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Palace Theater

Palace Theater was at 213-219 South Third Street, on the west side of street between Maple Avenue and Ludlow Street. Hamilton's first theater built exclusively for showing movies (motion pictures) opened Feb. 3, 1920. The $100,000 theater, a newspaper said, was "a replica of the famous Rivoli Theater in New York City." The Hamilton theater was designed by Fred S. Meyer, managing director of the theater, and Frederick G. Mueller, a Hamilton architect." The Palace at its opening had military style ushers, complete with swagger sticks. "When moviegoers enter," a newspaper said, "they will be met by an usher who will salute, conduct them to their seats, stand at attention until they reach their places, turn on his heel and go back to guide other patrons to their seats." The Palace's eight-piece orchestra was directed by Walter Charles, who wrote "The Palace March" for the opening. Bernard Cowham of Chicago was featured on the theater's $10,000 Bartola symphonic organ during opening week. Mayor Culbertson J. Smith, speaking at the opening, said "at the present time there are not enough theaters to hold all the people" who want to attend movies. In February 1920, there were four other movie theaters operating in downtown Hamilton, all within a block of the Palace (the Eagle at the northwest corner of Court Street and Journal Square; the Grand at 201 South Third Street; the Jefferson at 123 South Second Street; and the Jewel at the southeast corner of Court and South Second Street). A sixth movie theater, the Rialto at 50 High Street (northwest corner of High and North Front streets) opened later that year, Sept. 1, 1920. An anonymous history of amusement in Hamilton, published in the Journal-News Dec. 20, 1936, said Aug. 4, 1929, "the talking picture, now better known as sound picture, made its advent in Hamilton, the Rialto presenting a music show, 'Broadway Melody," while the Palace presented William Boyd in 'The Flying Fool.' " For several years, the Palace was under the management of Harry Turberg and Harry Silver. It closed in the late 1950s; 213 South Third Street was listed as vacant in the 1960 and 1961 city directories. It was remodeled and used as offices by businesses and government agencies until about 1999. (See Jim Blount history column in the Journal-News Jan. 28, 1990, for more details.) The performing arts returned to the building in May 2004 when it was acquired by the Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre as the group's home and rehearsal site, and also available to other arts organizations. The building was renamed the Civic Theatre Center at the Historic Palace Theater. A Journal-News story May 26, 2004, announcing the acquisition said "a team of engineers and architects are working on plans to restore and renovate the building . . . . The renovation will also reveal some of the architectural details that have been covered up by previous restorations, including decorative plaster on the ceilings, marble walls and the historic facade."

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