|About three years after the Apollo began selling tickets, and a year before the US formally entered
World War I, the Beverly Theater held its grand opening on April 25,
It was located across the river from the Apollo at 17 and 19 South Main, on the east side of the street, a few doors south of Milwaukee and about a block and a half west of the Myers.
Peggy, released just a few months earlier on January 16, 1916,68 was the first movie shown. It is largely forgotten except that it marked the film debut of Billie Burke, who later starred in The Wizard of Oz as the memorable Glinda, aka the Good Witch of the North—favorite of many children, including me.
The Gazette article states: “The public is invited to visit the Beverly and view what has been termed the most modern, safest, and most beautiful theater in the state. Among other wonderful things that charm your attention will be the marvelous $5,000 pipe organ orchestra, which will furnish music for all shows.” 69
The stated original cost for the organ is equivalent to about $108,000 in 2015 dollars according to the US Inflation Calculator.70
Serving on the Beverly’s board of directors, according to the Gazette, were, “J.A. Strimple, president; Dr. F.H. Farnsworth, vice president; Harry O. Nowtan, secretary; Frank E. Sutherland, treasurer; and Harry E. Jones.”71 (No position is listed for Jones.)
“To the general contractors, A. Summers & Son," another Gazette story reported, "is due the credit of transforming one of the worst eyesores in Janesville into a place of beauty. One can hardly imagine that the new theatre is located where the old garage used to be.” 72
Googling, I found a reference to A. Summers & Sons in a 1914 edition of Engineering and Contracting: “Janesville, Wis.; A. Summers & Son, $20,832 awarded construction of dormitory and school building at the Wisconsin School for the Blind, by the State Board of Control.” 73
Some idea of what the Beverly’s interior looked like is provided by an unnamed Gazette reporter: “The Fifield Lumber Company of this city furnished the millwork or fancy paneling. This is much in evidence as one looks about the theatre and adds a great deal to the general beauty.”74
“Crowds Throng New Play House” was the title of a Gazette article about the Beverly written after a reporter viewed Peggy: “The first impression one receives from the entrance is an altogether harmonious and pleasing one. And as one proceeds up the long lobby the deep resonant tones of the pipe organ orchestra, swell and throb through the second doorway.
“Here a symphony of delicate colorings greet the eye. The draperies are old rose and along the side walls are dainty ruby lights touching up the old ivory decorations with a soft glow refreshing to the eye. The lighting of the spacious auditorium is by means of semi-indirect light bowls equipped with dimmers…
“Good taste is manifested in the scenery, curtains and flowers on the stage but with the ringing up of the outer curtain, the picture play, ‘Peggy’ drives all else from the mind and for eight reels the spectator sits enthralled with fascinating Billie Burke, though every once in a while one is tempted to steal another admiring glance about the beautiful house.”75