History of Chemung County to 1975
Elmira has had three notable stock companies at Roricks Glen, the Mozart
and the Majestic.
Stock played at Roricks for two glamorous decades before becoming a
wold war I casualty. Such stars as Bobby Woolsey and Walter Catlett
became famous there. In the summers, Roricks Glen was in full swing.
Crowds came by trolley, and horse and buggy. Some even made it in
rowboats or canoes on the Chemung. it was the “in” place during the
early years of this century and the bridge to the glen was a promenade.
The Mozart company ran for many years and its best-known leading man
was Edward Everett Horton. Leona Powers and Mae Desmond were popular
leading ladies. The company folded around World War I days.
The Majestic troupe was the last to survive. It ran for three
seasons, the first (1926-27) being the most successful.
“Stock died in Elmira when the curtain went down on the last Majestic
show and the theater took on the darkness that only theaters can possess,”
W. Charles Barber, Elmira newspaperman, wrote in later years. “An
attempt was made shortly before World War II to revive stock at Roricks.
The plays were all right and so was the company; but patronage was light.”
The Roricks theater burned on March 22, 1932, at a loss of $75,000.
The Krug family was closely associated with Elmira’s theatrical scene
for nearly a century. Mrs. Rose Smith Krug was the daughter of W.
Charles Smith, manager of the Elmira Opera House during the Civil War,
as well as when it became the Lyceum. When Mrs. Krug died in 1950,
age of 76, it was recalled that she and her mother operated the Thespian
Inn on W. Market Street during the golden age of the legitimate theater.
(Jessie Baldwin operated a coffee house that stood near the Thespian Inn.)
Mrs. Krug was acquainted with stage celebrities, including Edward Everett
Horton and Harry Blackstone. She was fond of telling the story of
how magician blackstone and his helper were unable to pick an ordinary
lock. The incident occurred at Roricks Glen. They had been
locked in one night and, after several tricks of magic had failed to liberate
the pair, they were obliged to call for help.
Mrs. Krug’s husband, Albert, was a violinist and led orchestras at Roricks
and at the Lyceum.