Elite Theater

Crawford, NE 69339

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Boxoffice has the story. The April 1, 1968, issue contains an item headed “San Francisco Man Leases Crawford, Neb., Theatre” It reveals that the Elite was owned by Isabella Strohmeyer, former operator of the Surf Theatre in San Francisco. The original Elite Theatre had been built by her mother, Georgianna Higgins, and had opened on May 29, 1909. Mrs. Higgins operated the original Elite for 22 years, and then built a new theater next door to replace it in 1931.

The wording of the item is not precise, but it appears that for some time (from the early 1930s until 1944) the house was leased to Sid Wisebaum and Linn McDonnel, who operated it as the Sioux Theatre. Mrs. Higgins died in 1941, and Isabella Strohmeyer took over operation of the theater in 1944, renaming it the Elite. In 1946, operation of the Elite was taken over by Fred Barnes, and that was apparently when Mrs. Strohmeyer decamped to San Francisco.

Barnes gave up the Elite in 1959, and it was subsequently leased to a number of operators over the years, closing and reopening several times. The lessee who was the subject of the 1968 item was Gerald Thomas, a 21 year old native of San Francisco. He operated the house for about a year.

The last mention of the Elite I’ve found was from the January 19, 1976, issue of Boxoffice, which said that Clarence Moffitt had reopened the house as a weekends-only operation.