Silent pictures had become the rage by 1913. Three movie theatres, which appear to have been branches of home-operations from other towns, opened their doors in Follansbee. Located opposite the Hately building store & post office, the EDISON began featuring movies in June. A newspaper advertisement read, “The New Edison Theatre in Miller building opposite Postoffice will be opened Saturday Afternoon and Night 3 Reels of Pictures will be shown at each performance with entire change of pictures at night ADMISSION 5 cents.”
In spite of an extensive advertising campaign, the Edison appears to have only survived a few months. Another movie theater, the PALACE, started advertising shortly after the closing of the Edison. Mr. Papulas of Wellsburg bought the Edison Theatre and remolded the interior. The new Palace theatre was opened in early December with large audiences. The theatre was a branch of the Palace at Wellsburg and owned by a company that controlled a circuit of motion picture houses and their own films. The Miller building, used earlier by the Edison, was also the location of the Palace. Its lobby, scenery, and entire interior were repainted in pretty designs.
Frequently, movie theaters featured a movie serial in conjunction with the city newspaper, which featured a printed version. In 1915, the Follansbee Review and Palace simultaneously featured “The Black Box” serial (See photo of newspaper ad “The Black Box”). The Black Box serial marked an important stride for Palace theater manager Louis Cantos, who had just installed a “modern picture machine which operates the film by electric motor and does away with the awkward hand crank.” Mrs. Helen Krager, pianist of Follansbee, and Mr. Wilbur Kelly, violinist of Wellsburg, provided music to accompany the silent movies presented at the Palace.
Star Theater Ad in Mill Town Review 1914.
Ad featured in 1915 Follansbee Review. The Palace showed the movie version of The Black Box, while the printed episodes appeared in the Review.
Also mentioned in the Mill Towns Review was the STAR Theater. During August 1914, the Star Theatre featured ‘Million Dollar Mystery– Nine Miles of Love, Romance and Adventure.” It was a serial production by the Thanhouser Film Corporation. The forty-six reel series was released in two-reel installments each week. The film was actually advertised as “nine miles of film.” A national promotional contest worth $10,000 cash prize was paid for the best 100-word solution to the mystery. The Star Theater went under the management of L. R. Myers in 1914. During the summer 1915, the Star Theater became the FAMILY Theater.
- Mill Towns Review, Review of the Week – reference to Edison, June 20, 1913, p. 5.
- Mill Towns Review, “the New Edison Theatre..,” June 27, 1913, front page.
- Mill Towns Review, “Palace Theatre Showing Pictures,” December 12, 1913, front page.
- Mill Towns Review, See Star Theater Ad, August 7, 1914, front page.
- Follansbee Review, “Fine Picture Machine at The Palace,” September 3, 1915, front page.