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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



With the development of that progressive suburb of Sacramento known as Oak Park the name of Pleas G. Mikle is intimately associated. To him belongs the distinction of having bought the first property west of Thirty-fifth street, of having erected the first brick building in the suburb and of having operated the first hotel or restaurant in the place. The association with the new addition, begun in the incipiency of the movement, has continued up to the present time and has brought him some, discouragements but also many successes. The only heavy loss which he has experienced since coming here was in connection with the destruction of his hotel property by fire August 13, 1911. At the same time the catastrophe destroyed his moving- picture theater in an adjacent building. The loss of $15,000 would have discouraged many a man to the point of complete retirement from business, but Mr. Mikle was not so easily disheartened. Without even a momentary hesitation he decided to rebuild and to invest' $15,000 in a fireproof theater, for he believed no location would prove more advantageous for such a building than the one in which already he had met with both success and losses.

In view of the fact that Mr. Mikle has made his own way in the world from the age of eleven years, his present high standing furnishes silent testimony as to his energy and capability. His parents, Martin B. and Delia (Marcum) Mikle, died many years ago, and after he had spent the first eleven years of his life on the farm in Wayne county, Ky., where he was born, he started out to earn his own livelihood. Without education or friends or means, he had many discouraging experiences in youth. Life to him presented few joys. The burden of toil fell upon him at an age when the majority of lads are attending school or enjoying wholesome recreations, but it was his lot to drift from farm to farm, working at first for board and clothing. After a time he learned the blacksmith's trade and this he followed for two years with the street car company of St. Louis. After coming to California in 1890 he made brief sojourns in San Diego and San Francisco and then spent twelve years in the black- smith department of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in Sacramento, resigning that position in order that he might identify himself with the new addition of Oak Park. Here he operated a hotel for twelve years, until it burned to the ground in 1911, and here he has identified himself closely with all movements for the local upbuilding. In addition to his property at this point he owns real estate in other parts of Sacramento. In fraternal relations he has been a worker with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Politically he votes with the Democratic ticket in national elections, but in local campaigns he supports the best men, irrespective of their partisan views.

The new Mikle theater has a frontage of one hundred and twenty feet on Thirty-fifth street, Oak Park, and while erected mainly for the exhibition of moving pictures, it also is provided with facilities for vaudeville. Competent critics pronounce this theater to be one of the safest playhouses in California. Absolutely fireproof from the ground up, it has the further advantage of being provided with exits six feet wide on both sides of the building, as well as in the rear, while there are also exits from the front of the theater. The operating box from which the pictures are thrown is a model of fireproof construction. It is made of reinforced concrete lined with hollow tiling, and is built with every precaution for the safety of the patrons of the theater. The mechanism is so perfected that the slightest spark of flame will close the operating doors, thus smothering the flames completely in the box. All of the wiring is laid in conduits, which does away with the danger of fire from grounded electric sparks. A complete fire equipment is also on hand, ready at an instant's notice to provide for any emergency.

The color scheme of the interior of the theater is dark red and green, with wainscoting of a beautiful blue tint. More than five hundred chairs of handsome design, built with steel uprights, were provided, these being the latest improved opera type, noiseless, ample and comfortable. In opening the theater the management purchased two of the finest motion picture machines on the market. These are known as the Motiograph and are of the latest 1912 models, projecting pictures that practically are perfect. The machine is fitted with automatic shutters that close at the first sign of fire, a feature that adds greatly to their expense, but is abundantly compensated for by the feeling of security possible to patrons. The stage is of ample height and width to render possible the production of vaudeville or even of stock pieces, while dressing rooms on either side of the stage and retiring parlors for the patrons of the theater complete the luxurious equipment of the new and popular playhouse. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011