Kai-Gee Theater

710 Main Street,
Rochester, IN 46975

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The second moving picture theater to open in Rochester, IN was the Kai-Gee Theater (pronounced K-G). The name is supposed to mean “awful good” in Chinese. The owner was Earl Jessen. This theater opened in 1908 at 716 Main Street In 1913, the Kai-Gee Theater closed and re-opened at 710 Main St. The Kai-Gee Theater lasted another four years at its second location and closed for good in 1917.

Contributed by Lost Memory

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm

These abstracts of articles from issues of The Rochester Sentinel published in 1913 pertain to the second Kai-Gee Theatre. The first item is from the issue of Thursday, May 8:

“New Theater to be Most Modern

“Rochester will be able to boast of a really high class vaudeville and MOTION PICTURE THEATER, as well as a handsome addition to the business district of the city, when the J. F. DYSERT building for which excavating is now being done just north of the DILLON BLOCK, is completed. W. H. KENDRICK is the architect.

“… . will be conducted by Mr. & Mrs. Roy SHANKS, who have for some time had the KAI GEE and STAR theaters… . . [building described]

“The basement will be large and exceedingly well lighted, and will be a splendid location for a restaurant. A stairway leads down to it from the main lobby … . .”

The second item is from the issue of Tuesday, December 16:
“New Theater to Open Dec. 24

“Final arrangements have been made for the opening of the new K. G. THEATER on Christmas eve, Wednesday, December 24th. The initial performance will be featured with vaudeville acts, three reels of motion pictures and music by an orchestra of 14 pieces.

“The new house when finished, will present a splendid appearance. The room will accommodate 300 seats far enough apart that no one will have to arise to let people pass. The lighting is made as nearly perfect as possible. A heavy velvet rug will cover the entire length of the aisle.

“People in all parts of the house will have a good view of the stage as it is elevated about six feet. The pictures will be cast upon a mirror screen which can be rolled up when the stage is needed for vaudeville acts. Mr. SHANKS has purchased one of the best motion picture machines made. It contains a double magazine feed which enables the operator to handle a two reel picture without stoppping.

“The doors on Christmas eve will be opened at 6:30 o'clock.”

I’ve been unable to find anything about architect W. H. Kendrick. A moderately famous architect of that name practiced in England in the late 19th century, and a builder/architect named William H. Kendrick practiced in Tampa, Florida, in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, but the Rochester architect does not appear to have been either of them.

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