Princess Theater

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12-year-old usher Brown McDowell outside the Princess Theater in October 1914

The Princess Theater was a small cinema located at 216 20th Street North. It was built around 1910 and operated by E. H. Colley of the Mudd & Colley Amusement Company, which also operated the Rialto Theatre and Trianon Theatre. Documentary photographer Lewis Wickes Hine took a picture of 12-year old usher Brown McDowell outside the theater in October 1914.

In 1916 the theater operated as a Nickelodeon, charging five cents for films featuring "all the old time moving picture stars". Every Tuesday brought a special screening of "The Strange Case of Mary Page" starring Birmingham-born Henry B. Walthall and Edna Mayo.

The company sold its assets to the Carl Hoblitzelle circuit in January 1926. In June of that year, manager E. W. Street carried out a publicity stunt for its run of Universal's feature "The Border Sheriff". The front of the theater was transformed into a "wild west" boomtown front with composition board painted in imitation of rough gray boards, a shingled shed porch, and two cacti constructed of bunting stuffed with excelsior, trimmed with rope and toothpick "thorns" and painted green. A sign reading "Boundary Line-Mexico-U.S.A." was painted on the boards, and a notice for a $5,000 reward for a wanted desperado was pasted to a post outside.

The Princess remained open through the end of that decade.

References

  • "Exploit-O-Grams: The Border Sheriff (Universal)" (June 10, 1926) The Film Daily, p. 2