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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


The Page Theater


Eddie Foy (poster at right) played the Page on May 26, 1913.

    Fred Page, the commission man, is having plans prepared by R. Martin, Jr., for a theater building which he proposes erecting at Medford. The building is to occupy a space of 50x350 feet and is to be of brick construction. The estimated cost is about $35,000.
"Houses Going Up in All Sections," Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 9, 1908, page 13


NEW $40,000 THEATER IS PLANNED
Local Men Are Getting Together and Project Seems Assured--
Subscriptions to Stock Are Being Freely Made.
WILL STAND ON NEAR THE "NAT" ON SIXTH STREET
Dr. F. C. Page Expresses Willingness to Go In on Project Instead of
Building One He Planned.
    If the plans of a number of local men do not miscarry, Medford will have, before the opening of the next theatrical season, a $40,000 theater. It will stand on a site at Sixth and Riverside, near the Natatorium.
    During the past few days a subscription list has been circulated among the business men of the city, and now the project seems to be assured, as a large sum has been subscribed.
    The site will be put in by its owners at a certain figure, so that the money subscribed will be used in erecting the structure.
    Dr. F. C. Page, who some time ago announced his intention of erecting a theater, is said to have expressed a willingness to go into this new venture and assist in it, instead of erecting the one he planned.
    Before the end of this week the men back of the scheme say they will be ready to go ahead with the project.
    Medford is known as the best one-night stand in Oregon, and the one thing the city needs now in the way of buildings is a theater, and one seems now to be assured.

Medford Mail Tribune, January 29, 1911, page 1   The Page was built on East Main Street, adjacent to Bear Creek.


PAGE SAYS HE'LL START WORK SOON ON THEATER
    "I am ready to start actual construction work within 10 days on a new theater if I am not hampered by other parties in Medford," stated Dr. F. C. Page this morning, when asked regarding his plans to build a new theater in this city. "I came up from Los Angeles some time ago for the purpose and the burning of the theater yesterday has precipitated matters. I am prepared to go ahead at once and am now in telegraphic communication with interested parties.
    "The only thing which can hamper my plans will be to have a half-dozen others start something. If the town wants a theater and will back me by lending moral support, I will start work in 10 days."
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, October 17, 1912, page 2


    Building circles in Medford have again become decidedly active with the breaking of ground today for two large structures, each to cost in the neighborhood of $30,000. One will be a new theatre on East Main Street erected by Dr. F. C. Page, and the other is a four-story warehouse on South Front erected by the Medford Realty and Improvement Company.
    Work on the new theatre began Monday. It is expected that the foundation will be in before winter rains can seriously interfere with the work. Dr. Page states that he expects to have the building ready for opening by February 15 at the latest so that Medford will not lose all of this season's attractions. The plans for the building provide for every modern feature and will seat 1200 people.
"Jackson County Best," Jacksonville Post, November 2, 1912, page 1


BOB GORDON TO TAKE THEATRE MANAGEMENT
    Bob Gordon, who "won a home" with local theatre patrons during the two years he conducted the Isis Theatre in this city, has purchased a half interest in the lease of the new Page Theatre now being erected, and will be associated with T. J. Fuson in the management of the same.
    Mr. Gordon has had much experience, as has Mr. Fuson, in catering to the public, and their teamwork should result in success for themselves and satisfaction to the public.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1912, page 5


    The contract was let Tuesday by Mr. Page to the Medford Brick Company for the brick which is to be used in the new theater. The front of the building will be constructed of pressed brick and is to be completed about March 15.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, January 8, 1913, page 6



New Theater Under Way.
    Construction work on the new theater at Riverside and Main Avenue began Monday morning, under the superintendency of contractor Fifer, the building being built by Dr. F. C. Page, with Power and West the architects. The structure will cost in the neighborhood of $30,000, and be modern and fireproof. It is expected to be completed by March 1, which will permit of spring bookings. Bob Gordon and Tom Fuson have completed the preliminary details for a lease on the property, and have extensive plans for theatrical enterprises which will be announced later.--Tribune.
Jacksonville Post,
January 11, 1913, page 2



WORK IS RUSHED NEW PLAY HOUSE
    With the understructure of the main floor of the new opera house completed, the new building is assuming concrete shape. As soon as the weather permits the brick sidewalls will be erected. The slope of the main floor, the orchestra pit, and the stage are all built now except for the final flooring, which will not be laid until the building is protected by a roof. A large crew of workmen are busy each day, and it is expected that the building will be completed, as far as the exterior is concerned at least, within two months.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 24, 1913, page 6


    The Jacksonville Brick & Tile Co. is furnishing brick for the construction of the new opera house at Medford.

"Local News," Jacksonville Post, March 8, 1913, page 3




FAMED MAUDE ADAMS, BEAUTIFUL PLAYHOUSE AND GOWNS AND 'PETER PAN' MARK BRILLIANT PAGE OPENING
MEDFORD AND SOUTHERN OREGON SOCIETY GREET INITIAL PERFORMANCE
BARRIE'S MASTERPIECE VEHICLE OF GREAT ARTIST--EXCELLENCE IN ALL
Theater Packed from Orchestra Pit to Gallery--Many Box Parties--
Speech Marks Formal Opening
Who are you, Pan?
I'm Youth, Eternal Youth!
I'm the Sun rising. I'm poets singing.
I'm the new world, I'm a little bird
That has broken out of the egg.
I'm joy, joy, joy.
    There you have it. That is Peter Pan in his own words, and nothing could improve upon it. Of course a great deal of drivel has been printed about Peter Pan, and because of that too many have lost sight of the fact that essentially it is just good fun, the sort of fun that delights young and old, and above all and before all a whimsical and delicate comedy, with a humor as delightful as it is unique.
    Here are pirates from the story book, and Indians and a big shambling puppy dog and lost boys and sweet little girls and all sorts of adventure and real flying through the star lit night on broom sticks, and a monotone of quiet pathos--something to please everyone, from those who know delicate humor when they hear it to those who know real fairies when they see them.
    Needless to say, Miss Maude Adams was Miss Maude Adams, charming, spirited, exquisite, finished in every detail of her art, with the entire audience at her feet all the time. The support was perfect, from R. P. Carter as Papa and the pirate captain to the little lady with two absent toofies who so perfectly served him.
    And after all is said and done the charm of the play is so bound up with the charm of Miss Adams, its appeal is so peculiarly elusive, that any attempt at appreciation is woefully inadequate and disappointing. It is the one play which really deserves the somewhat trite compliment that it has to be seen to be appreciated.
    At eight o'clock on Monday evening many automobiles had deposited their occupants at the door of the Page Theater, and had drawn up in long lines on both sides of Main Street. When the curtain went up for the opening scene of the delightful "Peter Pan," over one hundred cars stood outside of the building, and within practically every seat was filled, including the 16 boxes.
    Never had the society of Rogue River Valley so universally turned out for an occasion as on Monday night for the opening of the Page Theater. While the orchestra circle boxes were filled with ladies in beautiful evening gowns and men in dress suits, in the rear of the galleries stood many who had come too late to obtain anything but standing room.
    People from all over the valley were present, as special trains ran from nearby cities. The ushers were in full uniform, and no mixups resulted from their efforts to seat the large audience.
    B. F. Mulkey, who occupied a box near the stage, made a short speech before the curtain rose, in which he thanked the managers of the theater, Fuson and Gordon, for their courtesy and service, congratulated Medford on having such a splendid theater, and talked optimistically on the city's prospects.
    In the boxes were Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Walther, their daughter Leah, son Lyle, and Miss Dorothy Churchill of Yreka, Calif.; Mr. and Mrs. Dr. E. R. Seely and family; Mr. and Mrs. W. I. Vawter, their son William and party; Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Cochran and party; F. C. Page and Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Wakeman; Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Gore and party; Mr. and Mrs. Mose Alford and Messrs. Tumy, Foss, and Lindley; Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Gates and party; Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Mann and party; Mr. and Mrs. Asahel Hubbard and Mr. and Mrs. Fort Hubbard; B. F. Mulkey and family; R. H. McCurdy, Miss Fern Hutchison, and Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy of Bedford, Ind.; Jay Gore, Miss Lenore Vance, and Miss Lucinda Cochran; Mr. and Mrs. Wylie Hafer, Mrs. Edgar Hafer, and party; Messrs. Summerville, Porter, Mitchell and Geo. Putnam and party.
Medford Sun, May 20, 1913, page 1


From the Page inaugural program, May 19, 1913.

May 25, 1913, Sunday Oregonian
May 25, 1913 Sunday Oregonian

Blaine Klum billboard, Page Theater, July 1913
July 1913

Page Theater ad, 1913-9-1MMT
Medford Mail Tribune,
September 1, 1913


TALKING PICTURES ARE SENSATION
AT PAGE THEATER
    The Edison Kinetophone, or talking pictures, appeared at the Page Theater last night to a packed house, and constitute one of the most worthy entertainments that will appear at that place of amusement in many a day. They are the ninth wonder of the world, portraying the genius of the greatest inventor of any time.
    The pictures show every posture, every sound from the voice to the dropping of a wash pan, and the sound and the figures act in perfect unison. Every phase of the theater from minstrelsy to Shakespeare is shown with marvelous detail. The audience applauded for five minutes the quarrel scene from "Julius Caesar," and cheered the minstrel olio.
    The show will be repeated tonight, with a matinee this afternoon, and is recommended as worth the price of admission, entertaining, educational, and something to ponder over. An entire change of program is [the] bill for tonight.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 2, 1913, page 2


Page 1913-8-28MMT
Medford Mail Tribune,
August 28, 1913

    Quite a number of out-of-town people attended the Page Theater Monday night to hear the Edison kinetophone, or talking moving pictures.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, January 20, 1914, page 2

    PAGE INSTALLS PIPE ORGAN IN THEATRE
    The present management of the Page when taking over the theatre last June decided that the policy of the house would be not only to furnish the best pictures obtainable, but as Medford was a music-loving city, to give its patrons the very best music. This policy has been adhered to, and the result was the Page theater orchestra, which without exception was the finest musical organization ever maintained in this city for any length of time.
    In making a careful canvass of the best moving picture theatres in the largest cities, it was learned that in the past eighteen months, many of these theatres were installing the large Wurlitzer Unit Orchestras. One of the reasons for placing this unit orchestra in the moving picture theatres was that the entire orchestration was under the absolute control of one player, permitting him to a greater extent to keep the music in harmony with the picture. The management of the Page has often in the past eight months realized the utter impossibility of a large orchestra with many individuals playing, no matter how skillful they are, to keep in harmony with the pictures, as the scenes are of such diversified character and change so suddenly on the screen that a lively two-step is not in harmony with a deathbed scene, while a beheading is ludicrous with a lively "rag."
    The management of the best theatres, having faced this same problem in advance of the present population of Medford, but having absolute confidence in the future growth and development of the city and valley, decided that this would eventually become a splendid investment.
    The Vitagraph Theatre in New York, which was constructed for the purpose of giving the Vitagraph productions the first New York run, uses a large unit orchestra, and by the way, the Page in the future will have the exclusive Vitagraph service for Medford. The Liberty Theatre in Seattle has recently installed a $30,000 Wurlitzer unit orchestra. In fact, fifteen to twenty of these large machines have been installed in the past few months on the Pacific coast. Their use is very general throughout the East.
    There is a mistaken idea among the public that these instruments are purely mechanical. They are operated by men trained by the company to play this special make. Mr. Hunt of Oakland, California is in Medford sent here by the company to play this instrument. The mechanics are now busy finishing the installation of the machinery, and the expert from the factory thinks it possible that this may be in condition to play Thursday night. If no mishap occurs it will positively furnish the music at the Page beginning Friday afternoon.
    Medford and her people should congratulate themselves not only in having a theatre the best in the state outside of Portland, the largest and best unit orchestra probably in the state, and the fact that they are permitted to see the very best film productions at a minimum admission. This theater is strictly a local business proposition, employees reside in Medford, and the payroll, which is no small amount, is expended among the business houses of this city.
Medford Sun, February 18, 1915, page 5


Certainly.

    Here is a letter from our Portland, Oregon correspondent. It is self-explanatory. It runs:
    "I am enclosing herewith copies of heralds issued by the Page Theater, Medford, Oregon. They were handed to me by Mr. Merrick of the General Film Company's Portland office, who advises that the herald is a lot better gotten up than any he has seen in the Willamette Valley.
    "Just how effective this herald is in Medford is illustrated by the following: The Page Theater is the only picture house in Medford that gets 15 cents admission; in fact there are few picture houses in Oregon that get this price. The U.S. census gives Medford a population of 9,000, but, of course, the Commercial Club gives it more. At any event the Page Theater seats 1,200 people. One night recently when a Billie Reeves comedy was billed the house was sold out at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. During the evening the heralds were distributed, and after the audience had departed Mr. Merrick and Mr. Page stood on the outside of the theater and counted only two papers that had been thrown away on the sidewalk, which is somewhat different from the usual litter in front of a theater after an audience has departed.
    "Knowing the interest of the World in successful advertising, Mr. Merrick has requested me to pass these samples to you for comment in the World, and while the style is not new, there must be something alive about it to make it successful."
    Certainly there "must be something alive about it to make it successful." And that "something" is merely that the management does not fill four pages with second-hand synopses of coming films and expect the man with fifteen cents in his pocket to read the sheet with intense interest. Mr. Page is willing to pay for what he gets. He has some local items and personals of general interest. He does not confine himself to the pictures alone. He pays for reading with reading matter. The purely house program is good, but the house program with some local stuff as well is ten times better, and it is because of the local matter that two men with keen eyesight saw only two of the sheets that did not go home with the recipient. It's a simple little proposition. It is what we have been preaching these many years. There never has been a house organ yet that was properly run that was stopped because it did not make money. This program has run only two issues, and enthusiasm is young. If the editor can keep on being enthusiastic, then the program will keep on making money for him, but it is the grind, not the lack of profit, that makes the program dry up, unless it's the man above who kicks at the expense.
    These programs are four pages on good (but not too expensive) paper set in eight-point leaded and carries about 30 percent local reading matter. We will appreciate it if we are placed on the exchange list. We want to watch it grow.
The Moving Picture World, August 28, 1915, page 1471

July 23, 1916 Medford Sun
Medford Sun,
July 23, 1916

NEW MANAGERS TAKE CHARGE OF PAGE AND STAR
    The deal has been completed whereby Mr. and Mrs. O. T. Bergner have purchased the lease on the Page and Star theaters from Mr. and Mrs. George Hunt, and Mr. and Mrs. Bergner are now in charge. They will continue to run the Vining at Ashland. Mrs. Bergner has charge of all three houses for the present. Mr. Bergner will return from San Francisco about November 15 and take charge of the Medford theaters. The Bergners have had several years experience in theaters and moving picture shows, have had charge of the Vining Theater for over two years, and will give the public the best moving pictures to be had.
    They already have a splendid list of road shows booked for this winter.
    Mrs. Hunt has been with the Page Theater ever since it was opened, and Mr. and Mrs. Hunt have had charge of the Page about two years and the Star one year. They are both well posted in their line of business and have been giving the patrons of these two houses first-class road attractions and up-to-the-minute moving pictures. They leave the first of the week in their car for Seattle where they will locate, but before settling down they will take a several weeks' rest and visit Mr. Hunt's parents in Nebraska. They will also visit Chicago and other cities.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 3, 1917, page 6


WAR TAX POLICY AT PAGE AND STAR
    Manager Bergner of the Page Theater announces his policy relative to the war tax as follows:
    "It will be the policy of the management of the Page Theater to charge only the actual war tax as imposed by the government on all admissions, which is two cents on a fifteen-cent admission and one cent for children under twelve years of age. This will change the adult admission from fifteen cents to seventeen cents and children from five cents to six cents.
    "The adult admissions at the Star Theater will be reduced from fifteen cents to thirteen cents with an additional two-cent war tax and children under twelve years from five cents to four cents, with an additional one-cent tax, making the total adult admission 15 cents and children under twelve 5 cents.
    "Penny change will soon become a habit, and before long everyone will be carrying pennies with which to pay the various war taxes."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 5, 1917, page 6


BAN UPON ALL GATHERINGS IN CITY MONDAY
Mayor Gates Issues Orders To Close Theaters, Meetings, Etc.,
As Precaution Against Spanish Influenza--
Asks Cooperation of All Citizens--Several Suspected Cases.
NOTICE TO PUBLIC
    On account of the epidemic of Spanish influenza, now sweeping over the country, and after consulting with the physicians of the city, we have decided, beginning next Monday, October 14th, to close all places of amusements, theaters, moving picture shows, etc., churches, lodges, schools and all public meetings of every description, where people congregate--same to be in effect until said epidemic has subsided. Believing that this disease is easier prevented than cured, we respectfully request the people of this city to cheerfully abide by this order and hereby assist not only our city, but the entire country in stamping out this dreaded epidemic.        (Signed)
C. E. GATES,
Mayor of Medford.
Dr. E. B. PICKEL,
City Health Officer.
    To prevent the further spread of the dread Spanish influenza, of which four positive cases are known to exist in Medford and many others are suspected, the city authorities clamped down the lid this noon, to go into effect Monday morning, ordering the closing of churches, theaters, schools and all public meetings and gatherings of every description. This drastic rule will be in effect until all danger of the epidemic getting a foothold in Medford is past.
    The action was not decided on until the local situation had been thoroughly canvassed by Mayor Gates and Dr. Pickel. Every physician in the city was consulted, and the opinion was unanimous that every precaution should be taken before it was too late. A number of cases and suspected cases were also reported from various parts of the county.
Reports Are Alarming
    New reports of the alarming spread of the disease throughout the United States and the large death rate accompanying also had a great influence in deciding the local officials to act. A telephone message from Dunsmuir yesterday afternoon, stating that there had been 37 deaths already and that by midnight last night 14 more were expected to die, also had a bearing. Several citizens from Dunsmuir were in Medford yesterday seeking nurses to assist in caring for influenza patients.
    Health officer Pickel advises all persons to cover their mouths and noses with their hands or handkerchiefs when coughing and sneezing and not to expectorate on the streets or floors. This will go a long ways towards preventing an epidemic here.
    The closing order will stop the work of the Red Cross and many patriotic and public activities, and will entail a loss on the moving picture managements. Manager Percy of the Rialto Theater takes a sensible view of the situation and approves of the closing order of the city officials. He too believes that an ounce of prevention exercised now will prevent much misery and financial hardship later on. Mr. Percy holds that the picture theaters will only suffer a temporary loss, as when the danger is over and the closing rule rescinded, the public will be very picture hungry and will crowd the theaters to make up for lost time.
Warning from Dr. Porter
    An intensely interesting letter was received by the Mail Tribune today from Dr. E. H. Porter, who is at Worcester, Mass., describing the epidemic in the East, the symptoms and effects of the disease, preventive measures, etc., and advising that Medford take precautions. The letter follows.
    "Your issue of September 28 contains an editorial on the subject of Spanish influenza, and from its tone will lead your readers to believe that the disease is not a serious one. Now, do all in your power to eradicate that belief. It is the most terrible epidemic ever visiting America and is very fatal. It is a new disease caused by an heretofore unknown bacilli, but has recently been isolated.
    "The onset of the disease is very similar to that of an ordinary attack of grippe, but much more sudden and severe. Many cases begin as a pneumonia, while others are sick several days before pneumonia symptoms appear. Those beginning as a pneumonia are usually dead in 48 hours. The pathological findings in the dead are very similar to those found in the lungs of those dead from drowning, with the addition of erosions in the bronchial tubes. The vaccines and serums which have heretofore been used in the treatment of grippe are worthless in this disease. During the past week we have secured a small supply of vaccine made from the new bacilli and have inoculated some of the physicians and nurses who are in attendance on influenza cases, but up to date cannot say what the effect will be. Neither can we do so until the vaccine is obtainable in larger quantities which will require several days longer. Am in hopes I can secure enough to send some to the Medford physicians before the epidemic reaches there, and reach there it will, and then look out.
Boston Has 80,000 Cases
    "The disease appeared in Boston early in September, and on the 11th there were 11 deaths. From that date to noon October 5, there had been 2270 deaths, with over 80,000 cases. Throughout New England this is the story told in every town. Every church, school, saloon, billiard hall and theater are closed, and public gatherings are tabooed. To prevent congestion on street cars during the rush hours of business, the health boards have ordered certain classes of business to open and close at certain hours. One sneeze or a cough in a crowded car from an infected person, and there are 20 new cases. The slogan in this section is 'cover that cough and sneeze.'
    "During the past ten days I have been doing my bit at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. That large institution has closed its doors to all but accident cases and influenza patients, and it is more than full. I have been through several epidemics of cholera, smallpox, yellow fever and bubonic plague, and in those the attendants could protect themselves, but in this epidemic the attendants have suffered severely, and the only protection possible is to wear masks of gauze over the face. Calls have gone out to other sections for doctors and nurses, and several states west of the Hudson River have sent details, and yet the demand far exceeds the supply. In one large hospital at this place (Worcester), with 50 nurses on duty, there were over 40 down at one time, with several deaths.
Be Careful in Sneezing
    "As the disease is an easy one carried through the air, by the particles of sputum thrown off by a sneeze or cough, when it appears in Medford, if the health officer will isolate, isolate and again isolate the infected, close the schools, churches, theaters, etc., fine everyone who does not cover a sneeze or cough or expectorates on the street, you may escape a severe epidemic. Children and the aged do not seem as susceptible to the disease as the robust middle-aged person."
Medford Mail Tribune, October 12, 1918, page 1


MEETINGS FORBIDDEN UNTIL DANGER OF EPIDEMIC PAST
    There were no indications today as to how long the ban on public gatherings would be in force, but it was thought that it would not be lifted for a week yet. Mayor Gates says the closing order will be in force until it is certain that all danger of the Spanish influenza getting a foothold in Medford is past.
    The mayor said this forenoon that one physician had informed him that he had six patients ill with the disease, only one of which could be regarded as serious.
The closing orders of the mayor and City Health Officer Pickel were just a day ahead of orders issued by the national board of health. The following telegram was received Sunday afternoon by Mayor Gates from the state board of health:
    "By order of the surgeon general of the United States Public Health Service you are directed to discontinue all public meetings and places of public amusement on the appearance of the present worldwide epidemic of Spanish influenza in your city. You are directed to urge upon everyone the necessity of avoiding crowds, unnecessary street car traffic and shopping until the present epidemic has subsided."
    The mayor's prohibiting of public gatherings does not apply to the public library, he stated today, as patrons only walk in, get what books they want and then depart. Therefore there would be no crowd congregating there at any time. Many church, society and lodge meetings set for the early part of the week have been called off.
    Although there are a number of cases of suspected cases of influenza in the city, the disease may be said to have gained no foothold here as yet.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 14, 1918, page 4


    All Medford merchants were agreed yesterday that the weekend was one of the quietest in recent history. Because of the influenza epidemic people in the country do not come to town any more than they can help, and when they do come stay as short a time as possible. In fact, the people in the country are far more excited over the epidemic than those in the towns where influenza cases are known to exist. One Medford citizen having official business in the country was nearly kicked off the premises of a certain ranch on Thursday who said he didn't want any influenza carriers on his property and thought Medford people ought to stay at home until the scare is over.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, October 27, 1918, page 2


    If the influenza epidemic in Medford continues to subside, Mayor Gates announced yesterday, he will raise the quarantine a week from tomorrow,. There are many cases in the city, but the majority of them are not virulent and closely resemble hard colds.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, November 10, 1918, page 2


    Unless there is a sudden and unexpected recrudescence of the "flu," the quarantine will be raised in Medford next Saturday night, Nov. 23d. No new cases were reported yesterday, and for the first time since the scare started local merchants had a busy day. Many of the stores reported the best trade in many months, hundreds of shoppers coming in from the rural districts. It is generally believed there will be a brisk Christmas trade in all lines this year, as the end of the war has cleared the atmosphere and people feel like loosening up.
    The Medford theaters are preparing big programs for the openings Nov. 24, after being closed for four weeks. There will be three picture houses now instead of two, the Liberty being the new one to be opened where the Star formerly was, under management of Henry Harcke. Watch for the announcements and get in line after a long rest.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, November 17, 1918, page 2


PAGE WILL OPEN NEXT SUNDAY
    The Page Theater announces that it will open Nov. 24th, providing nothing occurs to cause the opening to be rescinded.
    The opening bill will not be announced at this time pending a selection from a number of excellent programs available.
    The most sensational of all war films, "Italy's Flaming Front," has been booked for presentation at the Page in the near future. The film is positively the only one ever taken which actually shows the fighting on land, sea and in the air. Two picture operators lost their lives, and five were decorated for bravery while braving the storm of battle to take these pictures.
Medford Sun, November 17, 1918, page 5


Medford Mail Tribune, November 21, 1918

PICTURE THEATERS TO OPEN TOMORROW
    After being dark for several weeks the Page and Rialto theaters will be opened tomorrow beginning at 2:15. Both houses have prepared unusually good programs for the openings, and will have excellent music.
    The lovers of the movies will be glad to have the opportunity again of seeing their favorite stars, and the theaters will no doubt be crowded. The usual Saturday evening crowds will be out on the streets again tomorrow, and you are expected to join the happy throng.
    The new Liberty Theater will be opened Thanksgiving Day with a big matinee and under the management of Henry Harcke.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 22, 1918, page 6


    The "flu" lid flew off last night, with record attendances at both the Page and Rialto theaters. Both the theaters had been renovated and touched up during the quarantine, and the crowded houses looked like old times. The appreciation of the movies was so keen that early audiences at the theater proceeded almost in a body to the other. Several dances were also given last night, and today for the first time in six weeks the churches will open, which is expected to result in similar record-breaking congregations in the celebration of the Sabbath.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, November 24, 1918, page 2


INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC IS DECLARED ENDED.
Mask Enthusiasts' Lose Chance to Test Theory; Ordinance Now Useless.
    Mask enthusiasts have lost their opportunity of demonstrating the efficacy of their favorite preventive by the proclamation from the city health officer declaring the influenza epidemic as "ceased and terminated." The ordinance, which was passed by the city council requiring the wearing of masks and which was to go into effect 30 days after its enactment, is therefore now useless.
    Only 19 new cases of influenza were reported this morning and no deaths. Dr. J. G. Able, city health officer, stated optimistically this morning that the danger is practically over, but each case will be strictly quarantined as heretofore.
Jacksonville Post, February 15, 1919, page 1


    Dr. F. C. Page, who recently leased the Page Theater for ten years, will devote his time to the real estate business. The doctor is a lover of the theatrical game, is well posed on all the leading companies and stars, and during the past eight months he has been managing the Page has given the public not only the high-class road shows that have visited the coast, but the top-notchers in moving picturedom. Mr. Page also understands how to take care of and please the public, which is a large factor in the theatrical game.
"Local Briefs," Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1919, page 2


RIALTO TAKES OVER THE PAGE THEATRE
    The Rialto Theatre owners took over the Page on July 1st and will only use that theatre for road shows and super pictures of a nature that require special treatment and preservation, like settings, music and an atmosphere that is in keeping with the pictures. The house will be closed until July 17, 18 and 19 when the first super picture, "The Red Lantern," in which Nazimova stars, will be presented.
    The first road show under the new management will be July 31, "Chin Chin," a wonderful musical comedy with a specially large cast.
    Manager Arthur Moran says the company has signed up a number of the best artists in movie circles and will continue the splendid reputation of the two theatres.

Medford Mail Tribune, July 2, 1919, page 8


PAGE UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
    The first picture at the Page Theatre under the new management of A. J. Moran, of the Rialto, was a splendid success. It was one of Nazimova's great pictures, "The Red Lantern."
    The entire house was arranged to correspond with the picture. A large red lantern hung under the marquee, while in the inner lobby runways and the ladies' restrooms red lanterns took the place of lights. The wallpaper in the lobby was a Chinese design, and the young lady ushers were dressed in Chinese costumes. A seven-piece orchestra furnished music in keeping with the picture that was arranged and directed by Henry Harcke.
    All the stage settings were new, being designed and built by A. J. Moran, whose idea is to make all the surroundings in keeping with each picture presented.
Medford Sun, July 20, 1919, page 7


AIRPLANE WILL DROP CHIN CHIN PASSES
    All Medford people who desire free passes to choice seats for "Chin Chin," the musical comedy at the Page Friday night, and who desire to see Arthur J. Moran, manager of the latter theater, do stunts from the airplane, should be on Main Street about 7 o'clock tonight.
    Mr. Moran will be a passenger in the plane and will scatter handbills while the machine flies low over Main Street from Washington School to the theater. To six of these handbills will be attached tickets for "Chin Chin." Not only that, but Mr. Moran will take a photograph of the city from the plane, and to do this he will have to get out on the edge of the plane.

Medford Mail Tribune,
July 29, 1919, page 8



REMODEL PAGE THEATER INTO A 'MOVIE' PALACE
Hunt Theater Co. To Install $15,000 Pipe Organ and Remove Boxes
in Local Play House for Grand Opening October 1--Legitimate Plays Will Be Continued.
    Nothing is too good for the amusement lovers of Medford and the Rogue River Valley in the opinion of Hunt Theaters & Co., which organization owns and operates under lease the Page and Liberty theaters in Medford, operates the Oregon theater in Grants Pass and has built a fine new theater in that city which for legitimate and picture attractions will be opened the latter part of September, and has under way the plans for a similar beautiful new $40,000 combination theater at Ashland, on which work is soon to begin.
    Now this enterprising concern, owned and managed by well-known Medford men, announces that it will remodel and redecorate the Page theater auditorium into a palace entertainment house which will be one of the prettiest and most commodious between San Francisco and Portland, and install a new $15,000 Wurlitzer Hope-Jones organ, the latest model in this kind of musical instruments, and that when the Page is thrown open to the public October 1, the patrons will be agreeably astonished at the beauty of the practically new house, both for legitimate and picture purposes. One can then enjoy the best products on the silver screen and the best plays amid surroundings very attractive to the eye.
    The boxes will be removed at each side of the auditorium and in their place will be the handsome decorated pipes of the big organ, accompanying lattice work and other adornments, including potted plants and flowers.
    Not all the details of the decorative scheme of the theater are yet known, but there will be a new lighting system, new tasteful hangings and carpets, and the very latest in new picture machines with the most up-to-date projection features.
    The removal of the boxes, which never caused much enthusiasm, and the installation of the organ will not interfere with the presentation of legitimate plays, but will tend to add to the effectiveness of such performances, and furthermore will increase the seating capacity of the house.
    And now comes a little more good news, for Hunt Theaters & Co. never do anything by halves. That magnificent new organ sounds good, but who do you think the organist will be? Why, our old friend Henry Harcke, and the fact of his selection to this important post ensure the best of playing and music. Mr. Harcke is already in San Francisco at the Wurlitzer Hope-Jones school studying the latest model of this organ. For years he has played the older types, to the delight of the amusement-loving public.
    Of course, the popular Rialto and the Liberty theaters will be continued in use by the company, and the Page prices with the seating capacity of 1200 at that theater will be the same as now charged at the Rialto.
    There is no doubt that when the rejuvenated and changed Page is opened in October, the local amusement goers will feel a debt of gratitude toward George A. Hunt, Mrs. Hunt and R. F. Antle. Of course, the company will continue to play the best of legitimate attractions at the Page, and between plays will present the finest pictures obtainable.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 21, 1920, page 6


New Organist, Page
    Miss Grace Brown, talented and well-known musician of professional ability, will succeed Miss Jeunesse Butler at the bit Wurlitzer organ at the Page Theater beginning today.
    Miss Butler, who has so efficiently presided at the Wurlitzer, resigned to afford herself a much-needed rest before going north to fill another engagement.
    Both young ladies have a host of friends and admirers who wish them the greatest success in their new advancements.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 3, 1921, page 6



A. R. WILLITS KILLED IN LOCAL FIRE
Medford Business Man Is Instantly Killed When Wall Falls in Page Theater Fire--
Fire Chief Injured--Playhouse Is Completely Destroyed by Blaze.
    As a result of a spectacular fire, which originated from an unknown cause and which was practically in full blast when first discovered, the Page Theater was completely gutted Sunday, and Amos R. Willits, volunteer fireman and popular young business man and partner in the Presto-O-Lite Battery Service and Electrical Supplies Station, was instantly killed and Fire Chief Roy Elliott was badly injured, when the stage firewall collapsed and fell on them.
    Amos Willits was 39 years old and leaves a wife and son, Billy, about one year and a half old. He was of exceptionally pleasing character and disposition, and his tragic end is mourned by a wide number of friends, while the sympathy of the entire community goes out to the widow.
    The funeral services will be held Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Perl Funeral Home, Mrs. Willits' brother being en route here from North Dakota, to attend the funeral.
Estimate Loss $100,000
    The loss on the building and its equipment is about $100,000, in the neighborhood of $50,000 each on the building and its contents. It is understood that the building, which is owned by the Dr. Frederick Page corporation, is fully insured, but that the George A. Hunt Theater Company, which held the lease on the Page, is not anywhere near fully insured. The Hunt company owned the seats, scenery, pipe organ, film machine and other equipment.
    Manager George Hunt, because of all office records having been destroyed in the fire, and the absence of R. S. Antle of the company in Pasadena, Calif., where he recently went to spend the winter, has as yet been unable to get an exact line on the loss suffered by the company, or to ascertain the exact amount of insurance carried.
    He estimates the loss at about $40,000, and only partially covered by insurance.
    The film of Potash and Perlmutter, valued at $3500, was taken to the express office after the performance Saturday night, and as the film "Six Days" did not arrive until after the fire, there was no loss as far as films are concerned.
    When the attaches left the building at the close of the last picture show about midnight Saturday night, there was no sign of fire. About 6 o'clock Sunday morning John B. Palmer and George Corum, who were en route for a duck hunt, when driving past the building saw smoke and flames pouring from the east end of the front of the structure. They drove at once to the city hall and gave the alarm. About the same time the father of Frank Gerdes, the restaurant man, discovered the fire, and gave the alarm.
    The fire department, which hurried to the scene, after blowing a general fire alarm, however, faced a hopeless task in trying to quell the flames, but nevertheless poured streams of water from hose lines, through the doors and windows of the big structure until after several hours the interior had burned itself out.
    There was little danger to other buildings as there was no breeze and a heavy fog was on, and because the burning building stood isolated on the west bank of Bear Creek at the edge of the business section.
Fall of Wall Unexpected
    For the purpose of making sure that the fire was all out and that there was no further fire danger from the soldering ruins on the inside, Fire Chief Roy Elliott and his close friend, Amos Willits, who had responded with the other members of the volunteer fire department when the general alarm had been sounded, began a general tour of inspection about 10 a.m. of the ruins of the interior.
    They were so engaged close to the place where the front of the stage had formerly been, when the stage firewall between the auditorium and the stage collapsed without warning.
    Willits was instantly killed, his skull having been fractured.
    Elliott was struck by debris, but was not covered up so much as the other unfortunate man, and was almost miraculously protected by timbers. He was immediately gotten out and rushed to the hospital, after first aid had been administered by several physicians from the assembled crowd in the vicinity. It required about an hour's work to dig Willits' body out.
    Elliott was reported this noon as resting easily, although suffering from bad bruises and cuts. It was at first reported that among other injuries he suffered a broken arm and crushed leg. But examination by physicians today developed that no bones were broken and that the leg was not crushed. He is expected to make a rapid recovery.
A Narrow Escape
    Shortly after the collapse of the stage wall in which accident one man was killed and another injured, fireman Charles Boussum and George Barnum, volunteer fireman, had a narrow escape from injury or death by the collapse of a portion of the retaining wall. They had moved away from close to this place to safety just a second or so before.
    Praise was not only heard on every side from the big crowd of spectators at the fire for the work of the regular fire department, but for the members of the volunteer fire department, of which about twenty promptly responded out of their membership of 24 men. Amos Willits had been a member of the volunteer department ever since its reorganization last March or April.
    During the time Fire Chief Elliott is incapacitated, the assistant chief of the regular department, Taylor Burch, will preside in his place, and L. O. Van Wegen will serve as an additional fireman.
    The debris continued to burn last night and today, and as a matter of precaution the city administration had two men on guard duty with a hose ready for use all last night.
    Also after the collapse of the firewall, the city took the precaution, because of the dangerous-looking appearance of the walls of the shell of the theater building, of roping off the south sidewalk and the Bear Creek bridge, thus barring all vehicle traffic from the bridge until a thorough examination can be made by experts to see if the walls still standing are solid and safe. According to local contractors the walls are solid and can be retained for reconstruction.
Outlook for Rebuilding
    The Page Theater was built about ten years ago, and since that time the city had witnessed the best theatrical attractions in the land. A number of such attractions had been booked for the next few months. Between the legitimate attractions the house was operated daily as a moving picture theater.
    The question of rebuilding awaits word from Dr. Page, who has been a resident of Los Angeles for a year or more past. C. A. Knight, who has charge locally for Dr. Page, and R. S. Angle, partner of the George A. Hunt Theater Company, who has been spending the winter at Pasadena, Cal. In response to telegrams about the fire sent them Sunday forenoon, Mr. Antle wired back that he would arrive in the city Tuesday morning. The others had not been heard from up to early this afternoon.
    Manager George Hunt says that if the walls of the theater are still good and solid he thinks that the ownership in cooperation with others interested will decide to rebuild at once. If such is the case he says that the theater would be reconstructed and in use in about four months.
    Mr. Hunt also said today that his company would not remodel the old Liberty or Star Theater, on which it also has a long-time lease. Therefore, until a new theater is constructed, Medford will only have one picture theater, the Rialto, and will have to go without regular theatrical attractions.
To Hold Inquest
    Coroner John A. Perl said this afternoon that an inquest into the tragic death of Amos Willits at the Page Theater would be held as soon as Fire Chief Roy Elliott was able to leave the hospital and testify.
    Among the witnesses to be called are C. Stevens, taxi driver, Wm. Offutt, Jr., garage man and Frank Minkler, of the city street department, who were near eyewitnesses of the accident, and first on the scene.
Sketch of A. R. Willits
    Amos Rex Willits was born at Persist, Oregon, November 12, 1884, where his parents had taken a homestead. He was eldest of four children, two of whom survive him.
    He received his education at home until he entered the State Agricultural College at Corvallis, in 1907, where he was a student for two years.
    On Aug. 14, 1910, he was married to Alice French of Ashland, and for two years they resided at Persist. Then after four years in Detroit, Mich. they returned to Medford in 1916, and he was for about four years an able and trusted employee of the C. E. Gates Auto Co.
    During the last year he was a member of the firm of Pennington and Willits, the Prest-O-Lite Battery Shop.
    He was a member of Co. A., O.N.G., during 1919, 1922, and a member in good standing of the Knights of Pythias Lodge and the D.O.K.K.
    He leaves to mourn him his mother and father, his wife and little son, William Clark, his sister Inez H., and brother Merle M., of Medford, Ore., having lost his brother, Roy Thornton, in the fall of 1918.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1923, page 1


MEDFORD MUST HAVE A THEATER
    Medford has always been known as a good "show town." There have been three chief reasons for this.
    In the first place, being situated midway between Portland San Francisco, Medford has been, and will always be, a natural stopping place for all road companies traveling between these two cities--which means all attractions which come to the Pacific coast.
    In the second place, the people of Medford and Southern Oregon are unusually progressive, and can always be depended upon to support the best in musical and dramatic entertainment.
    In the third place, Medford has had, until the unfortunate fire the first of the year, a good theater sufficiently equipped for any attraction, up to Barnum and Bailey or Chicago Grand Opera class.
    Without such a theater of course, Medford will be passed up by all legitimate drama, which means that Medford will be deprived of one of its most valuable assets.
    Medford must have a good theater. If it can't be built in one way, it can be built in some other. The idea of abandoning the idea entirely is unthinkable. The Mail Tribune is convinced that a new theater will be built, and that the public-spirited people of the city will unite and do everything in their power to assist any company or any group of individuals who are willing to undertake the project.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 11, 1924, page 4


REPAIR OF PAGE THEATER RUINS IS BEFORE COUNCIL
    The asserted dangerous condition of the old Page Theater fire ruins on Main Street at the west end of the Bear Creek bridge occupied the attention of the mayor, city attorney and city council and other city officials last night, after a formal report on the condition of the ruins had been made by City Superintendent Scheffel.
    Mayor Alenderfer and the councilmen unanimously declared that the ruins must be put in a safe condition, and referred the matter to City Superintendent Scheffel to further push it with the owner of the ruins and lot they stand on, the George A. Hunt Theater Company.
    The city officials were especially interested when the fact was brought out by City Attorney Carkin that the city would be liable for damages, along with the owner should a wall or any part of it collapse and injure or kill anyone, or damage adjoining property.
    It was brought out during the discussion that many citizens walk into the ruins sightseeing and boys play around in them, the latter having made a regular path through the ruined exterior to the bank of Bear Creek adjoining.
    The council has discussed the condition of the old theater ruins and the possible removal of them, for some time past.
    City Superintendent Scheffel's report follows:
    "Our attention has been called to the condition of the walls at the old Page Theater, and after investigating and placing a transit on the west wall, we find it is leaning in towards the center of the building at the top 3¼ inches.
    "There is also a settlement of the sidewalk in front of the building which will have to be taken care of. Before this is done it will be necessary to tie in the front walls. On November 16, 1926, we took the matter up with Mr. Hunt in regard to tying the walls together, and we were informed by him that he had an architect working on plans to remodel the building.
    "We also have a report from R. I. Stuart, W. L. Merritt and Elmer N. Childers who made an investigation of the building at that time and suggested that the floors be built in and anchored."
Medford Mail Tribune, April 4, 1928, page 3



COUNCIL DEMANDS LIABILITY BOND ON PAGE RUINS
    The matter was brought up at the city council meeting last night by Councilman J. J. Buchter, chairman of the building and light committee, who declared that while George A. Hunt had workmen boarding up the entrances to the old Page Theater ruins and making the old marquee safer, in accordance with the council's notification to him recently that the ruins were dangerous to life and property, the walls should be removed or strengthened and that the council should not be satisfied with this--as it did not relieve the city government from damages should anyone be injured or killed or property damaged.
    Mr. Buchter asserted that the minor safety improvements being made was simply passing the buck back to the city administration, and that the council ought to pass the buck right back strong. He thereupon made a motion that Mr. Hunt be required to furnish an indemnity bond to the city of $150,000 to protect it from possible suits.
    After considerable discussion, during which the mayor and most of the councilmen, all of whom were present except Messrs. Kershaw and Crose, deemed a $150,000 bond too high, Mr. Buchter finally agreed to have the bond made $100,000, and the motion prevailed unanimously.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 16, 1928, page 2


BIG BUILDING ON PAGE LOT PLANNED AS OPTION IS LET

        Elmer Childers, local builder and brother of Gene Childers, owner of the Isis Theater, now in operation, has secured an option on the Page Theater property on East Main valued at $40,000 and owned by George Hunt, according to reports circulated in Medford yesterday. Amount paid for the option is unknown. It is understood Childers will rebuild on the property. It includes a block 83 by 100 feet, the 83-foot front on Main Street, and the old Page Theater, which stands on the property.
    Type of building considered by Childers is unknown. Rumors include theater, apartment house and hotel, at about $65,000.
    The Page Theater has been a problem to the city since it was gutted by fire in December 1923. Methods of disposing of the building and objections to letting it stand have been introduced to the city council at frequent intervals. The city dads have been assured  a deal was first considered which would transform the property from a liability to an asset.
    Yesterday's report indicated the deal had been consummated. Mr. Hunt, owner of the property, sold the Craterian and Rialto to Fox West Coast theaters a short time ago. He failed to relinquish hold on the Page property while operating the other two motion picture houses.
    The Isis Theater, owned by Gene Childers, is the only silent motion picture house in Medford. Various rumors have gone about stating he was contemplating expanding his theater business and seeking a new location. The Page Theater, when in operation, was the leading playhouse of Medford. Nothing has been done to the building since the interior was destroyed by fire.
Medford News, October 30, 1929, page 1  


OLD PAGE RUIN WILL BE RAZED BY CONTRACTOR
    The old Page Theater ruins will soon be but a memory, as within a week's time Elmer Childers, who has obtained the contract from the owners to tear down the structure and who has a deal on to erect a building on the site, must begin the razing at that time.
    The council granted Mr. Childers a week's delay last night, in order that he can study over the problem of whether he can salvage a part of the structure by incorporating it in the building he is thinking of erecting. Whether or not he decides to build he has promised to begin the tearing down of the old ruins at the end of a week.
    In case he decides to build he will begin the work of construction in 30 days. It is understood that this plan provides for cutting down the walls to the height of the first floor and completely finishing that floor.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 6, 1930, page 1   
 The Roxy Theater opened on the Page site in 1932.


    We have . . . condemned and salvaged eleven dilapidated buildings, including in this program the old Page Theater, which has stood as a gaping monument of rebuke to progressive Medford for the past eight years; may it be said to the credit of the owners of this property that it has been converted into a modern and attractive business block.
A. W. Pipes, "Pipes Reviews Progress of Medford in Farewell Address as City Mayor," Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1931, page 5


    It was at the old Page Theater (where the Roxy now rests in quiet cinema death) that Al Jolson, appearing in person, announced to his audience that he would sing Irving Berlin's "Always" for the first time. Jolson, a close friend of Medford theater pioneer George Hunt, visited Medford many times and delighted in making surprise appearances at the theaters.
    At the same Page Theater, the famous comedy team of Kolb and Dill entertained with un-sick jokes simple enough for the whole family to understand.
J.W.S., "On Stage," Medford Mail Tribune, April 7, 1963, page 4




Last revised August 19, 2017