Point Theatre

2665 Main Street,
Whitney Point, NY 13862

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Opera House, Whitney Point Theatre

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The Point theater. Whitney Point N.Y., photo courtesy of Ken Peterson.

Various newspaper articles, flyers and other evidence confirm the existence of the Point Theatre in Whitney Point. It was located on the second floor of the fire station. When I was a child doing research on movie theatres in the area, information on this theatre was and now remains frustratingly elusive…particularly since my father at that time owned the Whitney Point newspaper! Research at the time suggested the existence of prior theatres in Whitney Point…the village was devastated by flood in 1935, so this is not surprising.

Flyers on eBay dated mid-1930’s advertise for the Whitney Point Theatre which opened on April 21, 1934. Articles in the Binghamton Press confirm that the theatre, now known as the Point Theatre had opened on December 24, 1936. It closed in early-1961 and was demolished to build a new fire station on the site.

Contributed by Adam Marsland

Recent comments (view all 41 comments)

adamghost on April 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

A good starting point would be to search the specific search string “Whitney Point Opera House” into the database of old Binghamton Press issues that you found on the Fulton Postcards site. That should assure you that such an opera house did, indeed, exist (and as Joe and I have suggested, was very probably the same hall that later housed the Point Theater).

lalainthelibrary on April 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

When you use the word “hall” are you talking about the Municipal building? It has already been established that the building that housed the fire station, government offices, and the theater was called the Municipal building.

lalainthelibrary on April 18, 2014 at 5:39 pm

People have memories of attending the theater right up until the building burned down. Also, the lack of recolection about an opera house is based on the fact that most businesses were owned by locals and in Whitney Point almost every original family still has decendents living in the area. If a family had owned an opera house that knowledge would have been passed down in generations, regardless of the age of the family member at the time of the venue operating.

adamghost on February 20, 2016 at 10:35 pm

As Joe said, it would be a great thing for somebody (who doesn’t live in California as I do), to head over to the library and go through the old microfilms of the Reporter, as I did in the ‘70s when I first researched this. Perhaps my recollection from that time that it closed prior to 1967 is mistaken. The one thing I can say with certainty is that the Press articles in '67 about the building burning down make no mention of the theater.

Regardless, there’s simply no question that the Whitney Point Opera House existed (a simple search of the Binghamton Press archives will confirm this), and that given they both were in the municipal building, that it and the Point Theater (and probably the Crescent, and perhaps the Peoples') were one and the same. No controversy. Peace.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2016 at 11:46 pm

A while back an E-bay seller offered a postcard that was an invitation to the Whitney Point High School Alumni Banquet, held at the Opera House on June 23, 1905. I don’t know when the building that later housed the Point Theatre was built, but if it was the same one that was there in 1905 then, to accommodate banquets, the Opera House must have been one of those multi-purpose halls with a flat floor. It might later have been remodeled with a raked floor when it became a full-time movie house.

WPGUY on July 8, 2022 at 8:10 pm

The history of Whitney Point’s Movie Theaters and the Baby Giveaway: Here is some history on the movie theaters in Whitney Point. The movie theater business was bumpy and nobody stayed at it long in town. The history is an exhausting thing to piece it all together to figure out who did what and when that was involved. So here is what I found: Andrew Tyler bought Rogers House which was originally built as a big hotel that sat on the corner of Main and Railroad Street where the Advance Graphic is now (was old NAPA site.) in 1919. He left his farm on Cherry Hill Road and used the old hotel to run his insurance and real estate business. He built an addition on the east side to make an opera house. He leased the opera room to a guy named Gillette. Gillette with his brother managed the movies business with decent success. As movies were silent in the early days, they bought a super expensive $2000 movie piano (custom player piano) in June of 1922. Early movies also often included some stage acts and humor which required a lot of showmanship. Taylor ran a restaurant and hotel still and he turned his dining room into a dance floor. They offered dancing and sold ice cream after the movies to drum up more business. By December 1925, Gillette and Taylor almost gave up on the movie business at Roger’s House, but kept making attempts to show movies up until about early 1927 where it appeared they were done with movies in WP. Gillette went on and opened a theater in Greene, then Cinncinatus, and later Chenango Forks. Roger House was leased out in April 1930 to a man from Endicott, Vincent Davenport to be used as a Ford car showroom and repair shop. About 1924 the Fire Station’s opera house upstairs was leased to Carl Paige and his wife who opened the Crescent Theater. The Crescent ran movies while Taylor’s movie house was struggling for viewers. The Crescent did a bit better. The Paiges moved away in June 1924. For the next year or so only a handful of movies were shown by special arrangement. In October 1926 Herman Joslin took over the Crescent. Apparently a man from Cortland, Harry Still took over the Crescent movies from Joslin in December 1926. Of Russian descent, Harry was a go-getter that ran a top-shelf theater in Cortland. On July 11, 1927 Harry Still died from Typhoid. It seems like the Crescent was done shortly after this to be reopened later by others. Starting by early 1929 there was a “People’s Theater” in town I think was in the fire station. This was run by Alax Dribnock from Endicott. These were movies with sound.
The theater at the fire station later opened as the “Whitney Point Theater” under Byron Gosh on April 21, 1934 and seems to have gone away in about one year. Byron worked hard to bribe people to see movies and offered snacks, candy, and even had routine “bathing beauty” contests where girls in bathing suits competed for prizes. I expect this drew in a lot of young men. Byron rented a bottom floor apartment on Liberty Street. On one day, he announced in the newspaper that he found someone left a baby on his doorstep with a note wanting someone to care for it. Byron was not in a position himself, but put word out that he was giving away a free baby on movie night on July 18th, 1934. . Now that is the biggest giveaway in the town I expect. I find no further mention of where the baby went. I may assume it was not such a big deal in those times or more likely it was a kitten or puppy. On December 24,1936 the fire station site was opened as the Point Theatre under Mr. Pearlman from Binghamton who ordered new upholstered seats and seems to have quit in 1958. He claimed attendance was low as young people were rowdy and loud, others wouldn’t attend. The village supplied heat and rented the area for $400 per year so they offered the space to Mr, S. Warthmore from Greene was running movies in his home town and appears to have taken on the Point Theater until early 1961. In March of that year the Department of Labor declared the space unsafe for use as a movie theater. The village did not feel it was worth the money to upgrade the space to meet code. Leonard Kaufmann who was involved in the management of the movies declared the theater closed. Warthmore was listing the seats for sale right after it shut it down. This was the sad end of movie theaters in Whitney Point.

WPGUY on July 8, 2022 at 8:22 pm

Byron Gosh came to WP in 1934 and rented the movie house on the second floor of the fire station. He was listed as a former Barnum and Bailey circus clown. Gosh brought on sound equipment and showed the first movies in WP with real sound instead of piano music. As a true showman, Gosh pulled all sorts of stunts to get people into his theater including his, “Gosh’s Country Store” where he gave away about 20 gifts on movie night that included groceries among other things. He had a “bathing beauty” contest on a movie night that would offer young ladies in bathing attire to win prizes and compete for the title “Miss Whitney Point.” He had a dog show and contest that included an award for ugliest dog. The baby giveaway had to be his finest or perhaps most devious act where he claimed to have had a baby dropped off on his front steps that had a note to find it a good home. Gosh advertised he was giving away a baby on movie night. I am sure it was a hoax as nothing more was reported. I suppose a lucky movie-goer received a kitten, puppy or such animal. The trickery used by circus showmen was common and did not often build good feelings in a community. Gosh seems to have been in WP less that the whole year of 1934. Gosh started a small indoors circus and advertised along the east coast mostly in southern states. Later he bought tents and ran a small circus that popped up at local fairs and such. In 1942 it looks like Gosh had quit the circus business and became a movie house operator in Chilhowie, VA. with his “Your Theater.” During WWII he was paid by sponsors to drive around in a truck that had a steel box and housed a powerful projector. Another truck carried chairs. Gosh traveled to towns and showed outdoor movies at night including news reels of the war effort for no charge to the audiences. In 1945 Gosh took a contract with a radio station in Knoxville, TN and with four trucks and trailers took on tent shows all over the region exploiting the radio celebrities and showing films. This was a good attempt to improve the count of the radio audience.
Sometime after this, it appears Gosh started up another circus called the “All-American Circus.” In 1947 he had 3 trucks and a 60x160-foot tent that could hold 2000 people. He traveled about 30 miles between shows as he traveled Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. This circus in 1958 listed 15 people and 10 shows. It was a small and well-received circus. Byron Gosh was a clown in it. They hosted a dog show, cycle and juggling acts, contortionist, animal shows with chimps and hippos plus various acrobatic acts and clown shows. In 1956 he even had a sea lion act. This was a small circus that traveled in the south eastern states. Gosh died in March 1965 and his wife Thelma, former costume designer ran the show. Byron Gosh was a special type person that was gifted to entertain and WP shared a time with him.

adamghost on November 19, 2022 at 8:41 am

WOW…6 years later and on the other side of the world I popped back onto the page to see if anyone had ever untangled the Whitney Point theater mysteries…and discovered WPGUY went above and beyond all expectations with the amazing historical research! Thanks for this amazing info!

Two questions: 1. Any idea when Rogers House was demolished? 2. Any idea about where the (probably briefly operating) theater in Maine run in tandem with the Point in the ‘30s might have been located?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 19, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Whitney Point’s fire station is on the same site it occupied when it housed the Point Theatre upstairs, but it does not appear to be the historic building. The modern, 2-storey structure looks like it was probably built in the 1960s. The modern address is 2665 Main Street, though the historic address on a 1907 Sanborn map, which provided the evidence of the location, was 533 Main. The original building housed the fire station and a retail store on the ground floor, with the City Hall and Opera House occupying the upper floors.

WPGUY on January 18, 2023 at 11:46 am

Rogers House was vacant for many years before it was condemned and demolished in July 1962. The addition that housed movies was torn down some time shortly after the 1935 flood. It was used as a miniure golf course before the flood.

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