Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 Thanhouserites Make Plans

Thanhouser actors and actresses were becoming increasingly restless under the wing of Dr. W. Edgar Shallenberger. While their salaries were paid on schedule and the studio maintained a steady program of releases, the players who remained continued to miss the family atmosphere which characterized the earlier managements of Edwin Thanhouser and Charles J. Hite. Increasingly, key players were signing up for stage appearances at Loew's Theatre in New Rochelle and in other houses in nearby areas. Then the Thanhouserites took matters into their own hands and laid plans for their own show and their own theatre as an after-hours activity independent from the Thanhouser Film Corporation.

The New Rochelle Pioneer reported: Note "The Thanhouser players met at Germania Hall Tuesday evening [January 12] under a call from Frank Farrington and Sidney Bracy to discuss the feasibility of producing The Belle of New York at some future date in New Rochelle." The article went on to state that many Thanhouserites appeared at the hall and that a permanent organization was set up along professional lines to include a number of local actors and actresses. John William Kellette was elected business manager, Frank Farrington producer, Sidney Bracy musical director, Charles Mead secretary, Mrs. Frank Farrington wardrobe lady, Mike McCurren electrician, John Andren stage carpenter, and Nolan Gane stage manager. It was anticipated that three performances would be made in the near future with a rehearsal to begin the following week.

More was told in another article in the same Pioneer issue: "At a meeting held at the studio on Thursday night attended by a majority of the Thanhouser players it was decided to control and operate on entirely new lines the North Avenue Theatre. No expense will be spared in making it a playhouse at New Rochelle to be proud of. A gala opening will take place on Monday night, with Frank and George Grimmer and William Sullivan among the musicians.... It is proposed that Thanhouser players alternate in greeting personally the patrons in the new Thanhouser Theatre.... Among the stockholders are Frank Farrington, Sidney Bracy, Harry Benham, Carey L. Hastings, Harris Gordon, Ernest Warde, Florence LaBadie, George A. Grimmer, Frank Grimmer, James Dunne, James Murray, Carl Louis Gregory, Carroll Fleming, John Harvey, John William Kellette, H.R. Clarke, G.D. Long, Elizabeth Kellette, Phil Brady, and W. Ray Johnston."

At the time the Thanhouser players acquired it the North Avenue Theatre, located at 290 North Avenue, had fallen on hard times, the latest of several motion picture theatres in the city to change management. Over the years a number of movie houses had opened in New Rochelle. Some achieved success, while others closed or changed their names. One of the earliest motion picture houses in the city was the LaRochelle Theatre. Located in the old post office building at Huguenot and Bridge streets, the theatre opened its doors on December 30, 1909 and featured Kinemacolor films. Note

During the same era films were shown in the summer months at the Glen Island amusement park in New Rochelle. Loew's New Rochelle Theatre, primarily a vaudeville house, showed films for many years, including Thanhouser pictures from time to time. The Million Dollar Mystery serial was screened there as were the first few episodes of Zudora.

The LaRose Theatre, a nickelodeon opened on Rose Street, near Main Street, on December 23, 1911, announced its devotion "exclusively to the production of high class motion pictures." Admission was a nickel for weekday matinees and a dime for evenings, weekends, and holidays. Musical accompaniment was provided by a device known as an organorchestra. Note In May 1912 the LaRose was leased to Selwyn & Co., New York play brokers, who announced that the interior would be remodeled and the enterprise would be reopened as the Little Theatre, a combination vaudeville and motion picture house. To be offered were Kinemacolor pictures as well as black and white subjects. The effort was a failure, and soon the theatre was dark, to be reopened in August 1912 under the management of the Little Theatre Company. Programs were continuous from 2:00 to 5:30 and from 7:00 to 10:30. Numerous Thanhouser films were shown there. Competition in the summer of 1912 was provided by the LaRochelle Open Air Theatre, which showed pictures outdoors under the open skies on Lawton Street. Note


Copyright © 1995 Q. David Bowers. All Rights Reserved.