newspaper clipping of Wonderland ad

The Wonderland Theatre, 1907-1909

In January of 1907, the New York Exhibition Company based in Watertown, NY began renovations of a store front in the Leaven’s building. In what had been the Goodson Bros. store at 23 Ridge St., company president Joseph Cohen and business partner L. S. Berman hired Frank Shippey of Glens Falls to transform the space into a theatre. The entire front was dismantled and a proper theatre entrance with a lobby was installed.

Within a month, Glens Falls welcomed its very first “electric theatre”. The New York Exhibition Company created a buzz when it advertised the Wonderland as a “pioneer moving picture house”. The finest of pianos, a Bradley, was purchased and Eva Threehouse was hired as the pianist. S. Knebel, a company stockholder, was brought in as the manager. Programs changed three times weekly, consisting of half hour shows of films and illustrated songs.

Soon after opening, the New York Exhibition Company ventured into importing movies from Europe, particularly France, and rented them to other theatres. This was a savvy move on the part of Cohen, designed to give him a competitive edge in both national and local markets. The company became a resource for the latest studio releases across the country and promoted exclusive first access to the Glens Falls public.
Interested in cornering the motion picture business in Glens Falls, the New York Exhibition Company purchased controlling shares in the Monroe Exhibition Company in March of 1908. The Fairyland and the Wonderland now fell under the same management. Unfortunately, rather than solidify the company’s place in the city, it had the affect of contributing to disorganization and poor service. From their company headquarters in western New York, it was difficult to maintain oversight and proper guidance for both theatres.

Operations continued until 1909 when a decline in attendance was noted. To remedy the problems, multiple changes in management took place but made little difference. By July, the theatre was listed for sale. It closed in October and was converted into a store a month later.