Princess Theatre

316 North St. Clair Street,
Toledo, OH 43604

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Cinema Treasures lists it as the Gayety, but it only got that name in the 1950s, when it became a burlesque house. Earlier it had been called the Guild, and before that the Strand. It opened at 322 N. Summit in 1920 or 1921. Another that opened after 1913 was the Hippodrome, at 224 N. Summit, which was in operation by 1919 with 645 seats.

Thanks for the list with addresses. I had all the names, but not all the numbers, and I didn’t know that the Regent was the same theater as the Crown.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 8, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Here are the ones I have listed on Summit. Oddly enough, I have not found one called the Gayety there, but you say there was.

Toledo, OH Alhambra Theatre 237-9 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Colonial Theatre 443-5 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Crown Theatre 422 N Summit St (aka Regent)

Toledo, OH Empress Theatre 406 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Hart Theatre 605 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Priscilla Theatre 330 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Royal Theatre 425 N Summit St

Toledo, OH Star Theatre 106 N Summit St

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I’ve been trying to put together a list of the theaters that once operated on Summit Street in downtown Toledo. There are more than a dozen names, but some of them are undoubtedly aka’s. There aren’t any details for most of them, but there are a few I’ve found addresses and seating capacities for. All but the Gayety appear to have closed by the early 1930s, and all have since been demolished, but Summit Street was a thriving theater district for a few years during the silent era.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Thanks for the great info, Joe! I just got through looking at the 1913 Toledo City Directory and added like 40 theatres from that era to the listings at CinemaTour. Using Google streetview it surprises me that quite a few old theatre from over 100 years ago still exist!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Here is still more information about the Princess Theatre from Mitch Woodbury’s column in the Toledo Blade of July 17, 1949. It presents information gathered by Martin Smith, a theater operator himself, who provides a somewhat different history than did the 1948 article I cited in the previous comment.

Smith said that in 1906 the Princess Theatre was a 300-seat moving picture house located on Summit Street, and was owned by Orra Brailey (the article uses the spelling Ora, but his 1966 obituary uses Orra, and is more likely to be right) who also owned the Columbia Theatre, a vaudeville house on St. Clair Street. When Brailey lost the lease on the Summit Street building in 1912, he moved the name Princess to the former Columbia (this house.) So the Princess mentioned in the 1911 MPW item was the one on Summit Street.

The column doesn’t mention the new Columbia Theatre that Mr. Brailey was reported by MPW to have been planning in 1911, so my guess would be that it never got built. Neither have I discovered the opening year of the Columbia that became the Princess in 1912. The column does say that, as the Princess, this house initially charged a top price of 25 cents for a ninety minute show, and raised the price to 35 cents in 1915 when a seven-piece orchestra was added to the theater’s attractions.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Here is another article about the Princess Theatre from the Toledo Blade. The article is about the reopening of the Princess after a renovation in 1948, but it recounts a bit of the theater’s early history. It says that the building originally housed a skating rink, then a bowling alley, and was converted into the Columbia Theatre in 1910. O. L. Brailey’s 1911 project for a new Columbia Theatre was probably what led him to rename this house the Princess.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm

April 22, 1916, must have been the date the house reopened as the Princess Paramount. There was a Princess Theatre operating in Toledo at least as early as 1911, when the July 22 issue of The Moving Picture World reported that O. L. Brailey, operator of the Princess and Royal Theatres, was building a new house on St. Clair Street. It was to be called the Columbia Theatre, but I can’t find any other references to a house of that name in Toledo so maybe it either never got built or it opened under a different name.

A brief article about the closing of the Princess Theatre appeared in the July 14, 1969, issue of the Toledo Blade (scan from Google News.) The house would close the following night, the paper said, leaving downtown Toledo with only two movie theaters in operation: the Pantheon and the Valentine.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm

1916 cannot be the correct opening year as the Princess is listed in the 1913 Toledo City Directory at this address.

Earl64
Earl64 on February 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I being a supervisor for Armstrong Circuit theaters in later years, remember the Sound of music played at the Princess for, something like over a year or more. I remember delivering candy to the theater for Jack Armstrong during matinees seemed like forever that picture played…LOL

rivest266
rivest266 on February 1, 2014 at 11:51 am

Grand opening ad as Princess Paramount from April 22nd, 1916 can be found in the photo section.

bdzmusicprod
bdzmusicprod on January 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm

The Princess closed in 1969 and was demolished to make way for the Toledo Edison’s new building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

An advertisement for Paramount and Art Craft films in the October 8, 1918, issue of Michigan Film Review listed this house as the Princess Paramount Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 27, 2012 at 9:57 pm

The Princess Theatre was on N. St. Clair Street, not S. St. Clair St. Here is a nocturnal photo of N. St. Clair Street about 1949, showing the lighted marquees of the Princess and several other theaters.

bdzmusicprod
bdzmusicprod on January 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

As a side note. After the Princess theater was demolished they had the screen and boxes of misc. things from the Princess stored in the basement of the Valentine. I saw all the junk on a private tour of the place in 1976 after the Valentine had closed for good as a movie theater.

bdzmusicprod
bdzmusicprod on January 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

Saw Gone With The Wind there in 1968 in 70mm. Not very impressed. Small screen, bad sound.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 26, 2010 at 8:36 am

The Princess Theatre at the above address was on a list of Toledo movie theaters published in 1919.

Here is a photo of the Princess from the mid-1960s.