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This item datelined Saginaw appeared in the September 11, 1915 issue of Michigan Contractor and Builder:
“After September 11 the remodeling of the Jeffers theater building into a moving picture theater will be started. The lobby, ticket office will be remodeled, the interior newly decorated and new equipment, a new pipe organ and new stage settings will be installed. E. A. Eberson of Chicago, has the contract for the work. The theater when completed will be known as the Strand.”
The Jeffers was one of two Saginaw theaters listed in the 1908-1909 Cahn guide, the other being the Academy. Both were then owned and operated by the National Amusement Company, and both were about the same size, but the Academy had a stage a bit larger and charged higher prices, with a top of S1.25 to the Jeffers' .75 cents. That indicates that the Jeffers was probably the vaudeville house and the Academy hosted the big road shows, though I did find indications that the Jeffers also hosted stock companies part of the time.
The 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory lists a house at Saginaw called the Jeffries Theatre, which I thought might have been a misspelling of Jeffers, but there are also references to it from 1920, after the Jeffers had been renamed Strand, so I now suspect it was a different house.
The Lyric was listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, along with theaters called the Dreamland and the Opera House. In the 1926 FDY, the only theater listed at Bonne Terre was the Odeon. There was a house in Bonne Terre called the Odeon by 1923, and it appears to have been relocated to a new building in late 1924.
The 1926 FDY lists the Odeon with only 275 seats. The first time it is listed with 500 seats is 1931. No capacity was given in the 1930 edition, so the expansion was probably done either in 1929 or 1930.
The October 4, 1924 issue of Moving Picture World ran this announcement: “Bonne Terre, Mo., is to have a new picture house, plans for a building to seat 600 having been prepared by Harry Clayman, owner of the Lead Belt News, who owns the present Odeon Theatre in Bonne Terre. Harry Rousse is managing the house for the editor. He formerly conducted theatres in St. Louis and DeSoto, Mo.”
Th earlier Odeon Theater was mentioned in the March 31, 1923 issue of Exhibitors Herald.
The first appearance of the Sophia Theatre (and the town of Sophia) in the FDY is in the 1927 edition. The most likely opening year for the house is thus 1926.
I forgot to mention in my comment what brought me here to begin with. It was this item from Manufacturers Record of April 14, 1919, about a theater to be built in Seneca: “S. C., Seneca.-W. T. Edwards and Dr. W. F. Austin; $40,000 moving-picture theater; 3 stores offices on 2d floor; day labor; Casey & Fant, Archts., Anderson, S. C.”
The dance studio at 117 E. North 1st street is adjacent to a building with three matching storefronts, though they have no second floors with offices in them. The second floors might have been removed, of course, but more likely the developers decided that economic conditions at the time they were built didn’t justify the expense of building them. The buildings have a high degree of design integrity, and are characteristic of the period around 1919. I think this building probably is the project noted in the magazine, minus the second floors.
Architects Casey & Fant (Joseph Huntley Casey and Charles William Fant Sr.) have one other theater already attributed to them at Cinema Treasures, the Imperial, in their home town of Anderson.
A history or the Oconee County library system says that “[t]he Seneca Library opened in April 1953 in the Laurel Room of the Richardson Theater on Townville Street.” The page gives no clue as to what the Laurel Room was, or if it was an essential part of the theater. If it was, then the Richardson must have been closed in or before 1952. The library moved to another location in 1956.
I suspect that the Star Theatre operated under that name only until some time 1927. A Richardson Theatre is listed at Seneca in the 1928 FDY, with 250 seats, and is advertised in the October 17, 1928 issue of The Tiger, student newspaper of Clemson College. In 1926, the FDY lists only the Star Theatre at Seneca, with 250 seats. It’s listed again in 1927, but I’ve checked FDYs for 1928, 1929, 1930, 1936, 1940 and 1950, and the Star Theatre never appears again.
The only 400-seat theater I’ve seen listed at Seneca in the FDY is a house called the YMCA Theatre, listed in 1927 through 1929. I suspect that the Star only ever had 250 seats, was renamed Richardson Theatre in 1927, and was replaced by a new Richardson Theatre in 1935 (first listed, with 500 seats, in the 1936 FDY) and the old theater building was converted to some other use at that time or soon after. I’ve been unable to discover anything about the YMCA Theatre.
Both the ground floor and upper floor spaces in this complex were originally planned to be theaters, as noted in this item from Manufacturers Record of August 14, 1919: “ $1,000,000 building at 18 W. Lexington St.; 178x120 ft.; 2 theaters under 1 roof; 1st floor seat 3900; 2d, 2500; moving stage; pipe organ, $50,000; 6 elevators for roof service; galleries reached by runway; Jno. J. Zink, Archt., McLachlen Bldg…..”
The decision to open the upper floor as a ballroom instead must have been made after the initial plans had been announced. The conversion of the ballroom to a theater five years later must have been greatly facilitated by the fact that the space had been planned to house a theater to begin with.
A centennial history of Clarence published in 1959 said that the town’s 1938 theater was installed in the north half of the American Legion Hall. With an expanding membership during the post-war period, the Legion decided to remodel the building and use the entire space for their own activities.
I haven’t been able to confirm that the current American Legion hall is the same remodeled building, which was rededicated in 1954, but aside from a fake mansard that probably dates from the 1970s it does have a midcentury look to it. If this was the State Theatre, the building’s address is 304 6th Avenue, just off Lombard Street, which is aka Lincoln Highway.
The Temple Theatre was one of two movie houses listed at Creston in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory. The other was the Comet, listed at 211 N. (probably a typo for W.) Adams.
The name Masonic Theatre appeared in reports of the 1920 fire appearing in safety and insurance industry journals, but I haven’t found it in any theater industry publications yet. Those invariably refer to the house as either the Temple Theatre or the Temple Grand Theatre.
Reports in various entertainment journals in late 1909 indicate that the Temple Grand had a major fire in December that year as well, causing some $40,000 in damage.
The July 9, 1955 issue of Boxoffice said that novice theater operator Maurice Sorenson had taken over the Newell Theatre about two months earlier and had installed a wide screen. I’ve found no later mentions of Mr. Sorenson, but the town’s theater, closed again, is mentioned in the November 13, 1957 issue of Motion Picture Exhibitor. The item said “[t]he community of Newell, Iowa, wants its theatre reopened; a group of women is selling season tickets.” I’ve been unable to discover the outcome of their efforts.
The February 10, 1917 issue of Moving Picture World said that “Van Hooser and Layman have purchased the Amuzu theater in Fonda from Smith Bros.”
A 1958 photo of the Amuzu shows it a few doors down Main Street from the First National Bank building, which is still standing at 119 N. Main Street. The photo doesn’t show the entire block, most of which has been demolished in any case, but the theater was perhaps about halfway along it, so the address would have been approximately 109 N. Main.
The June 3, 1959 issue of Motion Picture Exhibitor published a letter from Wayne Walker, manager of the Glenn Theatre in Georgetown, Kentucky, who said that the house had recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. A more detailed article in the Louisville Courier-Journal of December 20, 1959 said that the Glenn had opened in 1909 as the Opera House. It was still listed under that name in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory and in editions of the FDY through 1935. The 1936 edition listed the Glenn Theatre for the first time.
The 1912-1913 Cahn guide lists the Georgetown Opera House as a ground floor theater with about 1,000 seats, but the FDY lists it with only 500, while the Glenn in its first listing has 638. The Cahn says that the Opera House had 519 seats on the main floor, 209 in the balcony and 246 in the gallery. It seems likely that in its operation as a movie house the balcony and gallery were simply not used, but when the house was renovated and renamed in 1935 the balcony was reopened. A more extensive remodeling took place in 1937, as records of the alterations planned in May through August that year exist in the papers of the Lexington architectural firm Frankel & Curtis.
According to a 2011 article in the La Crosse Tribune, Viroqua’s Vernon Square Shopping Center opened in 1991, and the three-screen cinema opened in 1996, in space vacated by an unsuccessful retail store.
The NRHP registration form for the Masonic Temple Building (PDF here) says that the Temple Theatre opened on July 1, 1922 under the management of local showman Ben C. Brown, who had first shown movies in Viroqua at the old Brown Opera House at 120-122 N. Main Street in 1908, and had later operated an Airdome, a storefront house called the Electric Theatre, and then in 1915 the Star Theatre, which was in a new building at 211 S. Main Street.
In 1931, the Masonic Lodge entered lease agreement with the Paramount-Publix theater chain, which remodeled the theater interior from its original Classical Revival style to the popular, modern Art Deco style, and installed a modern marquee, though the building’s exterior was otherwise unchanged, retaining the Classical Revival look it still has today. Having lost control of the Temple, Ben Brown responded by converting a garage on Court Street into the Vernon Theatre.
Neither the local Masonic lodge nor Paramount-Publix prospered in Viroqua in the early years of the depression, and by 1935 the Masons had lost their building and Paramount its lease on the theater. The building’s new owner, William Dyson, sold the upstairs lodge facilities back to the Masons, but retained ownership of the ground floor, leasing the theater to a local operator, though it was not Brown. The new operator, Jacob Eskin, refreshed the house and installed new seating with four more inches between rows.
By 1951, when Ben Brown celebrated his sixtieth anniversary in show business (he had started as a promoter of shows in the town’s Brown Opera House in 1891) he was once again a partner in the Temple Theatre.
There’s a fly loft /behind/ the Vernon Theatre, but it’s across the alley and belongs to the Temple Theatre. The Vernon was strictly a movie house, installed in an older building. The guide for a walking tour of downtown Viroqua says the building was a garage before being converted into a theater by Ben Brown, who had operated the Temple Theatre from its opening until 1931, when the owners leased the house to Paramount-Publix.
The Palace was either rebuilt or moved to a new building in 1912. This item is from the July 20 issue of Motograpahy that year:
“‘The Palace’ is the name of a handsome new motion picture theater recently opened at Cedar Rapids by Mr. Ford. It has a brilliantly-lighted entrance and the interior is provided with the best indirect lighting system that can be had as well as the best ventilating system. The roof beams have a mission effect, the walls are handsomely decorated and the mural decorations are excellent. Special attention will be given to feature films.”
The partnership of architects F. Russell Stuckert and Maurice M. Sloan only lasted a bit over five years, from 1909 to 1915, but was quite productive. Much of their work was for the Horn & Hardart restaurant chain, both in Philadelphia and New York City. Sloan appears to have retired to Atlantic City when the firm was dissolved in 1915, but his partner continued to practice after changing the firm name to Stuckert & Co., remaining in Philadelphia until 1930 and removing the office to New York for the last five years of its operation.
Neither partner appears to have designed any theaters on their own, but as partners they designed not only the four currently attributed to them at Cinema Treasures, but perhaps three other neighborhood houses in Philadelphia. One was a 1913 project for Kahn and Greenburg, located on North Broad Street near W. Thompson Street. Bids were being taken in September, 1913, but I’ve been unable to find any later notices about the project, so can’t be sure it was carried out.
A 350-seat house called the Tivoli was built for Jacob Weinreich and Bros. in 1913, at 1131 Fairmont Avenue.
The third project was a house on E. Lehigh Avenue for the Felt brothers, original owners of the Locust. Contracts were let in December, 1913, but I’ve been unable to discover the name of the house. Some notices say it was on Lehigh near Richmond Street, but one says Lehigh near Salmon Street. Most of the area between Richmond and Salmon is now occupied by an elevated highway, so chances of this one’s survival are slim to none.
Jakorns (on May 20, 2004) apparently got the opening year of the Olympic wrong, as well as the address in their next comment. This item appeared in the June, 1912 issue of Motography: “‘The Olympic’ is the name of the new motion picture theater recently opened at South Third street and Twelfth avenue, Cedar Rapids.”
Moving Picture World of September 26, 1908 confirms construction of the Magic Theatre that year, but also reveals that, despite the large stage, it was also a movie house from the beginning: “Ft. Dodge, Ia. The Magic Theater, on South Eighth street, is practically complete and will open to the general public in a few days with the latest and best moving pictures.”
The Magic appears to have undergone remodeling or perhaps repairs in 1911. The July 21 issue of the Marshalltown, Iowa Evening Times-Republican reported that two masons working on the Magic Theatre in Fort Dodge had been injured when the 22-foot high scaffolding on which they were standing gave way. A number of concrete blocks also fell, but fortunately none struck anyone.
A puzzling claim appears in an article in the October 30, 1909 issue of Show World, which referred to Fort Dodge as Iowa’s largest “theaterless town.” Professional wrestler Frank Gotch of Humboldt Iowa was considering the construction of a playhouse at Fort Dodge as an investment. I’ve found no follow-up items to indicate if Mr. Gotch carried out his plans or not, but as the item was dated a year after the opening of the Magic, I wonder why it said that Fort Dodge had no theater? Could it be that the Magic’s stage was only added sometime after the house opened with movies in 1908?
Fort Dodge: 1850 to 1970 by Roger B. Natte, part of the Arcadia Press “Images of America” series, says that the Princess Theatre was opened in 1910 as a vaudeville house, closed in 1934, and the building was converted into a bank in 1939 and razed in the 1970s.
The 1926 FDY lists the Princess with only 400 seats. I suspect that when the house was operating as a movie theater they simply closed the balcony, and set up the projection equipment in it. As late as 1924, the local Chamber of Commerce publication The Community Builder was noting that a stock company was presenting a new season of plays in the house.
There might have been more than one house in Fort Dodge called the Empire Theatre. This item is from Show World of December 5, 1908: “Fort Dodge, Iowa, Nov. 28. The Empire which closed last week will not re-open. The entire equipment was shipped to Des Moines today.”
The November, 1925 issue of a magazine called The Community Builder, published by the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce, said that on May 31 that year the Majestic had been purchased by the A. H. Blank Company of Des Moines. The same company bought Fort Dodge’s Rialto Theatre on October 15.
The March 21, 1908 issue of Moving Picture World made reference to “[m]anager Spencer, of the Delight Theater, Tenth street and Central Avenue, Fort Dodge, Ia….” The Delight in also mentioned in passing (it’s former operator had leased the Opera House in Carroll to operate as a movie theater) in the January 1, 1910 issue of The Nickelodeon. It is not one of the three theaters listed at Ft. Dodge in the 1912 Polk Iowa Gazetteer. Those were the 500-seat Magic Theatre, the 800-seat Princess Theatre, and the Masonic Hall, no capacity listed. Listings in this directory were not always complete, but if the Delight does not appear on the 1912 Sanborn either it’s probable that it was indeed closed by then.
The Magic Theatre was mentioned in the January 1, 1910 issue of The Nickelodeon. It’s manager, who boasted the alliterative name J. Jolly Jones, Jr., had installed a new motion picture machine and planned numerous other improvements to the house. Multiple mentions of the Magic appeared in December, 1909 issues of The New York Dramatic Mirror, one of which noted that Mr. Jones’s predecessor had sold his interest in the house and resigned his position after about a year, moving to St. Joseph, Missouri, to take over management of the Star theatre there.
The Magic was listed with 500 seats in the 1912 Polk Iowa Gazetteer, and is one of three houses listed. It was still listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory, but no seating capacity was given. The latest mention of the Magic I’ve found is in the May 3, 1919 issue of The Billboard.