The BeverlyEast across the Rock River, the Beverly continued operating after the demise of the Apollo-Hitching Post. Richard Took, who now lives in Brodhead, Wisconsin, remembers it well.
Beginning in the late 1940s, he worked at Howard's Fountain Service—then owned by his father—and located south of the Beverly across Court Street on the west side of Main, not far from the Andrew Carnegie building, built in 1903, that held the original Janesville Library. I went there now and then as a boy.
Took replaced his father as owner of Howard's and occasionally helped out at the Beverly, including updating the marquee.
He recalled the entrance surround and rectangular canopy of the Beverly were light blue and the name Beverly was spelled out in red neon.
The lights outlining the canopy were also red, Took said, and timed so they appeared to flow—a style later incorporated into the triangular canopies of the Jeffris and Myers, which were accented by bug-light-yellow bulbs.
Title searchI spent many hours looking for images of the Beverly but kept coming up empty.
In an effort to identify living family members of past Beverly owners who might have photographs or other information, such as whether the Beverly had a balcony, I purchased a title search from Nova Title and Closing Services, LLC. It was $100 well spent.
In thanking Andy Vidal, lead search and closing agent, who did the sleuthing at the Rock County Courthouse, I mentioned I still hadn't located a photograph of the Beverly and asked whether he had any ideas about additional places to look such as survey companies or other firms that might have recorded images of Janesville streets or buildings over the years.
Amazingly and completely unexpectedly, he remembered seeing a photograph on the Gazette Xtra website "Opinion Matters," edited by Greg Peck, that listed the Beverly as one of the buildings in the background of a posted image; Vidal sent the photograph to me in a Word document.
The Beverly at last!
Though the shot was low-resolution, I could make out a canopy toward the middle of the frame, on the east side of Main Street, just about where I thought the Beverly stood.
It was in the background and small, but it looked a lot like the original Apollo canopy which dated from the same era. And, after lo these many decades, there was the Beverly! A half-century-plus memory confirmed and curiosity satisfied.
Reached on the phone, Peck said he would pass my name and contact information on to the photographer. I said I would send an e-mail outlining my story and include some images I had collected to increase his confidence that I would showcase his photograph properly.
The e-mail left my office at 3:30 p.m. and when my phone rang at about 7:00 that evening, the photographer, Jerry McCullough, was on the other end of the line. Very cool!
He said he would send a large version of the photo and gave me permission to include it here. McCullough was a teenager at the time walking around downtown Janesville trying out a new color slide camera.
His memory of the Beverly was murky but he recalled some odd bits, including that there was a popcorn stand just south of the theater. "But," he said, "the Beverly had a strict policy against patrons bringing food into shows. Management wanted to sell as much popcorn as possible," he laughed.
McCullough also remembered there was an office supply store just north of the Beverly; this was confirmed by a Gazette story I happened upon about the razing of the theater and the nearby Mllner (originally Myers) Hotel that referred to it as "Hamlin's Office and Stationery Supply, formerly Jacobson's." 174
Lead Usher Richard BadgerHe said I should try to find a contemporary of his named Richard Badger who had worked at the Jeffris Theater in the early fifties.
Badger lives in Madison and responded to my out-of-the-blue call with great cordiality. He was in the Janesville High School class of 1954, started working at the Jeffris at 16, and became lead usher.
He was certain the Beverly did not have a balcony and that the seating scheme was similar to the Jeffris: two aisles running from the lobby to the screen divided seats into three sections; a cross-over aisle about half way down further divided them into six sections.
Dark blue seats, red curtain, rats
His memory is the seats were dark blue, the curtain red, and the carpet black and red. He also remembers the Beverly had a musty smell. McCullough said his sister, Marge, worked at the Beverly around 1954 selling concessions, and she recalled seeing rats in the basement.
In the above view of downtown Janesville photographed in 1955, The
Milner Hotel, formerly Hotel Myers, is in the left foreground. It
was located at the corner of South Main and West Milwaukee
Streets. Below is a blowup of the Milner Hotel sign. It
appears to have painted letters accentuated by neon.
Click for a larger view.
Foreclosure sale detailed in title associated with the
Beverly Theater. Click for larger image and more
excerpts resulting from title search.
The Beverly is on the east side of South Main Street about mid-block.
Its canopy is a few doors south of the Dells Cleaners neon sign.
Probably the photo was taken in December, 1956, given the
decorations and what I believe is a 1957 Desoto behind
the ladies crossing the street. See blowup below.
Photograph by Jerry McCullough.
Click for a larger images, including a blowup of the Beverly.
There are many cars in the photo that includes the Beverly, but the one be-
hind the crossing ladies appears to be the latest model year. I knew it
was a Chrysler product and guessed the marque was Desoto. Review-
ing 1950s Desotos at Google Images indicated it was a 1957. I
sent the image to Tim Bowers, webmaster of the National De-
soto Club, and he agreed. Given the barely visible antenna
on the fin (another would have been on the right fin), he
thought it likely was a Fireflight model although it could
have been a less-expensive Firedome or
Firesweep—with optional antennas.
Photograph by Jerry McCullough.