Millinocket Historical Society

Preserving Millinocket’s heritage, one story at a time.

Month: March 2019

Opera House News

In today’s world, news comes to us in many forms, TV, internet, phone, etc. In the 1930’s, one way was via the local movie theater. Two events of note are described in Opera House News, Volume 1, No. 23 distributed by the local theater in June of 1937 (5 cents per copy). A major world event was the coronation of England’s King George VI. The Millinocket Opera House showed, not a newsreel, but a documentary feature. This innovation was described as “a most significant application of the instrument of the motion picture to world events.” And the event was “enhanced by Technicolor.” The article continues, stating that as the coronation was colorful with flashing jewels and purple velvet, the use of Technicolor enabled the viewer to enjoy all the splendor of the event.
The same issue (and only one in the museum’s collection) also announced that “the battle of the year,” the boxing match between James Braddock and Joe Louis would be shown on Wednesday and Thursday. Opera House patrons “will see for 35 cents what fight fans paid $16 for in Chicago.” This was shown at some time after the fight actually took place and the article gives away the ending stating “the entire match, which saw a fighting champion go down before a stronger challenger, has been filmed at close range.”
A previous column stated Frank LePage was manager of the Millinocket Theater. He was the owner. He and his family started the Millinocket Theater at 75 Penobscot Avenue in 1938. As mentioned in the previous column, The Crown Theater (1937, Milton Glickman) began at that location and was quickly renamed Keith Theater. Then Charles Madden purchased all the equipment and further up Penobscot Avenue started the Four-Star Theater. This apparently all happened within a short time period, 1937-1938. Details are sketchy and a bit confusing. Thank you, Linda LePage Boyd for helping sort it out! At the museum, we are currently gathering all the theater photos and ephemera (paper items) into one location for easier access. Paper items include tickets, coming attraction handouts (various sizes), student movie passes, posters and more. Some of these will be on display in the near future. Donations of other local movie memorabilia welcomed!
Bill Geller, author of “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” will be in Millinocket, Wednesday, April 17, 12 noon, speaking at the Millinocket Literary Club’s annual spring luncheon. Limited tickets, purchased in advance, available from club members, at the museum and at the library. Geller’s book will be on sale (benefit museum).

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Some WWII Enlistees

On October 14, 1941, a group of twenty-one young men enlisted in the military in Old Town. The museum has a photo of this group with the above date written on the back. With the photo is a card with a few names. The card may have been placed with the photo after its donation to the museum. The photo’s condition is poor (dark and stained), but since it shows Millinocket WWII era military and perhaps East Millinocket and Medway men, it deserves to be shown. The names on the card are Brown and Farnsworth (no first names), George Ferland, Dana Edmonds, and two Monaco brothers (Restant and ?). We would very much like to identify all these young men who enlisted shortly before Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into WWII. See this photo at the museum or on the Millinocket Historical Society’s Facebook page.
The museum has received a donation from John Beaupain of 50+photos taken by Roger Boynton, mill photographer. They include interior mill photos and several general subjects such as Mt. Katahdin, lakes, camps, fishermen etc. Beaupain also donated a number of 12” x 18” GNP photos which will be used for display purposes.
Do you remember blotters? Those rectangular pieces of heavyweight paper with a fuzzy coating on the back. They were used to blot ink when we used a fountain pen to write a letter! In even earlier days, they were a necessity when using pens dipped into ink bottles. There are several blotters in the museum’s collection. Many were given out as advertisements for businesses. The museum has one from the Millinocket Opera House. It says. “Opportunity of a Lifetime for Every Student.” It’s from 1940 and the theater was giving away one volume of an encyclopedia each week until the set was complete for a total of fifteen volumes. Other blotters in the museum’s collection advertise businesses such as Millinocket Insurance Agency.
A professor of animation from a Maryland college spent time at the museum. For a sabbatical project, he asked to look at GNP mill photos from the 1950’s -1960’s. These will provide him with information for his animated documentary. Can’t wait to see the result at some future date.
Several museum projects are in the planning stages: the museum’s 40th birthday, a second Little Italy story telling event, next year’s calendar and more. Stay tuned! Also, by July 4, we expect to place a new group of pavers out front. Order before May to be included. Honor an organization, school class, sports team, business, yourself or a friend. Plan a paver in memory of someone/family. Contact the museum for details!

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Two Queries

Happy Birthday 118th, Millinocket! On March 16, 1901 Millinocket became the 467th town to be incorporated in Maine. Historian Dot Laverty’s version of the name’s origin of and spelling of Millinocket is this. The name was taken from Millinocket Lake and the stream of the same name. Millinocket means “lake of many islands.” Millinocket was spelled with two t’s on several early maps, but for the town the last t was dropped. Note, the museum has a couple of photos with signs showing Millinockett.
Historical Societies and libraries are two places people look to for historical research. Two queries came to MHS last week and on occasion, help from the public is needed. GNP owned many trucks and in Dec. 1962, they purchased two (twin) Mack trucks. Last year, one was purchased and restored by a Skowhegan man who hopes to learn more of its history. He contacted the Mack Museum in Pennsylvania and now has reached out to MHS. His truck is serial #22121 and the sister truck would be 22122. It has a flat-bed body that dumps, one rear axle and the original gasoline engine. He is looking for information and/or photos. A photo of the restored truck is on our Facebook page. Contact the museum if you have information.
A genealogy query involves an immigrant from Albania who came to work in the mill. His great-granddaughter provided this information. Pandi Dimitri, born 1882, arrived in New York about 1915. It is known he was married and died in Maine. The 1940 census has him living in Millinocket.
Museum sources checked include the 1900 Millinocket census, cemetery records, school census books and obituaries, all with no luck. One last resource revealed the name Pandeli Dimitri. A ledger listing Millinocket registered voters 1912-1938 has him registering on 3/2/1944. His signature is there along with the address 124 Bowdoin Street.
This volume is one of several at the museum. They include voter enrollment books from 1912-1938, indexed alphabetically by last name. Included are addresses, political party and town of last enrollment (if any, and date of filing.) Maine was heavily Republican at that time, so that book has more names than the Democratic book. One other book is for the Socialist Party, popular in the early 20th century. In Millinocket, this party had two enrollees in 1912 and one more added in 1926. The second one changed to Democrat in 1918 and the third changed to Democrat in 1940. Prior to being Socialist and Democratic, he had been a Republican. From a genealogy aspect, these enrollment books show where these people were living at some time during the years 1912-1939. One museum volunteer has already discovered addresses for several branches of her family tree! They are available for visitors to view.

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Theaters from By-gone Days

Did you know that Millinocket once had theaters called Crown, Keith, and Four-Star? The Crown Theater opened in September 1937 at 75 Penobscot Avenue (most recently bowling alley site). It had 350 seats and was constructed by Milton Glickman. Soon after, the name was changed to Keith Theater. Frank “Binky” LePage was assistant manager. Later the same year, Charles Madden purchased the theater. He reopened it up the street at 151 Penobscot Avenue as the 350 seat Four-Star Theater. The next year, Madden started construction of a new theater (Millinocket Theater) on site of old Keith Theater. The Millinocket Theater’s gala opening took place Sept.9, 1938. There were 702 seats and Frank LePage became general manager. Thus, in 1938, Millinocket had three operating movie theaters, the Opera House (1st talkie, 1929), the Four-Star, and the new Millinocket Theater.
As of 1939, only the Opera House was allowed to show major films. This resulted in the Four-Star closing the following year. In 1943, the Millinocket Theater won a lawsuit and gained the right to show major motion pictures. They went on to add Cinema Scope, a giant wide screen.
Glen Wheaton became an important part of the Millinocket Theater’s history beginning at age eleven passing out programs. In return, he received free movie passes. His first paying job was selling candy.
Through the 1940’s, 50’s and into the 1960’s, the Opera House and Millinocket Theater attracted crowds to view great motion pictures. The Millinocket Theater ended its run in 1962 when it was destroyed by fire. In 1971, the Opera House closed and in 1977, the building was demolished. For a time in the 1970’s and early 80’s, the K Cinema operated at the local shopping center on the hill.
The museum has a variety of posters, programs and other handouts from the Millinocket Theater and the Opera House and one each from the Four-Star and Keith. Penobscot Avenue street scene photos and post cards show the Millinocket Theater and Opera House. In one museum photo, the marquee for Four-Star Theater can be seen as well as a portion of the building. This theater was located where Katahdin Valley Health Center is now.
The Opera House (1912) was the scene of live performances and other town events in the years before silent movies and then “talkies”. The museum has a piece of stationary from the Dream Theater (live performances, not movies). It says: Dream Theater, Cutliffe & Ferland, Owners, Millinocket. No information as to location. Advertisements in 1923 and 1925 show it was on Penobscot Avenue,

***Available at the museum store………
1. “Within Katahdin’s Realm, Log Drives and Sporting Camps” by Bill Geller – $30.00 ($5.00 each SH);
2. “Tales of Little Italy” DVD, $15.00 ($2.50 each SH)
3. “A Little Taste of History” cookbooks – $15.00 ($5.00 each SH on mail orders);
4. “Spirits of Katahdin” DVD – $10.00 ($2.50 each SH);
5. 2019 MHS Calendars, “Sports for All Ages”- $10.00 ($5.00 each SH);
6. Engraved pavers, $100.00 each, contact MHS for details and form;
…and more.
*** Museum open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, noon – 3PM weather permitting.
***Contact me, Curator Trudy Wyman, 723-5477 or trudy18@beeline-online.net. For groups or appointments, contact the Millinocket Historical Society at P. O. Box 11, on the web at www.millinockethistoricalsociety.org or on Facebook.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén