After a long search, I was elated to find the image of the Beverly that launched me into this story, but then another mystery struck: Why Beverly?
Other Janesville theaters had easy-to-trace names. Myers and Jeffris were funding families; Apollo, a Greek god; the connotations of Electric, Lyric, Unique, and Royal, clear; and Highway 26 and Mid-City had geographic appellations.
A Wiki entry states Beverly, “... is derived from an English surname which was in turn taken from the place name Beverley. The place name derives from Old English combining the words befer ‘beaver' and leah ‘clearing.'"190 The city of Beverley, with a slight different spelling, is located near the eastern coast of England.182 No clear association with movies there.
Beverly Hills, California,191 and its connection to the film industry is an obvious, possible source, but it didn't become the "community of the stars" until well after Janesville's Beverly opened in 1916.
California's Beverly Hills was named by Burton E. Green,192 an early landowner from Madison, Wisconsin. He had spent time in the east, according to a website, and had "happy recollections of Beverly Farms...a lovely ocean-front community next to the city of Beverly, Massachusetts."193
Land of Lincoln?I also discovered there is a Beverly Hills in the Chicago area that has a history about as deep as its California cousin. Endris Hoover, president of the Ridge Historical Society (Beverly Hills is one of the communities the group seeks to interpret and preserve) said the name originated with Alice French, wife of early resident William Marchant Richardson French, who was the first director of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mrs. French named the community after her hometown, Beverly, Massachusetts.194
Bay State?With the California and Illinois Beverly Hills names derived from the same source, why was the town in Massachusetts so named?
Terri McFadden, Research & Education, Beverly Historical Society, replied to e-mailed questions:
"Thank you for your inquiry regarding the origin of the name of our city, Beverly, Massachusetts. We know that the name was chosen in 1668 when the area split from Salem and officially formed its own town. We do not know for sure why they chose this name. One story is that a soldier who led local troops during one of the [Native American] wars of the 17th century was from Beverley England and the name was picked to honor him. However, there is no proof of this. We do know that none of our early settlers were from Yorkshire (where the English city is located). Rather our folks were from the southeastern part of England."
Although possibly the stuff of a movie plot, this history isn't, by itself, cinematic.
Janesville's Beverly might have been named for someone involved in the theater's financing or an associated family member or ancestor, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint a likely candidate. Historically both females and males were named Beverly, but today it is used almost exclusively as a woman's name.
The influential Cullen family was involved in financing the theater's construction but an inquiry USPS-mailed to an executive at the company drew no response. I also paged through the company's history, The Cullen Way, written by Martin Hintz (2001), and checked the index but didn't find any Beverlys.
?For now, why the theater was named Beverly remains an open question.
City seal of Beverly, Massachusetts. Cynthia McPherson,
senior clerk, City of Beverly, said the Latin phrase
"Patri Simillima Proles" on the seal signifies
"...the continuance of the ancestral virtues
and public devotion to the children,
generation after generation."
Beverley, England town shield.
Beverly Hills, California, town shield.
Burton E. Green
Courtesy of the Beverly Hills (California)
Public Library Historical Collection.