Bijou Theatre (old)
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Lowville theatre entrepreneur Ernie Wolfe got his start in 1911 at the Bijou Theatre, which was in operation until Saturday, January 31, 1914, two days prior to the opening of the newly constructed “new” Bijou Theatre. Wolfe remodeled the new theatre several times over the years, changed the name to Avalon Theatre, and it eventually burned down in 1948.
Subsequent newspaper articles describe the original Bijou Theatre as being used as a garage by Everett Millard (in 1940) and Dewey Woeltje (in 1953). Millard struck and killed a highway worker in 1954. The first mention of the original Bijou Theatre comes in the June 1, 1911 issue of the local paper, which states the new theatre is in the “Burdick Block”. An advertisement run on the following day identifies it as being in the “Windsor Hall Block”. Windsor Hall appears to have been a meeting and dance hall that saw heaviest use in the teens; the last mention of it is for a dance in Christmas 1936. The Burdick Block was erected in 1876 and is mentioned in an 1894 news article as containing the Northern Hotel and a bakery. The entire block was sold in 1926 to W.J. Graham.
Figuring out where the original Bijou Theatre was, and if the building is still standing, is a puzzle, but it was on State Street, apparently in a building built in 1876 that was large enough to house a hotel, businesses and a dance hall into the 1930’s, and was then used as a garage from 1940 until at least 1955 (the last mention of Woeltje’s Garage in the local paper).
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