"13 Circle Theater"
Ken Burkamp took this Downtown photo on July 23, 1960 from a fire escape at Murphy's. He notes on the photo, "Choman's Housewrecking takes an 1800s store building down board by board on Oak Street behind the Circle Theatre, which is at the top center. Top right shows the Gas Light Restaurant (Oak St. Pub). Just below on the right is the heating plant that served a good part of downtown with steam heat."
Following are comments received from those who responded. If you would like to add more comments, please click here .
• Bob Owen of Manchester writes, "I've carried this vague recollection with me all my life. I think I might have been 5 years old in 1944 (or maybe 4 years old in 1943). Jackie Bennet babysat me. Often, I think. I lived next door to her on Charter Oak St. (HI, Jackie!) She took me to the Circle Theater and the only thing I could remember in the movie was a guy diving off the yardarm of a sailing ship. All my life I wondered what movie that was. In the mid '90s, on VHS, I saw the movie Hurricane from 1937 with Jon Hall and Dorothy Lamour. That scene came up and I knew that was the movie I wondered about for perhaps 50 years.
"That memory is rather vague, but solid. My first clear memory at the Circle Theater was in 1946 when I was 6 years old, I went alone and saw Tarzan And The Leopard Woman with Johnny Weissmuller and the co-feature Walt Disney's Bambi. I was a Tarzan fan from that moment on, and Bambi remains my favorite animated movie.
"Over the next several years I went often to the Circle. I saw the serials and the B-movie series features like Charlie Chan, Blondie, Joe Palooka, The Bowery Boys. The westerns with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and others. And the cartoons, previews and newsreels. Great times!
• Rita McParland of Manchester replies, "Looking at the mystery picture brought back old memories. I was raised in a tenement apartment at 993 Main Street above the Manchester Pet Store, the Diamond Police Supply store and on the end of the building was a small diner called the Sandwich Nook owned by Adrian Groot. I lived there from August 1951 until the end of August of 1963. The building was razed to make room for parking next to the bank.
"To the north of this building was Murphy's Restaurant which was so close to our building I could almost touch it from my kitchen window. Between my building and the building to the south was a walk way to the back parking lot. There was a bank, Ray Beller's Music Store and Nassiff Sports Store on the corner of Maple Street. On the adjacent corner was First National Grocery store. For all of the 1950's into the early 1960s Main Street was the hub of the universe. Thursday night the stores stayed open to 9 PM. It was always a big social event. Almost everyone knew each other if only by sight because everyone shopped there.
"The Murphy building which at the time was a bar and restaurant now houses the East West Bridal Salon. Ironically, the fire escape you speak of is still there.
"Except for the 2 old houses on Maple Street behind the store fronts (Sam Yule's Shoe Repair shop) the area was a huge parking lot where we played. The parking lot was fairly old in parts and some of the pavement was broken up.
"I remember the mystery building very well. The power plant was to the right of this building. To the left of the mystery building the parking lot sloped downward to the back of the House and Hale store. There was a back entrance there but it was only used by employees. The side entrance for customers was on Oak Street where House and Hale customers could enter. I walked through that entrance every day to and from Nathan Hale School. It was a short cut to Main Street through the Men's department. You can guess that I came to know everyone who worked in the store over time. Typical of the 1950's everyone was kind and welcoming. Oh, how life has changed.
"From when I was six years old (1951) my brother, friends and I played in this area. It was our back yard. No trees for shade and no grass to mow. I don't recall seeing deliveries to that building. It may have been used by House and Hale for storage."
• Helen Wittkofske, 1941 Manchester High School graduate writes, "I have fond recollections of the Circle Theater. When I was about 10 years old, my aunt Katie wold take me to the 'movies' on Saturday afternoon. We would walk down Bridge St. to Hartford Road and get the bus. That was a treat too because we did not have a car.
"We got off the bus near Oak Street and went to the Circle Theater. I got my pick of candy before we found our seats.Then the magic would begin. There were previews,news,short subject or cartoon,and serial before the main picture. When all that was over we walked to Main street and turned left to what I recall was a tobacco shop. It was a long, narrow store. There was also candy, newspapers and those wonderful movie magazines. I was allowed to get one. The store owner's name was Hostettler. I am not sure about the spelling. They were an older couple, but everyone seemed older to me just as everyone is younger now.
"Then we bused it home. To me, the Circle adventure really was the bus ride, the Circle, and the tobacco shop. My Aunt Katie was in the Ninth District School when it burned."
Ed. Note: For additional information on the Ninth District School Fire in this website, please click Ninth District Fire.