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T.O. Here’s why I think it was a Reproduco. (will we ever know for sure?) The citation I start with is David Bowers' Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments, page 551, which shows an ad for Reproduco. It lists the Hillsboro Theatre in Nashville. However, the actual Hillsboro had a Kimball from the day it opened. It’s circumstantial evidence but my reasoning is: the Belmont theatre is in the neighborhood called Hillsboro, the Belmont was built by the Sudekum’s Crescent Amusement Company which installed Reproducos in many of their theatres and finally, those trade journal ads are notoriously semi-accurate. I have to admit being a little overly fascinated with Reproduco. They seem to have produced a huge number of instruments and yet are just one step above utterly forgotten.
HornerJack, I love the story you posted back in 2005 of the Sudekum brothers designing the theatre in the sand on the beach in Flordia. I’m guessing that wasn’t the final set of drawings! The tide would have come in and washed it away before the contractor could get in and count how seats to order. <> Seriously, the building codes in the 1920s were quite strict with movie theatres due to the quantity of flammable material in the projection booth and after the disaster at Chicago’s Iroquis Theatre. From day one, Mr. Holman would have known there was to be a projection booth in a movie theatre. There are any number of examples of theatres where the architects cantilevered the projection booth out as a method of fire protection. That in addition to all the projection booth codes for fire shutters, exhaust fans, fire extinguishers, a separate exit, rated walls, and a long list of other requirements.
On another note, there are a couple of references here to the organ at the Belmont, but I’m not finding anything in the literature of who built it. The Sudekums/Crescent Amusement bought a bunch of -ahem- modestly priced Reproduco organs. Surely a hall of this size and quality had a better organ than that.
The unusual name Lillian suggest common ownership with the Lillian Theatre in Clarkesville Tennessee.
LM – You’re a genius. you know that don’t you?
The Dixie Theatre had a Reproduco organ during the silent movie era.
Joe, thanks for filling in the missing information! The trade journal ad I’m starting with is filled with the semi-accurate information you mention – company name or company owner’s name instead of an actual theatre name. Leads down some interesting rabbit holes. Regarding the Booth Company, there was at least one Booth Theatre in East Tennessee; it opened in Knoxville in 1928.
The photo is hard to read, but I think it’s advertising the movie The Great McGinty, which opened in 1940 – fits with Ken’s dates above. I also found the reference to a Reproduco organ installed here, which would have the theatre open in the silent movie era.
The Hickory had a Reproduco organ to accompany silent films.
The Orpheum had a Reproduco organ.
The Majestic was one of the first theatres built and operated by Morris Aaron Lightman who later changed the name of his company to MALCO.
The Belle Theatre had a Reproduco photoplayer to accompany the silent pictures.
The Franklin Theatre had a Reproduco organ.
The Tiger Theatre had a Reproduco organ to accompany silent pictures.
There is a Reproduco Organ ad from the mid-1920’s which mentions the Lee Theatre in Eufala as one of their satisfied customers. This may push back the opening of this theatre by 10 years or imply a previous theatre of the same name.
The Frolic had a Reproduco Photoplayer or organ to accompany silent pictures.
A mid-1920’s ad for Reproduco organs lists The Capitol Theatre as one of their satisfied customers. However, I infer that is NOT this theatre if it was the Alcazar in the 1920’s. There must have been another theatre called The Capitol.
The Five Points Theatre had a Reproduco organ to accompany silent pictures.
A mid-1920’s ad for Reproduco organs lists an installation of one of their photoplayers at the Norwood Theatre. That would predate this building. Was this a remodeling of an older structure or maybe the replacement of an older theatre? Several other Reproduco organs were installed in Birmingham in the 1910’s.
It appears that in 1915 the Rialto had a Reproduco Photoplayer which was replaced by their Pilcher organ in 1921.
A couple of questions: The opening paragraph says that the 1939 Princess replaced an earlier Princess which was destroyed by fire. So is the 1939 Princess in the shell of the 1926 building. The 1926 Princess appears to have burned twice. Or was there still an earlier (pre 1926) Princess Theatre in Harriman at a different location? Also, was the original owner Tony Sudekum / Crescent Amusement? I’m seeing his name appear in connection to a theatre in Harriman and many Crescent Theatres were named Princess.
Very nice article on the back story of the Tennessee Theatre is here:
David Bowers' “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p.551 lists a Reproduco organ installed at the Orpheum Theatre, Fulton, Kentucky. There is no date, but certainly before 1930.
David Bowers' “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p.551 lists a Reproduco organ installed at the American Theatre, Memphis. There is no date, but certainly before 1928. Reproduco built hundreds of photoplayers for smaller theatres during the silent movie era: half-player-piano/half pipe organ/half sound effects machine.
David Bowers' “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p.551 lists a Reproduco organ installed at the Cameo Theatre, Memphis. There is no date, but certainly before 1930. Reproduco built hundreds of photoplayers for theatres in the silent movie era: half-player-piano/half pipe organ/half sound effects machines.
David Bower’s “Encyclopedia of Automated Musical Instruments” p. 551 lists the Hillsboro in Nashville Tennessee as having a Reproduco organ, but there is no date. Wonder if the Reproduco preceded the Kimball or was there an earlier theatre with the same name? Reproducos were mostly of the photoplayer variety, rather than fully developed theatre organs.