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Updated post following up from December 9, 2013
drewc – The sign you found is a modern casting made in some quantities for unknown purposes. I bought one on eBay too, thinking it was a unique if regrettable relic of the Jim Crow era. I then discovered that there were dozens of them floating around. Knoxville’s theatres were indeed segregated into the 1950’s, but someone has created these “No Colored, Broadway Theatre, Knoxville Tennessee” signs specifically to sell as outrageous curiosities.
Joe and Ron, I’ll tell a mildly embarrassing story on myself. June 27 2014 I drove over to Greeneville (about a hour and half away) expressly to check out the theatres there. Went to the library, got copies of maps, newspaper clipping etc. Walked around, found the old theatres, took pictures. It was a nice summer day.
When I got home I found an empty folder on the back seat of my car. Driving with the top down, apparently every sheet had blown out and I didn’t notice. Expletives flew.
So I got a load of photos but no notes to make sure which was which or what the names and addresses were.
I have a photo of the 1903 cornerstone for the theatre on the corner of Irish and Depot. There is no name, just that date. Oddly, the cornerstone is on the back, facing the alley.(!?)
It seems that a lot of the buildings on both sides Depot in that block are owned by an antiques dealer who uses them for storage. The buildings appear to be secured, but underutilized.
OCRon, there is another abandoned theatre just a couple of doors to the west at the corner of Depot and Irish. Same side of Depot.
A single line entry in The Motion Picture World, April 24, 1915, page 591, says “The Delft, at Escanaba, has put into use its new $5000 pipe organ.” That certainly gives a timeframe for when movies began to be shown here.
Wurlitzer installed a pipe organ, their opus 54, a style ‘3’ 2 manuals, 7 ranks and percussions in this hall early in 1915.
First rate detective work Joe!
I’ve been following the trail of Reproduco organs (photoplayer) mentioned in an ad from 1926. There are two references to Pawhuska OK in that ad. One is for the Jackson Theatre and there is a suggestion that the Jackson might have been owned by one Albert Jackson. The other reference in the ad is the sale of photoplayer to F.B. Pickrell also of Pawhuska. Any thoughts which hall Mr. Pickrell owned? If the State was around in 1924, it would be a candidate. (Of course, Reproducos other market was funeral homes, so for all we know Mr. Pickrell might have been a mortician!)
To accompany the silent movies, R. Lewis Barton bought a Reproduco organ for the Barton Theatre sometime between 1920 and 1926.
There is a 1926 advertisement for Reproduco Organs which lists one of their “satisfied customers” as Anton Slepka of Okemah Oklahoma. It would seem Pop Slepka upgraded the musical accompaniment after buying the Jewell.
The Sequoyah is listed in a 1926 ad for Reproduco Organs as one of their satisfied customers. Reproduco reportedly started selling organs to theatres in 1916.
A 1926 advertisement for Reproduco Organs lists the Oklahoma Theatre as one of their satisfied customers. Reproducos were very modest “photoplayers” half player piano, half sound effects machine and half pipe organ. (!) Because of their piano roll mechanisms, they were popular in remote areas where a capable musician might not be available to accompany silent pictures day after day after day after day. Reproduco (reportedly) had some of the best musical arrangements around.
The Strand is listed in a 1926 advertisement for Reproduco Organs as one of their satisfied customers.
In my research about Reproduco organs I’ve got a listing from 1926 for the Cozy Theatre in Hollis, OK. That implies the 1928 hall was the second Cozy in town. To my ear, the name Cozy seems an unusual name for a theatre, but I’m finding a number of halls scattered around the mid-west with that name. Were they part of chain? In Joe’s link I see a reference to G.A. Peterson. Local developer? Theatre chain executive?
Here’s another one: The Moving Picture World, June 2, 1917. In the classified ads: FOR SALE: Gem Theatre, Hobart, Indiana; modern; vaudeville, pictures, 382 seats; two motor Simplex machines, transverter, orchestrion; making money.
Was this one of Walmur’s theatres?
DavidDynamic: speaking as an architect interested in old theatres, it’s not unusual in old halls to have fewer exits, or types of exits, from the balcony than is currently allowable. No one in theatre design or codes enforcement has ever forgotten the tragedy of the Iroquois Theatre fire (Chicago) even 100 years later. So yes, if there’s the slightest hint of danger to the audience, the balcony will be closed to the public. Sad but better safe than sorry.
The Walmur Amusement Company, Bristow, is listed in a 1926 Advertisement for Reproduco organs. Did Walmur Amusement own other theatres in town during the early 1920’s or was this their only hall?
The original Empire had a Reproduco Photoplayer. It’s mentioned in a 1926 advertisement from Reproduco organs as being one of their satisfied customers.
Joe, Well. Theatre owners and the names on their halls. Sometimes all you can do at this point is look heavenward and sigh.
My contribution to this story is the listing in a 1926 advertisement for Reproduco organs that listed the Strand in Lincoln as a satisfied customer.
The Sun Theatre is mentioned in a 1926 advertisement for Reproduco Organs. Reproducos were fairly modest instruments, and all (to my knowledge) were equipped with roll players – a useful option in a place where there might not be a musician always on hand who could credibly play during a silent movie.
Dannh- yes, you’re right. I just looked at Google Earth and the building is still standing and occupied by a law office. (Seems like it would be a rather dark law office.) Thanks for the update.
Andrew, I too am trying to find the Dreamland and the Palace.
The October 1914 Sanborn map for Bowling Green shows the theatre at 430-432 Main but doesn’t give a name. It does show the outline of the balcony.
The January 1909 Sanborn map shows a storefront Moving Picture Theatre (again no name) at 411 Park Row, the other side of the square from the Princess. The little theatre at 411 is no longer there in the 1914 map.
Regarding the Palace, several maps show the Potter Opera House at yet a 3rd location on the square. A fairly substantial building, it is conceivable it was renamed Palace at a later date.
BTW, smoe, not all, the Kentucky Sanborn maps are available on line for free – not all states – but KY and a handful of others. Not all the KY maps are there, but up into the teens for some towns.
The Grand had a Reproduco Photoplayer to accompany the silent movies.
The Strand is one of about 200 locations mentioned in an ad for Reproduco Pipe Organs.
The Strand had a Reproduco organ.