Jarvis Theatre

169 Main Street,
Binghamton, NY 13905

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Jarvis Theater in 1962

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The Laurel Theatre was opened in December 1913. In 1937 it was remodelled and renamed Jarvis Theatre. It was damaged by fire in January 1962, but reopened, only to be damaged by another fire in an adjacent furniture store in November 1962. The Jarvis Theatre closed July 30, 1963.

Contributed by Dave Bonan

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

BenSunness
BenSunness on March 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm

At the time of the fire my grandfather, Samuel Sunness, owned the Jarvis, Crest, Art and Airport DriveIn theatres. I too spent many Saturday and Sundays there free of charge. If I remember correctly, if you brought your own container the popcorn was free, Anyone remember that?

adamghost
adamghost on January 31, 2016 at 12:08 am

Short history of the Jarvis: Late Dec. 1913 – opened as the Laurel Theater. 1920 – Acquired by George W. King Mar. 1937 – sold to John Sunness, who remodels and changes name to Jarvis Theater. Aug. 1961 – Sunness announces theater will be sold, but agrees to keep it open for a time in response to community protest. Jan. 3, 1962 – Damage from fire in the theater (per comment above) Nov. 11, 1962 – Damaged again from fire in next door furniture store. July 30, 1963 – Theater closes.

BenSunness
BenSunness on January 31, 2016 at 10:22 am

Samuel C Sunness, my grandfather was the owner of the Jarvis. I’ve never heard of a John Sunness. I’d love to know your source Adamghost?

Admiral37
Admiral37 on January 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Hey Ben, I don’t remember the free popcorn. But I do remember going to the Jarvis on Saturday afternoons. Cartoons, serial westerns and then a feature with a bunch of friends. KN

adamghost
adamghost on February 1, 2016 at 3:58 am

Ben – may have been a typo either on my part or the news article. I was transcribing from an article in the Binghamton Press in 1937 recording the sale.

adamghost
adamghost on February 1, 2016 at 4:06 am

Correction to the listing above; the theater didn’t close as a result of fire. There were two fires in ‘62 (one at the theater and one next door), closure happened in '63. Ben’s grandfather wanted to close in '61, and had planned to sell the theater to developers at that time, but relented because of community sentiment. This from news articles at the time.

generalenigma
generalenigma on February 1, 2016 at 1:13 pm

One of my earlier comments from 4 years ago doesn’t show on the list of most recent comments so I have gone back & pasted it here to help clear up the looseness of adamghost’s post of Jan 30, 2016. It has the actual dates from those fires & the final closing of the Jarvis are accurate as printed in the Binghamton Press articles & are directly from my research at The Broome County Library.

generalenigma on December 19, 2011 at 4:48 am Yes, Admiral37 .. The Jarvis Theatre was still standing & operating when Mutual Furniture was ravaged by a fire on Sunday Nov 11, 1962.

Actually The Jarvis Theatre itself had a bad fire 10 months earlier on Wednesday Jan 3, 1962 & it took 2 months of repair & refurbishment to reopen for business on Friday March 2, 1962.

The theatre closed for good 8 ½ months later after the days' screenings on Tuesday July 30, 1963.

The vacant lots of both The Jarvis & Mutual Furniture were sold 2 years later to Public Service Garage, Rambler City, Inc. & was announced in June 14, 1965 with construction to begin in 10 days for the new Rambler dealership.

Admiral37
Admiral37 on February 1, 2016 at 1:52 pm

generalenigma, did Public Service actually open the Rambler dealership at that location or did they open Arrow Ford instead?

generalenigma
generalenigma on February 1, 2016 at 4:01 pm

To be honest, once both the Jarvis Theatre & Mutual Furniture were leveled to vacant lots, I really had little interest in what became of the space. So I noted the intent which had been announced but never followed that up. Sometime when I get back to the library, I will do a quick check on that for you.

adamghost
adamghost on February 2, 2016 at 1:55 am

Yes, with due respect to Mr. Ben Sunness, I really only posted to fill in the early dates of the theater’s history (also culled from the Press). I didn’t restate what Ben had posted, other than the bit about the 1962 fire, because I didn’t want to be duplicative – it was already upthread and in great detail. I only wanted to succintly fill in information that wasn’t already posted, about the pre-Jarvis era, and I just added the later bullet points for completion. I didn’t realize that my own post would used as the basis for the main entry about the theater. I’ve researched theaters in the Binghamton area as a hobby since ‘77, so I’ve just been trying to go through and fill in a few blanks, not just with this one but with others, so I was burning the midnight oil for several days finding press and pictures on various theaters. Glad to have the clarity, myself. BTW, I did try to go back last night and see if the Press had Sunness’ name originally listed as John when it was first sold, but the internet wasn’t cooperating. Doesn’t matter – it clearly was an error, either on their part in the article or mine, since Samuel Sunness is referenced as the owner from ‘37 onward on every other occasion. Glad we’re filling in some good information here!

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