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The original Holiday Drive In was entered from 28th Street. The drive was a long one. When 30th Street was cut though in the 1960s, the sign and the entrance were moved to 30th Street, and the old two-block drive from 28th became a city street. The entire operation was moved to North 28th Street and Lee Hill Road. I don’t know when it became a twin.
So the famous sign has actually been in three places. It has been restored, but it is in the twin form.
The Centre was one of the first theatres I remember. Although it was built in the early 1950s, it was in a stylized Baroque decor. There was a balcony but it didn’t overhang the lower seats. What do they call that? Like an upper and lower shelf.
We saw There’s No Business Like Show Business in about 1954. I also remember Flower Drum Song and its fabulous opening credits with the Dong Kingman watercolors. I believe the last film I saw there was MAS*H.
I lived in Pittsburgh for a year, and remember that this theatre was easy to access because you could park in the garage and go right into the theatre, which validated your ticket. The only film I remember seeing there was SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.
I had the privilege of seeing the Tabor Grand when I was about 10. We went to see the road show presentation of OKLAHOMA in Todd-AO. I knew the Tabor story well (my 4th grade teacher delivered groceries to Baby Doe in Leadville when he was a boy) so I knew the importance of this building. During the intermission I walked down front and turned around to see the entire theatre. The balconies and some of the boxes were there, but the access was closed. Still, it was magnificent.
I couldn’t believe that they tore it down. Sadly, it was in the way of a big urban renewal project in the ‘60s which removed 22 blocks of downtown Denver. Fortunately they couldn’t afford Phase 2, so all the buildings in what is now LoDo were spared.
The Federal Reserve Bank is an interesting building, but in the wrong place. Here’s a photo:
After 9/11 they decided to put up a better security fence, so they put in a dreadful frilly thing with flower pots that looks like the 1920s. Awful.
I believe that the first time I visited Santa Fe, ca. 1975, this building was the J.C. Penney’s. There was a Woolworth’s down the street and a Sears a block away. Santa Fe has changed!
I just attended a session of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at this theatre. And yes, it has a very odd lobby — long and narrow. As I had to catch the bus, I wasn’t able to walk around the block to get a better idea of how it all fits together. We were told in our printed material that Bob Dylan once owned this theatre. I don’t know how long or how it was used.
I’m in the process of writing up some memoirs of my younger days. My first “grown up” trip to NYC (20 y.o.) was in spring 1968. I went to a movie at Cinema I more to see the elegant new building rather than the movie. The film was Elvira Madigan, and I remember crying on my way out. I was especially impressed that there were no drapes on the stage, but rather the sliding panels that adjusted to the proper frame ratio of whatever was being projected.
To ctano4: Sorry I don’t have any pics. I lived in Philly only from 1070 to 1986. Looking back, those were pretty good years for movies. I lived in Center City and went 3-4 times a week!
I was never in the Capitol, but I have a good memory of it. I was in NYC for Easter Week of 1968. On Wednesday the 3rd, I saw a taping of the Tonight Show, which started at 6:30 p.m. One of the guests was Keir Dullea, who appeared in a tuxedo. He explained that he was on his way to the New York premiere of “2001.” After the taping, I walked a few blocks to the Winter Garden, where I was to meet a friend and see Janice Page in “Mame” (don’t ask). As I turned the corner I saw that Broadway was blocked off and there were searchlights and red carpets and such. We stood and watched as a limo drove up and Keir Dullea stepped out. Only in New York, I thought.
Well, I can’t argue with actual documentation from a newspaper. I searched the web for a long time and cannot anywhere find a date that the Stage Door opened. I thought it was later rather than earlier, but I may be wrong. I wonder when the last stage show at the Fox was. What I do know with certainty is that I saw The Exorist at the Milgram. I remember because it was an awful experience. It was clearly an audience who had not read the book, and was not well trained in the art of theatre etiquette. I remember that there was as much dialogue from the audience as there was on the screen. And people coming and going all the time. I hated the movie. I always called it “excerpts from The Exorcist.” But it was a hit. The Stage Door was smaller, so they probably moved it over to the Milgram to increase revenue. Personally, I’d like my money back. With interest.
The Philadelphia Fox was a gorgeous theatre. So sad that it’s gone. My best memory was when I saw a sneak preview of Peter Yate’s “The Hot Rock” in 1972. It was advertised on the Penn and Temple campuses and was shown at 9 in the morning. Yates himself was there and spoke to the audience after the screening. I believe this was a true preview in that he was still in the final editing stage.
Speaking of stages, I want to clear up what I firmly believe are inaccuracies in comments here. I am sure that “The Excorcist” did NOT premiere at the Stage Door. I clearly remember seeing it at the Milgram. I believe it’s quite possible, however, that “Exorcist II” was at the Stage Door in 1977.
I moved to Philly in 1970 and there were several years before the Stage Door was created. It was a nice little theatre, but it was built within the stage area of the Fox, which meant that the Fox could never again present stage shows.
When they tore down the Fox I couldn’t believe it! We called the structure that replaced it “The Darth Vader Building” because it was big, shiny black, and imposing.
Each original Rittenhouse Twin was the width of a typical Center City house. The story was that they could not purchase two contiguous sites, so they were separated with an old house between them. Sometimes you bought a ticket at one twin then walked to the other. Because they were so narrow, there was next to no lobby. Each twin had a small cagelike elevator. When you went in, you were encouraged to take the elevator to the third floor lounge. Then when the previous screening let out, you wouldn’t be in the way. When the theatre was empty, an usher would let you go downstairs.
When they finally acquired the middle site and built a third theatre, everything changed. The original elevators remained, but the new theatre (triplet?) didn’t have one. But the lounge spaces on the second and third floors were connected.
I lived (and worked) only a few blocks from the Rittenhouse cinemas and was probably there 50 times during my 16 years in Philadelphia.
The Denver Theatre main entrance was on 16th Street between Glenarm and Welton. I believe the photo from the Library with the Glenarm address is indeed a photo of a side/exit/secondary entrance. From what I remember of the theatre, the main lobby was long and narrow and the auditorium was far back on the lot. The 16th Street buildings had offices. The Paramount was similar, except that the office building through which one entered was 50 years older than the theatre. That main entrance on 16th is now closed and what serves as a rather anticlimactic “main” entrance is the former side exit.
I grew up in Boulder and spent many hours at the Boulder Theatre. It has become a beloved landmark and its preservation has been lauded. There are, however, many changes which have happened to the theatre. First of all, the marquee was altered. The stylized script “Boulder” was originally in lower profile block letters. More significantly, the freestanding box-office was removed and the storefronts adjacent to the entrance were refaced with thin 1950s brick. No one, including Historic Boulder, the owner of the facade easement, seems to want to admit this.
I have been compiling notes my Grandmother made on a trip to San Francisco in 1960. In April, she and her sister went to see Bette Davis and Gary Merrill in “The World of Carl Sandburg.” I started looking through some old file cabinets and found the playbill! It was at the Alcazar. It was fun looking through the playbill and reading the ads. A few of the business are still going.
I recently attended an event at the adjacent State Theatre. They let us peek into the Kentucky, which is much larger than the state. It has been restored beautifully.
My Lexington friend told me that there was some controversy when the theatre was restored. As the Kentucky never had a balcony, Blacks were not allowed in the theatre at all for the first three decades of its operation. Its restoration was viewed as a reminder of the “bad old days” by some members of the community.
I recently attended a live taping of the “Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the State Theatre.
The following is from the Kentucky Theatre website:
“… pleased with the success of the [Kentucky] theater, the Lafayette Amusement Company decided to build another next door. In April of 1929, the completed State Theater opened with 888 seats, a "Spanish Influenced Decor,” and a separate entrance off the street from its larger next-door neighbor. The Frankel and Curtis contractors of Lexington completed the project for about $200,000.
“In the ‘60’s the State Theater reopened after closing for a few years. In the '70’s it devoted its screen almost entirely to adult entertainment, and in the '80’s, just six years after a major renovation project on the Kentucky, both theaters burned on October 2nd of 1987. Although the owners wanted to reopen very soon, it would be almost five years before Lexington would enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Kentucky again.
“On Halloween of 1997, there was cause for celebration as the State Theater reopened 10 years after the fire.”
The State was restored “in spirit.” It’s charming, but clearly a 1990s re-interpretation of the original.