Comments from WoodyinNYC

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WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 16, 2013 at 12:28 am

Thanks Joe.

And this: The Interstate Theater Collection of the Dallas Public Library has this account of how it got what it got:

“When the Majestic Theatre ceased operation in July 1973, Interstate continued to lease office space from the theatre’s owner, the Hoblitzelle Foundation. The Foundation donated the building to the City of Dallas with the stipulation that it be restored and made available for productions; when the city took possession, it found abandoned records literally heaped in piles. Diana Clark of the City of Dallas and Lynn Harris of the Hoblitzelle Foundation were instrumental in salvaging the materials and having their possession turned over to the Dallas Public Library. The Interstate Theatre Collection was formally received by the Library in March 1977.

And an index: http://dallaslibrary2.org/texas/archives/07701.html

Much thanks to the women for their dumpster diving rescue.

However, there is no mention of “Seguin” in the Index. I’ve looked over the lists until blinded. Worse, there’s no mention of “W. Scott Dunne” or the word “architect” if I’m still seeing anything. So there’s nothing here to confirm (or deny) any relationship between W. Scott Dunne and Interstate Theaters with the Texas Theatre in Seguin.

Again, I feel I’ve reached a dead end.

But with your encouragement, Joe, I got a lot of good stuff uploaded here about the Palace Theater. Thanks again for your good clues!

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Anyone interested in my lengthy comments should copy them to their own computers. I plan to remove most of my commentary in a few days.

I would tell Donald John Long to amend the blub at the top. But if this site has a way to contact the editor-in-chief or anybody, I have not found it.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Back to the Palace:

“A Pictorial History of the Seguin and Guadalupe County Area”, published by the local paper, the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise in 2001, has some info.

A caption on p 56: Invitation to the opening of the “New” Palace Theater in 1938. The Palace has been refurbished, and even rebuilt, many times over the years.

[Got that right. The cordially invited event was for “Thursday, May 5, 1938, at 8:00 P.M., H.A. Daniels, Managing Director”]

A caption on p 61: The Palace Theatre in the late 1930s, at Christmas…The photo clearly shows what the front of the Palace looked like before it blew up in 1946 and was rebuilt.

[Note: It was classic Art Deco with a vertical center panel with seven tall dark bands, breaking the horizontal lines of the facade, and two round windows high in the corners. The sign was not attached to the building, but as seen by its shadow here, and by photographs on page 78, hung from a utility pole! The Hwy Dept would not allow that today. LOL.]

On page 81: The “New Palace Theatre” reopened … and the facade is much like the one we see today. The Palace neon sign on the pole sits on the front of the theater today.

[Note: One significant change. The photo shows two structural beams protruding from the facade. But the sign pictured is very similar to the sign on the TEXAS Theatre, the stacked letters topped by a kind of peacock tail of lights. To date this photo, the movie on the marquee was “Thunderhead” starring Roddy McDowell and Preston Foster.]

On page 82: The Nolte-Daniels home on 102 East Live Oak Street, corner of Austin Street. The house was built in 1985, as a gift from banker Edward Nolte, to his son Eugene Nolte, upon his marriage to his wife Claudia. The Daniels family purchased it from Claudia Nolte, around 1940. The three-story, Queen Anne [shingle-covered] home has only two owners …"

[A photo of the house appears in the collected papers of J. Riely Gordon at the University of Texas library, so I’m saying he dunnit.]

On page 120: An interesting birth announcement could be found downtown when H.A. “Reid” Daniels III was born. His father, Dan, put the son’s name, date of birth and weight, on the Palace Theatre marquee. …

[This photo from ‘7 23 98’ shows the sign that we see today, lettering against horizontal bands of neon. That inverted L on the facade has gone from white in the earlier b&w picture to dark grey in this picture. Paint or tilework, I dunno.]

Visiting stars pictured in the book include John Wayne (an overnight guest in the beautiful mansion of owners H.A. Windy Daniels and wife Mimi); on one of John Wayne’s visits the “Movie Time in Texas” promotional tour, he came with Jeff Chandler and Keenan Wynn; Gene Autry (a guest in the home for a party, but apparently not overnight); Monte Hale identified as “a Western moie star”, also visited the home (we’re talking one block south of the heater); and “Johnny Crawford, star of the television show, ‘The Rifleman’ visits … to promote his picture ‘Indian Paint.’ ”

Last, not least:

Page 53: H.A. “Windy” Daniels came to Seguin in the early 1930s. He married Maxi “Mimi” Maxwell, and had two children. H.A “DAN” Daniels II and Diane “Gigi” Daniels Bensen. He was the owner of Seguin Theatres: Palace Theatre, Dixie Drive In, and Texas Theatre. He owned and operated many theatres in small towns throughout Texas, such as Laredo and Chrystal City …"

I’ve told you everything I know. LOL.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Yes, I have Jay C. Henry’s book. It is excellent. That book taught me much, if not most, of what I know about the architectural history of Texas.

I was thrilled to see that “Architecture in Texas: 1895-1945” had pictures of several of Seguin’s notable buildings, and wove their stories into his text.

However, I was heartbroken to realize that Prof. Henry got one big thing HUGELY wrong. The photo of J. Riely Gordon’s Nolte Bank in his book is contemporary. And the text about it described the early influence of Spanish Revival style as seen in the tiled roof, etc. Unh unh.

The tile roof on the bank came with a remodeling done in my lifetime, perhaps 1985+/–. It was not part of Riely Gordon’s work. Period postcards show the roof line not tiled, but with a decorative brick pattern across the top of the facade. So Riely Gordon’s bank in Seguin is NOT, as he said, the first example of a Colonial Revival building in Texas. Sorry, Prof Henry.

On page 308-309, footnote 29, Henry cites David Naylor, “Great American Movie Theaters: A National Trust Guide” for “other Texas theaters included in this work are the Paramount in Abeline … in Austin …Beaumont … Conroe … Dallas …El Paso … San Antonio …the Texas in Seguin {W. Scott Dunne, 1929]] … Texarkana … Waco.”

Going to Naylor, page 194, (copyright 1987, 6th edition of the paperback 1987) I’m greatly gratified to see my hometown’s Texas Theatre pictured and described. I’m a little troubled to note that Naylor gives the wrong date, 1929, when local newspaper accounts show it was March 1931.

And more, the address given is wrong. It is 425 North Austin St, not “314 South Austin St.” Sound familiar? 314 South Austin St would be tour own Palace Theatre.

In fairness to David Naylor and his researchers, and to Prof Henry, they could have asked all over town and not found anyone who would tell them the architect of the Texas Theatre, or of the Palace. If anyone knew, they didn’t care. So those facts remained untold and unknown.

Almost nobody in Seguin knows of Marvin Eichenroht, for that matter, with him dead these 40 years and counting. He designed the Texas Theatre. “Oh.” He designed the Seguin High School, now Saegert School. “Oh.” He designed Emma Frey Hall on the Texas Lutheran campus. “Oh.” He designed that gorgeous funeral home. “Oh.” He designed the Main Fire Station. The federal and state office bldg. “Oh.” First Presbyterian Church. “Oh.” The former Mayor’s house, and almost a dozen other homes in town that we know of. “Oh.”

(Eichenroht has to be a candidate for architect when the Palace was re-built after the explosion in 1947. The fire station, government office building, and the church were all in this period of his activity in Seguin.)

Getting back to the point, LOL, unless there’s an edition of Naylor’s book that gives footnotes (the paperback does not), I don’t know his source. But like so many others since it was published, I used it as the source when I wrote a draft of the intro on the Texas Theatre site. But I think we got it wrong.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm

I was aware of the possibility of a supervising architect arrangement. So I didn’t insist (not yet) on taking down that reference to Dunne on the Texas Theater website. It probably draws attention even if it turns out to be wrong. LOL.

But if you would get a look at Saegert scohol, formerly Seguin High and designed by Marvin Eichenroht in 1928, during his partnership with Bartlett Cocke, or the Emma Frey Hall on the campus of Texas Lutheran College from 1930, you’d think that the MIT grad could handle a theater design all by himself.

In fact, when I was in junior high at the former high school circa 1957, it featured a large auditorium. We used it for school assemblies, and the front rows moved aside to create a basketball court. I was young and dumb and thought that was a silly thing. Now I think it was like genius.

During the Great Depression, Eichenroht ran the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) for Texas and then for seven Dixie states. From that point on he was especially interested, almost fixated, except it didn’t pay well, on preservation work. And his 88-year-old son told me that his father hated to do homes for insufferable rich people. So he didn’t leave as rich (LOL) a body of work as he might have otherwise.

I’m working on a Wikipedia article on Eichenroht, but going slow while trying to enlist support for doing something preservationist for him in Seguin.

==========================

I never heard of a New Austin Theater in Seguin. In 1935, Seguin already had the Texas and the Palace, both in very good condition, and probably enough for a city of maybe 6,000 at the time, iirc. But you never know. I’m reading local history and I’ll keep an eye out.

==========================

I’m not all that good at google search, but for Scott Dunne I got that he designed the band shell at the Fairgrounds in Dallas, one house, a nightclub (!) — and endless repeats of the list of theaters attributed to him that was posted here first.

So where are his papers? The University of Texas at Arlington has a school of architecture. The Dallas Public Library? Maybe someone at the UT architecture library in Austin would know; they have some papers for J. Reily Gordon, lots of Atlee B Ayers, some stuff of Eichenroht related to his work at a local Presbyterian seminary, and they have the money to buy what they want. But my feeble attempt at search there came up empty. But I’ve dead-ended and quit. Other fish to fry. LOL.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:35 am

Also looking for any original source documentation of any involvement by W. Scott Dunne in the design of Seguin’s Texas Theatre. There’s only secondary sources repeating each other over and over.

Original sources say the architect was “hometown boy” (by way of MIT) Marvin Eichenroht.

Joe Vogel, I need your help! Thanks.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:22 am

“The city of Seguin will have a new and modern motion picture theater … as quickly as possible according to … H.A. Daniels, local theater owner. "Daniel’s Palace Theater was destroyed by explosion and fire 10 days ago. "Daniels estimated the finished structure, seating 1,100 patrons … incorporated smoking lounges for both men and women and a "cry room” for babies. Plans to give ample attention to colored patrons are also in the new program. —Seguin Enterprise, April 4, 1946"

==========================

Now, if someone can find a clue to the architect of this ground-to-roof rebuilding, I’ll be glad to tell how three friends and I inadvertently desegregated the Palace Theater in 1965. LOL.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:13 am

“The Seguin Palace Theater was destroyed by explosions and fire in March 1946 but will rise again according to plans of H.A. Daniels, owner and operator…. "The accident came with the theater empty of all patrons and no person was harmed or injured…. The theater was a total loss, with only the front wall remaining intact, and this damaged and cracked…. "Meanwhile, first run pictures scheduled locally have been moved to the Texas Theater where top rate motion picture classics will be available to the public. -Seguin Enterprise, March 28, 1946”

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:04 am

Meanwhile, Seguin had more than one movie theater: An advertisement for “Birth of a Nation” announced a showing with a “symphony orchestra of 20 pieces” for “Wednesday Thursday, Feb'y 14, 15” of 1917. “Money orders … payable to George J Kempen, Manager Seguin Opera House”.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Oct 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm

San Antonio Architecture: Traditions and Visions, published by the San Antonio AIA, has 42 indexed mentions of Atlee B Ayers, his firm Ayers & Ayers, and his son and partner Robert Ayers. And your citations seem very solid.

Now this: “The Palace Theater has installed a magnificent pipe organ fully equipped with attachments for imitating all the various sounds which may be called for in the modern, realistic photo play. The Palace is as handsome and up to date little theater as found any where, and the proprietor, Mr H.H. Starcke, is always ready to equip it with anything which will add to the pleasure or comfort of its patrons. -January 30, 1920”

And this: “H.H. Starcke of the Palace Theater announces that arrangements have been made for Seguin to have talking pictures of the latest type. New machinery will be installed and all will be in readiness for the first showing about July 1st. The Palace is presenting this the latest in moving pictures, will give the highest class of entertainment such as are seen in the larger cities. -Seguin Enterprise, June 29, 1920”

As I mentioned above, H.H. Starcke was a Nolte family in-law. Not sure he had the theater built. He could have taken over operations from a Nolte.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Palace Theatre on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:16 am

There was a theater at the site of the Palace “from before there were talkies”. And it surely would have been controlled by the Nolte family. At least, until H.A. “Windy” Daniels came to Seguin by the early 1930s and took over operations of that theater and the Texas Theatre about six blocks to the north.

E. Nolte & Sons was the bank across Austin Street at the corner of then Market St. today’s Nolte Street. That 1896 building was by James Riely Gordon, the master builder of Texas Courthouses.

Going back to around 1900, Eduard Nolte’s home was immediately north of the Palace, same block, other end corner.

His old home was replaced by a fine commercial building occupied by a son-in-law’s furniture business, Starcke Furniture, since 1912. It was designed by San Antonio architect Atlee B. Ayers, with an expansion by a son Robert Ayers. (Another son, Atlee Jr, did not pursue a career in architecture so far as I know).

So when you report “plans prepared by J. C. Ayers” — Ding! Ding! Ding! Well, J.C. is not A.B., but AYERS is AYERS! Let’s work on that clue!

================

Meanwhile, Eduard Nolte built a home for one of his sons, Edgar, that took up the rest of the city block with the store and the theater.

J. Riely Gordon was also the architect of a home built for another Nolte son, Eugene, two blocks south of the theater.

The Noltes were part of a group that built a five-story hotel a block from the bank building. The hotel was by Leo M.J. Dielmann, another noted San Antonio architect.

All that to say, this part of Seguin saw several very prominent architects at work.

Probably two architects should get credit, one from “before there were talkies” and one for the restoration after the explosion blew away most of the building.

btw There were several theaters at various locations in Seguin that showed movies before World War I, not just Kempenstein. Maybe if you can find a Driving Tour of Seguin by Joe Cumingore it will name a few. It might be linked online at the visitseguin.com site.

But I have never read the any other name of the theater we know as the Palace.

Please share any more clues that you find! Thanks.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Texas Theatre on May 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Perhaps ‘plagiarism’ was a little rough. It looks like the site you refer us to, arti-fact.com, is not American, probably English as a second language. So they ‘borrowed’ a few sentences from Donald John Long’s original pwrite-up on this site, above. And that site links to this site, fair enough.

It’s hard for me (lacking techie skills) to put a date on the entry on that arti-fact.com site. The Google photo apparently is from 2013. Meanwhile this site has comments dating back to 2005.

Seems clear that http://cinematreasures.org/ has the original material, while arti-fact.com simply ‘copied’ words from here. And contributed not a single word of new information.

So let’s not think that citing other sites which repeat an error somehow proves it is not an error.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Texas Theatre on May 13, 2013 at 7:25 am

From that site: “This stylish brick-and-mortar building is a remarkable combination of styles: part neo-Vintage, part Art Moderne, part Aztec, and part Western Town style, with a distinctive vintage marquee neon tower which flashed ‘Texas Theatre’ with a big star for Texas.”

From this site, above: “This stylish brick-and-mortar building is a remarkable combination of styles: part Neo-Vintage, part Art Moderne, part Aztec, and part Western Town style, with a distinctive vintage marquee neon tower which flashed ‘Texas Theatre’ with a big star for Texas.”

Nevermind the petty plagiarism, your newly reported site does not advance the cause with a single word of new information. Please try harder.

My challenge is to find a primary source — a document, a news report of the time — anything to prove that Dunne’s name got in the story other by a wrong guess.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Texas Theatre on May 12, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Does anyone have an original source for the claim that W. Scott Dunne was the architect of this theater? Does anyone know a library where Dunne’s papers are kept? I can’t find much of anything about him with a Google search.

Meanwhile the only primary source we have is the clipping from the Seguin Enterprise

Eickenroht’s papers are held in the library of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas:

http://www.drtl.org/MSInventories/Eickenroht.htm

The summary of the papers at that site includes this paragraph:

“Eickenroht returned to Texas and began practicing architecture in San Antonio in 1925. He worked for several firms, including that of Ralph H. Cameron, before opening his own office in the Maverick Building in 1927. From 1927 to 1934, he completed commissions for schools, theaters, libraries, and churches in Seguin and San Antonio. In 1929, Eickenroht became an elected member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).”

I hope to see the papers myself one day, but until then, the evidence is that Eickenroht designed the Texas Theatre.

The W. Scott Dunne candidacy seems conjecture — ‘since he designed four or five other theaters named the Texas he must have designed this one too.’ It ain’t necessarily so.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC commented about Texas Theatre on Jan 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Some additions and corrections.

The architect of the Texas Theatre was Marvin Eickenroht (1898-1969), He was born in Seguin, graduated the Univ of Texas, went to M.I.T. for postgraduate study in architecture. A newspaper clipping reporting the opening of the Texas proudly referred to “the home town boy” as the architect.

Eickenroht’s papers in a San Antonio library list this theater as one of the many buildings he designed for his home town, including what was then the Seguin High School, the Central Fire Station, the First Presbyterian Church, The Guadalupe County Agricultural Building, and a number of residences.

During the Great Depression, Marvin Eickenroht joined one of the agencies derided as “make work”, heading up the Historical American Buildings Survey, first for Texas, then for a half dozen other Southern States.

His distinguished career also included work for the San Antonio Conservation Society in two major restorations of historic properties, and as President of the West Texas Chapter of the A.I.A.

I’ve seen the Texas Theatre attributed to W. Scott Dunne in secondary sources. Having greatest respect for Scott Dunne, I’d be proud to claim an association between him and the Texas Theatre in Seguin; perhaps he was a collaborator or consulting architect. But I have never seen any ORIGINAL document linking Dunne to this building. If anyone knows where Dunne’s papers are held I’d be glad to pursue this possible connection.


This theater was never part of any chain. It was built by an oil patch lawyer during Seguin’s oil boom in the early 1930s. According to the lore, the father built the Texas for his spoiled son, whose exploits in his airplane (like flying under the highway bridge and crashing his plane on the local race track) were distressing his mother. The hoped-for distractions of Hollywood glamor didn’t do it. It took World War II to change all that.

Enrolling in the Army Air Corps after war broke out in Europe, Alvin Mueller, Jr, became one of the first heroes of World War II in air battles over the Philippines, Java, and Australia. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star.

By that time the theater had been sold to H.A. “Windy” Daniels, whose heirs sold it to the Seguin Conservation Society.


The Texas Theatre is operating successfully as a venue for musical shows, theatrical events, business meetings, even parties.

There do remain several gifting opportunities to complete and enrich the building, if anyone desires to contribute.