Fine Arts Theatre
704 South Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Jo-Mor Theatres
Architects: Leander McCord
Previous Names: Princess Theatre, Rexy Theatre, Rexy Art Theatre
A small first-run theatre located on South Avenue near Gregory Street. The Princess Theatre was opened in July 1912. In December 1927 it was closed due to a fire. Architect Leander McCord drew up plans for a renovated theatre which reopened in October 1928 as the Rexy Theatre.
It became the Rexy Art Theatre on March 21, 1953 and closed on July 30, 1953 with Michael Redgrave in “The Browning Version”. It reopened April 4, 1958 as the Fine Arts Theatre with Joanne Woodward in “The Three Faces of Eve”, operated by the Jo-Mor Theatres chain. In April 1975 it went over to X & XXX adult movies and closed in September 1976.
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It was run by JoMor. Showed a lot of ‘art’ films as well as mainstream. JoMor abandoned it when they started building more suburban theatres.
Given its location, the Fine Arts Theatre might be the house that was mentioned in the July 20, 1912, issue of Motography:Frank I. Simpson was mentioned as operator of the Princess Theatre at Rochester in the October 25, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World. We don’t have a Princess Theatre listed yet, and the side walls of the building the Fine Arts was in look old enough to have been built in the early 1910s. It’s quite possible that this house opened in 1912 as the Princess Theatre.
In the American Motion Picture Directory 1914-1915, the Princess Theatre is listed at 702 South Street.
April 24th, 1958 grand opening ad as Fine Arts in photo section.
The Princess Theatre opened in 1912 and transformed to sound in October 1927. Unfortunately, a fire ended its run in December of 1927. Architect Leander McCord drew a plan to revive the theatre for owner Morris Fogel launching in October of 1928 under the nameplate of the Rexy Theatre.
The theatre struggled in the TV age closing briefly in 1953. It was repositioned and retitled as the Rexy Art Theatre launching on March 21, 1953. The Rexy Art Theatre closed with “The Browning Version” on July 30, 1953 after just three months.
After being dormant for four years, the theatre got one more chance at exhibition being renamed the Fine Arts Theatre and launching April 24, 1958 with “The Three Faces of Eve”. During April of 1975, the art cinema turned X and XXX adult theatre. In September of 1976, the theatre’s 64 year run appears to end. The theatre was repurposed for other retail ventures.