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JIM: 100 years ago, February 6, 1912, Parlor Circle opened

Today's tidbit adds to the JIM'S wonderful:
JIM: A Brief History of Early Cinema in Columbia, Ky., c. 1903 to late 1922Read them all for one of the most fascinating histories of a vertical has ever printed. - ED WAGGENER


Today, February 6th, 2012, marks the centennial anniversary of a seminal event in Adair County's entertainment history.

Through 1911, local entertainment consisted almost entirely of live performances -- musical presentations, plays, debates, speeches, and dramatic readings, for the most part. Occasionally there would be stereoptican (think slide projector) presentations, and some of the well-to-do Adair County families had player pianos or phonographs, but those were few and far between.

Beginning around 1900, folks with a projector, canvas (screen), and a few reels of films would occasionally come through to give screenings at the courthouse, a schoolhouse, or wherever else space might be rented for a night (or a few nights) but no permanent movie house existed in Adair County until after the first decade of the new century had expired.

In January 1912, Messrs. Ray Conover, George Montgomery, and George W. Lowe announced plans to open a first-class picture show in Columbia in the immediate future. They rented the upstairs of the brand new Sinclair building (now 130 Public Square) over W.H. Wilson's store. Toward the latter part of the month, Mr. Conover went Cincinnati to procure the equipment, to-wit: "a Standard machine, the best that is made, the necessary number of chairs, piano, etc." (The "Standard machine" referred to the projector.)

Enthused the News about this new venture,

Only first-class pictures will be put upon the canvass. It will be a place of amusement, such entertainments as to merit the endorsement of Christian people.

Picture shows have become quite popular, and all towns the size of this place support one. We are glad to make this announcement, believing that the people of the community will enjoy the entertainments, and be glad to patronize the promoters.

The name of the show will be the "Parlor Circle."

In this era, the News carried a Wednesday publication date but actually went to press on Tuesday and was available locally later that day. The edition bearing the date of Wednesday, February 7th announced somewhat tersely, "Everybody be at the Parlor Circle this (Tuesday) night. The show will open."

Unfortunately, the paper didn't note the the title of the first movie shown, but the following week came this "review" of opening eve:

The Parlor Circle is a delightful place to spend an hour or two before retiring. The show was started last Thursday (sic) night, the hall being filled to its utmost capacity. The pictures were good and the machine worked perfectly. The few stops made were unavoidable, as the film in one of the reels was [broken] in two or three parts. Hereafter the films will be examined before starting. The music, piano, cornet and tenor drums rendered each evening, is delightful.

(In the era of silent movies, local musicians provided entertainment during reel changes and other lulls in projection as well as providing the mood for whatever was being shown. Almost certainly, Mr. George W. Lowe, who was in charge of music for the Parlor Circle, was the cornet player and his wife the piano player on opening night.) - Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2012-02-06 06:13:43
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