|Moving Picture World, 21-July-1917|
|Moving Picture World, 03-February-1917|
T. & D. Theater, Oakland, Cal.
Turner & Dahnken's Newest Photoplay House a Magnificent Structure -- Bespeaks Progress in Motion Picture Theater Construction -- Seats 3,450 -- Equipped With $48,500 Wurlitzer Organ-- Many Prominent Persons Attend Dedication.
CALIFORNIA, within whose borders are produced more than one half of the moving pictures now being made, and which but one short year ago was entertaining the nations of the world on the shores of San Francisco Bay at that wonderful Exposition in which moving pictures played such a prominent part in education and entertainment, has again spoken, and this time her offering to the arts of the silent drama is in the form of a magnificent theater which for size compares favorably with the largest in the country and which in architectural detail, decoration, arrangement and conveniences for patrons probably has no equal anywhere. This new house, located at Oakland, the largest east-bay suburb of San Francisco, is a monument to the builder, James K. Moffitt, and the Turner & Dahnken Circuit, with its chain of houses in nine Pacific Coast cities.
The opening of this new house on the evening of November 22 was the occasion for a demonstration such as had never before been accorded the opening of a moving picture theater in Western America. Society was out in full force, city officials were there, moving picture stars were present in person, musical celebrities gathered to hear the great organ, exhibitors and film exchange men came from all over Northern California, and there was a continual volley of ohs and ahs from the time the doors were opened at seven o'clock until the last scene of "Miss George Washington" faded from the screen just before midnight.
Following the opening of the doors a half an hour was set aside for an inspection of the house, but so great was the demand for seats that the general public chose to settle down in the comfortable opera chairs as quickly as possible. Within a half an hour 4,000 persons were inside the big structure, and as many more were outside seeking admission, the streets in the vicinity of the house being crowded for blocks. A period of music then followed, and at its conclusion E. B. Johnson, secretary of the Turner & Dahnken Circuit appeared upon the stage and briefly traced the growth of moving pictures as a form of entertainment. He paid tribute to James K. Moffitt, whose investment of a half a million dollars had made the theater a reality, and to the people of Oakland for their loyalty in the past. H. C. Capwell, representing the Downtown Association, made a ringing speech expressing confidence in the development of the San Francisco Bay region and of the success of the new T. & D. theater and was followed by Mayor John L. Davie and ex-congressman, Joseph R. Knowland.
The pleasant duty of presenting the film stars fell to the lot of resident manager George E. Thornton who brought upon the stage in quick succession Miss Anita King, "The Paramount Girl," Miss Myrtle Stedman, Sessue Hayakawa and Tsuri Aoki, who appeared through the courtesy of the Paramount Pictures Corporation, and all of whom were given enthusiastic receptions.
The Wurlitzer Hope-Jones organ then came in for attention, the first selection being the "Sextette from Lucia," followed by the overture from "Fantana" and "The Rosary," rendered by Gordon Bretland, organist of the T. & D. Tivoli theater at San Francisco. "Kilarney," sung by a chorus, followed by other Irish melodies, served as an effective introduction to the first picture, "A Son of Erin," featuring Dustin Farnum. This picture, with "Miss George Washington," comprised the photoplay program. But one show was given owing to the length of the dedicatory program.
The new T. & D. theater is located at Eleventh and Broadway, between the shopping center of Oakland and the harbor, occupying a lot 100 by 175 feet in area. It has a seating capacity of 3,450 on the lower floor and single balcony, and this could easily have been made 4000 had the seats been spaced as in the ordinary theater. Instead, room has been left between the rows to allow patrons to pass freely without the necessity of others arising. The chairs are upholstered in Spanish leather, with, spring seats for comfort, and are the best that could be purchased. On both the upper and lower floors there are loges arranged for special parties, and in these even more room has been allowed for the movement of those who occupy them. The lines of vision have been so carefully planned that there is not a bad seat in the house.
One of the distinguishing features of the house is the absence of stairways. From the marble tiled lobby one passes into the main entrance from which either the lower or the upper floor is reached. A broad incline, on which Everlastic tiling has been used to prevent slipping, leads to the mezzanine, through a bower of potted plants and past walls decorated with oil paintings of popular film stars. The balustrades leading to the mezzanine floor are of hand-polished marble in Etruscan design and the foyer, which extends the full width of the house, is also wainscoted in marble.
The original features of the house culminate in the mezzanine floor, where the management has fairly outdone itself in arranging for the comfort and convenience of its patrons. On the left is the Pompeiian lounging room for the use of both men and women who may desire to rest or await the arrival of friends. A stone table with an aquarium illuminated by colored lights forms the central decorative feature, and arranged around the room is other stone furniture and objects of art in pure Pompeiian design, cural chairs, tall vases, statues of the design of Pliny's time, reproductions of tapestries of the time of early Rome, lounging divans, settees and drinking fountains. Here, as in the other rest rooms, are bells to give notice of the beginning of productions on the screen.
At the head of the incline, fronting on Eleventh street, is the women's tea room, a decorative dream, with its woodwork in English oak, its tapestry walls, silk curtained windows, beautiful upholstered chairs and divans and exquisite blue carpet. The lighting comes from concealed sources and illuminates the room with a warm glow that is enchanting. German "roller" canaries sing in vari-colored cages, while maids serve tea, cakes and ices. Adjoining the tea rooms are the women's parlors, with lounges, sofas, writing desks, telephones, triple-mirrored tables and other conveniences, all bespeaking culture and refinement.
At the right of the incline landing is the gentlemen's lounging and smoking room, luxuriously furnished with chairs heavily upholstered in leather, tables and other conveniences, with beautiful Persian rugs on the floor. A retiring room for men is located in the basement, with an entrance from the foyer, and a rest room for women is to be found on the ground floor.
From the mezzanine floor there are two inclines to the balcony, one to each side, these terminating about one-third the way up the balcony. Between these is a third entrance to the upper floor, one that takes the visitor high up in the balcony. The addition of this entrance was an after thought on the part of the designers and it is planned to close the two side inclines when the balcony is fairly well filled, so that the patron will take the middle one and reach the rear rows before coming in sight of the screen.
The decorative features of this house are typical of the Golden State, the side walls on the lower floor being decorated with an orange motif, while those above the balcony show fields of golden poppies fading away into a California sky. At each side of the proscenium arch are openings in which illuminated paintings are shown, these being changed with the change in program. Above the arch is a huge gilded grill illuminated from behind, and here is located the organ. The house lights are controlled from the organ seat and are arranged in five circuits with colors in green, amber, red and white, to produce effects suggested by the pictures.
The organ is the largest on the Pacific Coast and is said to be the sixth largest in the world. The largest pipes weigh as much as half a ton, and are installed in concrete chambers. while the smallest ones are not much larger than a match. This unit organ was installed at a cost of $48,500, and combines the volume and tone of the cathedral pipe organ with the sweetness and spirit of a symphony orchestra ensemble of forty musicians. It was installed under the direction of George H. Leathurby, Pacific Coast manager of the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company.
The projection room is equipped with two Power's Cameragraphs No. 6B and is located on the ground floor, there being a straight throw of 133 feet to the screen, which is of local manufacture. The booth is of concrete construction and its observation ports can scarcely be noticed, so carefully have the lights been arranged. The size of the screen is 19 by 25 feet.
Heavy carpets have been used throughout the theater, except on the incline, where a noiseless tiling has been laid. A feature of the house is the stage sets which will accompany the various productions. The screen hangs in the center of a theater stage and appropriate prologues will be given in advance of the main productions. The ventilating system is probably the largest ever installed in the Far West, handling 60,000 cubic feet of air a minute, much more than will be required. Fresh air is drawn in from the roof and warmed or cooled as the case may be and forced into all parts of the house. Steam for heating purposes is purchased from outside sources and the heat is regulated by automatic thermostats.
The exterior of the building is Roman in design, with a modern art facade executed in mat-glazed terra cotta. At intervals along the Eleventh street side are huge urns from which steam arises in clouds, these being illuminated by red lights concealed within, while above them are a number of flag poles with banners flying, giving the appearance of a gala day at the Coliseum in ancient Rome.
The executive staff of the Oakland T. & D. theater consists of George E. Thornton, manager; Prof. Wetmore, musical director; Albert Hay Malotte, organist; Elmer E. Nichols, chief electrical operator; Irving S. Cohn, assistant operator; F. J. Clazie, chief usher, and W. H. Jobelmann, press agent. The Turner & Dahnken Circuit, whose headquarters is at 942 Market street, San Francisco, has for its officers the following: Fred Dahnken, Jr., president; J. T. Turner, vice-president and general manager; Claude E. Langley, directing manager and treasurer, and E. B. Johnson, secretary. It conducts houses at San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, San Jose, Berkeley, Watsonville and Reno, Nevada, and is erecting a large theater at Stockton, besides having plans in course of preparations for still others.
|Moving Picture World, 03-February-1917|