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Shamrock 6: Houston's 1st Multiplex?


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Anyone remember the "Shamrock 6" a six screen theater on South Main across from the Shamrock Hotel. First movie I saw there was "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971. I seem to recall them advertising themselves as Houston's first multiplex.

Early on, it was quite easy to see two or three movies with one ticket--go to the bathroom and return to another screen. Eventually, they started checking tickets to crack down on the practice. Googled around, one site claimed they closed down in 85, not sure that's accurate. Compared to today's stadium seating, it was kind of cheezy, and so were some of the movies. "The Stewardesses" in 3D. Which I can't remember if I saw or not. Just remember the ads.

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I think you are giving the theater 2 more screens than they actually had. The Shamrock may have been the first theater to have more than two screens. I remember the theater. It didn't take it long to go down hill. Now the space is a parking lot for the Medical Center.

shamrock4.jpg

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I think you are giving the theater 2 more screens than they actually had.

I do remember it as 6, it's listed as Shamrock 6 on this Houston theatre list

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:8KlYY...t=clnk&cd=1

so you got me wondering am I remembering wrong or did they add a couple more by dividing a couple of the auditoriums. I recall the auditoriums being quite small.

Edited by devonhart
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Not sure how far I'd trust that list. Very first thing on it is wrong. The Airline theatre opened in either 1949 or 1950 (most likely 1950), not 1955. I've seen ads for it going back that far. So if it's wrong on the first item, who knows what else may be in error.

Well, actually, I do. The Greens Crossing theatre opened in 1985, not 1990. And Deauville on the North Freeway opened in 1975, not 1990.

Oh well... it's a nice starting place for research.

Edited by Firebird65
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Not sure how far I'd trust that list.

Man, this was really start to bug me, so I googled the newsgroups and found a 1999 entry in houston.eats where someone refers to the Shamrock 6. So at least one other human being remembers it the way I do.

Quoting the post, "and lets not forget the old department store at beechnut/610 called Sage and they used to put that colored tape on your merchandise. and theres Globe where the fiesta at bellaire/hillcroft is now. and last but certaily not least these trio of theatres Shamrock 6, The old south main drive in and the mclendon triple."

It's post #50

http://groups.google.com/group/houston.eat...0eab0bf4056c0cd

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Man, this was really start to bug me, so I googled the newsgroups and found a 1999 entry in houston.eats where someone refers to the Shamrock 6. So at least one other human being remembers it the way I do.

Quoting the post, "and lets not forget the old department store at beechnut/610 called Sage and they used to put that colored tape on your merchandise. and theres Globe where the fiesta at bellaire/hillcroft is now. and last but certaily not least these trio of theatres Shamrock 6, The old south main drive in and the mclendon triple."

It's post #50

http://groups.google.com/group/houston.eat...0eab0bf4056c0cd

It would be strange it if was 6.....and that long ago. Maybe 4....but not 6.

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It would be strange it if was 6.....and that long ago. Maybe 4....but not 6.

Well, as the above ad pointed out, it started as 4. I think it was open at least a decade, and that's why I think they might have subdivided a couple of the auditoriums. I remember two auditoriums had as little as 50 seats.

When they opened, they ran first run, major films, but later on they ran drive-in quality films like "White Line Fever", Charles Bronson shoot-em-ups, and even soft porn. I recall it as the Shamrock 6, and this other guy 8 years ago did too. I guess the only way to settle it once and for all, would be to take a look at the newspapers ads from the late 70s or early 80s.

I'm satisfied that someone else remembers it the way I do, a historian would still need the newspaper ads or some other document.

Edited by devonhart
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...and the Al Ray didn't close in '64 as I saw films there as late as '69. Interesting thread about it on this board here.

Not sure how far I'd trust that list. Very first thing on it is wrong. The Airline theatre opened in either 1949 or 1950 (most likely 1950), not 1955. I've seen ads for it going back that far. So if it's wrong on the first item, who knows what else may be in error.

Well, actually, I do. The Greens Crossing theatre opened in 1985, not 1990. And Deauville on the North Freeway opened in 1975, not 1990.

Oh well... it's a nice starting place for research.

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Here is an even more obscure Theater. The Park III Cinema which was in the Kroger strip center on W. Gray. Very small theaters with very few seats. They showed mostly Repertory films before the R.O. took over that function. I remember a long run of Fritz the Cat at that theater in about 1972.

Park3.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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Well, as your ad pointed out, it started as 4. I think it was open at least a decade, and that's why I think they might have subdivided a couple of the auditoriums. I remember two auditoriums had as little as 50 seats.

When they opened, they ran first run, major films, but later on they ran drive-in quality films like "White Line Fever", Charles Bronson shoot-em-ups, and even soft porn. I recall it as the Shamrock 6, and this other guy 8 years ago did too. I guess the only way to settle it once and for all, would be to take a look at the newspapers ads from the late 70s or early 80s.

I'm satisfied that someone else remembers it the way I do, a historian would still need the newspaper ads or some other document.

I looked in the Houston Chronicle and saw some theatres that had 24 and even 30 screens!

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I looked at Harris County Appraisal District Records. The Hilton Corporation owned that land until 1985, which is the same year they sold the Shamrock Hotel to the Texas Medical Center. I wonder if that land was part of the original Glenn McCarthy purchase. The Texas Medical Center probably decided they would rather have a parking lot than a theater. I never was a fan of the Shamrock Theater anyway, although I did see many films there. I was more bummed out about the hotel.

Just by chance I happened to be at Glenwood Cemetery during the Glenn McCarthy funeral so I walked on over for the short graveside ceremony.

The original Jett Rink

Glenn_McCarthy_Time-1.jpg

Jett_Rink.jpg

Edited by isuredid
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Anyone remember the "Shamrock 6" a six screen theater on South Main across from the Shamrock Hotel. First movie I saw there was "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971. I seem to recall them advertising themselves as Houston's first multiplex.

If you're talking about more than two screens that could be true. I have clear memories of going to the Gulfgate multi-cinema in the late 60s, when two screens were still a novelty.

Edited by FilioScotia
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If you're talking about more than two screens that could be true. I have clear memories of going to the Gulfgate multi-cinema in the late 60s, when two screens were still a novelty.

That sounds like the theatre my cousin told me about. He said that there was a Cinema I & II on the south side of Interstate 610 and that a pedestrian bridge from the parking lot of that theatre went over the freeway to Gulfgate. He said that it stopped in front of Newberry's. Yes, I remember over here back in the late 1960s the first two-screen indoor theatre when it opened. It was the talk of the whole area.

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I saw Jaws there (Shamrock) when it first came out, whenever that was.

I don't know if the two theater complex in Meyerland Plaza was the first in Houston, but I saw Dr. No and From Russia with Love when they both played there at the same time in the mid-60's.

Edited by 57Tbird
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I saw Jaws there (Shamrock) when it first came out, whenever that was.

I don't know if the two theater complex in Meyerland Plaza was the first in Houston, but I saw Dr. No and From Russia with Love when they both played there at the same time in the mid-60's.

Jaws - 1975 - I remember disco was coming on...Van McCoy---"The Hustle" on the radio...10 CC..."I'm Not In Love"... Captain and Tenille - "Love Will Keep Us Together" - I took a road trip during that summer so I listened to a lot of radio on the drive.

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I don't know if the two theater complex in Meyerland Plaza was the first in Houston, but I saw Dr. No and From Russia with Love when they both played there at the same time in the mid-60's.

Meyerland Plaza was great for me, it was within bicycle distance and they had the $1.00 matinee so I could afford the James Bond double features. The coming attraction music (cool brush drumming with some kind of keyboard notes) is still my all time favorite.

Okay, the internet is now officially amazing, I just found the music I was talking about.

http://tulsatvmemories.com/wav/gccfull1.wav

Edited by devonhart
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I grew up in the Southgate area. I remember the Shamrock Theater very well. I saw the Halloween movies there, Amityville Horror, and I think the last movie I saw there was Urban Cowboy in 1980(?) I also remember going swimming at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel, and they had a bar there next to the hotel called Trader Vics. Does anyone remember that? How about the Ruby Reds hamburger joint that was close to the corner of Main and Greenbriar? They had great hamburgers. I remember thinking how cool it was when I was a kid, because you could throw peanut shells on the floor. And now the Stables is gone, so that whole main area is completely changed. There used to be a restuarant..was it called the Red Lion? (Next to the Stables, and then the Shamrock was further north, a little closer to Holcombe, I think. )

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Meyerland Plaza was great for me, it was within bicycle distance and they had the $1.00 matinee so I could afford the James Bond double features. The coming attraction music (cool brush drumming with some kind of keyboard notes) is still my all time favorite.

Okay, the internet is now officially amazing, I just found the music I was talking about.

http://tulsatvmemories.com/wav/gccfull1.wav

The old General Cinema theme! If ever there were a piece of music permanently imprinted on my brain, that's it. I spent many happy hours in the Northline General Cinema (recently razed after having been closed for many years) when I was a kid, starting from the very first movie I ever saw there at the ripe old age of 4, ICE STATION ZEBRA.

General Cinema had several theaters in Houston over the years - off the top of my head, the Meyerland, Gulfgate, and Northline ones, then later the Galleria ones inside the mall. I'm sure there were others, but I don't have a list at hand right now. Long after the original Meyerland GC closed, the new one was built. It was the last GC theater in Houston, and changed ownership several more times before finally closing to make room for the center's further expansion a few years ago. It wasn't as popular as some other multiplexes because it didn't have stadium seating, but it had a tremendous sound system and the projection was always perfect. When it closed, I drove over there to take some pictures of the marquee and the building, only to be spotted by a roving security guard and asked to leave the property. :angry2:

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I grew up in the Southgate area. I remember the Shamrock Theater very well. I saw the Halloween movies there, Amityville Horror, and I think the last movie I saw there was Urban Cowboy in 1980(?) I also remember going swimming at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel, and they had a bar there next to the hotel called Trader Vics. Does anyone remember that? How about the Ruby Reds hamburger joint that was close to the corner of Main and Greenbriar? They had great hamburgers. I remember thinking how cool it was when I was a kid, because you could throw peanut shells on the floor. And now the Stables is gone, so that whole main area is completely changed. There used to be a restuarant..was it called the Red Lion? (Next to the Stables, and then the Shamrock was further north, a little closer to Holcombe, I think. )

Red Lion is correct and don't forget Valian's Italian Restaurant. It feels as though some day the only thing left of old Houston will be maps and deed records of where things used to be.

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The old General Cinema theme! If ever there were a piece of music permanently imprinted on my brain, that's it. I spent many happy hours in the Northline General Cinema (recently razed after having been closed for many years) when I was a kid, starting from the very first movie I ever saw there at the ripe old age of 4, ICE STATION ZEBRA.

General Cinema had several theaters in Houston over the years - off the top of my head, the Meyerland, Gulfgate, and Northline ones, then later the Galleria ones inside the mall. I'm sure there were others, but I don't have a list at hand right now. Long after the original Meyerland GC closed, the new one was built. It was the last GC theater in Houston, and changed ownership several more times before finally closing to make room for the center's further expansion a few years ago. It wasn't as popular as some other multiplexes because it didn't have stadium seating, but it had a tremendous sound system and the projection was always perfect. When it closed, I drove over there to take some pictures of the marquee and the building, only to be spotted by a roving security guard and asked to leave the property. :angry2:

All the General Cinemas that I'd been to (Greenspoint, Willowbrook, Northline, original Meyerland) all had the same red and blue color scheme and the same red and white seats. At some point in the 90s, they did come up a new version of their "coming atrractions" that was more orchestral and less 70s/cheesy.

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Anyone remember the "Shamrock 6" a six screen theater on South Main across from the Shamrock Hotel. First movie I saw there was "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971. I seem to recall them advertising themselves as Houston's first multiplex.

Early on, it was quite easy to see two or three movies with one ticket--go to the bathroom and return to another screen. Eventually, they started checking tickets to crack down on the practice. Googled around, one site claimed they closed down in 85, not sure that's accurate. Compared to today's stadium seating, it was kind of cheezy, and so were some of the movies. "The Stewardesses" in 3D. Which I can't remember if I saw or not. Just remember the ads.

My mom must have been a super mom because she would drop off us kids to go there. Quite far from our area. One thing that really stood out was they had advertised an actual "Movie Opening" complete with the stars of the film present. Only the name Lindsay Bloom comes to mind and she apparently didnt go far in film after that so the film must have been a bomb! but what the heck we got to see them exit the limo onto a red carpet with media just like the Oscars. Exciting for a teeniebopper.

Here are some films I know I saw there over the years:

Ode To Billy Joe, Born Loser's, Billy Jack, The Summer of 42, The Exorcist, Jaws, Saturday Night fever and finally St. Elmo's Fire.

and your right sneaking in to see several movies was part of the alure until you got caught and kicked out! Ouch still hurts! ;)

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If you're talking about more than two screens that could be true. I have clear memories of going to the Gulfgate multi-cinema in the late 60s, when two screens were still a novelty.

Also true!

The screens were painted a white color & it was shaped oval so that Cinema-scope and Cinerama movies could be shown. There is another thread about Gulfgate where we discussed the cool movies we saw there. My best memory was seeing original "Poseidon Adventure" there it played for a long, long time because of the huge crowds. That theater was doomed after the midnight movies attracted a really bad crowd. I know when we were watching Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps a person was shot just as the film started.

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  • 2 weeks later...
It orginally had four screens. Years later two more screens were added. I don't think any of the other screens were split up because I remember the building actually expanding.

Thanks, I was sure it was Shamrock 6, I just didn't remember it had once been a 4 screen.

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Thanks, I was sure it was Shamrock 6, I just didn't remember it had once been a 4 screen.

Yeah, I only remember it as The Shamrock 6 Theaters. I can't stop thinking of all the movies we saw there. Stepford Wives, Gumball Rally, Deathrace 2000, etc. Nostalgia trip. :rolleyes:

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Yeah, I only remember it as The Shamrock 6 Theaters. I can't stop thinking of all the movies we saw there. Stepford Wives, Gumball Rally, Deathrace 2000, etc. Nostalgia trip. :rolleyes:

Those movie titles are a nostalgia trip. Gumball Rally - entertaining movie that was overshadowed by the more farsical and star studded Cannonball Run a few years later. Every now and then, the Speed Network will show it and I watch it every time. "Franco isa reddy! Nowa de race canna beegin."

Even to this day, I've never seen Death Race 2000. I remember it caused quite a stir back in 1975/76 when it came out and there was a video game based on the movie that debuted at that time (perhaps one of the first movie/video game tie-ins). I did play the game once at the local skating rink until they pulled it due to its controversial nature.

Stepford Wives was a great movie. They showed the remake a few days ago on cable and bleeeech, what a waste. Katherine Ross, what a hottie. I make sure I catch her movies whenever they come on.

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Those movie titles are a nostalgia trip. Gumball Rally - entertaining movie that was overshadowed by the more farsical and star studded Cannonball Run a few years later. Every now and then, the Speed Network will show it and I watch it every time. "Franco isa reddy! Nowa de race canna beegin."

No one except true gearheads will ever claim that the GUMBALL RALLY is great art, but I love it. I saw it in first run at the Northline General Cinema as a kid, and thought that it was one of the greatest movies I'd ever seen. It's available on a nice widescreen DVD now, and before that, I had the earlier laserdisc and rewatched it at least once a year.

There's no way anyone would make a movie now and drive those cars as hard as they did in GUMBALL RALLY - back when it was made, Cobras were just old race cars that you could still pick up for a few thousand dollars. Now they're half-million-dollar collector's items.

BTW, you may have already run across it before, but if not, Brock Yates' book "Cannonball" is a great read chronicling all of the various real-life Cannonball races that the various movies were loosely based on, of which GUMBALL was the first and best.

"The first-a rule of Italian driving: whatsa behind me is not important." :P

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No one except true gearheads will ever claim that the GUMBALL RALLY is great art, but I love it.

Same goes with Smokey and the Bandit. There's certainly no art (or plot) there either.

Once a woman here at work was asking why movies like this are so popular with guys. "Shoot, what guy doesn't want to drive a fast car, drink beer and pick up girls? It's every guy's dream!" And I don't even drink and barely know anything about cars. LOL!

I really wanted to see the Gumball Rally when it was in theatres. But the gang, as it was, wanted to see Bad News Bears. Not that I came out on the short end cause that was a great flick too. But I had to wait years before I finally got to see Gumball Rally.

How did we ever survive without VCRs or DVDs?

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How did we ever survive without VCRs or DVDs?

Double and Triple features. In the late 60s and early 70s, the James Bond producers figured out guys would pay to see James Bond movies they'd already seen. I saw Dr No and Goldfinger at Meyerland Plaza, Dr No., From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger at McLendon Triple. Thunderball and You Only Live Twice at the Loews downtown. And a couple other combinations of the films elsewhere.

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No one except true gearheads will ever claim that the GUMBALL RALLY is great art, but I love it. I saw it in first run at the Northline General Cinema as a kid, and thought that it was one of the greatest movies I'd ever seen. It's available on a nice widescreen DVD now, and before that, I had the earlier laserdisc and rewatched it at least once a year.

There's no way anyone would make a movie now and drive those cars as hard as they did in GUMBALL RALLY - back when it was made, Cobras were just old race cars that you could still pick up for a few thousand dollars. Now they're half-million-dollar collector's items.

BTW, you may have already run across it before, but if not, Brock Yates' book "Cannonball" is a great read chronicling all of the various real-life Cannonball races that the various movies were loosely based on, of which GUMBALL was the first and best.

"The first-a rule of Italian driving: whatsa behind me is not important." :P

Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. played the part of Catholic priests in the race. The pulled over the ambulance driven by Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise. They said that they wanted to bless it. Deluise opened the side door and there was Farrah Fawcett lying there on the gurney. Dean Martin said: "Oh, I've got to bless her!"

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Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. played the part of Catholic priests in the race. The pulled over the ambulance driven by Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise. They said that they wanted to bless it. Deluise opened the side door and there was Farrah Fawcett lying there on the gurney. Dean Martin said: "Oh, I've got to bless her!"

The very idea of Dean Martin taking the helm in a car race is bizarre! Wonder how many curbs he hit!? DUI on a broadscale for sure! Too funny!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks, I was sure it was Shamrock 6, I just didn't remember it had once been a 4 screen.

I'm almost certain that it was a 4 screen in the early 70's. My older sister used to drag me and my friends along to the midnight movies as it was the only way she could hang out with her boyfriend at that hour! What was my mom thinking?!?!

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  • 6 years later...
Here is an even more obscure Theater. The Park III Cinema which was in the Kroger strip center on W. Gray. Very small theaters with very few seats. They showed mostly Repertory films before the R.O. took over that function. I remember a long run of Fritz the Cat at that theater in about 1972.

 

Was that located ABOVE the Kroger? It looks like when I looked it up, there's shops and stuff above the Kroger (which used to be Safeway, and briefly an AppleTree--either a really fancy AppleTree or a dumpy AppleTree in a nice neighborhood)

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Was that located ABOVE the Kroger? It looks like when I looked it up, there's shops and stuff above the Kroger (which used to be Safeway, and briefly an AppleTree--either a really fancy AppleTree or a dumpy AppleTree in a nice neighborhood)

 

Looking at the address it would have been further west towards McDuffie in the older part of the shopping center.  Was that Kroger originally a Safeway?  I only remember it as a Kroger.

 

 

The Shamrock 6 must have closed in the early-mid 1980s.  Someone mentions seeing Saint Elmo's Fire there, which would place it up until 1985.  I only remember going there one time in that period, but all I can recall is that the place seemed really rundown by then.  

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I saw Grand Hotel at the Parc III (didn't remember the name of the theater) ca. 1972-73 and had my '68 Volvo vandalized in the parking lot.  Not exactly what I expected a block from River Oaks.  The theaters were on the ground level, west end of the strip center, right on McDuffie as I recall.  Tiny auditoriums, very, very plain.  i think I've been in theaters with bigger restrooms than the auditoriums of the Parc III.  I don't remember that grocery store as anything other than a Kroger.  After the theaters disappeared there was a Soup and Salad at about the same location.

 

Re:  the Shamrock 4.  When I worked at KAUM we held a screening of Performance with Mick Jagger there.  That was released in the fall of '70 and the theaters were very new.  KAUM was on the 16th floor of the Fannin Bank at Holcombe and Main, now a Wells Fargo?   I was surprised how small the auditoriums were.  There was very limited seating so lots of listeners had bought tickets to the other films showing and were trying to sneak into the Jagger film.  I went out to the concession stand during the movie and quickly abandoned that idea because of the crowded lobby and the long line, then I had to fight my way back to my seat.  The theater staff was making no attempt to police the situation, probably wisely.  The whole time I was there I kept thinking of Valians.

 

That was the first multiplex I'd ever been in but a year or two later I saw a movie (can't remember the name) at the Gaylynn (?) Twin (?) at Sharpstown and the theaters were not brand new but I don't know how old they were.  One full sized auditorium, one smaller but still larger than the auditoriums at Shamrock or Parc III.  Does a twin-plex count as a multi-plex?

 

Of course there had been twin drive-in movie theaters long before that.

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Looking at the address it would have been further west towards McDuffie in the older part of the shopping center. Was that Kroger originally a Safeway? I only remember it as a Kroger.

Looking up the history of AppleTree, when they imploded in 1993 and sold off all their remaining stores, Kroger bought the 1938 West Gray store. Since AppleTree never opened a store of their own (even up until 1989 Safeway was still opening and remodeling stores), it had to be a Safeway at some point, however brief.

Kroger will take over 11 AppleTree stores later this week. On Saturday, Kroger will reopen four of the stores - 13642 W. Montgomery, 9325 Katy Freeway, 2300 N. Gessner and1990 Old Spanish Trail. On Sunday Kroger will reopen the stores at 1938 W. Gray,14900 N.W. Freeway, 1352 W. 43rd St. and 7068 FM 1960 E. On Monday Kroger will open the stores in Conroe, 239 West 20th St. and 2409 Bay Area Blvd.

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Looking up the history of AppleTree, when they imploded in 1993 and sold off all their remaining stores, Kroger bought the 1938 West Gray store. Since AppleTree never opened a store of their own (even up until 1989 Safeway was still opening and remodeling stores), it had to be a Safeway at some point, however brief.

 

 

The Kroger (i.e. Henke and Pillot #8)  was originally at 1956 W. Gray.

The current location of Kroger at 1938 W. Gray was originally Weingarten's #6.

 

I think Safeway bought some Weingartens locations around 1980 but my memory is bad.

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