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Looking at the pipe organ records from M.P. Moller it would appear that Claude Robinson bought 2 organs from them in 1915. One was listed for the Grand and one for the Orpheum. The one installed here had 9 ranks of pipes. The Orpheum’s came a little later that year and was slightly smaller at 8 ranks, but Mr. Robinson only saved $50 on the Orpheum’s.
In 1915 the Orpheum got a 2-manual, 8-rank, pipe organ built by M.P. Moller, their opus number 1954, for $3,250. That suggests the possibility that movies were not on the bill when the theatre opened. Orpheum was originally a vaudeville company of course. Or possibly this was an upgrade from a smaller instrument. Who’s to say at this point?
The Loew’s Midland was equipped with a 4/20 Robert Morton pipe organ, sadly long since lost.
The paper trail for the Hook and Hastings pipe organ which was removed from this theatre in the 1960’s implies that the theatre was originally named “Gordon’s Olympia.” The organ had been installed circa 1923.
M P Moller pipe organ records indicate they sold an organ, their opus 1855, to the Colonial Theatre in 1915. That suggests an earlier opening date for this theatre or that there was an earlier theatre of the same name.
Cobra Woman, Universal Pictures, 1944White Savage, Universal Pictures, 1943Maria Montez, John Hall and Sabu were in both films.
The organ at the Palace was Wurlitzer’s opus 1407 installed in 1926, a style 260 Special, meaning a stock 260 design was customized for this installation. It had 3 manuals and 16 ranks. Records show that a single set of pipes, an extra Vox Humana, was installed above the proscenium for an echo effect. The organ was removed intact by the local theatre organ society, but as of this writing, its location is unclear.
Found a reference in the theatre organ database for “Crandall’s Central Theatre” from 1922 when a new Robert Morton organ was installed.
Drove past and stopped to look in the gate on May 24 2015. The Midtown is closed, but all the buildings are standing, appear in good condition, the paint looks crisp, even the grass is mowed. Just no one around. Nothing on the marquee.
WalMmrt has bought the adjacent property. The Parkway’s owners are concerned that light from Walmart’s parking lot and building lights will force them to close.
This is pretty amusing: all the right names in all the wrong places!
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.