Avon Theater

5754 Telephone Road,
Cincinnatus, NY 13040

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Halbert's Hall, later the Avon Theater

As improbable as it may seem, tiny Cincinnatus, N.Y. had two functioning theaters showing movies for a few years following World War I; the imposing Alhambra Opera House had opened in 1913 and was regularly showing movies not long after; and then in 1919 the Avon Theater, exclusively for movies, opened for business. Open only part-time (sometimes Saturdays only, other times Saturdays and Wednesdays, with the theater let out for meetings at other times), it was still operating in 1929.

While several photos and the location of the Alhambra Opera House are known, the Avon Theater is more mysterious. More information would be great to have.

Contributed by Adam Marsland

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

adamghost on September 3, 2014 at 6:15 pm

I visited Cincinnatus today looking for possible buildings that could have housed the Avon Theater; the only candidate I could see is the former town hall building, which does have the right dimensions.

adamghost on December 23, 2015 at 2:51 am

Digging deeper into old newspaper clippings, I finally have more information on the Avon, and it apparently predates the Alhambra Opera House, albeit under a different name.

Opening date for the Avon itself was June 26, 1920 with “Turn Of The Wheel” hosting a packed house for two shows at 7 and 9 p.m. However, the theater was housed in a building known previously as Halbert’s Hall, which was described in 1913 as a functioning theater “with good stage scenery” (no doubt a diplomatic local boosting nod upon praising the stage at the new Alhambra).

There are myriad listings for various talent shows, rummage sales, dances, vaudeville and minstrel shows, meetings, political rallies, plays and, yes, movies for Halbert’s Hall dating back to at least 1896. A ticket office was put in in 1897. Several articles refer to the hall adjoining the I.O.O.F. lodge rooms, with the I.O.O.F. meeting there on occasion. An article about a narrowly-averted fire in 1913 indicates it was located “in the main business center of the town.”

After the Avon closed (probably in 1929 or 1930 with the changeover to sound), there is mention of the Hall being purchased in 1935 and being remodeled (with a new addition added) into a bowling alley called “the Bowl.” A change of ownership and reopening of the Bowl is noted in 1944. In 1947 the Cortland paper states that “The Cincinnatus Bowling Alley is closed for repairs.” In 1964 the Cortland paper further states that a “new bowling alley” is under construction on Taylor Avenue. Here the trail of the Halbert’s Hall/Avon Theater building ends.

adamghost on February 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Sherrie Massman of the Cincinnatus Heritage Society has filled in the blanks on the history of Halbert’s Hall/Avon Theater:

“The small old theater was upstairs accessed by a double door to the street. The first floor of the building had always been a storefront. It later became a bowling alley upstairs and had I believe 3 or 4 lanes. When the building was demolished, I recall that someone in town salvaged the wooden bowling alleys, I never heard that any movie theater items came out of there. In fact, no one I have ever spoken with who knows local history had ever heard of the Avon Theater. I researched it, and finally found a reference to it in an old newspaper online. I also was able to speak to a 96 year old resident who actually saw movies there and he confirmed that it was a small theater in the upstairs of the building and it was called the Avon. It rivalled the Alhambra, but was smaller.”

Sherrie indicates the building was demolished around 1982-83.

Address was approximately 5754 Telephone Road, roughly where the entrance to the Family Dollar parking lot is.

Date of the opening of the Avon Theater (remodeled from Halbert’s Hall) in the main listing should be changed from 1919 to 1920.

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