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Great research Joe. So, the mystery of the 1909 and 1931 build years were for two different theaters. Makes perfect sense. The reason I wrote that the Elite Theater dates back to at least 1945 is, for some reason only the Sioux Theater is listed prior to that year. I had a feeling that the Elite might have been previously known as the Sioux but the 1945 Film Daily confused me even further by listing both theaters that year. And with different seat counts. In 1945 the Elite is listed with 300 seats and the Sioux with 500 seats. That is another reason that I didn’t give Sioux as an aka name. I came very close to placing this theater in the recycle bin. I’m glad that I didn’t. Thanks.
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.
This photo claims to be from 1977 but the movie “Hombre” was released in 1967.
The year given for this photo is 1950. That site gives a build date of 1909 for the Elite Theater and yet the 1977 or 1967? photo shows 1931 on the building.