The Star Theatre was located one door west of the Nye Room on the north side of Lima street. At one time is was located in the K. of P. building. One of the first publications about the Star Theatre was when Mayor Vaughn put a stop to a monologist at the Star Theater on April 10, 1909 put a stop to "high" jokes. Marshal Cessna was ordered to bring the offender to the Mayor's office where he was "talked pretty plainly to." The jokes were not repeated. Another was when there was a "double bill" at the Star Theatre by the sophomore class of the high school. The program presented was "The Gumtown Women's Association," and "Belinda Jane and Johnathan." Two performances were given, the first at 7 p.m. and the second at 8:15 p.m. The theatre was filled both times with the class receiving $24.40 in proceeds. The cast was:
The Monarch Singing Four stared at the theater in January, 1913. They came as a favor to Rob Dunham and were on their way to Springfield, Ohio at a salary of $150 per week. February found the Star installing a flute piano sold by Arthur Hall. There was a home talent comedy presented at the Star on April 20, 1914. The proceeds went to the school library.
The Star was at the mercy of the trains running through Forest. One occassion found the theater "dark" when the No. 11 on the Pennsylvania ran from two to three hours late for two days due to a cold snap. The thermometer hovered between zero and below. The third day the Otello Quartet from Delaware arrived 15 minutes late.
"Deacon Dubbs", a rural comedy drama in three acts played at the Star on March 22, 1917. On December 13th the members of the Chamber of Commerce in Forest witnessed a motion picture lecture called "Busy Ohio," made up by a dozen leading Ohio manufacturers who were co-operating to make advertising films. The Star Theatre also was to benefit society in order to care for soldiers on duty whenever and wherever they were needed, to shorten the war, and to lay foundation for an enduring peace. The show consisted of a dozen leading Ohio manufacturers co-operating to overcome indifference and to awaken the widest possible interest in community affairs.
No moving picture star was gripping the attention of the people at the time than Mrs. Vernon Castle. She appeared at her best and took the people by storm in every city where the picture was shown. It was patriotic and built on the war situation at the time; the U.S. Secret Service, Mexico, and a Japanese spy. There was a moving picture lecture given to the Star audience about how Ohio was a big, busy state in May. The picture was shown for the Forest public school by the Ohio State Board of Commerce who paid for the expenses. Proceeds went to the local school fund. The pictures showed everything from matches to piano and automobiles that were being manfactured in Ohio, the actions of the use of the plants for the war effort, and declaring no annimosity for the German neighbors who were "exhorting themselves from despotic chains.
When a diptheria quarantine went into effect in early 1918 the Star Theater was closed. In May the quarantine was lifted and the theater was able to open. It was in effect for two weeks closing businesses, churches, and schools. By June official war pictures were being shown at the Star Theatre; films like "Fighting in France." Ella Kelley owned the film and was present to explain the pictures as they were screened.
The Junior class of the high school watched "A Man of Honor," staring Harold Lockwood in May, 1920. It was a screen-version of Henry Kitchell Webster's novel, "A King in Khaki." It wasn't war related, but was a drama of love and finance. Proceeds were to benefit the Junior class at Forest school.
July found Mrs. D.M. Fishburn selling the Star. Carl Moore purchased it the second week of July. In January, 1921 there was a fire at the Star about six in the evening. A stove that had just been installed was used with a defective flue. Little damage occurred.
H.B. Dubbs worked for the Star Theatre in 1922. He booked films for the theatre. On March 7th he sprained his right wrist when his engine back fired. Dr. Swimley wasa called and, at first, thought he had received a compound fracture, but an examination disclosed no broken bones. The shows at the Star were not affected by his condition. At the time attendance at the theater was a "full house" during performances.
The Forest branch of the "League of Ohio Sportsmen" met at the Star Theater in March, 1924 for the purpose of electing officers and framing the constitution and by-laws. They elected the following officers:
Attendance problems began in 1925. Free tickets to the Star Theater wer being distributed through Troemmler's Grocery, Ash & Poling, and Beagle's Garage. One free ticket was avaliable with each sack of Electric Light Flour sold in Forest. A new coat of paint was applied to the theatre in 1925. And as of September 1, the Star Theatre was open four nights a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. The made three changes a week, running the same show on Friday and Saturday. Around the first week in September Leo R. Jones sold the theatre to D.F. Harris and Morris Burk. Burk was a electrician and able to insure the picture machines stay in good working order. Question is, when did Leo Jones purchase the Star Theatre and from whom?
In October D.F. Harris sold his interest in the Star Theatre to Starette & Kraft. Morris Burk still held an interest in the theatre and continued to manage it. Charley Wells opened his new barber shop in the Nye Room, first door east of the Star Theatre in October. That same month the Izaac Walton League met on the 15th at the Star. Forest was one of the largest branches in the state at that time with members totaling 120 and growing. About this time a Star Theatre was in Upper Sandusky. It was owned and operated by Leo T. Jones. What connection did Leo R. have with Leo T. Both seemed to be involved with the Star Theatre, but Leo T. seemed to be more Upper Sandusky oriented because in March, 1937 he placed an ad in The Forest Review stating "I am no longer connected with the former Star Theatre, all o fmy interests are now in the NEW STAR THEATRE."By September, 1938 the people of Forest were looking for a good up-to-date movie theatre.
The new moving picture theatre in Forest will be hailed with delight not only by the citizens of Forest, but people in this vicinity for several miles around are tolking about it, and watching with interest the progress of construction. The Forest Theatre will be "a lon-felt want supplied at last."
The "want" must have happened because in March, 1940 advertisements were indicating the there would soon be a "New Forest Theatre" under the management of Leo T. Jones. The new Forest Theatre caused a business uproar. The businss room corner at Lima and S. Patterson strets was rented from D.L. VanTilbury by Mr. & Mrs. R.E. Thompson with the intent to decorate and remodel it for a restaurant. The beginning of the Treetown Inn?
The new Forest Theatre was streamlined and modernly equipped throughout. The front was aglow with bright lights and the entrance filled with cut flowers from admiring business firms and friends. It opened to the public on May 9, 1940 with evening shows at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. It was located in the former Cook Building at the corner of Lima and Patterson streets. It was air-conditioned and sound proof. It was managed by Leo T. Jones of Upper Sandusky. By July the management made it possible for every family to attend the movies at the new Forest Theatre. Every Monday and Tuesday would be "Family Nite," with all seats at 11¢. In October the price for adults went to 21¢, a reduction of 9¢. Thought was to close the theatre on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but the reduction of 9¢ was optioned for first.
In March, 1941 the theatre closed on Wednesdays. The theatre began to close one day a week, then two days a week by 1944. In August, 1945 a new coat of paint was applied to the front. The theatre was closed for six weeks in June and July, 1948 for repairs to equipment and to redecorate the interior. Once re-opened Sunday movies started again. The theatre had been closed on Sundays earlier.
After the final showing of "Africa Screams" on Sunday night, July 2, 1950 Leo T. Jones close the Forest Theatre. In April, 1951 Leo re-opened the theatre beginning April 22nd. February 3, 1952, after the last show, the doors of the Forest Theatre closed until the new owner could reopen. The theatre and its real estate were put up for sale. Many appeals went out to Leo Jones to reopen the theatre and around Thanksgiving, 1954 Leo was re-considering opening the threatre.
By January, 1955 the Forest Theatre was again open and attracting a large number of people. By April an appeal went out from Leo to attend at least once a week. Then on Saturday, May 29th Leo again close the theatre. In September Leo was contemplating reopening the theatre again. The theatre again reopened on October 30th. In November a wide screen was installed By Feburary, 1956 the theatre was again in jeopardy of closing. After February 18th the theatre was open only two days a week. April 13th The Forest Review ran an editorial from J. Frank Stansell that stated "the Forest Theatre has finally folded up." In 2007 Steve Rabberman wrote about the Star Theatre.
To the Forest-Area Historical Society,
I missed out on the golden years of the movies of the 1930"s and 40s. My earliest recollection of attending the Forest Theatre was with my parents at a very young age, probably around 1950-51. They would go to the theatre to see a movie and the current news reels of the time. The main news event of that period, of course, was the developing Korean War. Shortly thereafter, I don't remember the exact year, the theatre closed for several years.
The Forest Theatre was located at the corner of Lima & Patterson streets. It was once known as the Forest "New Star" Theatre. I had always remembered calling it the "Forest Theatre" as that was the name displayed on the arched sign on the front. Many years earlier, the building had once housed the Mick & Cline grocery store before it was converted into a movie theatre.
Then, around the year 1955, there was letter that the old Forest Theatre was planning to reopen. I was 8 years of age and the prospect of having a movie theatre in Forest again was exciting. One summer afternoon, some friends came running over to my house, shouting, The theatre doors are open! From my house on Patterson Street, I could see a few blocks down that the green doors on the side of the theatre building were indeed open. We ran down the street to see what was happening. Inside, work was in progress installing a new movie screen and a large speaker. We peered inside, wondering if it was permissible to enter. We cautiously walked in and took our seats among the rows and watched as a worker completed the wiring to the speaker. He called out to the projection booth operator to run something to test out the sound." A few minutes later, music from a nondescript movie soundtrack filled the theatre. The technician checked the connections, assuring that everything was working well with the sound. We later watched as the workers raised the large screen over the front of the speaker and attached it into place. The white fiberglass screen was perforated with small holes so the sound could project through.
A few weeks later, after much anticipation, the Forest Theatre finally reopened with the film Blackboard Jungle starring Glenn Ford. The opening song of the movie was popular at the time, Rock Around the Clock." It was played loud and sounded great over the new theatre sound system.
To stay up with the latest technology in film presentation, the Forest Theatre soon installed a new wide Cinemascope screen. The first wide screen movie to be shown was the biblical story, The Robe." I remember attending that movie with my parents and recalling how strangely quiet the atmosphere was that evening from previous nights. Even though the theatre was full, it was like walking into a church. You could hear a pin drop. The audience contained more adults than usual, some actually wearing suits and ties. A few of the noisy, rowdy kids from movies past were in the audience. However, on this particular night, they were well behaved, somehow understanding that the solemn ambience of this event was not to be disturbed or disrupted.
It was good to have a movie theatre in Forest again. Over the next few years, a wide variety of movies played at the Forest Theatre. The titles ranged from Creature from the Black Lagoon to Bob Hope and Lucille Ball comedies and many other popular films of the time. I particularly remember attending the Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weissmuller. Even though these films were made in the 1940"s, they were popular among the kids growing up in the The feature was usually preceded by a Three Stooges short and previews of coming attractions. Sometimes, there would be a cartoon. These movies always attracted many kids and the atmosphere before and during the movie was sometimes noisy, if not a bit rowdy. There was no snack bar. If you wanted treats, you had to walk across Patterson Street to The Village Inn Restaurant for candy and drinks. Be sure to keep your ticket stub, but they usually never checked.
Movies at the Forest Theatre during those wonder years of the 1950's were always a welcome treat. It was something to do. I remember riding down Lima Street in the car with my dad on occasion and seeing the bright lights of the Forest Theatre sign and the marquee at night. Large block lettering announced the name of the movie that was showing that evening. It was a nostalgic and magical time that seemed would last forever.
Then, sadly, after just a few short years from its reopening, it was announced that the theatre was closing due to poor attendance and low profits. The advent of television was finally taking its toll. The last night of movies at the Forest Theatre must have been reminiscent of the film The Last Picture Show." Many theatres in small towns across America were closing due to the competition from the new medium of television. The Forest Theatre finally closed its doors and went dark forever.
Several weeks had passed when I happened to wander by and notice that the theatre doors were open once again. Walking into the building, I watched as a lone worker removed the art deco sconce lighting from the side walls. The rows of seating had already been removed and the building was now just an empty shell. The screen and the speaker were gone. At the rear of the theatre, there was a pile of scrap 35mm film that had been swept from the projection booth, a few candy wrappers and some old ticket stubs. I thought of all the generations before me that had enjoyed watching a movie in this building, the laughter, the gift nights and families just spending a night together. It was soon to be a forgotten piece of history. Today, I consider myself lucky to have been a kid growing up in the '50s and being able to enjoy those few years of movies at the Forest New Star Theatre in my hometown of Forest, Ohio.
The Forest Theatre building stood vacant for a few years before eventually becoming a storage warehouse for McBride"s Furniture Store. Due to its age and deteriorating condition, the building was later demolished. The B & B Dairy Barn was later constructed and presently resides on the property. Only the memories of a past time still exist.
Steve Rabberman, 2007.
Barbara Huckabay wrote about the Star Theatre in 2008.
To the Forest-Area Historical Society,
I read a very interesting article on the old movie theatre entitled Star Theatre written by Steve Rabberman. I thought maybe I would add my two cents also.
My history of the Forest theatre goes back in time a few more years. The first movie theatre in Forest was in a row of store fronts a few doors down from the restaurant (which was on the corner) and close to Pfeiffer's dry goods store. This was located on the south side of main street. My Dad, Morris L. Burk, was the projectionist for silent movies and my Mother, Thelma Burk, played the piano. This was before I was born but my older sister remembers that she was a little girl when they operated this little theatre. They continued operating the theatre until a new theatre was built. They had a ticket booth right out front. Mother sold the tickets and Dad again ran the movies. The movie machines were on the second floor of the theatre. There were two machines. When one was running, my Dad would get the next reel ready on the other projection machine. Once in a while, a reel would break and Dad had the equipment to mend it but people would have to wait a few minutes before he could start the movie again.
The best movies were shown Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Wednesdays and Thursdays many times had a double feature (two movies for the price of one) and on Friday and Saturday, it was usually cowboy westerns and sometimes another double feature. Of course, I went to the movies every night - ha! Usually there would be a Disney cartoon, then a " news reel on world events, then the featured movie. Things that were shown much later on TV, we kids saw in the movie theatre - like The Bowery Boys and Little Rascals.
We even had the very early space serials where the heroes walked out of a metal cylinder that was the space vehicle. There was a refreshment stand that sold popcorn, candy bars, and gum. The movies were black and white first, then they were able to come up with technicolor which was great.
I have all wonderful memories of the movie theatre in Forest. In those years, may people attended the movies. It was a source of great entertainment and the price of a ticket was not much. There was no TV back then. My parents continued to run the theatre until they closed it for lack of attendance, probably in the mid-1940s.
Barbara (Burk) Huckabay, 2008.