Savoy Theatre

Broadwalk and Ocean Avenue,
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

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Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm

The Wurlitzer company records show a small pipe organ, opus 800, a stock, 5-rank residential model, was installed at the Savoy in May 1925, but moved to a Philadelphia residence just a month later. Maybe this was a demonstration for the theatre – in hopes that it would lead to a sale.(It didn’t.) One source says the organ was repossessed from the Savoy, but that seems unlikely in only a month’s time.

lena_dunlop
lena_dunlop on October 8, 2012 at 11:24 am

My great grand Uncle Robert Dunlop owned the hotel in 1904. The building became the Belmont Hotel (housed Woolworths) and has since been destroyed by fire in recent times. Only thing left is a pile of bricks in the lot behind the present building.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 30, 2012 at 5:40 pm

This webpage features a plate from a 1908 atlas of Atlantic City that you can magnify in order to get an idea as to where the Savoy Theatre was situated. To get your bearings, the Central Pier is the large yellow structure jutting into the ocean on the right. The Hotel Dunlop and Savoy Theatre are slightly above the pier on the map. You can make out the dividing lines within the property that must define the storefronts within the Hotel structure. The rectangle that marks where the auditorium was situated is clearly labeled “Savoy Theatre,” with one of the narrow spaces obviously representing the lobby and foyer entrance out to the Boardwalk.

Our mystery building on South Carolina appears to have been owned at the time by Young’s Amusement Company, which, no doubt, operated the carousel within and, evidently, owned and operated the Central Pier amusements.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2012 at 10:17 am

It was the upper floors of the merry-go-round building that were only half built in the ca.1905 view I linked to (I was thrown off by the caption that says Hotel Poinsettia.) In the ca.1905 photo, there’s a gap between them and the Dunlop, but in the ca.1915 photo the gap has been filled by new construction.

The merry-go-round building is a bit of a puzzle. If you go to Bing Maps and use the search terms Ripley Museum Atlantic City (the museum is three blocks south of Ocean Avenue, but the map includes the whole neighborhood), then select the bird’s eye option and zoom in you can get a very good view of the existing structure from all four angles. On looking at it again, what looks like a stage house might only be a surviving section of a second floor, the rest of which has been demolished. I now believe this building was always an ordinary commercial structure and never had a theater in it. It might actually be what’s left of the 1915 building, minus its upper floors, and with the facade remodeled at some point.

The Savoy had to have been on what is now the parking lot behind the building on the Hotel Dunlop site. There’s no telling how long the theater has been gone, but there no doubt that it is indeed gone.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2012 at 9:16 am

Speaking of Google, the street map for this theater is WAYYY off, placing the marker, for some bizarre reason, more than 75 miles to the north in Ocean Grove, NJ.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 28, 2012 at 9:13 am

Hey Joe… I think you meant to say that the Hotel Poinsettia (which was evidently the Schlitz Hotel in 1911, and Green’s Hotel in 1905) was on South Ocean and the Boardwalk, across from the Dunlop. The building we’re talking about as being adjacent to the Dunlop was on the corner of South Carolina. In the 1915 image I linked to, it houses the Merry Go Round, Billiard Hall, a candy shop and The Post Card Store. There’s also an entrance that appears to advertise Venice Park.

In any event, it clearly isn’t the same building that now sits on South Carolina. As you suggested, the current structure appears to date from the 1920’s. Curious as to what the purpose of that building was. While there is no streetview available on google, if you zoom in as close as possible, you are able to view images taken and uploaded by google users. A few of these show the facade of the building as it faces the Boardwalk. It seems to house a shopping arcade plus a variety of touristy stores selling salt water taffy, funnel cake or souvenirs.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Ed is right about the building in the photo not being the Dunlop Hotel, but the building next door to it, on the corner of Boardwalk and South Carolina Avenue.

However, the satellite view at Google Maps doesn’t show that building very well, so I checked the bird’s eye view at Bing Maps, and the building does have what looks like a stage house, and a central section that could have held a theater. But if there was a theater in that building, it isn’t listed at Cinema Treasures yet.

I suppose the building could have held a ballroom with stage facilities. I don’t think it’s the same building that housed the Hotel Poinsettia in the ca.1915 photo Ed linked to. The current building looks like it dates from the 1920s.

As for the Savoy, here’s another big photo from Shorpy showing the Dunlop Hotel from another angle. Shorpy dates it ca.1905, so it doesn’t clear up the mystery of the Savoy’s opening year. The only part of the Hotel Poinsettia building that had been built when this photo was taken was the section on the corner of South Carolina Avenue.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Here’s another remarkable glass-negative image from 1915, found on shorpy.com. You can see signage on the Savoy advertising a “grand concert” and other amusements. You can also clearly see the building that had occupied the corner of S. Carolina Avenue and the Boardwalk (where the building from Plaid’s photo is situated), which appears to have housed a carousel, billiard hall and stores, in addition to apartments or hotel rooms above.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

The photograph uploaded today by Plaid doesn’t appear to be the same building from the earlier images. I know the building in the vintage pictures is really the Hotel Dunlop and that one entered through the Hotel to get to the Savoy, but I would have thought that the auditorium sat behind the hotel, away from the Boardwalk, rather than adjacent to it, along the Boardwalk. Further, the current building does not seem to be the same one that was immediately adjacent to the hotel, as can just be made out along the right edge of the 1911 photo from DEFG.

The structure in Plaid’s photo, while it has the ornamentation of a building constructed for amusements, doesn’t necessarily look like an old theater, particularly one with stage facilities and 1500 seats. It looks like it might have been a shopping arcade or another amusement hall of some sort.

I believe it is seen along the Boardwalk in this postcard view, taken from the sun deck of the Central Pier sometime in the mid-20th Century. Scroll down when the page opens to see a bigger version of the image. The building will be on the left in the postcard image.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

The Arcadia Publishing company’s book Atlantic City, by James D. Ristine and Allen Pergament, gives a different opening year for the Savoy than Andrew Craig Morrison’s book, cited in my previous comment, which gives the opening year as 1907. Ristine and Pergament say the house opened in 1903. Neither book cites a source.

There was a theater called the Savoy operating in Atlantic City by 1904. The biographical sketch of an actress named Edytha Ketchum, in the 1907 edition of Who’s Who in New York, lists among her credits an appearance at the Savoy Theatre in Atlantic City in 1904, but of course the name Savoy might have been used by a different house at that time.

The Dunlop Hotel, through which the theater’s entrance ran, was definitely in operation at least as early as 1904, but the theater might have been added behind the hotel building after the hotel had opened.

The Savoy was also listed in the 1906-1907 edition of Julius Cahn’s guide, copyrighted 1906. The guide gives the seating capacity as 1,450, pretty much the same size as the 1,500 given in Morrison’s book, so this could well have been the same house.

Gamble
Gamble on March 27, 2012 at 6:27 am

Went by this tonight while i was working. From the outside it looks like a theater building….I was able to see in from one of the closed shutters and the one place looked like it went back pretty far. Dont know whats left or if anything is left.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 6, 2010 at 7:39 am

Andrew Craig Morrison’s book Theaters mentions the Savoy Theatre. The book has a drawing of the Savoy by artist Anthony Dumas, which is dated 1928. The caption also gives the name Woods Theatre as an aka for the house. The caption says that the Savoy opened in 1907, and seated 1,500.

The drawing is not visible in the Google Books view, but it can currently be seen online at this web page at Pop Art Machine. The theater’s entrance was in the Hotel Dunlop’s building, which was located at the north corner of Boardwalk and Ocean Avenue.

The “Theatrical Notes” column of The New York Times, July 5, 1920, mentions a play opening at A.H. Woods' Woods Theatre in Atlantic City, so the house had gotten its new name by that year, but the 1924 billboard ad ken mc linked to above calls the house the Savoy again. I’ve only found references to the house as the Woods Theatre dating from 1920 through 1922. A.H. Woods must have operated the house for just a few years under a lease.

I’ve been unable to discover any references to the Savoy later than 1928, so it’s possible that there was another name change, or perhaps the theater didn’t survive past the 1920s.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 15, 2009 at 7:51 pm

1924 ad on Central Pier can be seen here:
http://tinyurl.com/dxmago

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on February 7, 2008 at 10:00 pm

I don’t think this building is still standing. I have a pretty good idea of the few historic buildings left in Atlantic City, and this isn’t one of them.

teecee
teecee on August 13, 2005 at 7:12 am

Correct spelling of city is “Atlantic”.

teecee
teecee on August 13, 2005 at 7:10 am

A Wurlitzer organ (opus 800) was installed in this theatre on 5/28/1925.

teecee
teecee on August 12, 2005 at 4:38 am

This theatre is on Gene Chesley’s “National List of Historic Theatre Buildings” which includes the names and locations of theatres for which information had been gathered as of 1979, with some additions made through 1989. One can assume then that the building was still standing as of 1979.

Interesting list of theatres:
View link