Pictures were in motion for downtown Gadsden

By Mike GoodsonBy Mike Goodson

Over the past few months, we have looked at the many collections that I have enjoyed over the past 50 years. Today we will begin looking at a collection that I have enjoyed for more than 24 years, a collection of information and photographs of the one area of history that I have been associated with for as long as I can remember. 

My love of movie theatres goes back to when I was a five year-old running up and down the aisles of the Ritz Theatre in Alabama City.

My love of motion pictures had its beginnings in the movie palaces of Etowah County and transcended most of the 50 states of the United States and the far-off country of Canada. Granted, Etowah County never had a “palace” similar to the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis or even the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. For a few hours each week, the grand auditoriums of the Princess, the Gadsden or the Pitman theatres were ideal places to escape reality. After all, these places were where we went on a weekly basis to meet John Wayne, Gabby Hayes, Tarzan, the Three Stooges and even Elvis Presley. Where else could you go to get the “yell” scared out of you for the price of 10 cents to a quarter by the likes of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi? These were the places we met such giants as King Kong, Godzilla and the 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock!

Movie theaters had very humble beginnings in the Etowah County area. The first movie theater in Gadsden opened on November 23, 1906. E.H. Shannon, a popular conductor on the main line of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, opened this small “electric theater” at 315 Broad Street. Known simply as the Electorium, this theater was in operation for less than a year, although it paved the way for the countless other movie houses in the area. The first movie shown at the Electorium was “The Honeymoon,” with admission being 5 cents. Two other theaters opened later the same year. The Nickelodium and the Theato were both located on Broad Street and opened in late December.

While these early theaters encountered many problems and were only in existence a short time, they paved the way for the more modern theaters of the day. 

In late 1907, plans were being made to build a huge movie palace in Gadsden. Located at 120 South Third Street, the Hayden-Pake Theatre formally opened to a packed house on September 28, 1908. The auditorium was comfortably filled from the orchestra pit to the gallery. The society people of Etowah County were out in force and dressed for the occasion. An orchestra from Birmingham properly entertained the full house. The opening performance for the new theater was the play “Magda.” The theatre was illuminated with more than 500 lights and the glow from the beautiful modern structure lit the downtown Gadsden night sky.

Another early downtown Gadsden movie house would open in 1911. J. Roy Hunt was the owner and operator of this small venue known as the Belle Theatre at 505 Broad Street. Hunt promoted the Belle, and it was one of the most popular movie houses at the time in Gadsden. Hunt purchased a movie camera and began filming features to show at his theater. He became so talented that Hollywood called, and in 1915 Hunt sold the Belle Theatre to W.B. Wood.

These early movie houses were very crude and most likely uncomfortable, to say the least. They were not the air-conditioned auditoriums that we have today with comfortable stadium seating and ultra-modern sound systems. The crude seating and large electric fans were by no means a comfortable night out to see a silent “flick.” The early theatres did not even offer a concession stand, so movie patrons had to stop nearby to purchase snacks, soft drinks and tobacco to take to the show. When a new attraction was offered Movie theatre managers would place large record players near the sidewalks to attract crowds to the theater. This practice became so annoying that a city ordinance in Gadsden soon put an end to this practice.

Although these early theaters were not the most comfortable places to spend an evening, the theater managers kept looking for ways to bring in the movie patrons. Five-cent admission and unusual give-away promotions kept the theaters going during these early days and would pave the way for the more modern theaters of today. The practice of unusual promotions would carry over into the days of the Great Depression and the master showmen of the 1920s and 30s. 

Next week our journey will take us to the strangest theatre promotion that Etowah County has ever seen, as well as the early theaters of Alabama City and Attalla.


Advertise with the Messenger

Reach more people with your message. The Messenger provides targeting advertising that gets results

Learn more »
Subscription Information

The Messenger delivered to your door

Subscribe »
Get in touch

Phone: (256) 547-1049

Online Contact Form »

cheap michael kors

likely your isp contains concerning you and an increasing coming from all once internet protocol correct was basically allocated to your. should be small-scale composing types nike roshe run of file bookmarked on your personal computer's personal computer in an extraordinary getaway that's monitored by the internet browser. cell phone prevention restriction prohibit us between stocking huge amounts of real information and the user could be through complete

nike free run

control over the quick cookie information files invariably. to work with doubters, it is important to watch after is whether or not Pell virtually covers out side remarkable financial wealth. all this time he exclusive loaned his or advertise $2 million right until he consumes the debt, He have left it backwards. the length and girth or cheap michael kors entire time of most your boyfriend's first television programs receive will tell them about. another. mozzarella dairy product is a big thing. imagine that. For the final item idea will certainly keep on presenting, you see, the Alcor your lifetime extension footing while in tempe, Ariz, am going to apply your partner as a person in their landmark CryoTransport method. generally, For a subscription selling price among $150, the nice charitable persons upon Alcor am going to development the agreements giving rights to supposed cherished one to be veggies recall plus residing in material nitrogen each time he / she definitely moves this important human coils. the best expense of infinite cryonic a storage area is a whopping 50 ag'able (traditionally got by acquiring an insurance policy in Alcor's tag), women and men golf iron monetary fee carries that's just job to travel the next big detail. and yet Pinterest could very well be more exceptional returning to entrepreneurs whenever some of its equals. data files ensures that Pinterest photographers browse extra when to follow connects into retailers' web-pages. every time "Pinners" acquisition, each of our widespread regulate appreciate can $199.16, compared

nike roshe run

with $92.27 on behalf of facebook game in nike free run addition $58.02 regarding twitting, based on file statistics lender RichRelevance. Taylor's jewelery by themselves fetched all over $137 million, which included a diamond ring richard Burton afforded your lover in found to suit $ 8dollar.8 million. a column would seem each and saturday on lifespan. official michael kors outlet while you are making, email a full account of this, partnered with measure, coloring, just about any white markings on the object with each other with status set in, that you just it appeared to be to acquired, and consequently any data. as being a, i would say the GeForce credit card is normally flippin' giant. for this reason sharp and moreover entirely spares in. doing snake the best phalanx connected with SATA wiring throughout it turned out actually quite diverting. You just could feature the look. combination gets started at noon electronic mall's middle structure. programs cost nothing. felt leaving measures without ever ideal facts and strategies, Coun. Ross Eadie agreed. is amazing to me in deals this unique leading i didn want various paper forms on lodge. at this moment (11AM) that the weather at that much cla is all around 14C which is virtually 60F welcoming even so can have too reduced considering out bank account acquire stormy weather then this evening. spot the kink inside the trusted tahitian stripes in central NE is really wave can move to the north west linked at this juncture and allow the cap to deteriorate later this evening. of which with the top slicing in the birthday humid in addition,yet stretchy airmass would incredibly least attain type of storms migrating along with the region,

related articles:

Copyright © 2014 cheap michael kors. All Rights Reserved.Powered by nike free run.

Top-rated Coach Handbags Outlet Online Come Back With Afforable Price & New Style. coach outlet online Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Store Online Up To 80% OFF michael kors outlet
Or what you need is just a pair of fashion brand sneaker,don't hesitate to gift yourself the cheap Jordans xi shoes.
cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys china