Loew's Palace Theatre

81 Union Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38103

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TLSLOEWS on November 28, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I found out on my own the Elvis worked and was fired from the LOEWS STATE in Memphis.

TLSLOEWS on November 28, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Is this the theatre that Elvis was fired from? I know it was one of the Loews in Memphis.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm

“How the West Was Won” in 3-strip CINERAMA, opened on July 3, 1963 and ran for 13 weeks.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, This is CINERAMA!” Lowell Thomas, September 30, 1952

kencmcintyre on January 29, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Here’s an interesting suit filed as a result of the theater’s construction in 1919. Scroll down past all the legal nonsense to get to the facts:

sbridges on August 9, 2006 at 4:52 am

A Moller organ (3/17) from either Lowes Palace or Lowes State was purchased by the Lions Club of Vincennes, Indiana, for installation in the new Lincoln High School Coliseum (1929). The organ’s performance and reliability were substandard and funds were not available for rebuilding it. Over the years many parts were scavenged by local organists. My father, Charles Bridges, a LHS shop teacher removed the instrument in 1953, because of a need for additional coliseum seating. Failing to find a buyer or other interested persons the organ was salvaged. Lead was melted and traded for bricks and wood from pipework was milled and used for panelling in a small house that stil stands on Scott Street in Vincennes.

William Creswell
William Creswell on July 28, 2006 at 9:51 pm

Here’s a link to my photos of the Lowe’s Palace just prior to and during demolition in 1983 or ‘84.


Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on July 25, 2006 at 8:48 am

crackdog: that photo thing hasn’t worked in a LONG time. I’d like to see your photos as I was there during that same period – broken hearted that the building was coming down. And of course, just 2 years later, the Memphis Symphony started talking about building their own concert hall – about 2000 seats – downtown – and it just hurt all that much more.

William Creswell
William Creswell on July 25, 2006 at 8:24 am

I was a budding photographer in the mid 80s when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was downtown taking pictures and I took a pic of the theatre at that time. I was back again a few weeks later and they were in the middle of the demolishion. I took a couple of pics of that as well. I’ll post them when the photo thing gets fixed.

Backseater on October 14, 2005 at 5:08 pm

Mr. Dunklin, I’ve been thinking hard about it and wish I could remember more. I seem to recall that the lobby was narrow but rather deep, going in quite a distance before opening up to full auditorium width. It was also high, with a vaulted ceiling sort of like the Alabama theater lobby in Birmingham (q.v.), but smaller and darker. I remember the window wall at the back of the auditorium as described above, and if you got restless I think you could stand or walk up and down behind it and still see the show. The restrooms were up one flight of stairs on either side, at the landings where the stairs turned and went on up to the balcony; ladies on house left, men on the right. There was a vending machine in the mens' room that dispensed novelties of somewhat questionable taste. I don’t remember much about the auditorium, except for the ornamental leaded-glass “Exit” signs which I also saw at Loew’s State and years later at the State Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. They were made like stained glass windows but just said “Exit” in red on a white background. Maybe a feature common to the chain, or a favorite device of the architect. This made an impression on me because I had never seen anything like that before. Otherwise I’m still a bit vague, but if I recall anything else I’ll certainly post it. I had the impression that the theater was demolished before 1983 since I left Memphis in 83 and I remember seeing it being torn down—whereas everybody else says it lasted until 1985. Now I finally recall the details of that episode. I came back to Memphis several times throughout the late 80s, because no sooner had I left to go to graduate school in Birmingham, than I got involved with an old SW classmate who was still in Memphis, whom I ended up marrying in 1986 at the Unitarian Church on the River (still married as this is written, 19 years and counting). Anyway, sometime in 1985 I was back in Memphis for the weekend to visit her and also to work out at Kang Rhee’s Pasaryu Tae Kwon Do academy, and we went to visit a friend who had just bought an apartment in the newly “condo’d” Shrine Building right across Union Avenue from Loew’s Palace. I looked out the window and saw the Palace, frozen in time in the process of being demolished. Most of the roof was gone and you could see the rows of seats, so you’re right that it went down with the seats still in place. So the time discrepancy is solved and I’m certainly glad to get that cleared up. If anything else comes back to me I will be sure to let you know. By the way, I really enjoyed your description of other Memphis theaters, especially the Malco/Orpheum, which I attended many times but never got to tour backstage. However, I did incorporate the “ritual circumnavigation of the Orpheum” into my Sunday morning Memphis bike ride. Please feel free to email at . Meanwhile, Best wishes.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 8, 2005 at 5:15 am

WHW, I realize it’s been a long time, but I’d really like to hear you describe the theatre. I only saw it after it had closed. Anything at all you can remember would be welcome.
Yes, best wishes.

Backseater on October 7, 2005 at 8:02 pm

Along with many other shows over the years (as usual), I saw Clint Eastwood in “Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More” both first-run at the Palace in 1967. All 3 of the Sergio Leone “Man With No Name” classics were released in the US in 67, though the first two were shown in Europe earlier. “Fistful” played the Palace in January or February and “More” was in May, right in the middle of final exam week at Southwestern (AKA “Rhodes College”). I had been studying very hard all week (yeah, right…) and just couldn’t look at another higher mathematics book, so I went to the Palace to mellow out with Clint. Imagine my surprise on encountering an SW classmate in the lobby, scheduled for the same exam the next day. He said that there were several other SW/future Rhodes scholars mellowing out at the Palace that evening, including the prof who was giving the test—but who was perhaps understandably not as concerned about it as we were. Later I learned that this was an alternate interpretation of the phrase “cram for a test”: at a certain point, you just say “cram it” and go to a movie. Anyway I passed the final, graduated, and went off to the Air Force—and then about five months later as a shavetail completed the trilogy by seeing “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” at the magnificent Aztec theater in San Antonio, Texas, listed elsewhere on this site—but that’s another story. Other movies I saw at the Palace included “Tom Jones,” Dean Martin and Kim Novak in Billy Wilder’s “Kiss Me, Stupid,” and a mid-60s re-release of the 1958 Hammer version of “Dracula” with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Best wishes.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 12, 2005 at 5:05 pm

Let me add a couple of other memories of this magnificent building. As I noted above, the building had been built without airconditioning. Air was pulled through the auditorium ceiling grills, through the attic and exhausted by a pair of enormous fans standing above the projection booth. If I had to guess, I’d say the fans were 10 feet in diameter. These were not squirrel cage fans, but fans reminscent of farm windmills. There was a single 100 hp motor on a concrete pedistal belted to the two fans. The controller was mounted right there at the motor. I can’t imagine what it must have been like, standing there, adjusting the fan speed, with those giant blades spinning only 3 feet away.

Back at the sidewalk, there was a neo-classical/Adam-esque frieze around the recessed entry: a greek procession with girls in diaphanous gowns and men in togas – you know the type. Though it had been subsequently painted over in white, it was obvious that it had originally been vividly polychormed.

The box office was a free-standing kiosk with a stained glass dome roof. It was supposedly removed and sent to a mall somewhere as an information booth. It was removed intact before the wrecking ball went to work at least.

The last marquee was of the Loew’s streamlined/neon variety but the original had been a arched-top design, something like the Times Square Paramount’s.

The orchestra pit had been floored over, probably when the balcony boxes were cut away for Cinerama.

Rumor was that the building sat on a 99 year ground lease and that the rent was a fixed $660.00 a month.

Backseater on September 21, 2004 at 10:51 pm

I went to the Palace many times while attending Southwestern at Memphis (“Rhodes College”—gag—) 1963-67. Came back to Memphis in 1973 and went there a few times before it was demilished. Remember seeing wome Bruce Lee movies and other oriental “Blaxploitation” fare that enjoyed a brief popularity. Ah, memories.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on July 26, 2004 at 6:15 am

Norman, as proof positive, I have a 70MM film reel – ahem – “liberated” from the Palace as it was being demolished in 1985. It hangs proudly on the wall in the living room.

With the lobby already destroyed we explored the building from basement to booth. The projectors and sound heads were gone but otherwise the projection booth looked like it did the day the last film was shown. The building went down with even its seats still in place.

recorder on July 24, 2004 at 3:59 am

The Loew’s Palace was converted to 70MM projection, I believe in the late 1950s, before it was modified for Cinerama in 1961. I think they showed “Salomon and Sheba” in 70MM but did not see this film at that time. I did see both “Ben-Hur”, on a Saturday morning sceening for students at a reduced cost of 90 cents, in about October 1960 and “Exodus” on a weekend evening showing, both in 70MM.

kd6dkc on March 23, 2004 at 4:00 pm

I watched films at the Palace in Memphis while stationed nearby in the Navy, fall 1957 to spring 1958. A surviving ticket stub shows the Loew’s logo and indicates the price at that time was 90 cents (including 8 cents federal tax).

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 16, 2004 at 1:35 pm

Loew’s Palace opened in 1920, not 1925. It was designed by Thomas Lamb during his “Adam” period. Loew’s had this theater and the nearly twin Loew’s State under construction at the same time. One etched and painted lobby mirror survives at the Memphis Orpheum Theatre. Twin mirrors were removed from the Palace and installed at the Orpheum, one has since been broken. A replacement was made to preserve the symetrical installation.

The Loew’s Palace had a fairly small lobby with stairs on each side. There was a glass window wall between the lobby and the auditorium. Beyond the window wall as an open orchestra foyer/standee area. Above this was an under-balcony dome. Ascending the stairs led one to an lower balcony cross aisle with a well at the dome. Looking down into the well, one looked down on seats. Looking up one saw the saucer (under-balcony) dome. This whole lower balcony cross-aisle was cove-lit in pink neon. The wall covering was a rose damask.

The lower balcony cross-aisle lead to a single large balcony (there was no mezzanine) with vomitoria at each extreme end.

In the auditorium, a single large chandelier hung in the main dome. Cove lights encircled the rest of the auditorium. “Upside-down umbrella” lights hung under the balcony.

The Loew’s Palace opened with a Moller organ. The pipes were in the standard left and right chamber locations. As the LP was not air conditioned, there were large plaster lattice grills in the ceiling open to the attic. The Moller’s percussions were installed on a platform above the dome and spoke through the lattice work.

The Moller was replaced by a Wurlitzer during the mid 1920’s.

The Loew’s Palace was altered to accomodate Cinerama. The side boxes were cut away and the orchestra pit filled in.

This theater had several owner’s or leasors. MALCO ran the theater for a while in the 1930’s. Paramount also ran it for a while. When torn down, the balcony carpet was still a beautiful repeating pattern of the Paramount logo.

ctaras on January 14, 2003 at 12:55 pm

Loew’s Palace closed in 1977. The building remained until the mid-1980s and was used from time to time for local music and dance performances. It was finally demolished and a parking garage now occupies its former site (as well as that of Britling’s Cafeteria which stood next door).