Colonia Theatre

35 South Broad Street,
Norwich, NY 13815

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atmos
atmos on June 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Theatre opened 23 December 1914.

RoadsideArchitecture.com
RoadsideArchitecture.com on December 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm

A postcard with an earlier appearance:
View link

estott
estott on September 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Mr. Deluca you are entirely correct- either I misremembered the article of it was in error. Still, Columbus is the subject- he is supposed to have adopted the surname “Colon” during his years in Spain, and to have associated himself with the ancient admiral Colonius.

My point is basically to state that it was never at any time the “Colonial”

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 21, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Estott,
Columbus wasn’t born in “Colon” Italy. There is no such place. He was born in Genoa (Genova).

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on October 15, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Hey Pat B!! I actually found that photo of Hazel Smalley!! Email me and i will scan and send you the copy! : )

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Here are some photos of the Colonia from a recent trip through Norwich:

View link

View link

View link

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on March 24, 2007 at 1:51 am

His work is truly amazing. One day i will scrape together enough cash to actually purchase one for my very own! In the meantime, i cherish my copy of the Wilhelm/Kinerk book as well as the previous Cone book.

The Colonia is a treat, definitely worth the detour if you find yourself in the proximity, even with the sad twinning. The exterior is certainly a photo op for a any theater buff.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 23, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Here is a b&w copy of a 1986 color painting by Davis Cone, as discussed above, from “Popcorn Palaces”:
http://tinyurl.com/2n44md

pbubny
pbubny on March 2, 2007 at 8:06 am

Yes, even without benefit of being in the balcony area I could tell that the twinning job was pretty slapdash and made little or no effort to preserve the original hall’s ambience.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on March 2, 2007 at 7:53 am

Unfortunately, the balcony area is closed off and the conduit for the HVAC is run over the seating area. The seats are still there and the end caps are very decorative. When in the balcony, you can see much of the original Eberson detail – running bands of color from the procenium to the booth, plaster floral cascades on the walls. Such a shame!

pbubny
pbubny on March 2, 2007 at 6:46 am

As Lost Memory’s photo implies (there are two first-run titles on the marquee), the Colonia is a twin and should be listed as such. I don’t know when it was subdivided, but the job had to have been done by the time I saw “Back to the Future Part II” there in Fall 1989. Since the twinned auditorium was fairly small as I recall it, I assume the Colonia was split down the middle, rather than by partitioning off any balcony seating as theatre #2.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 24, 2007 at 1:44 am

Wow! Email me at and i can arrange to scan and send. : )

palbarry
palbarry on February 23, 2007 at 9:01 pm

SchineHistorian – you said that you have a photo of Hazel Smalley at a 20th Century Fox party. Is there any possibility I could get a coy of that photo? She was my great aunt. Thank you.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on December 11, 2006 at 5:07 am

Many thanks Ken. You are a WEALTH of knowledge! Since the Colonia was part of the Fox chain (as mentioned in the first posting), that’s probably where Schine picked it up.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 11, 2006 at 4:54 am

Listed in the 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook as being part of the Schine Circuit, Inc. with the name Colonial Theatre. In the 1943 and 1950 editions it is the Colonia Theatre, still operated by the Schine Circuit, Inc.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on December 11, 2006 at 4:37 am

Yes, i’m sure it was a part of the Schine Chain. And to my knowledge the Smalley chain was one of the few that Schine didn’t ever take over. If anyone knows differently, please let me know. It’s hard to keep track of all their acquisitions. I have a great photo in my collection of Hazel Smalley and Sid Kallet (among others) at a 20th Century Fox party. Along with Schine they were all important local chains.

estott
estott on December 10, 2006 at 4:16 pm

BTW- Is it certain that the Colonia was in the Schine chain? They had their own theater a couple blocks away- Smalley’s. This was a talkie house only, as I recall it had a bad fire in the 1950’s and was converted to commercial use. I saw the brick facade in the 1980’s while they were rebuilding it- it was very plain. There were several nickelodeon theaters in the ‘teens, and a good facade picture of the Bijou exists- it had an elaborate stud lit facade. The building still exists with 20’s vintage sheet metal siding over that area- I’ve often wondered if a part of the bijou sign is still there.

estott
estott on December 10, 2006 at 4:08 pm

The 1914-era views were in a picture file in the Checango County Historical Society. I also doubt that the organ was removed in 1970- I lived in Norwich at that time, went to the theater regularly & there was no console in the pit, just a piano. The old organ chambers were in former boxes flanking the stage & they had long ago been replaced by the air cooling system- the ornamental curtains would flutter when the fans came on they wre in the form of stylized keyboards- pleated ivory cloth with hanging black panels. Also- the organ was probably NOT a Wurlitzer- a Link organ was installed, this is for certain because Ed Link (son of the company owner) was sent to oversee the job- it was his first assignment for the company. It is a small theater so I think it is doubtful they had a second organ.

merripit
merripit on December 10, 2006 at 2:51 pm

estott,-Can you tell me where I could find the pictures you mention of the original 1914 interior? Much obliged!!

estott
estott on December 3, 2006 at 11:53 am

The name is the result of a contest- an Italian citizen suggested “Colonia” to honor Colon Italy, the birthplace of Columbus.
I’ve seen some pictures of the original 1914 interior, it was a pretty typical affair of foliate plasterwork. with a lot of decorative painting on the ceiling. The ornaments on the balcony front were removed in the 30’s after a minor fire & at that time the interior was redone in a deco style which primarily consisted of painting the plaster ornaments dark brown with silver highights and putting deco patterns on the ceiling. Oddly enough the original ceiling painting remained, a rennaisance dame sitting sidesaddle on a white horse with a bird in her hand. In it’s glory days the occasional live show graced it’s rather shallow stage, including Sousa’s Band, and a touring company of “Shuffle Along”.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on November 29, 2006 at 4:17 pm

More info:

While this is an Eberson original decor, any original scheme has been completely obliterated in the lobby and auditorium. (The facade still shows a lot of it, including the great exterior doors) But if you go to the balcony (which is closed and NOT accessible) you will see much of Eberson’s deco/art moderne work. It was not an atmospheric but one of this “running bands” designs that had color bands running from the stage to the back of the balcony. There were faux side boxes with some rather fancy ornamentation. All of this has been hidden since they put up the false ceiling and ran ductwork for the ventillation all across the balcony area.

Still, the representation of the Colonia in Davis Cone’s book really captures the essence of this cute little deco house.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on November 29, 2006 at 3:39 pm

<groan>

: D “That’s the most ridiculous ting i’ve ever hoyd!”

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 29, 2006 at 2:44 pm

The legend is that the original name was the Colonial. The theater operator, a Cockney gentleman, was disturbed by the poor worksmanship of the man installing the marquee and told him to “get the bloody ‘ell off of there”. The rest is history.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on November 29, 2006 at 2:34 pm

This theater was part of the Schine chain at one point. Just FYI
: )