Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

CENSOR THEATRE PRECEDED THE BOHM

Morning Star, November 16, 2014, pg. 6

As we approach the Thanksgiving season and relatives come in from all parts of the country, do they know about my latest pictorial Albion history books? They would make great gifts this holiday season. E-mail me at Albionfp@hotmail.com or call (517) 629-5402 for details.

We all know that George A. Bohm opened the Bohm Theatre in December, 1929, and had operated a Bohmís Theatre in 1915 and 1916. But what did he do between those periods? Back in the spring of 1915 Hadley H. Sheldon remodeled the north half of the first floor of the Albion Opera House building which he owned. It was located at 223 S. Superior St. It had formerly been the location of the Charles W. Slade Variety Store. Sheldonís Drug Store was located in the south half the building at 225 S. Superior St., where today Dr. Judy Warren has her dental practice.

The Censor Theatre opened on Saturday, August 14, 1915, having been leased from Mr. Sheldon by Clarence A. "Bert" Fiske (1868-1963). The Albion Evening Recorder reported, "[Fiske] assures the people of this city that only high class films will be shown, the strictest censorship being imposed for the benefit of the good will and respect of the patrons of the theatre."

In 1916, the Censor was purchased by George A. Bohm who thereby closed his first Bohm Theatre. George had a reputation for eliminating the competition, and so it is said he eventually had the fire Marshal declare the Albion Opera House upstairs a fire trap. The narrow steps to the Opera House were on the north edge of the building next to the Censor. Thus H. H. Sheldon closed the Opera House around the end of World War I.

George Bohm knew how to put on a show. His childrenís parties and free Christmas shows provided for a "packed house" at the Censor. George also attracted Albion College students at the Censor. The annual "Kimono Parade" there during the 1920s attracted College co-eds who dressed up in Kimonos for the occasion. Iíve got two "inside views" from 1922 and 1929 showing this annual event. A local news item reported, "Going directly to the Censor Theatre, the young ladies looking for all the world like the chorus of a Japanese comedy, if there is such a thing, saw "Sorrell and Son." Ice cream was served by George Mitchell Confectionary two doors away.

The Censor Theatre also had a theatre organ. Mrs. Marian Embury served as organist at the Censor for many years. For the historical record, the first talking movie shown in Albion was not at the Bohm Theatre, but rather at the Censor. It was in May, 1929 that the Censor aired "The Bellamy Trial." When the Bohm Theatre was finally opened in December, 1929, George Bohm closed the Censor Theatre.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photo circa 1916 of the Censor Theatre.


The Censor Theatre, circa 1916

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