Comments from dalewhited

Showing 3 comments

dalewhited commented about Benson Theatre on Apr 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

New info from Omaha World-Herald article Apr 04 2012. Address is 6054 Maple ST, not Military ST. The building still exists, and has been vacant 5 years. Plans are to refurbish it, and use for arts and education purposes. The 1940 and 2012 photographs in OWH reveal 2 buildings were used for the theater, which opened in 1923. TVs put it out of business by 1953, as was common all over the nation.

 Similiar to the North Star Theater at 2413 Ames, the entry areas were changed so much that there is a lot of confusion about where the theaters used to be.
                An employee at City Hall threw away about 8 large file cabinets in 2006, containing new construction info cards on all the older houses and buildings in Omaha.  Priceless loss that created quite a stir in the news media.  There were many persons who would have gladly stored those cabinets in their protected areas of basements.
dalewhited commented about Ames Theatre on Dec 13, 2011 at 5:18 am

Later today: Sorry, folks, I had it a bit wrong. The 1958 aerial photo has a detailed street map on it. Not only did it confirm that alley was always there, but it labled what parts of the 2 buildings were the North Star Theater. The east 1/3 of the corner building was the old lobby area. Now it makes more sense, after looking at the Google street view some more. Tonight, that street view is even more direct, and I can see the bricked in area.

When a kid, I never paid attention to that alley being there. The 1958 image doesn’t show it very well, so we assumed it only went in ½ block from Taylor Street, which is next street south of Ames Ave

Although the city map claims the other 2/3 of corner building belonged to someone else, I wonder if the theater used that remainder for heating, ACing, and other closed-off operations?

My parents didn’t go to that theater, even though they were living close by since 1947. The many neighbors must have presumed kids wouldn’t be interested in that history, but I would have been, and would have remembered tidbits shared.

The downtown State Theater was another one that kept the dark and gloomy ceiling/wall atmosphere to the end, and I’d always wonder how the daytime cleaning crew could do their work. That was a large, classy place, but the gloomy aspect must have been liked by the adults.

dalewhited commented about Ames Theatre on Dec 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Joe, some more info for all to enjoy (I hope). You have done quite well trying to figure out the L-shape buildings involved. The lobby structure was torn down about 10-15 years ago.

The auditorium is, indeed, the “skating rink” structure with rounded roof. It was down 25th street, 2nd building on east side. The corner building was not involved, unless it would have been some over-sized Misc Stuff.

In the 1960s, the corner building and auditorium were used together as a Shaver’s grocery store. I well remember entering the store, and noticing the sloped floor further in. The ceiling was higher back there, too.

Now, both structures are condemned by the city, and would already be gone….but Omaha doesn’t have enough demolition dollars.

We downloaded 1958-era aerial photos of this neighborhood about 2 months ago, and still couldn’t figure out what the auditorium was, for sure. Since we didn’t know how large that theater was, I thought there was a skating rink in the auditorium building. In Omaha, old skating buildings usually had that classic rounded roof.

Google and Bing aerial images clearly show the old air conditioning platform on the auditorium. The A/C still worked in the 1960s grocery store era!

Eerie: About 6 months ago, I walked up to the watt-hour electric meter on the auditorium building, and was amazed how much electricity was being consumed. This for a sealed, condemned building. Ex-Air Force, I’ve learned to expect unusual situations. What a perfect place to hide some critical back-up computer or communications equipment, connected to buried cables no one can see.

Many buildings in that bustling business niche were always unrented even when I was a young lad. I think urban sprawl was already doing a number on our city back then.

The 1946 magazine article was super, and we saved a file copy. We carefully back up our files all the time. Some of this info is priceless. I’ll try to more at a later time.