Frances Theatre

39 S. Main Street,
Mechanicsburg, OH 43044

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm

Issues of Motion Picture Herald from 1943 have capsule movie reviews sent in by J. C. Baldwin, then manager of this house, but he called the house the Frances Theatre, not Francis. Boxoffice also used the spelling Frances in the one mention of the house I’ve found in its pages.

Mechanicsburg had a movie house called the Princess Theatre in operation at least as early as 1914 when it was listed in The American Motion Picture Directory. It was also located on Main Street, and might have the house that eventually became the Frances.

The town also enjoyed movies in the Opera House, located in the Town Hall, which The Moving Picture World of February 19, 1916, reported had begun showing movies regularly, with an occasional vaudeville act thrown in. The Opera House was located on North Main Street. Interestingly, the March 11 MPW said that the Opera House had been taken over by Philip Chakers [sic], so the Chakeres company’s interest in Mechanicsburg went way back.

The founders of the chain were brothers Philip, Louis, and Nicholas Chakeres, who entered the business when they took over the Princess Theatre in Springfield, Ohio, in 1911. This has me wondering if perhaps they had the Princess in Mechanicsburg (not too far from Springfield) as well, and took over the Opera House after it began showing movies to prevent a rival from getting a foothold in the town.