“‘I noticed a little wisp of smoke which came from under a corner of the picture screen and which was quickly followed by a little tongue of flame,’ one survivor recounted after a blaze at the Rialto in New Haven, Connecticut in 1921. In what seemed like an ‘instant,’ another eyewitness said, ‘Flames shot out at the people and licked the other side of the theatre.’ The theatre had just posted a ‘standing room only’ sign for a screening of The Sheik (1921) with Rudolph Valentino. The fire provoked a panic. Billows of smoke and the smell of burning flesh soon wafted into the street.
Rescuers found three corpses in the ruins of the Rialto that night, one of them ‘hopelessly disfigured.’ The death toll soon reached seven. Another 70 were hospitalized, ten in critical condition. Some of the audience members who reached safety had clothing nearly torn from their bodies during the struggle to escape. Police arrested the Rialto’s manager, but authorities had trouble placing legal blame on him or anyone else. And the cause had been so simple, so innocuous. To create an appropriate prologue to the film, an actor and actress, dressed as a sheik and his heroine, appeared onstage to sing a duet. Some burning incense was suspended from the ceiling near the movie screen to cast a ‘lurid illumination.’ The prop set the screen on fire, its flames quickly ushering tragedy into the theatre seats.”
-Excerpt courtesy of Academia, “The Perils of Moviegoing in America, 1896 – 1950,” by Gary D. Rhodes, 2011. (top) “254 College St. (1925; remodeled c. 1950). Roger Sherman Block. 5- story blonde brick Art Deco theater. 27 bays wide. A projecting marquee dominates the central 7 bays.” Image credit of the National Register of Historic Places, Chapel Street Commercial Historic District, “New Haven, Ct., College Street, View north from Crown Street, Roger Sherman Theater, c. 1936, photographer unknown, Dana Collection, v. 13, p. 70,” New Haven Colony Historical Society
Rialto Site Sold.
“New Haven, Dec. 26 — The site of the former Rialto Theater, destroyed by a fire in which there were numerous fatalities several years ago, was today sold by a realty company of this city to Arthur S. Friend of New York city for a reported price of $375,000. It was presently announced when the realty company bought the plot that a motion picture theater to cost in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 was to be built there.”
-Excerpt courtesy of Newspapers.com, The Hartford Courant, Saturday, December 27, 1924
CONTRACTORS WAIT AS STRIKE COMES
“NEW HAVEN, July 28. — (AP.) Building operations seemed to be tied up today by the strike of hod carriers and mason helpers although contractors claimed that the inquiry is not anywhere near the stoppage claimed by the union men.
Masons could not work without their helpers but they claimed not to be on strike, also saying that they were not interested in the disagreement. Nevertheless there seemed to be few men of the building trades at work on the Hadley building on Orange street, the Augusta Troup School, The Hopkins Grammar school, the Roger Sherman Theatre, The Mack Garage, The Security Insurance Co. Home Office building and a number of lesser contracts.
Vincent De Falco, of Quincy, Mass., first vice-president of the international Hod Carriers and Labors’ Union, who is in Chicago for the strike, claimed that the men want an increase in wages from 65 cents to 75 cents an hour. The claim is made that these new figures were demanded two years ago and never granted. Last spring the demands were rejected. It is also claimed that the contractors have refused to recognize the union.
The only firms, according to De Falco, who have refused to grant demands are C. W. Murdock, Sperry and Treat Co., Larkin Carey Co., and J. N. Leonard Co.”
-Excerpt courtesy of Newspapers.com, The Bridgeport Telegram, Wednesday, July 29, 1925
New Haven Wonders
Conjecture Over Arthur Friend’s Theater — Won’t Have Trouble Over Films, Says Sponsors
“New Haven — There is considerable speculation here concerning the future of the Roger Sherman theater, which is now under construction on the site of the old Rialto. Arthur S. Friend is the owner of the house, the foundation of which is already in place. The structure is designed to have 120 offices in addition to the theater, which was to be operated on a straight picture policy. An expenditure of approximately $800,000 is entailed.
It is expected that the destiny of the house will remain undetermined pending a final adjustment of the situation.
Arthur S. Friend said yesterday he didn’t see why he should not be able to get pictures for the Roger Sherman which is slated to open in November. He declined to state what his source of supply would be.
Friend has no intention of delaying his New London theater which will go up on State St. and seat 1,600. This second venture is to be a straight picture theater.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “The Film Daily,” Tuesday, September 8, 1925
Another First Run House for New Haven
“NEW HAVEN will soon have another first run house the new Roger Sherman Theatre is rapidly nearing completion and will shortly be opened. It is one of the largest of the New Haven theatres and is finished with unusual care of its appointments and equipment. Arthur Friend will be in charge of the house.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” March 6, 1926
“The Roger Sherman theatre at 70 College street, New Haven, Conn., latest addition to motion picture houses of that city and southern New England, first in a chain under construction or projected for that section by a New York corporation headed by Arthur S. Friend will be formally opened March 12th, according to an announcement Saturday by Mr. Friend and Edwin Morchary, who will be managing director of the house, following a conference with the contractors, now engaged in putting finishing touches on the structure.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” March 13, 1926
Roger Sherman, New Haven, Opens
“New Haven — The Roger Sherman opened last night with ‘The Sea Beast.’ The house is modeled after the Rivoli, New York and cost over $1,000,000. It will show pictures with a bi-weekly change. Arthur S. Friend is president of the Roger Sherman Corp.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “The Film Daily,” Sunday, March 14, 1926
“With the opening of the new Roger Sherman Theatre in College street, New Haven, Conn., came the announcement of the appointment of a receiver for the Clark Construction Co., of Waterbury, Conn., the contracting company which erected the new playhouse. The proceedings in no way affect the theatre.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” March 27, 1926
New Haven House to Open Soon
“The Roger Sherman Theatre of New Haven, Conn., will be opened the latter part of the month. This is the newest of the Arthur S. Friend theatres and Edwin Morchary is managing director of the house. The new playhouse is one of the finest in New England territory, will have a 20-piece orchestra and will be a first run house.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” March 27, 1926
Yale Crew to be Entertained.
“The members of the Yale Crew, headed by Captain H. T. Kingsbury Jr., 1926, will be entertained at a banquet given by the Roger Sherman Theater to-night.”
-Image courtesy of the Yale Daily News Historical Archive, Yale University, Yale Daily News, no. 140, April 9, 1926
Leaders Chosen for Conn. Theatre Managers
“Organization of the New Haven, Conn., Theatre Managers’ Association was perfected at a meeting of representatives from leading playhouses in that city Thursday with David Eldridge of the Shubert Theater, president; Oliver C. Edwards of the Palace, vice-president, and Edward Raffile of the Globe, secretary and treasurer. An executive committee comprising Managers Eldridge, Edwards, Buck, Mochary and Raffile was named. Purpose of the organization will be to further interests of the theatrical business, in general, and is following out a plan which is being adopted by managers in leading cities throughout the country. Theatres of New Haven now represented in the association are the Shubert, newly-opened Roger Sherman, Hyperion, Olympia, Bijou, Palace and Globe. It is reported indications are every theater manager in the city and suburbs will be included in membership within the next few days or by time of the next meeting, probably to be called early next week.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” April 10, 1926
Theatre Managers Form in New Haven
“The New Haven Theatre Managers’ Association has been organized in that city, to further the interests of the theatrical business and to create a feeling of good fellow- ship among the theatres of the city.
Officers elected are: President, David Eldridge of the Shubert Theatre; vice presi-dent, Oliver C. Edwards of the Palace Theatre; secretary and treasurer, Edward Raffile of the Globe Theatre. The executive committee consists of Messrs. Eldridge, Edwards, Buck, Mochary and Ramie. Also represented in the new organization are the Roger Sherman, Hyperion, Olympia and Bijou theatres.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” April 17, 1926
Distinguished Gathering Attend Opening of the Roger Sherman, New Haven
“ON the evening of the recent opening of the new Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven, Conn., the latest addition to Connecticut’s first run houses. Arthur S. Friend, president of the Roger Sherman Corporation, entertained at dinner at the Hotel Taft a distinguished gathering.
The affair was started in the ball room of the hotel and after the dinner the 300 city officials, state officials and men prominent in the theatrical world were entertained at the opening performance of the playhouse itself, located across the street from the hotel.
Col. Lewis Field was toastmaster and Mr. Friend welcomed the guests. The new Roger Sherman Theatre is the first to be erected by the Friend interests, but it is to be followed by many others through Connecticut. The new playhouse in New London, now under construction, is another of the Friend chain.
The new Roger Sherman Theatre cost approximately $1,280,000 and is of old Spanish mission style architecture. The decorative scheme is in keeping with the old Spanish style, with rude construction, rough cross beams, rough plaster, tinted and outlining marine figures. The outer lobby is of black marble while from the inner lobby is a broad, sweeping stairway to the balcony and mezzanine floor. Behind the balcony is a spacious lounge, covered by a dimly lighted sky blue arch.
Edwin Mochary is manager of the house. The theatre has a seating capacity of 2400. Daily performances are given from one until 11 p. m. The policy includes feature, short subject, news and comics and there is a 20-piece orchestra and organ for the musical program.
The Roger Sherman Theatre Corp., New Haven, Conn., has been organized and incorporated with capital of $50,000, to operate the Roger Sherman Theatre. Graham Whitelaw of East Orange, N. J., heads the list of incorporators.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” April 17, 1926
“It is understood that Arthur Friend, who has just completed and opened the Roger Sherman Theatre at New Haven and whose new house is under construction in New London and will be ready early in the Fall, has leased for a term of years the theatre which is to be erected on the site of the present Massasoit Hotel in Spring- field, Mass. This will be one of the largest playhouses in Western Massachusetts.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” May 22, 1926
“John E. C. Kelly, formerly state inspector for the New Haven Film Board of Trade, is now in charge of the projection room at the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” May 22, 1926
Views of the recently opened Roger Sherman Theatre, New Haven, Conn.
New Haven’s Newest Theatre Roger Sherman Offers Novel Scheme in Treatment of Interior
“NEW HAVEN’S newest theatre, the Roger Sherman, is distinctly Oriental in atmosphere and unusual in the general treatment of the interior decorations.
Instead of the customary light colors for decoration, and the high sweeping arches and dome effects, more sombre colors are used and the ceilings are beamed in a deep, rich mahogany color, studded with jewels, while the walls are hung with rich tapestries. The same deep color effects are secured in the treatment of the furniture and the carpeting. The seats of the main auditorium are set at a steeper pitch than is customary, following more the angle of the modern balcony, giving better screen vision from all parts of the house. There is also a much wider space between the rows of seats than has heretofore been used, permitting easy access and egress during a performance when sections of rows may be occupied, thus allowing people to enter and leave the middle of the rows with a minimum of inconvenience to other patrons.
The vaulted effect of the mezzanine floor, with the arched ceiling painted azure blue thickly set with silver stars, combines an effect both Oriental and Spanish in its treatment. Here every provision has been made for the comfort of patrons and the furniture is of heavily carved overstuffed pattern in mahogany and dark colored woods. Floor and table lamps supply the illumination and the hangings are deep and rich in color in keeping with the general scheme.
The main stairway leads from the right of the lobby, and in a niche at the landing where the stairway turns abruptly to the left sits a large idol before a background of azure blue, treated with special lighting effects which command instant attention.
The house seats 2,100 but because of the ample aisles and room between the rows of seats, has the appearance of larger capacity. Its stage is equipped for presentations, vaudeville and legitimate productions.
Special attention has been paid to the projection room which is the most commodious in the state. There are three projection machines, two spotlights, two stereopticons, etc., two interchangeable double throw with Westinghouse generators. The film vault is asbestos lined and tests have shown it to be absolutely fireproof, flames being quickly smothered by its automatic working.
The Roger Sherman Theatre is owned and operated by the A. S. Friend Companies, Inc., of New York City. The same company is building a new theatre in New London which will open early in the fall as the Garde Theatre, with seating capacity of about 1,500, and is also starting the construction of a new theatre in Springfield, Mass., on the site of the Massasoit Hotel which will be ready next year and will be the largest theatre in that city with seating capacity of about 4,000.
E. Mochary is manager of the Roger Sherman.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, “Motion Picture News,” June 19, 1926
LOEW’S BUYS HALF INTEREST IN FRIEND’S DOWN-EAST CHAIN
Marks Entrance of Loew’s Into New England — Roger Sherman, New Haven, Has Proved a Money Maker — Poli-Keith Deal Denied
“Final papers were drawn yesterday whereby the Loew Circuit will become 50 per cent owner in the Arthur S. Friend New England circuit of theatres. The operation of the houses will remain with the Friend corporation for a year at least. As the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer product for the New England territory is already disposed of, the Friend houses will not get the benefit of that product other than the specials until ’27-’28.
The first of the Friend promoted theatres was the Roger Sherman in New Haven. It seats 2,400, and, open almost a year, proved a money-maker. The second house is in New London, to be named the Garde, with 1,800 seats, and to open in two weeks.
At least three other Friend houses are projected, with construction started on at least two. There is to be one each in Worcester and Springfield, with seating capacity of 3,500, and a house in Derby, Conn., to seat 1,800. With the Loew capital behind the work the three new theatres would be rushed.
That Poli Report
Edwin Mochary has been managing director of the Roger Sherman in New Haven and acting as general manager of the Friend interests in the territory. Mochary has been pulling extensive presentations in New Haven to bolster up the weakness of the feature product the house has been getting, and through that has kept the theatre on the winning side of the ledger.
There were rumors to the effect that another deal was pending in New England and that the Poli houses were to be taken over by Keith-Albee, but this again has been denied. Poli is placing a valuation of $21,000,000 on the theatrical properties he controls and asking for considerable cash as an initial payment. The K-A policy of trying to step in for nothing would naturally be a stumbling block to the deal.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Variety,” Wednesday, August 4, 1926
Loew Interests Said To Control 2 Conn. Theaters
Roger Sherman of New Haven and Garde of New London in New Hands
“Marcus Loew who operates many theaters throughout the country, will come into control of the Roger Sherman Theater, New Haven, and the Garde Theater, New London, through the organization here yesterday of the Haven-London Operating Company according to theater owners of the state.
The incorporators of the new company are Ferdinand H. Butehorn, Frank C. Taylor and Robert A. McLean, all of Brooklyn, N. Y., and Cornelius J, Ferrie of Staten Island, N. Y., according to the incorporation papers which were filed Monday with the secretary of the state. Organization papers filed yesterday show that the same four make up the board of directors and that Butehorn is president of the company, which has a capital stock of 1,000 shares, 500 class A and 500 class B, with no par value. All four are connected with the Corporation Trust company of No. 120 Broadway. New York City.
The company, which is listed as having its headquarters in Hartford, will operate the Roger Sherman and Garde theaters, it was said yesterday by the Arthur Friend Company, owner of the two theaters.
The Garde has just been completed and will be opened next Wednesday evening. It was started by Walter S. Garde of New London, formerly of Hartford, and later taken over by the Friend company. The Roger Sherman theater was built by the Friend Company, which has operated it since its opening last spring.
If the new operating company is subsidiary to the Loew interests, as is generally believed, it is probable that the two theaters will present a combined vaudeville and moving picture program, the acts being those of the Loew circuit and the pictures being those produced by Metro-Goldwyn, with which Loew is connected, theater owners predict. Loew interests are said not to control any other theaters in the state at present.”
-Excerpt courtesy of Newspapers.com, The Hartford Courant, Wednesday, September 15, 1926
“A new operating company, the Haven-London Operating Co., said to be a subsidiar of the Loew-A.S. Friend interests, has been organized in Connecticut to operate the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven and the new Garde Theatre in New London, with headquarters in Hartford.
With the organization of this company announcement is made that motion picture and vaudeville programs will be inaugurated at the Roger Sherman, New Haven’s newest theatre, and at the Garde, newest and largest of New London’s theatres, which is now completed. Both of these houses have been operated by the A. S. Friend Companies of New York City.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News,” by Motion Picture News, Inc., November 6, 1926
“[Built] in 1926… the first theater in New Haven constructed specifically for movies, the Roger Sherman, located on College Street. Although the Roger Sherman was built as a movie theater, it also had a full stage and fly loft for vaudeville or theatrical performances. The huge auditorium seated 2,200 patrons in a Moorish Oriental setting. The Wurlitzer organ, a common theater adjunct, and the house orchestra furnished the music for silent films or before performance sing-alongs. The Roger Sherman also included a large ballroom where society orchestras and later big bands provided entertainment. Later this room was converted into a bowling alley, and still later, an art theater. The downtown theaters attracted their audiences from all parts of the city. Many Yale students attended, and trolleys brought in people from the outlying neighborhoods. Usually a film stayed at the theater for one week, and double features were popular. During the Depression people flocked to the movies as an escape from the harsh realities of life and by 1935 the Hyperion and the Roger Sherman represented two of the three first-run movie theaters in New Haven.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the National Register of Historic Places, “Chapel Street Commercial Historic District,” 1983
“Using His Head”
“The above caption is the best we can think of in talking about Manager Moore of the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven. What prompted this story is the fact that he had a good organ, a ‘peach’ of an organist (this is no pun) and unfortunately his organ was hidden in an inconspicuous part of his music pit. So — he decided both the organ and the organist were too valuable to be lost and proceeded to erect a high platform on the level of his stage, but off to the side of the arch. Now all the ‘customers’ can both see and hear this fine combination and from all reports his patrons like the idea just as much as he. And it just goes to prove once more, that if you keep your eyes and your wits working you can always find some way of improving the theatre and the show of course the box office always reflects such tactics. Perhaps you have an organ worthy of a better ‘spot’ in your theatre? If so, think of Manager Moore and his idea and look around to see how you can rearrange the location to better advantage.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, Motion Picture News Jul-Sep 1928, “Managers Round Table Club, Clearing House for Box Office Problems and Theatre Operation,” by Charles E. Lewis, September 22, 1928
Bitter and Sweet, by Wilbur A. Moore
“We are reproducing the wording of an original editorial published in the Program of the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven and written by Wilbur A. Moore the managing director.
‘LIKE most other businesses, the theatre also has its ups and its downs. Today we are delighted with the fact that the producer has made for us a winning picture. We are happy that our whole program blends in showmanship fashion and we are glad that it is just the kind of a bill that the patronage of our house enjoys most. This is our sweet day. It is one of those days that we are sitting up and taking notice.
But to our disappointment there comes the day when the big picture did not turn out as big as we expected, the program does not knit together as we planned and the whole show is out of focus and do what we will our patrons do not enjoy themselves. This is our bitter day, we are down in the mouth.
But we must take the bitter with the sweet and like it. But what about you, our patrons? Here is the answer. When we have a bitter day we are going to ask you to bear with us. We won’t have many because we are pretty careful in our selections. And when we have a sweet day we are going to rejoice with you in the fact.
No matter how great the picture may be we are going to fight to keep it at popular prices, because at some time or other you have paid the price for something not so good, and it is unfair to tax you more when you are lucky enough to have picked a winner.
Just bear in mind that the theatre manager feels just as bad as you do when things are not up to the grade, and just as delighted when everything is rosy. Our aim is: Sweet Days — Everything on the Up and Up and All’s Rosy.’
Program Editorials Good Showmanship
Utilizing the program for this and similar purposes can be called good showman- ship in any theatre. This particular editorial could be and should be used in every theatre because it sort of helps put the patrons in better spirits if they see a show a little under the usual par of your house. We heartily recommend it to all our members and any others who might be on the lookout for up-to-the-minute ideas. Try it.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News,” by Motion Picture News, Inc., October – December, 1928
MANAGERS’ ROUND TABLE CLUB
Carroll Of Roger Sherman Takes Advantage Of Shorts
“The value of talking short subjects should not be overlooked during this critical stage when some of the sound products which sound equipped theatres are compelled to run is really below mediocre.
It would be best to keep in mind that when your feature attraction is weak, and your short subject contains some particular one, two or three reeler that really merits the extra plugging, that it be given really top billing above the feature. But this should be done in a diplomatic and showmanlike way.
For example we picture here a reproduction of an advertisement which appeared in the New Haven, Connecticut papers and shows how the Roger Sherman Theatre in that City made up an ad in which Lloyd Hamilton, in an educational comedy, ‘Don’t Be Nervous,’ actually was played up more prominently than the feature attraction on the bill.
To Manager Carroll goes the credit for this makeup and shows that he recognizes this condition and is ever on the alert to take advantage of such a situation through his newspaper layouts. We hope that Mr. Carroll will send us some more samples of his advertising which we are sure the members and readers of the ROUND TABLE CLUB will find both interesting and profitable.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News,” by Motion Picture News, Inc., August 24, 1929
STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
“C. J. Latta, managing director of the Roger Sherman Theatre, New Haven, Conn., starts off his letter by saying, ”What are you waiting for?’ has stared me in the face for so long that I can no longer shirk a duty I owe the MANAGERS’ ROUND TABLE CLUB. Here is my application for membership and some campaign material in return for the world of good I am deriving from the Club.’
Included in the campaign material which ‘C. J.’ sent us were many, many interesting items and all of the class of stuff that we would gladly and cheerfully publish piece by piece if we only could get the boss to give us enough space to do so.
We know that Latta will bear with us and keep in mind the tremendous amount of material that must pass through these columns each week, making it necessary for us to be as brief as possible and just pass on the ‘meat’ of the various ideas that come in to the ROUND TABLE CLUB.
However, in introducing this new member and well-known showman we do not want to pass up the opportunity of letting him know that we appreciate the marvelous sentiments contained in his letter when he sent us his application, and incidentally, he used a most novel form of introduction.
In the event that you have overlooked the box that appears above this story, we certainly want you to go back and look it over again because the title and body of the few remarks he makes under the heading of ‘Co-operation’ are worthy of more than passing attention. Keep it in mind or frame it; it is worthy of both.
As a further preliminary introduction of this active ROUND TABLE CLUB member to be, we would hate to pass up the opportunity of showing you as fine a group of boys as you ever set eyes on when it comes to talking about a theatre staff. Notice the spick and span appearance of every one of these boys and when he tells us that these boys ‘sell them, and how,’ we can readily understand his enthusiastic summing up of the crowd that is working under his direction.
It shall be our distinct pleasure to pass on to the other members of the ROUND TABLE CLUB through these pages the future activities of Mr. Latta and we are more than certain that his opening letter will he followed by many others dealing with the details of the various campaigns which he has successfully put across in New Haven.
For the present we will take leave of this fine showman, and here’s hoping that we hear from him very soon.
WEAR YOUR CLUB PIN.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News (Oct-Dec 1929),” by Motion Picture News, December 28, 1929
MANAGERS’ ROUND TABLE CLUB
Here’s The Latest Account We Have Of Latta’s Work
“We’ve been so busy lately what with Fashion shows and everything else to inform the CLUB about that it seemed as though we’d never get around to write this article concerning the way C. J. Latta, managing director of the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven, Conn., is keeping his house up among the leaders of the New England Division.
As proof that his exploitation is still up to tap we are reproducing a stunt he used on ‘She Couldn’t Say No’ and ‘Son of the Gods.’ The dilapidated flivver bearing a couple of ushers dressed as bride and groom, and driven by a uniformed doorman as chauffeur, acted as the ‘Couldn’t Say No’ ballyhoo, while the same ushers served as part of the ballyhoo for the latter picture. The flivver no doubt is an institution around New Haven streets and the stunt is a tribute to Latta’s showmanship, for again he proves that any picture can be used to work in with the stunt. And according to the psychology of advertising, constant repetition is often a valuable aid, so that our statement regarding the flivver as an institution is substantiated.
We want to compliment Latta on the make-up of the new publication he has created ‘The Roger Sherman Buzzer,’ which is circulated among his house staff and which has done much to promote good-will and co-operation in the ranks. His ‘gang’ all contribute to the paper, which is printed gratis by a local printer, and it has proven a wonderful asset. Incidentally, while we are handing out compliments on good work, we mustn’t overlook Latta’s house organ, which is made up in a manner befitting the policy of the house, as an ‘ace’ theatre.
Thank you ‘C. J.,’ for keeping up posted and also for being so patient with us, but as we explained, this is the time of year when the exhibitor must be more active than usual, hence we become very busy. But we want you to know that we appreciate your fine CLUB spirit and we want to hear more from you in the very near future.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News,” by Motion Picture News, Inc., April 12, 1930
MANAGERS’ ROUND TABLE CLUB
C. J. Latta Sold All New Haven On Cohens And Kelleys
“Here’s a couple of samples of the way C. J. Latta, managing director of the Roger Sherman Theatre in New Haven, Conn., put over his campaign on ‘The Cohens and Kellys in Scotland.’
As a starter for the campaign he made up a trick herald in the form of a card measuring 3 1/2 by five inches and printed in green ink on white cardboard, that because of its novelty had the whole town talking. There was a line-up of numbers on the card and a note stated that the first 50 persons adding up six numbers to total twenty-one would receive tickets to witness the picture. We intend to reproduce this herald on our pages in the near future as we feel that it will be found useful to many of our members and can be worked with any picture.
We are reproducing a number of the newspaper ads he used during the campaign. The one in the middle is a contest he ran in one of the local papers whereby cash prizes were offered for the best joke submitted to the paper and published. Over two thousand replies were received. The ad announcing it was free. The other photos we are showing below depict a street ballyhoo on the picture. Two boys, dressed in Scotch costume walked around the streets carrying valises which bore copy, ‘We have a bag full of laughs — meet us at the Roger Sherman Theatre.’ This gag attracted a great deal of comment, particularly as the boys stopped in the busiest centers of the town and placed the valises right where people would read the copy.
He tied-up with the New Haven Times and secured their co-operation. Two men were dispatched about the town. One was named B. U. Cohen, the other, R. U. Kelley. The front page of the newspaper announced that anyone seeing either of the men on the street, and disclosing their identity would be rewarded with ten dollars in gold. Every day during the run of the picture, Latta secured front page stories on this stunt and the house came in for a lot of publicity. In return for the courtesy shown him by the newspaper he invited all the kiddie members of the Junior Times Club, sponsored by the paper, to witness the picture.
Of course, Latta used all of his regular routine angles to boost up the picture but since we haven’t the space to record them all here we have again resorted to our method of presenting only the highlights. Thank a lot ‘C. J.’ for keeping us posted and especially do we want to thank you for that neat campaign book and tell you that it was certainly a pleasure to work from it.
‘All For One And One For All.'”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Motion Picture News,” by Motion Picture News, Inc., May 3, 1930
New Policy for Roger Sherman
“New Haven — Starting Christmas the Roger Sherman, Warner de luxe house, will add vaudeville. It is planned to build up programs of feature pictures, Vitaphone shorts and eight acts supplied by the Warner Artists’ Bureau.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “The Film Daily,” Monday, December 7, 1931
Units for N. Haven?
“Stage shows may get a revival in New Haven, Conn., if the plans of the Roger-Sherman, indie, to play units materialize. For one thing, it will cause a state of competish with the Paramount there, which is booked out of Par’s Boston office with a now ‘n’ then unit policy.
Arthur Fisher has been tentatively designated as booker for the Roger-Sherman, with the first show to go in Jan. 18 on a full-week basis.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “Variety,” January, 1935
Install Typhoon Systems In Connecticut Theaters
“New Haven — Warner’s 2,200-seat Roger Sherman Theater will be equipped with a Typhoon air-conditioning system, as well as the 1,900-seat State, Waterbury. Modern Theater Equipment Co. will also install United States cooling systems in the Capitol and Hamilton, Waterbury, and will increase the capacity of the present Airate system in the Fine Arts Theater, Westport.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Media History Digital Library, “The Film Daily,” Saturday, June 4, 1938
“New England theatre managers have been cashing in heavily on publicity breaks as the result of the ‘Cinderella for a Day’ contest executed in connection with the motion picture, ‘Cinderella Jones’…
Radio Tieup in New Haven
Ed Lynch, manager of the Roger Sherman theatre in New Haven, Conn., did another bang-up job in promoting a ‘Cinderella for a Day’ contest. Ed worked exclusively with radio station WELI which ran ten spot announcements daily for ten days prior to the opening, calling the listeners’ attention to the contest and announcing the occasion would be broadcast from the Gamble Desmond department store in the heart of the shopping center. Four finalists were selected who appeared at the judging, with the entire proceedings broadcast for thirty minutes.
Gamble Desmond gave a complete wardrobe to the winner. The radio station paid for and posted 175 color cards which appeared several days in advance of the opening.”
-Excerpt courtesy of the Internet Archive, Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, “Motion Picture Herald (Mar-Apr 1946),” by Quigley Publishing Co., March – April, 1946
The Garde’s Return
The Garde Arts Center
“The Garde Arts Center was created in 1985 as a non-profit performing arts organization in order to save and reuse the historic Garde Theatre, one of the few remaining historic movie palaces in Connecticut.
The theatre was built during the height of the movie palace era as a ‘photoplay house’ by architect Arland Johnson, under the direction of Arthur Friend, a New York movie studio attorney, who was building six movie houses in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Named after Walter Garde, a Hartford and New London businessman, the Garde Theatre opened on September 22, 1926, with the silent film ‘The Marriage Clause’… The Garde was hailed by the press of that time as ‘one of the finest theatres in New England.’ Typical of the era, the theatre was a stage for vaudeville as well as film. Variety acts of music, comedy, acrobats, and magic were interspersed between the showing of feature films, comedy shorts, and newsreels.
For decades, the Garde Theatre played a central role in the community life of New London and Southeastern Connecticut. Its ornate Moroccan interior, giant screen, and marvelous acoustics ensured that Warner Bros., who purchased the Garde for $1 million in 1929, would maintain it as one of the region’s most stunning and viable movie theaters. The Garde’s nontheatrical events included a national touring production of the play Tobacco Road in February 1953 and a televised showing of the Sonny Liston-Cassius Clay boxing match in October 1964.
As New London faced the growing competition from suburbanization and malls leading to a decline in its economic health, the Garde also fell victim to declining retail, malls, multiplex cinemas, and television in the ’60s and ’70s. Despite occasional blockbuster attendance like the 1971 screening of The Godfather, declining attendance forced RKO-Stanley-Warner to close the theater in 1977. In 1978, it was sold to a locally owned business Robertson Paper Box Company who, after attempting to operate the theater on a regular basis, sold the building in 1985 to the newly created non-profit Garde Arts Center, Inc.
In 1987, the Eastern CT Symphony Orchestra made the Garde its new home. 1988, the Garde hired its first executive director, Steve Sigel, and began presenting a full spectrum of performing arts series: dance, musical theatre, contemporary music, and family events. Notable performances from that period included Marvin Hamlisch, Itzhak Perlman (both in 1989), Johnny Cash and Tony Bennett in 1990, The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas in 1992, and two sold-out concerts by Bob Dylan in 1998.
In 1988, the State of Connecticut awarded $750,000 to replace the theatre heating and air-conditioning system, the first of several major facility grants three successive Governors shepherded through for the Garde. The Mercer and Meridian buildings were purchased in 1993. In the summer of 1994, movies were added to the Garde’s live programming. That year began a $15.75 million fundraising effort – Campaign for the Garde 2000 – to restore and expand the theatre.
In October 1998, the Garde opened with its new lobbies and storefronts and, one year later, the theatre opened with the theatre interior restored. The Oasis Room began to be consistently used by 2008, primarily for mostly jazz, folk and popular music. The adjacent Mercer Building provides dressing rooms for the Oasis Room. The corner storefront of the Mercer Building on State and Meridian Street houses the Garde Gallery community art and meeting space.”
-Excerpt courtesy of Garde Arts Center, New London, Connecticut, GardeArts.org, About, History, 2020
New Life for the Old Roger Sherman
“New Haven’s long-shuttered Palace and Roger Sherman Theater will reopen this spring as a music hall. The venue, located across the street from the Shubert Theater, opened in 1926 as The Roger Sherman, a lavish theater, complete with stucco gargoyles and an ornate ceiling. In 1984, the hall transformed into the Palace Theater, a music venue that brought in top acts like B.B. King and Bob Dylan. Since the early 2000s, the space has been shuttered.
Now the city has announced the theater will reopen as College Street Music Hall, and much like the old Palace, it will bring in a wide range of touring acts and comedians. The theater has a 2,000 seat capacity, which will attract prominent musicians to perform in New Haven, according to Premiere Concerts, who will book acts for the new music hall.
New Haven’s Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson is convinced the venue will be an economic boon to the city and downtown businesses. ‘It’s simple arithmetic,’ he said. ‘If it can hold 2,000 people, and it will probably have shows three, four, five times a week, and if they just have a drink, or have dinner, we’re talking $5 or $10 million coming into the city directly.'”
-Excerpt courtesy of WNPR, All Things Considered, “New Haven Officials Announce New Life for the Old Roger Sherman,” by Ray Hardman, January 15, 2015