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Historic Houston Theaters


Subdude

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hearing that the Don Gordon Theater was named after the owner's two sons. I vaguely remember that one of them - don't know which - was in the same grade as I was. Facts get less distinct with the passing of time...

Correct, it was stated in a past theaters website, we always assumed it was named for a B actor named Don Gordon but that seemed unlikely especially if not a well known celeb.

I was somewhat fortunate to visit some of our last great movie palaces here in Houston as a child. We all have our distinct memories of them.

I remember the stage lights dimming and red velvet curtains slowly opening to the sides. Everyone hurrying to be seated while the ushers sat people down holding flashlights. The nice crushed swirling velvet carpetting. The theaters seemed cavernous too. The balcony was always a mystery as most times it was roped off with those neat red velvet roped off roles w/brass. There was always that space between the entry from the concessions that had port holes where you could stand tippy toe and see the film on the screen. By the mid to late 60's we kids only wanted to see giant monster films and they seemed as big as life on the big wide Cinemascope/Cinerama screens. The sound of Godzilla was as reall as can be. Even waiting outside under the flickering marquee lights was fun and you always got to see the posters of the upcoming films on the outside poster glass casings. Fun, fun days. :P

We thought those 1940/50's theaters were beautiful but mom always said they were nothing compared to the older ones in our very own downtown Houston! The Metropolitan/ Lowe's State, etc.

They were palaces.

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  • 4 months later...

Would anybody by chance have any information about a Sunset Theater on McGowen? This would have been from sometime in the 40's. A picture would be great.

I am not refering to the Sunset drive in, which seems to be the only result I can get for "Sunset theater".

Thanks,

Rhino

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Would anybody by chance have any information about a Sunset Theater on McGowen? This would have been from sometime in the 40's. A picture would be great.

I am not refering to the Sunset drive in, which seems to be the only result I can get for "Sunset theater".

Thanks,

Rhino

I went there many Saturdays, as a youngster in the early 40's, to see cowboy movies. Did take a date there in the early 50's. It was at McGowen and Chenevert. Built around 1940, if I remember correctly, by Albert Farb, father of Houston apartment developer, Harold Farb.

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  • 8 months later...

THE MAJESTIC AND THE METROPOLITAN THEATERS WERE LOCATED IN DOWNTOWN HOUSTON........THE SEATS WERE ON A SLANT FROM TOP TO BOTTOM AND THEY HAD A BALCONY....ALSO MINI BALCONIES BUT NO ONE SAT IN THOSE..........VERY OLD ARCHITECTURE BUT TORN TOWN FOR PARKING LOTS. LOWES, ALABAMA, FORGOT THE REST

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The church is a former movie theater. I remember passing by it on our way home from visiting family in that area. I was really little but I do remember around the mid to late 70s it being an X rated movie theater (didn't know what that meant then). I remember asking my dad if we could go see a movie there and he told me no because the movies there were dirty. First thing that came to mind was that there was probably alot of naked people in those movies. Which raised my curiosity even more...... smile.gif

The Avalon theater is gone as of 9-15-2009 Just a open lot of 1.5 Acr. for sale $1.5 mil

Racehorse East End To The End Milby class 1954

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  • 1 month later...

Is it really true that names like Al Ray and Don Gordon were named after specific film actors? Notice most of our theaters were either named after the neighborhoods or a person?

Actually, the AlRay was named for the two guys who bought it in 1960. Al Zarzana and Raymond Boriski. Zarzana died this week, and there was a big story about him in the Chron. He owned several movie houses around town. http://blogs.chron.com/bayoucityhistory/2009/11/obituary_al_zarzana_73_theater_owner_1.html

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Does anyone remember a movie theater near the Granada called the "North Houston Movie Theatre"? My mom worked there back in the 50's. I would love to get her some info or photos, but I have hit a dead end. I know that it was next to Harold's (men's clothing) on Jensen Drive. Any memories or information that you may have would be greatly appreciated.

I am also looking for Houston dinner theatre photos from 60's and 70's. Specifically, the Dean Goss Dinner Theatre. Thanks.

Edited by wendish
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Yep, the North Houston Theater listed in the 1976 directory at 8718 Jensen (before the road name change, 8718 Humble Rd.). North Houston Adult News was at 8720 Jensen. Like many other single screens, it appears to have gone the x-rated route.

Looks like it is all retail now - I'm not sure if the theater is part of what is still standing there, though it could be since the buildings are long and narrow:

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=nz5tdv71n934&scene=10434126&lvl=2&sty=b&where1=8718%20Jensen%20Dr%2C%20Houston%2C%20TX%2077093-7638

My linkhttp://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=8718+Jensen+Dr,+Houston,+Harris,+Texas+77093&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.841773,79.013672&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FWxOxwEdRi9R-g&split=0&hq=&hnear=8718+Jensen+Dr,+Houston,+Harris,+Texas+77093&ll=29.838913,-95.342799&spn=0.000205,0.009645&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=29.83893,-95.342801&panoid=6uJRYhHhVjGjr1BtF9hwkQ&cbp=12,118.01,,0,13.31

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I think the theater at 8718 Jensen sat on the corner. I just looked briefly at the historic aeriels site. Long, narrow, deep rectectangular building disappeared in between the 1980 & later maps. I f you look at gnu's pic, you can barely see a car parked next to it.

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The Cinema Houston book lists the North Houston Theater at (originally) 8718 Humble Road, later 8720 Jensen. Says in the 70's, exterior of the bldg. stripped, bldg front was a Spanish language church. The original, vertical theater sign in the picture (Gnu's link pic) says "Cleaners". Doesn't say anything in the book about it's demolition.

Edited by NenaE
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Oh, I forgot I made a Google map of theaters, too (extant and demolished):

http://maps.google.c...77&ll=29.758417,-95.313263&spn=0.89652,1.234589&t=h&z=10

Great pictures and map, two more you might add to your map.

Bluebonnet Theater

1015 Broadway

1930 to 1950

Broadway Theater

1325 Broadway

1950 to 1969

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Thnx, sevfiv, for the list. I was just looking up (on GoogleEarth) a few of the old theaters, around Lyons Ave. Can be tricky, as street names change (Odin - Lyons in some areas). BTW - that vacant land on that side of town is eerie.

Two more from the cinema book are the New Sunset at 711 San Felipe & Zoe at 502.1/2 Milam.

Can your list be easily alphabetized?

Something also to keep in mind, thru the yrs. (sometimes) theaters change names.

Edited by NenaE
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I'm not sure if Google map points can be ordered in any other way but I'll see.

There are tons of name changes (and I should try to add them) but for now I just tried to use the original name or the best known one.

Yeah, was just reminding others if they don't see the theater they are looking for, may be listed under a different name.

Could be a very time-consuming endeavor, but I would like to have my own list, as well.

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Thnx, sevfiv, for the list. I was just looking up (on GoogleEarth) a few of the old theaters, around Lyons Ave. Can be tricky, as street names change (Odin - Lyons in some areas). BTW - that vacant land on that side of town is eerie.

Two more from the cinema book are the New Sunset at 711 San Felipe & Zoe at 502.1/2 Milam.

Can your list be easily alphabetized?

Something also to keep in mind, thru the yrs. (sometimes) theaters change names.

Looks like there were two Zoe theaters...(see what I mean?) the first was at 719 Main (later named the Capitol), the Ideal was located at 504 Milam. Could have been the re-location for the second Zoe. You know, the Cinema book comments that a few details still remain from the first Zoe location. It dates back to 1914. It sat next to the Kress bldg. (now St. Germain lofts, Flying Saucer). Also the Crown was located next to the Zoe, at 717 Main, in the Mason Bldg.

Edited by NenaE
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  • 2 weeks later...

My well known anal tendencies force me to point out your misspelling of that club owner's name. His name was Jimmy Menutis. With no apostrophe.

My college buddies and I spent many a fun Friday and Saturday night there in the early sixties.

Oop! You are correct. I had a postcard of the place advertising Chuck Berry on the marquee. Standing on top of the marquee there was a huge figure of a guy playing the sax.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's an old photo I found of a movie theatre called "Garden Oaks." Where was it located?

IST-220_Houston-Gard_OaksBB-res.jpg

located on shepherd dr...go north from 610 just as you go under the railroad bridge its on the right. not sure what it is now

Here's an old photo I found of a movie theatre called "Garden Oaks." Where was it located?

IST-220_Houston-Gard_OaksBB-res.jpg

located on shepherd dr...go north from 610 just as you go under the railroad bridge its on the right. not sure what it is now

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  • 6 years later...

I worked plays at the Houston Music Theater (theater in the round, Sharpstown) in the early 1970s, doing sets and lights. I believe it was an organization set up by Chris Wilson, but I do not remember the name of the theater,company We did childrens plays and there were also concerts, I remember a Moody Blues concert. 

Edited by Croberts
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  • 1 year later...
On 7/22/2005 at 9:10 PM, TexasHome said:

I was about 16 when they disappeared from Clear Lake City. One time I was in there close to closing time and saw the manager putting money in the safe. It was under the floor mat just inside the main entrance door!

After they closed up, a fabric store by the name of Hancock Fabrics moved in and is still there. It had to have looked strange but we were in there not long ago and the floor mat is still covering the safe. The employees must have thought I was out of my mind lifting the mat up to see if the safe was still there. It is.

Hancock's moved in after Piggily Wiggily moved out.  I was the original Hancock Fabrics manager that opened that store July 4th, 1974.  I had the original floor safe installed by Baker Safe & Lock Company just prior to opening.

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  • 5 months later...
On 9/6/2005 at 9:40 PM, Whitenoize said:

The theater you are thinking about was called the 'Palm Theater'.

It was located on the Hwy 90 and Guenther.

I used to go there with my mom in the 80s.

I remember they had a Q-bert video game in the lobby.

That theater was great. Too bad they tore it down. :(

 

Was the Palm the same theater with the huge mural out front depicting Fort Bend? The actual military fort that the County was named after. Or was that mural on a Drive-In further out on 90...

  

I would love to locate a picture of that mural.

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6 hours ago, Drooper N. Snork said:

 

Was the Palm the same theater with the huge mural out front depicting Fort Bend? The actual military fort that the County was named after. Or was that mural on a Drive-In further out on 90...

  

I would love to locate a picture of that mural.

 

Yep, that's the one.

 

I saw Star Wars there  :)

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  • 1 year later...
On ‎9‎/‎2‎/‎2008 at 10:14 AM, Vertigo58 said:

Now you really have my curiousity going! :o

Could this 2006 Fulton be the very same location of what was once known as The Stardust Ballroom? Is this where Fulton curves and bends in front of Moody Park???

I was told that the old (now gone) Stardust was once a bowling alley but I also heard there was a theater next door? They said it was converted in the 50's?

This is real hardcore Houston history as far as I am concerned anyway.

The Stardust was finally swept away around 1989?

Maybe here is the question: What now stands at 2006 Fulton? Anyone? :D

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/PachucosYPachucasDeHoustonTejas/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2179715828736095 

Edited by sinister1
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  • 1 year later...

The best possible outcome for the River Oaks would be for another tenant to continue theatrical film exhibition there. But people aren't exactly lining up to jump into the exhibition industry in the current climate, to put it mildly, and if Landmark couldn't make it work financially, can anyone? It could have been a good fit for an Alamo Drafthouse location, but would have probably required some remodeling to fit their business model, and given their current bankruptcy proceedings and the associated closure of several of their existing locations, any kind of expansion is almost certainly a non-starter for at least the near future. 

Single-screen (and quasi-single-screen, like the River Oaks) vintage neighborhood theaters have long been nearly extinct, even when the industry was doing much better than it is now. It would take a deep-pocketed benefactor with a lot of patience to keep the River Oaks open in something like its current form, but I'm afraid it's more likely destined for either a repurposing like the venues mentioned in the Chron piece, or an outright demolition when Weingarten decides to replace that section of the shopping center with something larger and newer, like they previously did across the street. 

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