Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, May 19, 1997, pg. 4
Downtown Albion has seen numerous improvements during the past several years which have helped bring new life to our central business district. One of these is the reopening and remodeling of the 1,100-seat Bohm Theatre at 201 S. Superior St. The Bohm Theatre has been a major downtown fixture since it opened on Christmas Day, 1929. But did you know that this was not the first Bohm Theatre in town?
George A. Bohm (1890-1951) was born and raised in Albion, and became quite an accomplished musician. During World War I he joined the Navy and was a member of John Philip Sousa’s famous 300 piece band as first clarinetist. He was chosen as a member of the band of the Battleship Pennsylvania, flagship of the Atlantic fleet, which sailed to France with President Wilson for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. George’s brother Gustav (1897-1967) also played saxophone in one of Sousa’s bands. George was a member of several area orchestras, and with his siblings formed the first saxophone quartet in Southern Michigan.
During the 1910s silent films were sweeping the nation and soon movie theatres were opening everywhere, including in Albion. George Bohm opened "Bohm’s Theatre" on the east side of the first floor of the Commercial Hotel building at 108 W. Porter St. in 1915. This was the first Bohm Theatre. Our photograph shows the entrance as it appeared in 1916. Notice the arched "catwalk" to the far right, which still exists today minus the arch bricks.
Another theater, the Temple, moved to the north side of the Opera House building (223 S. Superior St.) after the Flood of 1908. In 1914 it was purchased by building owner Hadley H. Sheldon, and renamed the Censor Theatre. George A. Bohm purchased the Censor from Sheldon in late 1916, thereby closing his W. Porter St. operation. He then took over operating the Censor.
Not wanting any competition in the local entertainment industry, the story goes that George had the fire marshall declare the Opera House upstairs a fire trap, thus ending its existence (although school plays were still held there during the 1920s). While George served in the Navy in World War I, his brother Albert Bohm (1887-1960) managed the Censor Theatre. Albert continued as projectionist at the Censor and Bohm Theatres until his retirement in 1955.
George continued to operate the Censor Theatre until the present Bohm Theatre was completed in December, 1929. At that time the Censor was closed. Mrs. Marian Embury served as organist at the Censor for many years. It was at the Censor that the first "talkie" motion picture in Albion appeared in May, 1929, "The Bellamy Trial."
1929 Bohn Theatre
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic