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The print edition of the Quincy Patriot Ledger of Wed., August 27 ‘14 has a nostalgic feature article by newswriter Fred Hanson “Screen Gems – Seeing Movies at a Drive-in used to be a Summer Staple” about the two drive-ins in Braintree. He says the Quintree opened on July 19, 1950 with a Randolph Scott western “The Nevadan”. He found a man who lived across Quincy Avenue from the Quintree as a child and for whom the grounds of the Quintree were one big playground. Hanson says that other drive-ins south of Boston included those in Dorchester, Dedham, Canton, Avon, Brockton, Weymouth, Abington, Marshfield and Kingston.
He says that on August 27, 1968 3 juveniles lit some trash on fire which spread to the huge screen and badly damaged it. The screen was not repaired and the theater was closed. Last movies were “Bonnie and Clyde” & “Up the Down Staircase”. He says that the Plaza Twin Drive-in near the South Shore Plaza opened about 1960 and closed about 1985. He mentions that one screen is still standing, near the Logan Airport bus shuttle terminal. Hanson also states that there are 3 drive-ins in MA today: at Leicester, Mendon and Wellfleet.
The Cameo celebrated its 75th birthday at 10 AM on Thursday, August 14 with a free showing of “Wizard of OZ”. According to a report in yesterday’s Patriot Ledger, the theater was full. The celebration was held jointly with the Fogg branch of the Weymouth Public Library directly across the street. The Fogg Library has reopened after extensive renovations. (The fine old building can be seen in the Google Street View by rotating 180 degrees). After the movie, the audience trooped across the street for more fun events on the library lawn. The original theater license from 1939 is still posted on the projection booth wall. The article points out that the Cameo’s operators, Bret & Michelle Hardy, also operate cinemas in Scituate and East Bridgewater, and that they have wisely kept their day jobs and thus do not depend on the theaters for income.
This cinema is open. It’s listed in the Movie Guide in today’s Boston Herald. Listed as “Warwick Place Cinemas, 123 Pleasant St.” in Marblehead. There are 5 current/recent movies showing. I can’t remember for certain if I ever saw it listed in this Movie Guide before.
This theater was not a real “upstairs house”. From the street entrance there were a few steps, maybe about 6, which led up to the lobby. The front of the auditorium and the stage area were at ground level. This info is from Someone Who Was There. He nearly purchased the theater, but the deal fell through, and it went to a church instead.
The Grand Opera House in Dell Rapids is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. They show 200 seats. William Parker was Mgr. The proscenium opening was 30 feet wide X 18 feet high, and the stage was 30 feet deep. The theater was on the second floor. There were 2 hotels for show folk and 2 weekly newspapers in town. Railroad was the Milwaukee Road. The 1897 population was 1,500.
In 1932 there were 4 theaters in this area wich featured live vaudeville acts in addition to movies:This theater, the Bowdoin Square Theatre; the Scollay Square Olympia Theatre; the Old Howard Theatre on Howard Street; and the Casino Theatre on Hanover Street. The Old Howard and the Casino were both primarily Burlesque theaters and may have had age restrictions, so that Sam Brooks, age 13, would most likely have attended the Scollay Square Theatre or the Bowdoin Square Theatre, or both.
The Town Hall Theatre is mentioned in the current issue of Opera News Magazine. There is a nice exterior photo. The article says it opened in 1883 and has 232 seats. There are an average of 165 events there per season. It’s home base for the Opera Company of Middlebury which has been doing well there.
Several months ago I heard that this project was starting to unravel, unfortunately; but I don’t recall what the source of that news was. The people in charge are stalwart types and I hope that they can get back on track.
According to an item in the Quincy Patriot Ledger yesterday, the Falconi Companies hope to close on purchasing the building on June 15th. All 3 business tenants at the front of the building will remain. Falconi will form a company, Milton Theatre LLC, which will operate a restaurant in the theater space. The theater has been empty since the fire in 2007; prior to that it was used for storage.
Someone who worked at the Astor around 1960 managed to get into the old office suites in the Tremont Street building which contained the theater entrance and outer lobby. To his surprise, there were still some records left there. He found files for Fred Lieberman’s Proven Pictures circuit from the 1940s, old records for the Bijou and other nearby theaters. He also says that there was indeed a remnant of the old second balcony still in place above the rear of the main balcony. It appears that the original second balcony was cut back but not completly removed at some time during the drastic renovations in 1937 and 1947.
Listed for Millersburg in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide is a “New Opera House”. I assume it’s this theater. It had 500 seats, and a stage 32 feet deep. The population of Millersburg in 1897 was 3,000.
James- The MGM Reports for the Union Theatre and also the Bates in Attleboro are now on line. Go to the Theatre Historical Society website www.historictheatres.org ;on the Home Page, click “Research” and then click “American Theatres Architectural Archive” in the drop-down box. Next, click “Explore the collections in the on-line catalog”. Next, type “New England Special Collection” in the search box. (That’s what they call the MGM Theatre reports). The Bates is card #9, and the Union is card # 10 right at the beginning. Once you get the card, there is a button to click on to enlarge it, and then you can copy it on your printer.
The Boston Sunday Herald of April 20, 2014 has a long feature article by Jed Gottlieb “Classic Cinema” about the 100th birthday of the Somerville Theatre in May. There is a nice color photo of a vintage car passing the theater entrance while Manager Ian Judge changes letters on the marquee from a stepladder. There is a classic film festival going on there now. On the theater’s birthday, May 11, there will be a show consisting of “The Wizard of Oz”, plus classic short subjects, plus live music and 3 acts of vaudeville. (Where in this day and age does one book vaude acts?)
Proctor’s Pleasure Palace is listed under NY in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. The building had 4 venues: Grand Auditorium, 2200 seats; German Concert Hall, 300 seats; Garden of Palms, 1000 seats; Roof Garden,950 seats. The Auditorium was on the ground floor.
They are well on the way to funding for digital, thanks to some benefit parties. They hope to install by the end of this year. They also hope to start showing 2 films simultaneously, using both auditoriums at once, something they now do not do. This info has been gleaned from Patriot-Ledger articles about their recent fund raiser.
I have heard that there was a huge, raging fire in Brant Rock about 1941 which destroyed several hundred buildings. Most of those were homes, but there were some commercial structures lost, too. I wonder if this fire impacted the theater building ??? Is the fire the reason that the MGM Theatre Report states that the theater was “rebuilt in 1941” ?
There was a brief item in the Quincy MA Patriot-Ledger yesterday that a program is underway to raise funds for the purchase of a digital projector for the Plimouth Cinema.
The Hogan Opera House was the only theater listed for Susquehanna in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Guide. 850 seats, ground floor, A. G. Doherty, Mgr. Tickets 25 cents to 50 cents. Electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 26 ‘ wide X 17 ’ high, and the stage was 40 feet deep. Professor Warner was the leader of the house band, 6 to 8 members. The 1897 population of Susquehanna was 10,000.
That’s the 1897-98 edition of the Cahn Guide.
The King OPera House in Greenville is listed in the 1987-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. Theater was on the ground floor and had 741 seats. J. O. Teagarden was Mgr. The proscenium opening was 26 feet wide X 24 feet high, and the stage was 36 feet deep. Tickets, 25 cents to $1. There was both a morning newspaper and an afternoon paper. 3 hotels for show folk: Beckham, Arcade, Park. Railroads: M-K-T, Cotton Belt, Texas Midland. The 1897 population of Greenville was 10,000.
jport – I didn’t know that Joe Cifre was connected to the Jimmy Fund, but it doesn’t surprise me, nor does it surprise me to learn that he was active in the Variety Club. I don’t know much about him, except as a boy theater-building hobbyist in the late-1940s and the 1950s, I recall seeing his name often in the Boston newspapers. He was an active man, and was considered an authority on Boston theaters. His company was the place to go to get theater equipment and supplies.
I drove by the building today and someone has made a colorful sign which says “21 Cottage Street” and placed it in the old movie poster frame outside. There is also a big dumpster which has been dropped next to the auditorium wall. I always get nervous when I see dumpsters next to old theater buildings.
The Star will be demolished soon. The building is considered unsafe and derelict. This news is from a Taunton newspaper and was referenced in a current THSA on-line newsletter.
CT member HankSykes tells me that he was looking through some boxes of old stuff in a storage area at the Cincinnati Public Library yesterday afternoon and came upon a program,in good condition, for the Tremont Theatre’s production of “No NO Nanette”. The latter was one of the great hit musicals of the 1920s and ran for 6 months at the Tremont Theatre about 1925. At the back of the program is mention of the theater’s “water curtain” which deploys in case of a fire on stage. I assume that they also had a regular fire safetly curtain (usually made of asbestos in those days). One can imagine the mess the water curtain must have made if it deployed accidentally. This water curtain apparatus and plumbing, plus the regular stage curtains, were all swept away in the late-1930s when the orchestra pit, stage floor and proscenium arch were removed so that the main floor seating could be extended forward into the stage area. (the Tremont seems to have stopped presenting live shows on stage after about 1930; films only.)
The Warr Theatre in the old postcard view of Main Street in Wareham is definitely the same theater as pictured on the June 1950 MGM Theatre Report. Some of the detail on the facade was removed by 1950. As for “Warr” vs. “Waugh”, Joe Vogel’s theory is probably correct, familiar as I am with Boston-area accents.