Volume I: Narrative History


Chapter 8: 1915 The Neptune Theatre

Flushed with success, the owners of the Thanhouser Theatre decided to expand their horizons. On February 27th The New Rochelle Pioneer informed its readers that Clarence Dull was now redecorating the Neptune Theatre in New Rochelle, and on March 1st it would be opened as The Players' Theatre "on the same high plane that has characterized the Thanhouser Theatre on North Avenue." On March 6th the same periodical reported: "A large and appreciative audience attended the opening of the Neptune Theatre under the management of the Thanhouser Players Photoplays, Inc., Monday evening, the same playhouse located at 60 Drake Avenue having been formerly operated by the artists of the Vitagraph Company."

Another article in the same issue told more:

The gigantic success of the Thanhouser Players Theatre on North Avenue encouraged the players in taking over an additional theatre. Their efforts toward making New Rochelle brighter and happier will certainly be appreciated by the residents of that vicinity as the little house in the southern part of the city will be operated on the same high plane as the new popular house on the opposite side of the city.

There will be a varied program embracing the best releases from the Mutual Program, which includes the following brands of pictures: Reliance, Majestic, American, Beauty, Keystone, Princess, Thanhouser, Kay-Bee, Broncho, Domino, etc. A Keystone picture will be shown every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Thursday nights will be known as Thanhouser Nights. The popular manager, John William Kellette, of the North Avenue house, is also in charge of the new house, and he has appointed "Pop" Blauvelt as his assistant. Bolton Alley, the Loew Theatre expert operator, was secured to project the pictures, and now the mecca of amusement is strictly union from roof to cellar.

On March 13th The New Rochelle Pioneer gave additional details:

Monday began a new regime in the Thanhouser theatres, under the direction of Thanhouser players and management of John William Kellette, in serving to patrons a "split" service consisting of three reels of Mutual and three reels of General Film Service, Note showing the best releases of both brands. This was brought about by ascertaining the wants of theatregoers, and the added crowds shows the wisdom of the change. Every Thanhouser film made will be shown at both theatres - Thanhouser at 290 North Avenue and Neptune at 62-64 Drake Avenue, with Thanhouser's Twenty Million Dollar Mystery every Monday night.

Sidney Bracy handed out photo postcards at the Neptune Theatre last night, and the hero of The Million Dollar Mystery found himself just as popular as ever. Miss Reenie Farrington, star of Princess films, gave out photo cards at the Thanhouser Theatre last night and made a host of additional friends. Last week on Thursday night Miss Florence LaBadie made her initial appearance at the Thanhouser Theatre and the crowd, several hundred in number, gave her a great hand, attesting to her remarkable popularity.

At the time the Mutual program release days were as follows:

Sunday: Komic, Majestic, Thanhouser.

Monday: American, Keystone, Reliance.

Tuesday: Beauty, Majestic, Thanhouser.

Wednesday: American, Broncho, Reliance.

Thursday: Domino, Keystone, Mutual Weekly.

Friday: American, Kay-Bee, Majestic or Thanhouser, Princess, Reliance.

Saturday: Keystone, Reliance, Royal.

Night after night the two theatres presented a mixture of films and stage shows, the latter featuring Thanhouser players and other local names. Early in April Creation, an eight-hour program consisting of 14 reels of motion pictures, stereopticon slides, music, and lectures, and reportedly costing over a million dollars to produce, was presented at both theatres at the rate of one two-hour segment each evening. Note

There was trouble in paradise, and on April 17th The New Rochelle Pioneer reported that management of the Neptune Theatre would be discontinued by the Thanhouser players so that full efforts could be devoted to the Thanhouser Theatre. The Neptune passed to others. Apparently the newcomers indulged in misleading advertising, as an item in the June 5, 1915 issue of The New Rochelle Pioneer reported:

Here's a raw deal being pulled off at the Neptune Theatre on Drake Avenue: On Wednesday night the paper in front of the house said Charlie Chaplin was featured, but a Lubin, A Cowboy's Pastime, with a character making a rank impersonation of Chaplin, was shown and palmed off for a Chaplin special. The writer protested upon coming from the house, and the management insisted that it was Chaplin. The paper advertising A Cowboy's Pastime had the Lubin trademark cut away so that it looked as if the fake was premeditated. Others put up a kick, but the management stuck to its statement that the rank impostor was the clever Chaplin. New Rochelleans are too well educated with pictures to fall for that kind of bunk. Now, James, you may start the mules, we turn to the left going home.

Other theatres in New Rochelle had their own problems, as another item in the same issue of the Pioneer related: "The Princess Theatre, where Paramounts were exhibited, closed its doors Saturday night, having failed to make it pay." Soon the Thanhouser Theatre, too, became dark.

While one theatre was closing, another was opening. The same newspaper reported on June 14th that a new moving picture house, the Dillon Park Theatre, would hold its grand opening on June 16th with a special attraction: "The greatest artists of the stage speak to you from the canvas in the Edison talking pictures."


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