Park Place Cinema

319 W. Milwaukee Street,
Janesville, WI 53548

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LouisRugani
LouisRugani on October 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm

(Janesville Daily Gazette, October 6, 1951)

JAMES ZANIAS

James Zanias, 72, Janesville businessman since 1908 and coproprietor of Central cafe, was found dead in bed in his room at 203 Center avenue at noon Saturday. Mr. Zanias had worked Thursday and returned to his room at midnight. While he had not complained of being ill, Mr. Zanias had suffered with a heart ailment for several years. He had planned to return to his native Greece in January to visit relatives.
Having learned something of the confectionery business in Chicago Mr. Zanias took his first job in Janesville with the Candy Kitchen, now Homsey’s, when he located here in 1906. Two years later he purchased a part interest in the business, Gus Vlachos being his partner.

Pioneer in Theatre Field

The two men became interested in the new entertainment medium motion pictures and in 1908 they opened the Lyric theatre, a 5 and 10 cent show at 113 W. Milwaukee street. Business was so profitable that Mr. Zanias purchased the Nickelodeon theatre at 210 W. Milwaukee street in 1909. By 1911 Mr. Zanias had bought out his partner’s interest and sold the confectionery store to the Homsey brothers.
Expanding his theatrical enterprises Mr. Zanias became manager of the new Apollo theatre, which in 1913 opened as a vaudeville house which also played stock companies. He operated the Apollo until 1926 when it was sold to Saxe Brothers of Milwaukee. For a short time Mr. Zanias managed the Apollo and Jeffris theatres for the Saxe company and in 1927 he resigned and went to Europe where he spent a year with his mother and sister in Greece.

Operated Myers Till 1939

Upon returning to Janesville Mr. Zanias leased the Myers theatre which he remodeled and opened on Dec. 27, 1929. He operated the Myers until 1939 when he suffered a heart attack that necessitated his being hospitalized for several months.
On June 1, 1940 Mr. Zanias and his cousin William Mihos purchased the Central cafe, 117 W. Milwaukee street.
A native of Eupalion, a village in the northwest part of Greece, Mr. Zanias attended school until he was 14 when he took a job in his uncle’s dry goods store in Massalongi, 53 miles west of hls native village. For three years he worked for his uncle and then took a job with a commission firm. Six years later he came to the United States locating first in Chicago.

Always Public Spirited

James Zanias was a public spirited citizen who gave generously to community projects and enthusiastically endorsed welfare and social programs to aid the needy here and abroad. In his love for his adopted country he never lost sight of the plight of the Greek people. Mr. Zanias headed the Janesville committee that raised funds for Greek relief and was a leader to Hellenic organizations. His friends in all walks of life were legion for he had a genial manner and the gift of understanding the problems of those who came to him in need. His boundless enthusiasm for what ever he undertook was an inspiration to those with whom he came in contact.
Surviving are cousins in the States and four nephews living in Greece. The body is at the Ryan funeral home.

Wisconsin Theatres discussions and photos:
www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on October 7, 2010 at 4:35 pm

The local historical society has a narrative of the Saxe Brothers Jeffris Theatre which relates a fatal collapse and a hypnotist who convinced a person to sleep 24 hours a day for a solid week in the front window of the Leath Furniture Store.

Saxe’s Jeffris Theater, under construction, collapsed, killing a plumbing contractor on or about September 19, 1923. Work resumed on Saxe’s Jeffris Theater on or about May 9, 1924. Betty Porter was chosen as Miss Janesville in a beauty contest at the Jeffris Theater, and she went on to win the Miss Wisconsin title in Milwaukee eleven days later.

The Jeffris Theater was completely remodeled during 1937.

“The Robe” in CinemaScope played there after the Jeffris installed a wider screen and a new stereophonic sound system on or about February 10, 1954.

In 1965, the Kingston Trio performed at the Jeffris Theater.

On February 21, 1966, a suspicious fire gutted the lobby of the Jeffris Theatre and sent smoke into the adjoining Monterey Hotel, asphyxiating a resident.

The theater reopened September 2, 1983 as the Ormson Cinemas 1 & 2, and then was bought by a Marshall Field company which reopened it as the five-screen Park Place Cinema.

Photos exist of the Jeffris Theater in 1943 with a large crowd lined up at its entrance. Buying a war bond during the 1943 World War II Bond Rally was the price of admission to the Jeffris' feature movie, “Sonja Henie in Wintertime”. There’s a 1943 photo of the lobby of the Jeffris Theater with three female ushers on duty near the candy display (Richard Haney, photographer), and a circa 1940s photo of the interior of a 3-man stage act including a fiddler, a guitar-player and a man playing a washtub (thought to be Walter LaVeen).

After years of vacancy and local indecision, demolition ended the Jeffris' long story.

kenosharay
kenosharay on August 17, 2009 at 12:41 am

The main auditorium was torn down this year. They needed the space for a parking lot for the old hotel next door. My understanding is that the theatre lobby and entrance is still intact along Milwaukee Street. The two small theatres that are over the lobby may also be still there.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 1, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Need to change the aka name from “Jeffries” to “Jeffris”. Here is a 1981 photo.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 4, 2008 at 5:27 pm

This is a photo of a closed Park Place Cinema.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on November 2, 2007 at 9:08 pm

This theater is currently being demolished to provide parking for the old hotel next door which is being renovated. Asbestos abatement has held up the demolition for a while.

kenosharay
kenosharay on May 25, 2007 at 5:22 pm

This was at one timethe the Jeffris Theatre. In the 1980’s a fire destroyed the overhanging marquee canopy and much of the lobby. The theatre was then divided into two theatres and opened as the Ormson Theatres. Eventually one of the two theatres were divided again and two more theatres were added upstairs over the lobby. Theatre was then named Park Place Cinemas