Sunday, April 10, 2016

Photodrama Advertisement Car - Detective Work Completed.

By Professorbigmac

Many readers will have seen the photograph of a Model T Ford being used to advertise the Photodrama of Creation as depicted below.

There is also another view from the other side, which has been colorized.

It would be nice to know where this scene was located and when it happened don’t you think?

Zion’s Watch Tower dated February 15, 1914 contains an article about the Photodrama and where it was being exhibited. This included Cleveland, Ohio, at the Temple, Prospect Avenue and E. 22nd Street. This is the address seen on the side of the display.

Research on the internet about churches allowed us to identify the actual building. It was previously the Plymouth Congregational Church as shown in the postcard below.

Comparing this picture with the drama advertisement we can see exactly where the car was placed.

Correspondent Brian pointed out that, if you examine a high definition copy of the original photograph, there is a poster advertising the Photodrama in the doorway behind the car.

According to Wikipedia the Plymouth Congregational Church owes its name to Henry Ward Beecher. The Church disbanded in 1913 due to a loss of members and a lack of money. The Bible Students obviously were using it as their Temple for Photodrama showings in February 1914. Wikipedia suggests that the Congregationalists got it back and reconstituted it as a Community Church in 1916.

Extra note by Jerome:

Following on from meeting places being called Tabernacles (e.g. Brooklyn Tabernacle, London Tabernacle) it was easy to see why some large halls would be called Temples. So there was the New York City Temple, where the Photodrama was shown in New York. Probably most famous of all was the Chicago City Temple (formerly the old Globe Theater), which again was used for the Photodrama. 

The Chicago class produced a special brochure entitled Our Temple, which is highly collectable today. It shows how the Photodrama presentation worked, and as a bonus had a photograph from the first Bible Student convention held in Chicago in 1893. If you visited the Chicago Temple you would likely have been given a tour by Albert Franz, whose photograph is in the Temple brochure. As a link with more recent times, his younger brother, Fred Franz, was president of the Watchtower Society from 1977-1992.


PaleHose99 said...

Where was the Chicago Temple located (address)? What years was it used by the Bible Students?

jerome said...

The Chicago class had grown to about 600 in 1914. They first hired the Auditorium Theater in Chicago to show the Photodrama in April-May of that year, while looking for a more permanent location. They obtained a lease on the Old Globe Theater (which was originally built to exhibit the Panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg) and after much work redecorating opened for business later in 1914. There is an article in the St Paul Enterprise showing it to be up and running in October 1914. As well as a theater it included a book rooms,library, dining room, and accommodation for the workers. The address was 700 South Wabash Avenue., near 7th Street. However, when a new film was shown by the Bible Students in Chicago in 1918 they were back in the Auditorium Theater.

jerome said...

Addenda to previous comment - a quick internet search shows that it was reopened as the Strand Theater in May 1915, and demolished in 1921. So it wasn't used by the Bible Students for very long at all.