking lot.

jsomich commented about Hippodrome Theatre on Jan 19, 2005 at 5:35 am

I would LOVE to see your pictures. Please scan and post them. If you cannot, I would be only too glad to do it for you. Contact me off list

Jim Somich
8060 Wren Dr
Macedonia Ohio 44056

I am a Cleveland Theatre buff and treasure every nugget I can find.
I would even post these pictures on a site if you like.

I am interested in ALL Cleveland movie theatres from the biggest to the smallest. You cannot let these pictures go to waste. I am sure there are many who would find them very interesting. Thanks.

My father would go to the ROXY regularly. I never got the chance. I remember he told me about the boxes of candy that hawkers sold in the aisles. Each one contained a “prize.” Some of the “prizes” were pretty amazing…like Electric Razors! Mostly “Occupied Japan” junk! Anyone else remember this?
I am a camera buff and remember REITMAN CAMERA right next door to the ROXY.

I understand the ROXY had a booth and projectors. Anyone know anything about this?

jsomich commented about Garfield Mall Movies on Jan 10, 2005 at 4:02 pm

Typical “shoe-box” design typical of the 70s and 80s. Nothing fancy. Ballantyne 35 projection. Not all screens had stereo. The theatres were not “kept up” making it easy for the competition on Canal Road to steal their audience.

jsomich commented about Fairmount Theatre on Jan 10, 2005 at 4:01 pm

The Fairmount was a “very classy” nabe showing second run and some art house fare. The booth was (2) Motiograph AAA, Motiograph-Hall lamps, Motiograph/RCA sound, Motiograph/Altec Stereo. I remember they used a “very long” Zeiss Anamorphic Lens. The operators were Warren Covell and his son.

jsomich commented about Esquire Theatre on Jan 10, 2005 at 3:58 pm

The building was demolished to make way for (what else?) a parking lot.

jsomich commented about Continental Art Theatre on Jan 10, 2005 at 3:56 pm

The Continental was where manager Nico Jacobellis got in big trouble for showing the “dirty” movie, I Am Curious Yellow. Actually a very tame foreign pseudo-documentary in b&w.