Family Theatre (Vaudeville House) & Reeves Music House


FROM THE 1961 LAST CHANCE STAMPEDE PROGRAM • COURTESY OF KITTY ANN QUIGLEY TAALER

The Family Theatre was opened by John J. "Jack" Clark (1864-1938) in about 1907, and was Helena's leading vaudeville house before the opening of the Marlow Theatre in 1918.

The entrance to the Family Theatre was located at 21 S. Main St. The second story of the building, which still stands, was once home to Ida's Rooms-- later Dorothy's Rooms -- famous bordellos. The Windbag Saloon now occupies the adjacent Reeves Music House space.

In the above circa 1916 photo, the poster in front of the theater touts the Frank Rich Musical Comedy Company, members of which are likely in these placarded automobiles, preparing for a publicity ride through town.

Although the entrance was on Main, the theatre itself was the first floor of the repurposed St. Louis Hotel, which backed up to Jackson Street.


Family Theatre Entrance on Main St., circa 1911


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

 

Site of the Family Theatre

 

The St. Louis Hotel, seen from the South




After the Marlow Theatre Opened...

Shortly after this closing, Helena dentist Dr. Edward V. Cabbage (he later changed his last name to Bethel) opened a movie theater in the ground floor space, and had a dental office and apartment above. In 1925, his office and apartment were severely vandalized during his absence by a gang of boys.

Reeves Music House

A. I. "Daddy" Reeves
1864-1951

A. I. "Daddy" Reeves operated his music business in the above pictured location, next to the entrance of the Family Theatre, and at least two other Helena locations over the decades. Reeves was a beloved personality in Helena, and appears to have been the driving force behind musical entertainment and instruction in the community. Reeves was also an impresario of sorts, bringing to Helena various touring musical acts and companies, including John Philip Sousa's Band.

Reeves was deeply involved in charitable and fraternal efforts as well, serving as the city's favorite Santa Claus for 50 years. He also sponsored an annual "picnic" for the city's scruffy newsboys ("newsies"), which involved an outing to Alhambra Hot Springs or similar activity, a movie in town and other treats.


Reeves Music House Sign, 10 South Main, circa 1911

 

Interior Views of Reeves Music House, circa 1911


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD



Post- World War I Newspaper Ad

 


Newsboys' 25th Annual Picnic, Gates of the Mountains, 1928

"Daddy" Reeves Standing at Far Left


COURTESY OF THE DAVID POOR COLLECTION • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW


 

A. I. "Daddy" Reeves Obituary


COURTESY OF CATHEE CRAPO


"Dear Old Montana"
by Genee and Mimi Milligan, 1931Inscribed to "Daddy" Reeves


COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

"Dear Old Montana" was published in 1931 by Helena sisters Genee and Mimi Milligan, who dedicated it to the 22nd Legislative Assembly. The Milligan sisters wrote numerous songs and toured the midwestern U.S. vaudeville circuit as Genee and Mimi Milli. Genee was born in 1890 and died in Helena in 1975. I could not find dates for Mimi.

"Dear Old Montana" has been rendered for your listening enjoyment by friend, musician and producer Paul Robinson. Click here to download the mp3. Click here to download a pdf file of the sheet music.

Thanks, Paul!



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