Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back When Movies Meant Something

"Back in the day" the local movie house and cinema was the place to be. Before television and air conditioning in the home, a local movie house provided a place to escape the dull life of hometown America and adventure to exotic places via newsreels, cartoons and feature films with stars like Garbo, Cagney, Gable, and Hepburn - so many years ago, but not so far away.

Opened in 1945, Woodlawn Theater in San Antonio, Texas, was one of first suburban theatres that was built just after WWII just north of the downtown area.

Alameda Theater in downtown San Antonio opened in 1949. It was designed by Straus Nayfach in an Art Deco style and seats almost 2,500!

The Grand Theater, about the biggest thing in Electra, Texas. Features a "COMING SOON!" sign promising "A NEW FLOOR!" It was built in 1919 for $135,000. This Spanish Colonial styled theater was first used as a vaudeville house.

The Historic Ramona Theater in Frederick, Oklahoma designed by George Kadane, also in the Spanish Colonial style. It opened in 1929.

Wichita Theater in Wichita Falls, Texas styled in the Art Moderne school, survived today as a performing arts center. This Texas Historical Landmark was built in 1908 and features beautiful historical details including original ceiling murals.

Information on these theaters comliments of and

Here are a few more small town Texas theaters:

The Rialto in Sinton, Texas, was apparently part of a chain of "Rialto's" in the coastal bend of Texas. Today it suffers the worst of fates for a movie is a video rental store.

Whorton, Texas' Plaza Theatre operated as a movie theatre from 1942 until its closing in the 1970's. The Plaza reopened in 1995 as a live entertainment theatre. Here's how it looked in its heyday (at night).

The Texan in Cleveland, Texas, built in 1939,is a quintessential small town movie house that serves a population of 7,600. In 1994, the Texan was saved from almost certain death when new owners bought the theater. The theater was restored—with new seats, surround sound, and a new projector for about $150,000.00.

The Fain is still operating in Livingston, Texas. The rounded box office stands on the corner of the building and is covered in burgundy ceramic tile. There is a green trimmed marquee and over-hang that wraps around the front and corner. Last but not least is a tall vertical green "Fain" sign with lots of neon is topped with a spire featuring five disks.