Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saxe's Orpheum Theatre 501 Edmund Street, St. Joseph, MO 64501

"Surnamed the Theater Beautiful"
Seating Capacity: 1,000
750 seats ground floor, 150 seats in the balcony, 100 chairs in the loges ("Ladies can sit in these loges with their hats on without inconveniencing anyone."

Excerpts from Moving Picture World, February 24, 1912:
"The building site is 50 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The building located thereon formerly belong to the Schlitz brewery and was used as a large palm garden, being practically a theater before the Saxe Brothers included it among their enterprises. It cost $40,000 to remodel it."

"The inner foyer is illuminated by indirect lights. The walls are ornamented with large portraits of 16 leading photoplay actors and actresses in large gold frames. The railings are extremely high and the floor is of mosaic tile with a high wainscoting of marble. Inside the foyer huge stairways, one on each side, lead to the balcony giving an imposing and handsome appearance. All doors leading to into the theater open directly to the aisles. The theater is so lighted that one can read a newspaper in any part of the house while the picture is being shown. 
"The operator's room, which is built of concrete, is very roomy. Two machines are set in it, and two operators to a shift work during the day. The length of the throw is about 87 feet, and the size of the picture 14 1/4  by 18 1/4 feet. The screen is 15 by 18 1/2 feet.
"There are four exits from the balcony and four from the ground floor, all of which are independent of the entrances, which makes it exceedingly easy to handle crowds.
"The color scheme used in the in the decoration of the interior is light old rose on the ceiling, which shades into a darker old rose on the walls, and this is set off with light green." 

"Six musicians and five entertainers are employed. The large pipe organ, which cost $5,000, can be seen in the illustration [below].  Mr. Thomas Saxe was fortunate enough to secure Mr. Rowley, of Seattle, a well-known, and thoroughly accomplished organist, for his orchestral force.
"A baby grand piano is placed on the left, for the entertainers, and an upright piano on the right, for the musicians, so that music is given continuously while the picture is being shown.
"At the right of the orchestra is an exit leading to a large rest room for the entertainers and musicians; off from this, on one side is the ladies' rest room, on the opposite side is the gentlemen's smoking room, and back of that is the organ room, 15 by 15 feet."       

"Daily performances begin at noon and run continuously until 11:15 p.m."

"The Orpheum was opened up December 15, by Mr. E.P. Clayton, Mayor of St. Joseph, who stated in his opening address that he had traveled from coast to coast, but had not seen a better or a safer moving picture theater anywhere in the country."

Interior view from Moving Picture World, entertainers on the left, musicians on the right:

Postcard: Theatre Talks collection

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.


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