WeLoveVentnor Forums  

Go Back   WeLoveVentnor Forums > Our Town Matters
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-13-2008, 08:55 AM
Eileen Todaleft Eileen Todaleft is offline
Approved Contributor
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 17

Is there a "save the theater" meeting on Aug. 14th? And does anyone have a copy of the flyer that was circulating during National Night Out?
Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2008, 06:37 PM
OPRA Reporter OPRA Reporter is offline
Approved Contributor
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 512
Default Little known facts?

There is a house in historic Chesapeake City which has long been said to be a Frank Lloyd Wright structure. More information about it appeared here, at the bottom of this old 2003 article.


Untouted architectural gem: Look straight across the canal to see the modern, brown one-story home--rumor has it that it’s a Frank Lloyd Wright, but actually it’s his Philadelphia student, Armand Carroll. On the North side, it’s at No. 316 Biddle Street; the distinctive chevron on the wood/glass entranceway means you’ve found the “Wright” house.
The spelling of the last name adds another "l" at the end, but it's unlikely that two architects of the same era, based in the same city, and with the same name existed.

This link leads to information about the Crescent Theater and an Armond Carroll as architect.


Crescent Theatre
S 84th St & Eastwick Ave
Philadelphia PA

Record #21294
Opened: 1921
Closed: 1950
Current Use:
Capacity: 800 seats
Architect(s): Armand Carroll
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
This link leads to photographs of The Strand theater, as it was being built in Ocean City, and the double "l" is the spelling chosen for that description of the architect also.


Yet another theater co-credited to Carrol (or Carroll) has turned up, under the name of his architectural firm's partner, William Harold Lee, and using the spelling with the double-L. It is the now-demolished Embassy Theater in Reading, PA.


The Embassy Theatre in Reading, PA opened April 4, 1931, with the movie "Stolen Heaven" and was owned by Wilmer and Vincent. The Embassy was designed by Philadelphia architect William H. Lee with his associates Armand Carroll and Charles E. Horn. Dazzling, semi-atmospheric Art Deco movie palaces designed by Lee's firm had opened in late 1930 in Norristown, PA (the Norris Theatre) and in Philadelphia (the Erlen Theatre).

Like the Norris and the Erlen, the Embassy Theatre was a movie palace that combined an Atmospheric style with the new decor of Art Moderne and the more lavish materials of Art Deco. Yet this theatre was even more fanciful, and could have been named 'The Embassy of the Future'. The futuristic design of the theatre appears inspired by Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927) and the German Expressionist architecture underlying that movie.

The facade was glazed and polychrome Terra Cotta from Conkling-Armstrong of Philadelphia. The oval shaped aluminum ticket booth had carved glass and a marble base. The copper marquee had a glass ceiling. As if it were a rocket, an illuminated lantern topped the 80 feet tall, copper vertical tower! More than 2,000 feet of glass tubing was used for the neon, red neon for letters, and blue and green for the rest.

The lobby's movie poster frames were set in a wall of black marble. The foyer had copper walls with aluminum horizontal molding and a ceiling of geometric design. Stairs from the foyer led up to the auditorium's rear loges. A main lounge was on the lower level. Every last detail was Art Deco, including furniture, oval mirrors, drinking fountains, telephone booths, chandeliers and carpet.
The cinema website reports that the Embassy was damaged by a fire in 1970, then demolished in 1972 to make way for a shopping mall, but the mall was never built.

More information about The Strand, presented here, suggests that its unique rounded aspects might be attributable to there once having been a carrousel on the location.


In South Beach around Miami, FL, and hosted on the campus of Florida International University, there is a Wolfsonian Museum where treasured architectural artifacts which have lost their original "homes" inside structures are now on display. This link takes the reader to a blog article about an Armand Carrol window grille, circa 1929, which was once housed in the Norris Theater in Pennsylvania.


This link takes readers to information about Carroll's partner, Mr. Lee, who appears to have had a total 79 movie theaters credited to his credit.


Research thus far points to The Ventnor as possibly being the very first theater credited to Armand Carroll. His evolution as an architect, and where that evolution might have intersected with Frank Lloyd Wright becoming an influence, deserves some more research.

In searching for some sense of "roots" of who he was, where he lived, and where he might have died, the following turned up as a possibility given the period he was active, and the workplace where his Social Security number was taken out, keeping in mind that the program was first started by the federal government when Carroll was already a working adult.

Social Security Number: 183-16-9326 Applied for in Pennsylvania
Date of Death: May 1976
Date of Birth: 15 Jun 1898
Residence : New Jersey
Last Residence (Zip): 08528 Kingston, Somerset, NJ
The only other individual with identical name in the Social Security registry of deaths / obsolete SSNs passed away in 1972 and appears to have been born in California and continuously a resident there.

Bringing the research full circle, the Wiki informal research on the Village of Kingston shows that it has many registered historic sites.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2008, 08:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,079

Is there a "save the theater" meeting on Aug. 14th? And does anyone have a copy of the flyer that was circulating during National Night Out?

There is a Commission workshop at which the topic of the Ventnor theater is expected to be raised, as well as the topic of how City of Ventnor might need to address historic structure designations as other NJ municipalities have done. Some towns set up Historic Preservation Commissions, others rely upon Planning Board review and recommendations.

Historic preservation decisions evaluate many criteria, and not solely age. Things like the importance of the architect, the unique aspects of the architecture, the occurrence of historic or unusual events (e.g. "George Washington slept here"), the role of a structure in the public or semi-public life of a community -- these and other factors can all come into play.

With respect to age considerations, and how age can play a small role, there is the example of Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma -- designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for an oil pipeline company. As the only skyscraper actually constructed from Wright designs, it was completed in 1956 and was given National Historic Landmark status by the United States Department of the Interior in 2007.

This is a copy of the flyer which circulated at the Downbeach Film Festival. Early version provided e-mail contacts through two other non-profit groups, later version provided a single e-mail address to allow for easier, segregated handling of messages expressing support or interest or an opinion about the theater's future.

Ventnor residents and stakeholders may rise to the challenges posed, or they may not. At the very least, they will not be able to say they "never knew" about the theater's future prospects.

Last edited by VENTNOR eVOICE ADMIN : 08-14-2008 at 09:03 AM.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2008, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,079
Default Article in Courier-Post


Ventnor attempts to save theater
By WILLIAM H. SOKOLIC • Courier-Post Staff • August 14, 2008

VENTNOR — The Ventnor Theater hasn't had a ticket buyer for almost four years. The empty marquee stands testament to its past, but maybe not its future. A group of local residents is trying to find a buyer to salvage the last movie theater on Absecon Island that isn't an IMAX.

"I don't want to see it demolished and made into 24 condos," said Marsha Galespie, one of the local residents behind the move.

The group hopes to tour the interior with a potential buyer this afternoon. And they'll meet city officials at a commissioners meeting tonight at Ventnor City Hall.

The sale price for the property is $1.75 million.

"We'll certainly try and give them some advice," said Mayor Theresa Kelly. "We're thrilled we have residents who want to do something along those lines. But it's really too early for us."

Originally built in 1921, the theater on Ventnor Avenue burned down in 1936 and was rebuilt in 1938, Kelly said. In the beginning, it was a single-screen theater and was remodeled into a twin in the late 1960s. It had been closed for a few years after a city inspection revealed that it was on the verge of collapse in 1998, according to cinematreasures.org. It stands today as an example of the art deco style. It reopened for a couple of years, and closed in the midst of efforts by the city to redevelop a huge swath of Ventnor near its border with Atlantic City.

Galespie and her colleagues face an uphill -- and costly -- battle. The Beach Theatre Foundation in Cape May paid $50,000 on Aug. 4 to exercise a six-month lease extension option to continue operations under a 2007 agreement with Frank Investments, Inc., the theater owner. The current lease was set to expire Sept. 30. By exercising the option, the organization will control the theater until April 1.

In 2007, Frank Investments had obtained a local demolition permit to redevelop the theater complex as condominiums before the foundation negotiated a lease-and-purchase option to save the property.

"We remain committed to saving the Beach Theatre. This lease extension gives us more time to find the right buyer to develop the property in a joint venture," said Steve Jackson, Beach Theatre Foundation founder and president. "It's a community gathering place for year-round and summer residents as well as vacationers."

The foundation took over last November when it hosted the New Jersey State Film Festival tribute to actor Robert Prosky. The theater, recognized by Preservation New Jersey as one of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites in New Jersey for 2008, will be the central exhibition facility of the upcoming film festival this November.

"We believe there are people interested in developing the property," Jackson said.

Though development has stalled in the wake of the troubled economy, Jackson said developers see improvements on a 24-month horizon, with the target date of 2010 or 2011.

"I can't say people are banging on the door, but a handful have taken a hard look. All we need is one," Jackson said.

A number of factors come into play in these kinds of drives, including community support.

"How important is this building for the community," said Fran Holden, executive director of the League of Historic American Theatres, an international association on that promotes the rescue, rehabilitation and sustainable operation of historic theaters throughout North America.

"Saving a historic building simply because it's historic is not reason enough unless you're in the museum business," Holden said. "It probably wouldn't be terribly successful. We are concerned about theaters obtaining sustainability. It's a much harder nut to crack than committing to saving a historic building."

Galespie wants to see the Ventnor operating as a theater again. Dave Barone, who owns the Spanish American Cafe near the theater, says an ongoing movie house could help his business.

But the chances of its success are not good, given the renovations and upgrades required. Barone doesn't see a buyer stepping up with $1.75 million in this economic climate. With the apartments and businesses involved, $1.2 million is a better number to support the expense.

"There are a lot of drawbacks to overcome. Not only in raising the funds but igniting a passion in the community to save the building," Holden said.

Reach William H. Sokolic at (609)823-9159 or bsokolic@camden.gannett.com
Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2008, 10:15 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,079
Default Clarifying muddled information

Some of the information offered in the article is at variance with what a publication "photo-imaged" and linked in the cinema treasures website reports.

There is mention of a remodeling in 1936 but no mention of a fire in 1936 and a reconstruction in 1938. (See page of book re-imaged below, at bottom.)

One of the contributors to the series of comments posted under the theater "highlights" information at this website


pointed to his involvement in the theater, as an employee. He recalled it as still being single-screen in 1973 when he began to work there, and identified 1979 as the year of its conversion to a twin-screen.

The article's "highlights" claim the following:

It had been closed for a few years after a city inspection revealed that it was on the verge of collapse in 1998. Many thought that it could not be saved. Fortunately, it was purchased at a very nominal cost and to everyone's amazement, it was fully restored within just one year. However, by the end of 2004, the Ventnor had closed once more.
In connection with the theater, and the realty listing's representation that it is structurally sound, and the publication reporting a building that was on the "verge of collapse" in 1998, a respected local engineer was contacted and asked if he would undertake a structural inspection of the theater. A finding that a building is "too far gone" to be saved might moot any historic preservation effort undertaken by citizens, or preservation-minded buyers.

It came to light (coincidences abound) that the same engineer had performed a 1998 inspection. His recollection was that the roof support consisted of metal trusses and wood "purlins" (used for attaching the roofing materials) -- which might resolve the seemingly conflicting information which finds the listing broker saying there are "all metal" trusses while the Ventnor fire chief said the roof support was a "mix" of metal and wood.

While the inspection and report were undertaken a decade ago, and the report was not at his fingertips, the engineer's recollection was that he had found the roof support structurally sound at the time. What may have caused the theater to be closed in 1998 was a finding that there was mold/mildew. The fire chief spoke about his fears that there had been "water encroachment" during the period the theater was unused. The engineer raised as a possibility that mold/mildew could arise from a decision to turn off the heat in winter, with consequent "moist air" creating a mold problem rather than leaks through deficient structure (roofing or walls).

Several residents of the area did not recall substantial exterior work being done on the building during the interval of one year between John Berezowski arriving on the scene in Ventnor and re-opening the theater. One recalled some concrete being used to encase an unidentified structural component at the corner of the building. The rapid turnaround time between an alleged finding that the building was on the "verge of collapse" and the later "miraculous" re-opening might be explained by tracking down the actual cause for the 1998 closure. John Berezowski's renovation efforts may have needed to be primarily directed at the interior and the need to correct mold/mildew problems.

Finally, the website's report claims that the building was "sold" at a nominal cost. Several local residents recollect being told that Mr. Berezowski undertook a lease with option to purchase at an established price. That contract, for both buyer and seller, may have been rendered impossible by the year 2004 when SchoorDePalma conceptual plans and more detailed plans from Alliance/Pulte Homes laid out a different "vision" for the block in question. A column by Pinky Kravitz at the end of 2004 mentions John's sense that he was being "evicted" due to Redevelopment.

"It was remodeled in 1936 and converted to a twin in the 1970's."

The publication also recites it as a 968-seat theater when first opened.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2008, 11:11 AM
VentnorMod VentnorMod is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,099
Default Downbeach Current article

Reporter Shaun Smith filed the following report.

continuation page

Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2008, 06:21 AM
candyman candyman is offline
Approved Contributor
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 440
Default Theater just another victim

of redevelopment. Too bad John is not around now. He made it work and then got the shaft by that lil bastard who is thinking of running for freeholder.

There is progress in our area. "For sale" sign is gone from Eileen Barker's building and it looks like WE'RE GETTIN' A DOGGIE HOSPITAL!!!

There is news paper covering up the windows at Rosie's . My neighbor, Rob Conti , told me that is his next project. WELCOME ROB, he'll do business there.

Things are looking up. There is a shift in the tide and even the Nashvile Market got painted one color.

Maybe the theater CAN be saved.

What do you say Alex? Stop lurking and sign up and join in. We won't hold it against you that you publically endorsed that lil bastard.
"The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."

Thomas Jefferson
Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2008, 07:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,079

Originally Posted by candyman View Post
Maybe the theater CAN be saved.
Engineer inspection is next step in the process.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2008, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,079

An architectural firm specializing in historic theater renovations was located and plans were made to allow them to take a look inside the theater.

Until professionals with design training, credentials and expertise weigh in, the feasibility of saving the theater is unknown, as would be the "dollar goal" for a non-profit's fundraising and grant-seeking efforts.

At the last workshop, the Commission was non-commital about Ventnor government's role in the historic landmarks designation process. WLV would argue that local governments have historically needed to be involved in such determinations, otherwise the number of other NJ municipalities with protocols prescribed by ordinance that address historic landmark considerations would -- simply put -- not exist. WLV brought up, as an area deserving of the Commission's attention, research into what appears to be the mechanisms sometimes followed in certain structures and/or entire neighborhoods attaining formal historic status. Some towns create formal bodies known as Historic Preservation Commissions. Other towns assign historic buildings needing possible work-up for historic designation to their Planning/Zoning bodies.

The discussion veered toward "pointers" offered by Dennis Kelly, from the audience, about information at the Ventnor Historical Society which might resolve the conflicting details of there being a theater constructed in 1921, then a fire in 1936, and whether the theater was "all new construction" in 1936-1938.

Richard Gober spoke at the workshop, and identified himself as the person who had submitted a nomination of the theater to Preservation NJ in Trenton several years ago when it was listed at #12 in that non-profit's evaluation for 'Top Ten Endangered Historic Sites.' Mr. Gober -- who also invested over $400,000 of renovation/rehabilitation costs after acquiring an historic structure dating from the 1800's in Burlington City -- noted that age of a structure is but one of many factors. Importance to a community, status as "last" of a kind of structure for a town or its larger area (in this case, Absecon Island) are among the many others. Marsha Galespie's raised hand to offer comment was not recognized before the workshop was adjourned.

WLV's request to put the topic on the workshop agenda, sent a week before the workshop date, never received an acknowledgement. It was only the day before the workshop that Marsha Galespie's personal inquiry, at City Hall, brought to light the fact that the topic was not entered onto the agenda and with the further information that since the theater is not publicly owned, the Commission apparently saw no role for itself in the matter. Open government protocols might suggest an acknowledgement and a communication of the status of a request as either being "on" or "off" agenda as being properly in order. This point is noted, along with the obvious situation of this being a newly elected group of officials who are still learning the ropes of what their offices might entail, and coming to grips with surprising findings about other areas -- from non-functioning water meters to unbonded pier construction costs to aged infrastructure like rupturing sewage pipes -- in need of urgent attention in the municipality.

Earlier research about the architect, Armand Carroll, had already suggested that if he was the same individual born in 1898 and deceased in 1976 (as seems likely), then he would have been "very young" (age 23) to serve as architect of a theater originally constructed in 1921. Architects, then and now, tend to serve substantial apprenticeships before being granted full licensure enabling them to "seal" blueprints.

In fairly recent news out of Philadelphia, there was this article that e-mails among "theater advocates" have passed around.


Commission reinstates Boyd Theater's historic status
By Inga Saffron
Inquirer Architecture Critic
Posted on Sat, Aug. 9, 2008

Just three months after the National Trust for Historic Preservation chastised Philadelphia for failing to safeguard its last intact movie palace, the city's Historical Commission voted unanimously yesterday to protect the facade of Chestnut Street's Boyd Theater.

Without a word of protest from anyone in the packed hearing room, the commission agreed to place the 1928 art deco theater on the city's roll of historic buildings, ending two decades of rancorous debate about the Boyd's architectural and cultural merits. Only six years ago, Mayor John F. Street's historical commission insisted "the wreck" was not worth preserving and signed off on a demolition permit.

Howard B. Haas, who began the effort to save the glamorous movie house after that permit was issued in 2002, praised the new commission for protecting the building, which is now for sale by its owner, Live Nation. But Haas cautioned that the "Boyd Theater is not saved by today's action alone."

Philadelphia's preservation law covers only the exteriors of historic buildings, and owners are free to modify, or even gut, the interiors. The problem is that the interiors of extravagantly ornamented structures such as the Boyd are often more important and meaningful than the facades. It was designed by Hoffmann-Henon Co., the most important theater designer of the 1920s and '30s in Philadelphia.

The National Trust, which drew attention to the Boyd's plight in May by placing it on its list of America's most endangered places, may ultimately be able to claim that it helped strengthen Philadelphia's preservation law.

Immediately before the voting on the Boyd yesterday, the commission approved the wording of a bill that would extend its jurisdiction to cover certain interior spaces. The legislation was introduced this spring by Councilman Bill Green in response to the National Trust's action.

While the Planning Commission must also review the bill before City Council votes on the legislation, scheduled for Sept. 18, there appears to be support for the measure. The Historical Commission's unanimous approval of the bill's language suggests that the Nutter administration supports it.

Even if the bill passes, the Boyd would not automatically benefit. Preservationists would still have to submit a separate nominating petition for the theater's interior, and the proposal would have to be approved by the Historical Commission.

Extending historic protection to the Boyd's interiors might generate objections from Live Nation. The 2,350-seat theater was built in an age when movie houses had a single screen. The multicolored auditorium is lavishly decorated, with etched mirrors and a series of murals on women's history.

Live Nation put the theater up for sale in May and is said to be choosing from among several bidders. The company did not object to the designation of the facade. But a similar designation for the interiors might make it more complicated to find a buyer or adapt the theater for contemporary use.

Haas said he was sympathetic to such concerns. "No one wants to see a closed historic theater on Chestnut Street," he said. He noted that the historically certified Royal and Uptown Theaters "are both falling apart." And only their exteriors are protected.

Although the Boyd's future remains uncertain, there was a sense of closure yesterday after a long and trying ordeal. After the theater was briefly put on the city's historic rolls in the mid-1980s, it became entangled in a series of lawsuits that nearly invalidated Philadelphia's preservation laws. The Preservation Alliance's director, John Gallery, yesterday listed those landmark legal cases as one of the justifications for certifying the Boyd today.

Unlike those attempts to declare the Boyd a historic building, there was no one questioning its credentials yesterday.

"This is a building built in the new art-deco style before construction had even started on the Chrysler Building," observed David B. Brownlee, a specialist in architectural history at the University of Pennsylvania.

In a statement, the head of the National Trust, Richard Moe, hailed the vote as a "significant victory" for preservation.

Spokeswoman Jan Rothschild said it showed that the Trust's endangered list "could get the ball rolling" to save historic places. Of the 200 buildings the Trust has cited in the last 20 years, 47 were saved from immediate destruction, and only seven were demolished.

Contact architecture critic Inga Saffron at 215-854-2213 or isaffron@phillynews.com.

Brief point of information:
The Chrysler building had its groundbreaking on September 18, 1928 and was completed May 27, 1930. It was New York City's tallest building until being surpassed the following year by the Empire State building. The Chrysler is still noted for being the world's tallest building constructed with bricks. This helps in "dating" the Art Deco period in terms of the Art Deco movement's origins (before that time, as blueprints were conceived) and later evolution.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:15 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.