Comments from raymondstewart

Showing 26 - 50 of 82 comments

raymondstewart commented about Washington Theatre on Apr 27, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Well, looks like I can answer my own question. Yesterday while driving by I noticed a side door open and some activity, so I stopped to take a quick peek. Well, I met Marco, the owner, who invited me in to look around. He and a couple of friends were there doing some upgrades and they were kind enough to give me a complete tour, including the booth and behind the screens.

You can still see the ceiling dome above the suspended ceiling in places and thankfully the beautiful two-color marble that graces various parts of the auditorium is all intact.

I didn’t count seats, but I’d say it’s 350 or so per side, with some being originals from the opening with a ribbed velvet cover. Other seats are rockers from somewhat later that were very comfortable. The rear loge area is “stadium seating” that was around long before the major chains act like they invented it! Each row in the loge is surrounded by iron railing.

In the booth were a pair of nice, clean RCA projection and sound heads along with Xetron lamphouses and a platter(sorry, didn’t notice the maker). The projectors are mounted on a pair of really nice vintage Simplex bases, I would guess that they could easily be the originals.

Behind the screens is a huge stage with tons of flyspace. As usual in an old twin, that area is full of odd items such as seats, organ bits and pieces and the oringinal Breckart lamphouses. Below the stage there are varouus storage rooms, dressing rooms from the vaudville days, heating equipment, etc.

I was very impressed with the owners enthusiasm about his theatre. He plans on some day restoring it to a single in all of its original splendor. At this point he is steadily working on improving the theatre. One side has a nice, fairly new sound system and he was woring on a digital projection system while I was there.

I was very honored that he would take time from his busy day to chat with an old theatre junky and I plan on visiting again soon. If you read this Marco, your place is looking nice and thanks again!

raymondstewart commented about College Theatre on Apr 20, 2007 at 5:31 am

My first memory of going to a hardtop was at the College. I believe it was the initial release of The Jungle Book, but it could have been one of the many releases and re-releases of the Disney films in the late 60’s.

raymondstewart commented about The very first shopping center theater: Stamford, CT or Seattle, WA ????? on Apr 18, 2007 at 11:52 pm

The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta opened in 1939 and is in a shopping center, see the photo at

raymondstewart commented about Earl Smith Strand Theatre on Apr 14, 2007 at 5:32 am

Was in Marietta recently and the headline on the MDJ was “STRAND SAVED”.

raymondstewart commented about Blackwell Playhouse on Apr 12, 2007 at 11:26 am

Closed and converted to a playhouse when I was by a few weeks ago.

raymondstewart commented about Memorial Drive Cinema 5 on Apr 12, 2007 at 11:08 am

Well said Stan! I doubt that anyone here has more info about that area or the ABC/Plitt & Georgia Theater/UA chain from that time period than Stan.

I have just a casual knowledge of the east side theaters, my only east side experience was at the Belvedere while it was an Eastern Federal property. When Cineplex left Atlanta they had almost all of these properties, none of which were turning a profit. They retained one of the Memorial Dr locations and kept it running for a month or two. Carmike had agreed to take it IF they could make it turn a profit. Of course, it didn’t… A friend of mine’s dad was a VP for Carmike and showed me the figures when Carmike took over Cineplex’s properties and they were all bleeding except Brannon Square. When you throw in O'Niel’s 16 screens at the old Avondale Mall, The Belvedere’s 2, the old closed one, the Atlantic as best I recall, plus the ones I’m forgetting, that is a bunch of screens along a major road. How far is it from Downtown to Stone Mtn? 10-12 miles?

raymondstewart commented about ISO: General Manager position on Apr 11, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Rave had an add on Careerbuilder the other day for Allentown, Pa.

raymondstewart commented about Strand Theatre on Apr 4, 2007 at 9:49 am

Still open selling pianos but there is now a for rent sign out front.

raymondstewart commented about Cinemagic 5 Tri-State Mall on Dec 19, 2006 at 5:28 pm

I think at one point GCC controlled this location. I only ever recall it as a twin, but I moved away in the late 70’s.

raymondstewart commented about Washington Theatre on Nov 27, 2006 at 5:59 am

How is this place doing? I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but hope to stop in to see 007 sometime.

raymondstewart commented about Marietta Star Cinema on Nov 23, 2006 at 4:12 am

After Eastern Federal’s ground lease expired (about 98?)they pulled out every bit of equipment, seats, etc. that they could They even ripped up some of the carpet! Lefont came back in behind them a couple of years later are refitted it and opened it as the Marietta Star Cinema. Eastern Federal opened it, Chappelle Cinemas took over for a short time, then it was a constant cycle of opening and closing, including stints showing Spanish and Indian films. The last operator before it was gutted the first time was Cinestar, who also ran the Salems Gate in Conyers.

raymondstewart commented about Promenade Theatre on Nov 23, 2006 at 4:02 am

The theatre was always in the location that Best Buy has now, Loehmanns was a bit further south. There was a fire years ago that resulted in a rebuild of the southern end of the center, but the theatre was not damaged.

raymondstewart commented about Belmont Theatre on Nov 23, 2006 at 4:00 am

The Belmont became The Fasion Bug after it closed. The floor was leveled and there were no remains of the theatre, the only thingthat gives it away is the fact that it is still has a higher roof than the rest of the center. I can’t recall for sure when it closed, but it would have been mid-80’s at the latest.

raymondstewart commented about Ziegfeld Theatre on Oct 17, 2006 at 5:57 am

I visited the Ziegfeld for the first time Saturday for “Dial M for Murder”. Was impressed with the theater, not quite a “palace”, but definitely quite a few steps above the typical multiplex of today or the typical single of its day. The print wasn’t perfect, but the projection and sound were very good, especially considering the quality of the print. Comfortable, clean as a whistle and everyone working there was polite. Looking forward to getting back to see another film soon, wish they’d do some horror for Halloween. I guess it’s off to the Jersey or Lafayette later this month.

raymondstewart commented about Cobb Cinema on Oct 2, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Passed by last week after seeing the Cobb Center. The Cobb Cinema still looks just like Jack’s picture from 2 or 3 years ago, hasn’t changed a bit! Hard to believe it is still standing and in some sort of use while all of the other old Smyrna theaters are shuttered or gone.

raymondstewart commented about Cobb Center 6 on Oct 2, 2006 at 5:15 pm

I was in Atlanta a week ago and happened by the Cobb Center. Still standing, but looking very bad. The Fire Marshall warnings that were posted last time I was there are gone, perhaps just fallen off the glass. So sad to see it just sitting there, rotting away. The old Rich’s Tire store that was next door looks just as bad and the Rich’s store nearby that closed about 2 years ago looks bad too.

raymondstewart commented about Promenade Theatre on May 16, 2006 at 6:31 am

While the Promenade was still under Plitt’s control it was one of the best places in Cobb County to see a film. Thay did big business while GCC’s Akers Mill was the only competition, but fell apart with the combination of AMC’s newer Galleria 8 and the changeover to Cineplex Odeon control. It was sad to see one of the best chains in town, Plitt, taken over by such as bad operation as Cineplex. The Promenade lived a fairly short life, maybe 15 years. The equipment was later taken to the gutted Town & Country by Lefont to open the Marietta Star Cinema.

raymondstewart commented about Buckhead Theatre on May 1, 2006 at 4:55 pm

The Capri was the first of the Cinema and Drafthouses in Atlanta. (1980-81 as best I can recall) Before it became the Roxy it had a short stint serving food and drink while the movie was playing, the floor was tiered and the balcony was closed off at that time. I had a pass given to me by the guy who sold them all their signs when they converted from the Capri name and saw several $1 type movies there. As best I can recall the folks that ran it went on to the old Georgia Cinerama and the Doraville after the Capri closed. Hard to believe that Sears was there, I once read that it was the most valuable Sears property in the nation before they closed it and the tower popped up in its place.

raymondstewart commented about North Springs Cinema Grill on Apr 27, 2006 at 6:06 pm

In the late 70’s Eastern Federal was in a bad position in the Atlanta market. They had a few “big” houses that were in bad locations or just were not drawing. The public was more interested in going to a nice new twin and not a big, old barn. The Cherokee was closed and gutted, the lease on Toco Hills was sold back to the shopping center, the Miracle was still a good draw because of limited competition in Smyrna and the Belvedere was in a similar position. The Baronet/Coronet became a place for the less fortunate who could hustle up a buck to go to sleep. North Springs was closed, then sub-leased out to a couple of independent operators. At that point, as hard as it is to believe now, North Springs was too far “out” for an Atlanta/Sandy Springs crowd and too far “in” to draw from Roswell.

Eastern Federal was a big believer in ground leases, so they didn’t have any great expenses in closing the theaters and if they could find someone else to pay the utilities, it was a plus for them. At that point both Georgia Theater and Storey had plenty of similar properties, so they were not interested. Septum was only doing twins, and really only interested in old Jerry Lewis ones at that time. Martin had an agreement with GTC that they would operate the old drive-ins and the Rialto only, and GCC & AMC wouldn’t even consider EFC’s rag-tag bunch. Weis was dead, having run themselves into the ground. That left EFC with two choices, run them or close them.

After the independent operators made a few bucks at North Springs, Eastern Federal wanted it back. The area was beginning to build up between Atlanta/Sandy Springs and Roswell. I can’t say 100% who twinned North Springs. The story goes that the gold curtains in the #1 left house came from the closed Cherokee. I can’t say for sure and Stan Malone may be able to verify if the Cherokee was gold inside…anyway, Eastern Federal at that point wasn’t known for it’s employees longevity, so there were always a number of rumors as to what came from where and who did it. They were also never known for being big spenders, so they used what they could, where they could.

In the twinning the center section of seats was removed, the wall was built down the center and the seats reset. The #2 right house had the original blue curtains that matched the seat frames. The screens were moved back towards the booth about 10 feet and the area behind the screen was used for storage. The screens were equipped with up and down masking adjusted by a chain. The booth had a pair of Century SA projectors and matching optical soundheads. #1 had an older homemade tower for 6000 foot reels and a Xenon lamphouse, a new Altec amplifier and speaker. #2 had a newer homemade tower (William Sherrer was the tech guy at that point that built it) that was mounted on casters and could be rolled left and right to handle 6000 foot reels for double features. Another Xenon lamphouse sat on an ancient base. The amplifier was an unknown brand, I never could find a makers plate on it anywhere, and the speaker was an Altec with a CINERAMA logo on it, allegedly from the Georgia CINERAMA. A homemade automation system was built for each theater that could cue the lights up and down and open and close the curtain.

In the end there were two odd theaters with one aisle along the outside wall and another 5/8th’s of the way across. The good news is the side seats, which were not as often occupied as a single, became the prime seats and there were plenty extras left over from the removed rows to do a pretty good job seating the auditoriums. In the end there were 336 seats in one, 331 in the other. The screens were good sized, and given a good print the presentation was pretty good for a dollar house.

Around 1980 a single 5 tier platter was installed (brand escapes me), making it impossible to get to projector #1 if #2 was threaded and running. As Mr. Malone has stated, the booth was tiny!

In about 1983 Eastern Federal turned all their locations over to a guy named Chappelle, an employee of theirs at the time, who renamed the chain Chappelle Cinemas. This was the end for most of the Eastern Federal properties, as they all closed within months.

The Miracle was twinned after the North Springs, followed by the Belvedere, all in similar fashion.

My one lasting memory of my time at the North Springs was the day that the city manager at that time, Bob Denham came in along with Ira Meiselman, company president, who was in town checking things over. It was about noon and I was there building a print when they arrived. I had never met Mr. Meiselman, but we hit it off. There was a suggestion of lunch and he bemoaned Denham’s usual choice of fried chicken; at that point I suggested that I knew a place to go that he’d enjoy, Harry Baron’s at Phipps. From that point on I was his best friend, he said I was the only one in the Atlanta office who knew how to eat!

Working for Eastern Federal could be fun. If the money made it into the bank, nobody called the office to complain and the per-cap was up, they would leave you alone. As with all the theaters of the time there were a number of managers and employees who drifted through, often leaving behind a funny story or two.

While Parkaire was still a 1st run, we often got the movie as soon as they were finished and I enjoyed a nice relationship with the manager there who would just take the print off his platter and put it on my reel, saving me a number of build-ups. We also would swap CO2 tanks and such if somebody needed something. At that point both Parkaire and North Springs were rather isolated from other locations for each chain and were of little competition with each other for viewers $. I doubt that you’d ever find an ounce of cooperation like that between an AMC and a Regal location today.

While I’m no longer in the Atlanta area, I miss the old theaters. EFC put “For Rent” signs on the Miracle, but also welded the exit doors shut at the same time, so they never had any real intentions of leasing it. The Belvedere turned to porn and the North Springs to the Cinema and Drafthouse mode for a time. The Ben Hill and Cobb Cinema became churches and the Baronet/Coronet resides, like so many Atlanta theaters, in a landfill somewhere. The Town & Country went through a number of independent operators and was gutted at the end of the ground lease, only later to be redone by Lefont and gutted again. Virtually nothing remains of the old GTC, Weis or Storey chains, thank god we have Cinema Treasures to remind us of the old days!

raymondstewart commented about Belmont Theatre on Apr 13, 2006 at 3:43 am

Well, Halpern got thier moneys worth out of that center. 50 years is a virtual eternity in Atlanta and they were never known for putting any money into a property that they didn’t have to, so I’m sure they’ve come out quite well on this one. 25 years ago this was a thriving shopping center with an A&P, Kroger, Dunaway’s Drug Store, Sears & JC Penney Outlets, an AMF Bowling Center along with the typical assortment of shoes stores, jewelry stores, beauty salons, etc. that you’d find in a shopping center. Last time I was there it was little more than an outlet for bad bling jewelry and latino CD’s.

raymondstewart commented about Holcomb Woods 6 Cinema on Apr 11, 2006 at 2:47 am

About 2 years ago it was still there but vacant. I don’t recall what else was in the same shopping center but there has been a bunch of moving around in that area over the last few years. Walmart abandoned a location and moved and I think Home Depot did too. At one point Roswell was doing a study on revitalizing the area because there was so much vacant commercial space, but since I’ve moved away from the area I’ve not heard anything more.

raymondstewart commented about Roswell Town Centre on Apr 11, 2006 at 2:43 am

At one point the area where the theater is now was a car dealership. Roswell Mall, and all of it’s later incarnations has never quite been able to define itself and has been in a constant state of change. Hoyts sold out to UA who sold this location off to Startime just before UA went bust.

raymondstewart commented about Digimax Cinemas on Apr 11, 2006 at 2:39 am

I’ve heard several stories about Brannon Square’s origins. The nearby Roswell Village was definately a Jerry Lewis at one point. Both came under Cineplex Odeon control with the buyouts of Plitt and Septum. Was operated for a short time by Carmike after they took over from Cineplex Odeon. A friend on mine’s father was with Carmike as a VP and showed me the financial info that Carmike got when they took over from Cineplex and the ONLY theater that Cineplex had left that was turning a profit was Brannon Square! As I understood it, Carmike took over the locations they did from Cineplex for a token amount with an understanding they would also take one of the Memorial Dr. theaters if Cineplex could make it turn a profit, that’s why the one Memorial Dr. theaters continued on under the Cineplex banner for a few more months.

raymondstewart commented about Miracle Theatre on Apr 6, 2006 at 3:45 am

The Miracle was a gold mine for Eastern Federal at one time, prior to Akers Mill opening and the expansion of Cobb Center from 2 to 4 screens. At that point there were only 5 indoor screens in Smyrna, so everyone did pretty well, and the drive-in was no competition as they screened strictly drive-in fare. I worked as a relief manager there for a week before it went to being a dollar house, but after the twinning (in 79 as best I can recall) and spent the majority of my time handling money. On Friday/Saturday/Sunday it was packed every show.

When Cobb Center went to 6 screens, GCC’s Akers Mill and Plitt’s Promenade opened business was pulled to these newer screens and the Miracle (and Cobb Cinema) became dollar house. In the early 80’s EFC sold the chain to a guy who was working for them and they became “Chapelle Cinemas”, which didn’t last long. EFC had ground leases on most, if not all of their properties, and had made plenty of money off them, so getting someone else to pay some rent and the utilities was more than likely a great business decision for them!

raymondstewart commented about Holcomb Woods 6 Cinema on Apr 6, 2006 at 3:29 am

Carmike ran this location for a short time after they took over from Cineplex Odeon. Later operated by EFW, who also ran the Parkside 8 for a while, but it didn’t last long. Was a nice theater but had an odd location, around back and below the shopping center with no road exposure (like the Parkside, only worse!). A friends of mine’s father was with Carmike at the takeover and this place was bleeding money, just like just about every location that CO had at that point.