Mansfield Theaters: The Majestic

In early 1916 the Grand Theater and Amusement Company purchased the land on the corner of North Walnut Street and West Dickson Avenue from W. S. Cappeller, owner of the Mansfield News. The site at 65, 67, and 69 North Walnut was previously the location of E. L. Miller’s Livery and Cab Service, as well as the office of veterinarian Dr. I. W. Howard. The Grand Theater and Amusement Company, which already operated the Grand Theater on North Main St., had hoped to have the new theater in operation by July, but it would take considerably longer to open the new state-of-the-art theater and make ready for the public.

E. L. Millers Livery and Cab Service, abt. 1910.

Mansfield had four other moving picture houses at the time, all located on North Main St.: the Arris, Grand, Royal, and White Way theaters. The ground was broken on the new Majestic Theater on March 26, 1916 and many of the contracts were given to local firms. The general architects were Hazeltine & Hursh, Simon Small & Sons were the general contractors, E. F. Malone installed the plumbing, C. C. Runyan did the tile work, C. E. Martin & Brother did the marquette roofing and asphalt, and Harry Snider did the painting and decorating. In addition to this, many of the fixtures and furniture were purchased from local businesses, including the steel from Hughes-Keenan, furniture from The Carlile Furniture Co., and Charles Schroer & Son, and hardware from the Wagner Hardware Co. The signs were designed and installed by Edward P. Robbins.[1] Laborers were hired at .25 an hour.[2]

The opening of the theater, which was scheduled for New Year’s Day 1917, was almost delayed. On December 29, 1916, the new Simplex machines that had been installed were being tested and adjusted and a discarded film was being used to test the machines. Paul E. Sturges, president of the Grand Theater and Amusement Co., arrived at the theater with his bulldog, Tim, to check on the progress. The discarded film happened to be of two dogs. This proved too much for Tim who barked and leaped at the screen. Luckily a workman was able to grab Tim before he made contact with the screen.[3] The Majestic Theater was also to be the first theater in Mansfield to have female ushers. The “girl ushers [would] appear in costumes that harmonize[d] with the photoplay on the screen.” [4] At 2:00 on New Year’s Day, the doors opened. The crowd was first given a performance by C. K. Parker on the new Kimball organ, then the Hon. Charles H. Workman introduced Mayor George H. Lowery who spoke briefly on the new business and its place in the growing industry of Mansfield. The show started at 2:30 with a war espionage drama called Somewhere in France, starring Louise Glaume and Howard C. Hickman.

The Majestic (Photo from Brett Dunbar Collection)

The Majestic was one of the most popular theaters throughout the 1920s, and, in 1929, sound equipment was installed to show the new sound pictures, or “talkies.” The first all talkie film, a musical comedy called The Broadway Melody, opened at the Majestic on March 31, 1929. At the time, the film was only playing in three other theaters across the country: the Stillman in Cleveland, Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, and the Astor Theater in New York.[5]

The Majestic struggled for another decade against new theaters, like the Madison, and the Great Depression of the 1930s before closing its doors on June 4, 1943.  The following year, on Christmas, 1944, the roof collapsed after a heavy snowfall.  The rubble sat for nearly two years, much to the frustration of Mansfield residents.  Finally, in December of 1946, G. L. Rogers purchased the lot and would build a new business building that still stands today.

The Mansfield News Journal, December 31, 1948, p. 21.

[1] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 December 1916, p. 9.

[2] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 09 May 1916p. 11.

[3] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 December 1916, p. 11.

[4] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 22 December 1916, p. 16.

[s] The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 March 1929, p. 6.

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