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Kinemacolor (Variety) Theatre - / Karn-Morris
Victoria, B.C.
1600 Government St.
Organ installation timeframe: 1913 -
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Exterior concept drawing by Rochefort & Sankey Architects, c.1913
The Kinemacolor Theatre opened in 1913. The theatre was named for the Kinemacolor projection technology. Originally developed in England, Kinemacolor was innovative in its use of red and green spinning discs to produce a full color image. A similar system was installed at Vancouver's Kinemacolor Theatre. Unfortunately the technology was not entirely successful and it was removed within a few years.
According to the Organ Historical Society Database and the Junchen opus lists, the Kinemacolor Theatre had a Karn-Morris organ of unknown specification installed in 1913. The Junchen opus lists include further detail of the blower having a 2 horsepower motor and outputting 4" wind pressure. Disposition of the instrument is unknown.
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Interior concept, Rochefort & Sankey Architects, c.1913
The interior concept drawing shown above includes what appear to be organ chambers on either side of the proscenium. But with a blower of only 2 horsepower and 4" wind pressure, the Karn-Morris instrument would not have been very impressive.

News item from The Moving Picture World, April 1, 1916

News item from The Moving Picture World, May 6, 1916.
Note reference to $10,000 organ ordered from Karn Morris Piano & Organ Company of Woodstock, Ont. It's possible this instrument replaced the earlier 1913 Karn Morris organ.

In reviewing the Henderson City Directories for Victoria, the Kinemacolor Theatre was first listed 1914.
Beginning in 1915 and continuing until 1935, the theatre was listed as the Variety Theatre, initially at 560 Cormorant St. and later at 1600 Government St. (the theatre was located at the intersection of Government and Cormorant Streets.).
From 1936 to 1939, the Variety Theatre was included in the directories, but with the note: "not operating."
In 1940 and 1941,"7-Up Ltd Bottlers" was listed for 1600 Government St. Subsequent listings include: 1942 - Vacant, and 1943-1951 - Victoria Roller Bowl. From 1952 to 1955 and possibly beyond, the space was listed as the Victoria Ballroom.
Some Victoria history websites mention that the Kinemacolor (Variety) Theatre operated under the name Coliseum Theatre at some point. This cannot be verified using the Henderson City Directories. In fact there is a listing for the Coliseum Theatre operating between 1925 and 1931, but it was located at 1609 Government St. which is further North and across the street from the Kinemacolor (Variety) Theatre at 1600 Government.
Interestingly, when looking at today's Victoria, Government St. and Cormorant St. do not intersect. That's because in the 1960s, a part of Cormorant Street was removed to allow construction of Centennial Square.

As of 2018, the Kinemacolor building still exists and houses multiple retail tenants.
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1600 Government St. Image courtesy Google Maps, May 2018

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