40 E. Fifth Street,
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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. It had a 100-seat capacity.
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.
In 1909 it was enlarged/rebuilt? and opened as the Gayety Theatre. It retained this name until 1913 when it became the Star Theatre which was still open in 1927.
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