Comments from SteveJKo

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SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Mar 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The Victory once again in the news:

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SteveJKo commented about Consultants Tour the Long Vacant Victory Theatre on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

Ross, thank you very much for posting this.

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Feb 27, 2010 at 7:44 am

Article and panoramic photos of the Victory at:

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Oct 8, 2009 at 7:59 am

The Victory makes the local news yet again:

Sale of Victory Theatre in Holyoke to Mass. International Arts Festival paves way for building’s eventual reopening

By Sandra Constantine

October 07, 2009, 7:15PM

HOLYOKE â€" There were cheers, applause and thanks all around Wednesday as officials marked a unanimous vote of the City Council to convey the mothballed Victory Theatre to the Massachusetts International Arts Festival.

The press conference, in front of the building and attended by more than 50 people, was a celebration of the Sept. 15 vote.

“Help and life is on its way,” said Donald T. Sanders, the festival’s executive artistic director. The sale for $1,500 will allow the arts organization to move forward with its $24 million plans to refurbish the 1920 building in time for reopening Dec. 30, 2012, 92 years after it first opened. It has been closed since 1979.

The rehabilitation of the rundown theater has long been the focus of various local groups starting more than 20 years ago. Officials see it as a way to bring arts and culture back to the city’s downtown as well as a being an engine for economic development.

“Arts and culture is a way to bring people downtown to enjoy the rich history that we have here in our city,” said Kathleen Anderson, the city’s director of planning and development, following the press conference.

Sanders, whose organization has worked for the last several years to bring about restoration of the building, thanked more than two dozen people by name at the event for their help in the effort.

He hopes to break ground on the project in the spring now that the sale is imminent. Representatives of Nessen Associates Ltd., an economic development and financing group, and Architectural Heritage Foundation, an architecture firm, also spoke. Those two Boston-based organizations are the arts group’s partners in the project.

Both groups have extensive experience in doing similar projects. Nessen has done work on the Boston Conservatory of Music and the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. Architectural Heritage has assisted in the development of Quincy Market in Faneuil Hall in Boston.

“This can actually happen,” Sean McDonnell, president of the architecture group, said. “When it’s done we will wonder why it took so long.”

“This is a great labor of love,” Robert L. Nessen, a partner in Nessen, said.

Sanders said he will announce the kickoff of a capital campaign to fund the project in the near future. He anticipates raising 60 percent to 80 percent of the funding outside the community as was the case in a similar theater restoration project in Pittsfield.

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Oct 2, 2009 at 9:01 am

Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts can be found here:

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Oct 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

From today’s Springfield Republican:

Plans for a three year, $25 million renovation of the closed Victory Theatre will be discussed at a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. in front of the building at 81-89 Suffolk St.

Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, a non-profit group, recently purchased the building from the city for $1,500 after unanimous approval of the city council on September 15. The theater, which has more than 1600 seats, opened in 1919 and has been closed since 1979. The planned reopening is December 30, 2012, said Donald T. Sanders, exective artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts.

SteveJKo commented about "Alien" 30th Anniversary on Aug 24, 2009 at 7:30 am

I saw Alien twice the week it opened. The first time was a Sunday matinee at the Charles in Boston. The 70mm presentation there was great, the stereo sound adding to the anxiety of the audience. I can still remember the buzz of the audience on the way out of the theater, with people debating the fate of the alien victims. Two days later I saw the film again at the Redstone Showcase Theaters in West Springfield, Massachusetts. As much as I loved the Charles, the Showcase presentation was even better. It was in their theater number five, which was the last of it’s undivided giant curved screen auditoriums. When the red velvet curtains opened, the theater was filled with that ominous sound track. Does anyone here know, were the 70mm Alien prints released with split stereo surrounds? The presentations I saw sure sounded like that.

SteveJKo commented about Universal Studios hosts Halloween Horror Nights on Oct 14, 2008 at 7:55 am

The splatter of blood and the smell of vomit? Anyone else find this more disgusting than frightening?

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Sep 21, 2008 at 7:32 pm

From the Republican:

Public to get view of Holyoke’s aging Victory Theater
by The Republican Newsroom Saturday September 20, 2008, 12:37 PM

HOLYOKE – Large red pieces of plywood cover most of the entrance to the Victory Theater.

But go through a plain door cut out of the plywood and you’re suddenly inside the vast, painstakingly decorated grand dame of the Paper City. Hand-cut Vermont marble adorns part of the floor. Brazilian mahogany lines the sweeping staircases leading to the balcony. Intricate, floral-patterned plaster surrounds the stage walls like an elegant frame.

And from high above through a skylight, light streams out onto the stage. The natural light is the only light in the theater. Otherwise, you need flashlights to see all the carefully crafted details in this 1,600-seat theater at 81 Suffolk St.

The theater has been closed since 1979. But Saturday at 10 a.m., the public will get a chance to go inside the theater for the first time in nearly three decades.

“We wanted people to see it before,” Donald T. Sanders said, standing near the stage inside the vast theater.

Before, Sanders hopes, the rebirth of the Victory Theater begins.

“Once they see it, people will know it’s a jewel and a valuable place,” Sanders said.

Sanders serves as executive artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, the non-profit organization overseeing the renovation of the theater and which will be offering free tours of the theater on Saturday.

The organization is completing a use analysis of the building, Sanders said. “You don’t want to do anything until you know what needs to be done.”

The analysis should be completed next month, Sanders said. Then comes the difficult task of finding the funding for the project. A combination of federal, state, local and private funding will likely be necessary to pay for such a large-scale project. Sanders is also banking on a loan from the Massachusetts Housing and Investment Corporation, which has provided funding for similar historic theater renovations in Worcester and Pittsfield.

No specific price tag has been determined for the Victory Theater project, but Sanders said he estimated the renovation and repair work will cost about the same as the theater restoration projects in Pittsfield ($25 million for the Colonial Theater) and Worcester ($31 million for the Hanover Theater project).

Such figures might seem daunting. But Sanders remains optimistic, especially when he actually goes inside the Victory Theater. Walking around the theater last week wielding a flash light, Sanders sounded like a proud parent as he pointed out different architectural details inside the theater which first opened in 1919.

Such details included the art deco style bathrooms on the second floor balcony. The tiled drop ceiling with recessed lighting on the second floor. The thick, ornately decorated red and green sheets of silk blanketing several walls. The large oval on the first floor ceiling which used to be open and which Sanders hopes to restore in order to give the first floor a more open, airy feeling.

“It’s sort of phenomenal any of this has remained,” Sanders said.

People can find out for themselves on Saturday. For more information about Saturday’s tour, call (413) 540-0200.

SteveJKo commented about Cinerama Dome and ArcLight Hollywood on Jun 13, 2008 at 7:30 am

Guys there seems to be a “disconnect” going on here. Haineshisway is agreeing with you that a scope film should simply have the side masking open up for a proper presentation. But he’s also telling you the fact of the matter was that many classic movie palaces weren’t able to accomodate the full width of scope without unfortunately reducing the height of the screen (while yes, opening up side masking as well). As a little kid in the sixties, I was very much aware of which classic theatres in my area used constant height for scope and which ones used constant width (or the masking on both top and sides that Haineshisway has mentioned). Guess which theatres I preferred?

I have a question about the Dome. My favorite deeply curved screen theatre had the same height screen for scope and flat. I loved it when all the trailers were flat, the curtains would close then reopen all the way for the Panavision feature film. The only difference here was for 70mm presentation. In that case the curtains and masking opened all the way like a scope film, but top masking suddenly went up too, to accomodate the 2.21 to 1 image. Does the Dome screen also increase it’s height for 70mm and the occasional presentation of a Cinerama film like “How The West Was Won”?

SteveJKo commented about Where to see Indiana Jones? on Apr 9, 2008 at 7:01 am

Michael, thanks for the info on the new films principle cinematography. It says something about modern production techniques that I get almost as excited hearing about a movie actually being filmed in anamorphic as I would if it was announced it was being shot in Super Panavision 70! I suppose the day will come when I feel that way when I hear a film is actually being shot on, of all things, FILM!

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Feb 15, 2008 at 7:15 am

Roger, I get the impression that hope for the Victory is indeed dead. I can find nothing on the internet for the Save the Victory group, and no other group has formed to take over the task from the Save the Victory people. I suppose as long as the building still stands there is a small hope, but as of this summer it will be 29 years that this great old palace has been closed. Like the Loews Kings in Brooklyn, time itself is not making it any easier to reopen this once proud place.

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Oct 23, 2007 at 7:37 am

Nobody is going to accuse anyone of anything, except perhaps not contributing any great stories about the Victory and just using this wonderful old theatres site to complain about the problems of the city of Holyoke instead.

SteveJKo commented about Northampton theater to close on Oct 17, 2007 at 7:13 am

That is correct Ron. The Calvin has been live performance only for a number of years. And the new plans for the Academy of Music don’t seem to include film at all, only live shows.

SteveJKo commented about Cinerama Adventure at MoMA on Oct 5, 2007 at 7:41 am

For information on this documentary go to

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Sep 12, 2007 at 7:10 pm

I meant to mention this when I posted the piece from the Springfield Republican on August 30th. There are several inaccuracies of various importance contained in this article. The most important one is the line:

“…Plans for the theater – originally designed as a "Renaissance theater” and converted in 1939 to a movie theater…"

The Victory Theatre, from it’s opening right after the end of World War I (and thus the name Victory) was both definitely designed for and playing movies from the first day it opened.

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Sep 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm


Thanks for your memories of the Victory. It will always have a very special place in my heart as it was the first theater I ever attended. That was in 1961 at the age of two, to see “The Absent Minded Professor”. I can still remember waiting in line for tickets. It was a very hot day and the line was all the way around and passed the Roger Smith Hotel (later called the Holyoke House). I remember standing there on Maple Street looking at thunder clouds in the distance that were so dark they were purple. That storm broke during the movie, I can still remember the tremondous sound of thunder reverberating through that great old theater. I can also remember the very warm and “boomy” sound of the Victory’s excellent sound system. Of course, as loud as all that was, it couldn’t compete with the sound of almost 2000 lauging kids. But my favorite story from the Victory was seeing “Mary Poppins” there with my sister and Grandmother (who was all dressed up and wearing her best pearls!!! My have times changed). Sitting ahead of us were two very elderly ladies. When the movie ended one turned to the other and said, “I rather liked it, but didn’t it seem like more of a children’s picture?” I guess it really is true (at least back then) that some people went to the movies with no knowledge of what they were about to see, they just wanted to get out of the house.

I worked at the Calvin also Ken! In 1980, I did box office, refreshment stand, and custodial duties as well. Loved that theater, Northampton is very lucky to have it still standing considering the fate of so many theaters that were a part of the infamous Western Ma. Theater chain. Same goes for the former Paramount in Springfield. I hope that place is treasured for decades to come.

As for the Strand, my main memories of it were as a fan of the horror movies playing there in the very early 70’s. Movies like “Dr. Phibes”, “The House That Dripped Blood”, “Asylum”, and “Scream and Scream Again” were not going to win any awards, but for a 12 year old they were great fun, and the Strand was a perfect place to see them. In between the horror, the Strand was doing “A” pictures there second run, and I saw a lot of those at that time as well. For some great info on these old places, check out DrRussD’s comments on the Strand and the Paramount (now Hippodrome). With much anticipation I’m waiting for his history of the Victory to be added here!

SteveJKo commented about Victory Theatre on Aug 30, 2007 at 8:39 am

From the Springfield Republican:

Work continues on Victory Theater
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

HOLYOKE – From the sidewalk outside the long-shuttered Victory Theater on Suffolk Street, passersby can see no progress in a years-long plan to restore the historic theater to its former grandeur.

But there is plenty of action off-stage and the long delays are nothing to worry about, arts promoter Donald T. Sanders, president of Victory Theatre Inc., said yesterday.
In September 2004, the group signed a $1-a-year lease for the city-owned theater, which allows for a three-year extension. Supporters predict the theater’s eventual renovation will spark an economic ripple effect downtown.

Last fall, Sanders said, the group installed a new roof on the 1,600-seat theater, which opened in 1919 and closed in 1979.

And an Agawam consultant has completed an environmental site assessment and hazardous materials survey, two keys for supporters to obtain historic-project tax credits that are key to the effort, Sanders said.

That report concludes there are few lead paint or asbestos problems inside the building and allows workers to “broom clean” the theater, to remove debris and old equipment, Sanders said. The report, he said, identified water in a basement boiler room that remained after a 1968 fire caused minor damage.

Armed with two $50,000 grants – one approved in 2004 by the state Office of Tourism – Sanders said, Victory Theatre Inc. is hoping more visible work will soon start on the renovations, which estimates have pegged at $10 million.

“It is a long process,” said Sanders, who is also executive director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. Last year, that group – which has brought fine arts productions to the Pioneer Valley since 1993 – moved its headquarters from Northampton to a nearby building on Suffolk Street.

But Sanders said the Victory’s natural assets are well worth the wait: a bountiful backstage facility, beautiful interior details, incredible exterior brickwork and structural integrity. Brazilian mahogany panels, Tiffany stained glass and two 1930s-era murals are among the building’s most treasured touches, he said.

The $16,000 cost to repair the roof and generate the environmental report, Sanders said, was paid for by Save the Victory Theater Inc., a grassroots group that for years kept alive hopes the theater could be saved.

A major fund-raising effort has been quietly gaining momentum but will not kick into gear until the theater’s physical renovations are ready to begin, Sanders said.

Plans for the theater – originally designed as a “Renaissance theater” and converted in 1939 to a movie theater – would allow for a multitude of uses from fine arts to film.

“What will save it is that it can be both,” said Sanders. Possible activities there include ballet and opera, off-Broadway plays, musical concerts, movies and comedy acts, Sanders said.

SteveJKo commented about Happy 25th, 'Blade Runner'! on Jun 25, 2007 at 11:23 am

In 1982 I did see it on a large screen, but in 35mm scope. My opinion of the film both then and now is that it’s great look at, but that’s about it.

SteveJKo commented about Radio City Music Hall on Mar 2, 2007 at 6:16 am

I did not know that, but I did know about Kong also being at the New Roxy. Another urban legend bites the dust. Well then it’s the anniversary of the world’s best monster movie having it’s opening at the world’s best movie palace! I still say next year on this date RCMH should have a Kongfest!

SteveJKo commented about Radio City Music Hall on Mar 2, 2007 at 5:03 am

I believe it was this day (March 2nd) in 1933 that RCMH’s career as a movie palace began with the premiere of “King Kong”. A very happy anniversary to the Music Hall! Perhaps we should all start a movement to get “Kong” back on the screen there next year on this date for the 75th anniversary (hey, I can dream can’t I?).

SteveJKo commented about Showcase Cinemas 16-19 on Jul 13, 2006 at 4:11 pm

John, the rather frenetic history of these theatres goes something like this. Before it was rebuilt in its current configuration, Showcase Cinemas across the street from the Palace totaled ten screens. The first section was the original two screen complex, built in 1965. A couple of years later, around the time the Palace opened across the street, another building containing a third theatre was added by Showcase. Shortly after that yet another building with two more screens was added. Many of these theatres featured 70mm projection, but only theatres one and three had curved screens.

In 1975 theatres one and two were twinned, and less than two years later the original theatre five (now number seven) was twinned. By 1984 the two remaining large theatres were also twinned, bringing us to the total of ten screens.

In the mid 1980’s the Palace was purchased by Showcase and it was subdivided a second time, making it four screens (Showcase Cinemas 11 â€" 14). After the main complex was rebuilt with the amazing total of 15 screens, the former Palace briefly became its final name; Showcase Cinemas 16 â€" 19.

Unfortunately I have the unhappy task of announcing here that this once lovely 70mm road show house is no more. A good friend informs me that he drove buy the former Palace earlier this month and it’s been torn down. Nothing was in the local newspaper or on the local TV news, and no reports have been made as to what will become of the land.

SteveJKo commented about Loew's Jersey Theatre on Feb 28, 2006 at 5:03 am

Ed, from what I understand the 1989 70mm reissue of “The Ten Commandments” was considered a complete disaster. A significant amount of image was lost in the transfer to a full 70mm frame. They would have been smarter to transfer the image using the full 70mm frame height, but not the width, to protect the Vistavision frame. I’ve seen many 1.85:1 films presented this way and it works just fine.

From what I’ve read on this site, the Jersey is not equipped for 70mm presentation.

SteveJKo commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Feb 8, 2006 at 4:31 pm

I saw “Towering Inferno” twice in it’s original theatrical run. The first showing had no intermission, but the second screening had an intermission as poorly placed as many have already mentioned here. The last film I saw with a proper intermission was the original 242 minute version of “Hamlet” at the Paris.

SteveJKo commented about Lafayette Theatre Announces 4th Big Year of Classic Film Entertainment! on Feb 2, 2006 at 4:04 pm

What a fantastic program! My first thought was, “why does it have to be at such a distance”. My second thought was, “who do I know who would be willing to drive with me for almost four hours to go see some old movies in an old movie house”? I’m going to find someone!