Star Theater

40 E. Fifth Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

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The Mills Edisonia of Chicago, opened in 1904 at Fountain Square was probably the first film venue in Cincinnati, a penny arcade.

About 1905 it became the building for the Hales Tours (a national travelogue craze) whereby the interior of a storefront was converted into a passenger railroad car with an observation window in its furthest end including a white rear screen projection sheet. Tickets were sold like train tickets, ushers were dressed as conductors, rumbling sound effects were included. The film shown was of a trip to California. Views provided by placing a film camera upon the front of a locomotive as it hurtled down the tracks on its way to some sunny destination. Small boys were employed to blow whistles, pump small pipe organs, plus other sound effects to add to the viewer’s realism.

Hale was a the former Fire Chief of Kansas City, Missouri who gave up fighting fires to man the cash box of this short-lived, though profitable, venture as it traveled nationwide. Eventually this building morphed into Marcus Loew’s Hippodrome Penny Arcade of 1906.

Contributed by hank sykes

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

hanksykes
hanksykes on November 23, 2010 at 1:15 am

Film Daily for 1927 awards 290 seats to this venue.

hanksykes
hanksykes on November 23, 2010 at 1:33 am

This cinema was also called ,“The Gayety ”,in its earlier days making it harder to trace as 3 Gayety Theaters in Cincinnati florished over the decades.Another Gayety was located on Walnut St near 6th.,plus the scandalous Empress/Gayety burlesque house on Vine Street where now the Main Library resides. None of these three simular named venues existed at the same date, but newspapers then didn’t always use street designations when writing about them,hence the mindboggling maze when searching for info.

hanksykes
hanksykes on April 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I have reset the site for Star Theater on Fountain Square between two green trees and next to Fifth/Third Bank Tower. The map view above shows Star’s site incorectly as further down East Fifth Street. Stars site was almost at E.Fifth Street and Walnut St.

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