Saturday, February 6, 2016

Harrison Avenue Bridge Project

A look at the ongoing Harrison Avenue bridge replacement project, from last Sunday.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Loew's State Theatre

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the opening of Loew's State Theatre, 1515 Euclid Avenue at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Marcus Loew brought a trainload of film celebrities to town on February 5, 1921, to celebrate the opening of one of his finest houses. The theatre designed by Thomas Lamb boasted 3,500 seats in a huge auditorium and a massive lobby with four huge murals by James Daugherty.
Loew's State, the first theatre to open at Playhouse Square, from The Plain Dealer, April 3, 1921.
Loew's State, 1958, Cleveland Public Library photo.
Grand Lobby 1921, Cleveland Press photo from the Cleveland Memory Project.
 Auditorium, from Motion Picture News, March 19, 1921.
Stage and proscenium, from Motion Picture News, March 19, 1921.
The opening attraction, from Motion Picture News, July 10, 1920.
The entire opening day Plain Dealer special section along with some other info can be found here.
From Exhibitor's Herald, May 21, 1921.
From The Plain Dealer, November 27, 1921.
From Exhibitor's Trade Review, December 31, 1921.
Lee and Jake's ill fated venture in vaude comes to Cleveland, from Variety, September 22, 1922. Loew was having a problem with an overseated Cleveland, having acquired the neighboring 3,000 seat Allen a few months earlier, there was a problem trying to fill all those seats. With the 3,500 seat Keith's Palace months away from opening next door, the 4,000 seat Hippodrome a few blocks down the street, and William Fox constantly talking about building a new house in the same area, the Shubert deal looked like a good bet, it wasn't. By the time the following spring rolled around Shubert Vaude was just a bad memory.
 From Variety, October 6, 1922.
From Variety, November 3, 1922.
From The Plain Dealer, February 11, 1923.
Bread - Star Bakery tie-in, from Exhibitors Trade Review, October 4, 1924.
Radio comes to Loew's State, from The Film Daily, December 22, 1924.
Boffo biz, from Variety, February 11, 1925.
From The Plain Dealer, February 27, 1927.
 Outside lobby decor, from Motion Picture Herald, July 16, 1932.
Loew's ad from The Plain Dealer, February 8, 1934.
H.M. Addison's Moulin Rouge promo in the Grand Lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, April 7, 1934.
From Motion Picture Herald, April 7, 1934.
From The Plain Dealer, September 28, 1934.
From The Plain Dealer, May 7, 1937.
Loew's publicity director Milt Harris was behind this garden display in the lobby, held with the cooperation of Halle Brothers department store and the Cleveland Electrical League, from Motion Picture Herald, March 19, 1938.
Wizard of Oz promo in the lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, August 26, 1939. The girl in the chair would read from the book, the contest angle was to create the longest word using letters in the title.
Meanwhile out in front, Marx Brothers At The Circus ballyhoo, from Motion Picture Herald, November 11, 1939. The neighboring RKO Palace marquee can be seen in the distance.
From The Plain Dealer, February 16, 1940.
A street ballyhoo, from Motion Picture Herald, September 28, 1940.
Creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster appear in the lobby for a Superman picture tie-in, from  Motion Picture Herald, October 25, 1941.
The Loew's - Cleveland Press Women at War exhibition, from Motion Picture Herald, April 24, 1943. During the war the lobby was used for a number of displays and War Bond sales activities.
The war years meant brisk biz for downtown houses, from Film Daily, September 14, 1943.
 Spar recruiting display, from Motion Picture Herald, April 1, 1944.
Heavenly Body - War Stamp tie-in, from Motion Picture Herald, April 20, 1944.
Since You Went Away marquee treatment, from Motion Picture Herald, November 11, 1944.
From The Plain Dealer, December 30, 1944.
Three tube rocket launcher on display, from Motion Picture Herald, July 14, 1945.
Tank in the lobby, from Motion Picture Herald, July 14, 1945.
New box office, 1947, from the Cleveland Public Library.
View from the top of the balcony, from the Cleveland Public Library.
From The Plain Dealer, June 26, 1952.
Queue for Johnnie Ray, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
Three big pix in 24 hours, from Box Office, January 3, 1953.
Savage display, from Box Office, January 24, 1953.
From The Plain Dealer, June 8, 1953.
Vid-opera flop, from Box Office, November 20, 1954. By this time most of the downtown houses had a television installation to show closed circuit sporting events, usually boxing.
From The Plain Dealer, March 25, 1955.
Loew's State and Ohio, 1956, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
From The Plain Dealer, November 10, 1957.
From Box Office, December 7, 1957.
From Box Office, March 16, 1959.
From The Plain Dealer, November 17, 1961.
Beginning of the end, from Box Office, November 14, 1966. Following the Cinerama conversion the house would be dark for weeks at a time in between engagements.
From The Plain Dealer, March 16, 1967.
From The Plain Dealer, January 7, 1968. This picture was a major flop. I recall tons of promo material from this all over the place.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, July 26, 1968.
The End, from The Plain Dealer, February 9, 1969.

But not quite...
In early 1970 a young man working for the school board was looking for a place to use as headquarters for bond issues 11-12-13 stumbled upon these buildings. Soon after Ray Shepardson formed the Playhouse Square Association. It was an uphill battle, few people thought that any of these theatres would ever open again. There were only a handful of those who thought differently, Ceil Hartman, Ralph Smith-Smitty, Bert LeGrande, Victor Villimas, and a couple others. I joined on March 25, 1972.
A society party to benefit the Cleveland Playhouse was held in Loew's State on January 23, 1970, this was the last actual event held in the State prior to the restoration effort, from the Plain Dealer, January 18, 1970. 
One of James Daugherty's murals "The Spirit of Cinema - America" in the lobby of Loew's State graced the cover of Life magazine on February 27, 1970. The accompanying story was about the major studios selling off old props and backlots.
From The Plain Dealer, May 25, 1972.
Junior League to the rescue, Plain Dealer, June 3, 1972.

Ray Shepardson at the opening of Brel, April 18, 1973, from the Cleveland Memory Project.
The lobby of Loew's State during Brel, big enough to be a theatre itself, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
Other shows followed, some better than others:
View from the Coca-Cola stage, 1975,  photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.
Both Loew houses were in serious disrepair, we worked with what we had and somehow made it work.
From The Plain Dealer Action Tab, February 22, 1976. This was one of my favorites.

More shows and renovations would follow over the next several years. Today Loew's State is part of one of the largest performing arts centers in the country.