The Durkee Theatre Film Collection - PP134

Collection of finding aids of photograph collections, Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society

 THE DURKEE THEATRE COLLECTION

1922-1965

PP134

Special Collections Department, Maryland Historical Society
201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

 

History

 

Durkee Enterprises was one of the oldest and largest movie circuits in Baltimore. Frank H. Durkee began his movie empire as a young man around 1908-1909 when he went from hall to hall carrying his movie equipment strapped to his back. Durkee was born in Baltimore on 20 August 1888, and died on 24 October 1955. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1906, and attended the University of Maryland Law School. In his youth, he sang between movies and in church choirs. He was president of the Baltimore City Park Board from 1938 to 1945. 

Durkee's first movie house was the Paradise in a two-story house on the corner of Washington and Federal Streets. In his early theater ventures he used to take tickets and sing behind the screen. After the show, he would greet the customers as they left the theater. One evening, so the story goes, as he was greeting patrons, a woman came up to him. "Good evening, ' Mrs. So-and-So. Did you enjoy the movie?" he asked. "Oh, yes, Mr. Durkee. The movie was wonderful, but you ought to do something about that terrible singer." "Indeed I will. I'll fire him tonight.," Durkee replied.

In about 1916, Charles E. Nolte (21), who operated the Linwood, C. W. Pacy, who operated the Garden on South Charles Street, and Frank Durkee became partners. By 1921 they had added the Elektra, Plaza, Aladdin, Palace (on Gay Street), Colonial, Patterson, Grand, and Belvidere to the list of theaters that they controlled. By 1926, they also controlled the Belnord, Boulevard, Community, Schanze, and Forest. In less than five years they built or acquired the Arcade, State, Edgewood, Red Wing, Baltimore, Fulton, and McHenry. They built the Ambassador in 1935. 

By 1945 they controlled at least the following 17 movie houses in Baltimore: Ambassador, Arcade, Avon, Belnord, Boulevard, Edgewood, Forest, Fulton, Grand, Gwynn, Linwood, Northway, Patterson,  Red Wing, Senator, State, and Waverly. In 1966 they built their twentieth house, the Liberty I which was joined by the Liberty II in 1971. For many years, Durkee Enterprises had its offices in the Arcade Building on Harford Road. Unlike some other large circuits, the Durkee organization owned most of its houses.

Content

The collection consists mainly of programs published by the Durkee Enterprises. The programs consist of information provided on a weekly basis of what was playing at the theatre and contains images of leading stars of the films being advertised. Several brochures are also included for openings of new theatres. Some miscellaneous material including newspapers and magazines can be found as well.

Container List

Box/Folder            Title                              Date

1-1 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1942

1-2 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1943

1-3 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1944

1-4 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1945 

1-5 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1946

1-6 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1947

1-7 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1948, Jan.-August

1-8 Garden-McHenry-Casino Theatres 1948, Sept.-Dec.

 

2-1 Aldine Theatre 1937 

2-2 Ambassador Theatre 1935, 1963

2-3 Apollo Theatre 1939

2-4 Arcade Theatre 1935

2-5 Avenue Theatre 1937-39

2-6 Boulevard Theatre 1921

2-7 Cameo Theatre 1929 (?)

2-8 Capital Theatre 1942

2-9 Carlton Theatre 1949

2-10 Carroll Theatre 1940

2-11 Center Theatre 1939, 1941-42

2-12 Center Theatre 1943-44

2-13 Center Theatre 1945-46

2-14 Center Theatre 1947, 1949

2-15 Cinema Theatre 1964

2-16 Crest Theatre 1950

2-17 Deluxe Theatre 1942

2-18 Earle Theatre 1937, 1939

2-19 Echo Theatre 1942-43

2-20 Edgemere Theatre n.d.

2-21 Edgewood & Fulton Theatres 1939

2-22 Essex Theatre n.d.

2-23 Forest Park & Gwynn Theatres 1939-1946

2-24 Fulton Theatre n.d.

2-25 Grand Theatre n.d.

 

3-1 Harford Theatre 1938-39, 1945

3-2 Harford Theatre 1946

3-3 Harford Theatre 1947

3-4 Harford Theatre 1948

3-5 Highland Theatre 1940, 1942-45

 

4-1 Hilton Theatre 1942

4-2 Hilton Theatre 1943

4-3 Hilton Theatre 1944-45

4-4 Hilton Theatre 1946

4-5 Homewood Theatre 1946

4-6 Homewood Theatre 1947

4-7 Homewood Theatre 1948

4-8 Linden Theatre 1939

4-9 Metropolitan Theatre 1940, 1943-44

4-10 Montgomery Theatre  (Roth Theatre Chain)  n.d.

4-11 Nemo Theatre 1942-43

4-12 New Aberdeen Theatre 1940

4-13 New Reistertown Theatre 1937, 1939

4-14 Northway Theatre 1937

4-15 Overlea Theatre 1940

 

5-1 Palace Theatre 1949

5-2 Park Theatre 1935

5-3 Pennington Theatre 1938

5-4 Plaza Theatre 1947

5-5 Preston Theatre 1935

5-6 Rex Theatre 1940-1949

5-7 Ritz Theatre 1937

5-8 Roxy Theatre 1940 (?)

5-9 Squire Theatre 1960 (?)

5-10 State Theatre 1928-1930

5-11 Times Theatre 1940

5-12 Uptown Theatre 1941

5-13 Victory Theatre 1945-46

5-14 Vilma Theatre 1938-1940

5-15 Walbrook Theatre 1945

5-16 Walbrook Theatre 1946

5-17 Windsor Theatre 1942

5-18 Windsor Theatre 1943

 

6-1 Windsor Theatre 1944

6-2 Windsor Theatre 1945

6-3 Windsor Theatre 1946

6-4 Advertisements – Misc.   n.d.

6-5 Cue: The Weekly Magazine of Metropolitan Entertainment 1937

6-6 Loew’s Weekly 1935, 1939

6-7 Matinee Sentinel 1931

6-8 Movie Fan 1939

6-9 Movie Guide n.d.

6-10 Movie News 1963

6-11 National Movie Month 1966

6-12 Non-Maryland Theatre Programs 1937-1939

6-13 Paramount Magazine 1934

6-14 Reistertown Community News 1965

6-15 Showtime in Baltimore 1965

 

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