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“Tales of a Southern Palazzo” is now in print and available at:
I have just completed the book, “Tales of a Southern Palazzo” which all you Atlanta Paramount disciples might enjoy. The book, to be published by Outskirts Press late spring – early summer, 2011, reads like fiction although it is a loving memoir of a “complex, twisted, and highly fragrant sotry” about Moultrie, Georgia that is basically true! Using a “singularly distinctive mansion that cements all of the Southern waywardness” as a backdrop, “Tales” recounts the hilarious and otentimes unbelieveable events that have occurred during the tenure of three Southern bachelors within and without its Palladian walls. Theatre historians will recall that the “Palazzo” was fashioned from five of the upper facade sections of the Paramaount by my uncle, William Frank McCall, Jr.
Can anyone shed any light on what actually happened to the Capitol's
Estey organ and its later horseshoe console? Did the organ go down with the building?
Indeed, the Ritz featured retail shops on its street facade, including Ritz Fashions. This shop moved to 2235 N. Ashley Street in May, 1973. The Ritz showed its final film (“Book of Numbers” at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30,1973. The day after, the Cinema I and II theatres opened at Valdosta’s five points as a replacement for the venerable Ritz.
The Dosta Theatre was fabricated from an earlier storefront building. Newspaper accounts claimed that the new exterior facade cost “$30,000”. The theatre had its official opening on Monday, May 5, 1941.
I have the photo of the Ilex taken in 1971 but, as you know, Cinema Treasures will not accept a downloaded photo. The pictures taken of the present “Tony’s Garage” are defnitely of the former Star Theatre or some other theatre; NOT the Ilex.
William J. Gilroy was featured organist at the theatre’s grand opening.
Research shows that the following organists have been known to have played the Florida Theatre Wurlitzer: Zita O'Brien (orignally from Chicago and featured at the Picadilly Theatre; in St. Pete, she organized the “St. Patrick’s Morning Musical” in the early fifties at the Florida—featuring area musicians including her console work);
John H. Miller (c. 1951, who featured daily programs at the Florida and also served as registrar for the A.G.O.); Don Berger (c. mid-forties, who was also organist at WTSP Radio. Mr. Berger made news when he was discovered in a car in which he had rigged a hose to end his life with carbon monoxide poisioning in October of 1945; a “Mrs. Crowther” was featured in advertising on June 20, 1927; George Henninger was also featured in the early years of the Florida.
I understand that one recording was done on the Warner Kimball prior to its removal. Can anyone furnish me witht he title of the LP and the artist? Thanks!
Elvis Presley appeared here on August 7, 1956, PRIOR to his engagement at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville Aug. 10-11!
It has been a common misconception that Elvis played his “first indoor concert” at the Florida in Jacksonville. This is simply not true! If you research his timeline in 1956 (by Robert Fontenot) you will discover that he played The Carolina Theatres in Spartanburg, Charlotte, and Winston-Salem; The Atlanta Fox, the Atlanta Paramount, and the St.-Petersburg Florida Theatre (August 7)[among many other indoor venues] BEFORE his concerts at Jacksonville’s Florida Theatre, August 10-11
In further research in “The Vidalia Advance” I have discovered that the noted theatre architect, Roy Benjamin was contracted to design the Pal, touted as “Vidalia’s Theatre Beautiful”. This was announced in “The Advance” on September 15, 1927, and the Pal opened on March 26, 1928 featuring Sam Lucas at the Page organ. The Pal’s first manager was Hal H. Macon and the house organist was Lottie Belle Lee.
Mr. Lucas' program at the Pal featured “A Trip Through the Golden Voiced Pipe Organ”. This must have been an abbreviated journey as the Page organ was a very small instrument.
The Grand has now undergone a sensitive restoration/adaptive re-use making it available as a retail space. However, other than leveling the floor and installing a central hvac system, the theatre is much as it was in its days of operation including a re-paint similar to former colors and the installation of reproduction wall sconces that are very similar to the originals. The building is currently for sale or lease.
The correct website address for the Capitol Theatre is now:
The Allen 317-EX organ, loaned by theatre organist John McCall has now been removed, but not before it was recorded by McCall in a new CD, “A Capitol Idea”. For information on the purchase of this recording, please contact John McCall at
The Capitol Theatre’s Grand Opening will be Wednesday evening, January 18, at 6:00 p.m. An Allen 317EX organ will be installed for the occasion and John Clark McCall, Jr. will be featured at the console as part of the inaugural program on stage. Tickets will be available at the box office on the evening of the performance. The theatre is loccated near the corner of Second and Cherry Streets.
Betty Gould and Raymond Bohr were among the organists to preside at the Center’s large Wurlitzer organ.
The Ford Motor Company’s 50th Anniversay TV Special was broadcast from the Center Theatre on June 15, 1953. Among the stars in the show were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Marian Anderson. But two great ladies of the stage stole the show that evening: Mary Martin and Ethel Merman. Fortunately, a little over twenty minutes of this broadcast (actually aired jointly over CBS and NBC!) are available in a DVD (From a Kinescope transfer) currently on the market. It is sad to note that in a little less than a year, the Center would be gone, even after such star-studded personages as Merman and Martin had trod its stage.
I am pretty sure that “Thompsonville” is indeed “Thomasville” as its main corridor is Tallahassee Road (it is an hour away).
I don’t know anything about the HIWA, but I am in Thomasville often and will see what I can scrape up.
I just uncovered an interesting “celibrity” link with the Capitol’s last Wurlitzer organ (a Style “E” divided):
According to organ technician John Tanner, “When John Bagley took the organ out many years ago he had this rather large country boy with him to help take it out and drive the truck. You may know him later as Junior Samples on the TV show, ‘Hee Haw’.”
Anny, thanks for this clarification.
The Capitol Theatre, financed with the interests of the Asa Candler family of Atlanta (of Coca-Cola fame) was almost as large as the Roxy Theatre. Although its entrance fronted on Peachtree Street, the actual auditorium was to the left rear side of the Davison-Paxon Building.
The theatre was pure Adam in its execution. Starrett and Von Vleck, architects, designed an unusual “catapulted” square proscenium of with elaborate poloychrome decoration featuring Pompeiian figures, swags, griffons—all a dead ringer for the Adam Brother’s Syon House in England.
The house curtain was fashioned with a stunning valance featuring a “Wedgwood-like” medallion at the center and a della robbia “garland” resting above. As the Capitol opened as a combination movie and “Vodvil” [this spelling used in the theatre’s advertising] house, there were ennunciator boards on either side of the stage.
The side walls of the auditorium made a clear statement that a pipe organ was in the house; the two chambers featured exposed gilded metal diapason pipes framed by swagged valances and draped panels at either end. The side lighting in the auditorium offered delicate five-arm sconces fashioned in the style of Waterford candelabra. Panels on the side walls were finished in silk damask. Classical urns toppped the organ grilles which housed a three manual Robert Morton organ with a white console (located on the left side of the orchestra pit). This organ, Opus 2310, was unusual in that besides its fifteen ranks of pipes it featured Morton’s novel “V'Oleon” which was an actual mechancial device of strings played by a revolving roller “bowing” them to produce imitative orchestral sounds!
The Capitol’s lobby area could have been fitted by the Adam Brothers themselves. Furnishings were in the Hepplewhite and Sheraton style and were flanked by a triad of low-relief wall niches. The extreme left and right niches were mirrored and overlaid with gilded swags. The center niche featured polychrome Pompeiian motifs and a silk damask panel. The chandelier at the grand staircase was truly remarkable and—true to the Adam style—was far more delicate and historically accurate than the fixtures in other movie palaces of the period.
The Capitol was an “early” architectural loss for Atlanta. Always in competition with the neighboring Roxy (ne Keith’s Georgia), it was inevitable that one of the houses would fold. To have closed in the forties, the Capitol went to the slaughter at a tender age.
The theatre’s Morton, after spending time at LaGrange College and later in a private residence in Fairburn, Georgia, is to be installed in the Strand Theatre in Marietta, GA. The Strand’s art deco guise is quite different from the Adamesque Capitol, but it is good that the organ will again sound less than fifty miles away from its original home.
The Edwards Theatre had a small Robert Morton theatre pipe organ, which was installed in 1927.
I have just toured this theatre to inspect the restoration efforts and they are remarkable. Under the guidance of Tony Long—who comes from a construction background that started in the 1930’s—the theatre is being sensitively adapted, ever mindful of its architectural heritage.
A grand opening for the first phase of the restoration is planned for early January, 2006.
According to research by Mssrs. Kinerk and Wilhelm, noted theatre historians, the architect for the Florida was not Taylor, but Roy A. Benjamin with Robert E. Hall. Located in the Famous Players Theatre Building, the Florida was one of 4 Publix super luxury theatres built in Florida in 1926 (the Olympia, Miami; the Florida, Jacksonville; and the Tampa). The theatre was located at 22 5th Street South at 1st Avenue South, on the Northwest corner. The interior of the theatre was decidedly 15th Century Spanish. After closing in 1967, the theatre property was purchased by the First National Bank and the theatre fell to the wrecker’s ball.
The first feature film at the Florida was “Tin Man” and the St. Petersburg Orange Band played as did the Florida’s Mighty Wurlitzer.
Senator William Hodges dedicated the theatre and Mayor R.S. Peace accepted.
Live acts at the Florida over the years included George Jessel, Sally Rand, and Elvis Presley. Clint Eastwwood’s “For A Few Dollars More” was the final film at the Florida and, according to journalist Dick Bothwell, “a tombstone flashed upon the screen” announcing “RIP Florida, 1926-1967”.
(information for this commentary came from an article by Scott Taylor Hartzell of the Saint Petersburg Times (June 19, 2002), and from the research holdings of Michael Kinerk and David Wilhelm, Miami Beach, FL.)