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Adding to my above post, I have recently found out that whole Oak Lawn/Lemmon Ave. area (which I only heard referred to as the Lemmon/Oak Lawn area when I was growing up in Dallas from ‘58 – '79) used to be called the Melrose district – think that was the name of the area’s old telephone exchange, IIRC. The historic and refurbished Melrose Hotel is just down Oak Lawn from the old Esquire/Melrose location.
Great pix, Don. Thanks. Love your photostream, btw.
Oh, one other little point: someone posted that this theater was changed into a multi-screen in the 1960’s – not true. As of summer 1969 it was still in its original single-screen configuration. It was one of several McLendon theaters that hosted the world premiere of “True Grit” with John Wayne being carted around in a McLendon limo to each theater to make his appearance after the film’s showing. The other theaters were (I believe) the Preston Royal, Park Forest, and several McLendon drive-ins. Sometime in the early 1970’s is when the “twinning” or “tripling” took place, just in time for the auditorium in what had been the mezzanine (balcony, sort of) to show the reissue of “Jason and the Argonauts” in a new 35mm print (the Casa Linda had shown “Jason” during its first suburban run in 1963).
I have to say, though, that I get a kick out of all those who have posted comments referring to the Casa Linda’s “original splendor” or other similar verbiage. I practically lived at this theater for 20 years and “splendor” is not a word I would ever use to describe it. Its interior was plain to the point of being spartan and from 1958 – 1979 it certainly showed its wear and tear. This is not a put-down, as no one ever maintained anything in pristine condition back in those days; even the Majestic, Capri, Tower, and Palace downtown were allowed to judiciously show their age. Compared to those venues, the Casa Linda was nothing special – but it sure is a part of some wonderful memories for me.
Apparently, zombiefreak, nothing cinematic came of this?
Sam, that’s great info.
Talked to my dad this weekend (he went to college in Kingsville back in the early 50’s, when these venues were all current) and he says the screen at 77 & Ailsie is most likely the King (I say it was the Brahma); he and I agree that the El Rancho was north of town on 77; he has no idea of the one on Santa Gertrudis (I say that’s the site of the King).
Where the Hi-Way Drive-In was, I have no clue – I had never heard of
it until MikeRogers posted his info, above.
Just returned from a visit to El Paso and was privileged to see “The Magnificent Seven” as part of the El Paso Film Festival, hosted at the theater. None of our party of five had ever been inside and, to say the least, we were simply knocked out by the theater’s beauty. Projection, unfortunately, is not so hot – pretty dim picture, sorry to say. Have noticed this same phenomenon at the Paramount in Austin. Are the projection bulbs used today just not as bright as they used to be?
@Warren G. Harris: There were many films in Cinemascope and B&W – before Longest Day roadshow was Diary of Anne Frank (1959 – roadshow @ 171 min + intermission).
“This theatre opened with 70MM capability but didn’t show a 70MM feature until 6 years later when Rollerball opened in 1975—ran quite a bit of 70 after that.”
The big deal is, simply, historical accuracy – someone might use this site as a reference source. The originators of this site are well aware of this – it is, no doubt, one reason they started this site.
Also, those of us who use this site regularly are aware of our debt to Mr. Lewis, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Holcomb. It is not possible to put a price on their work.
All of what I posted immediately above goes out the window if this venue operated as the Plaza subsequent to its being the Fine Arts. The original McKinney Ave. Plaza would have been long out-of-business by then
Chuck, it’s my present opinion that someone, way back, got “Plaza” and “Varity/Fine Arts” mixed up, possibly because of the latter’s location in “Snider PLAZA.” There was a well-known and long-advertised theater located on McKinney Ave. across the street from North Dallas High School called the Plaza. It ceased operation, I believe, sometime in the early 1960’s and is now long-demolished. I cannot pinpoint a time span when the Varsity/Fine Arts could have been called Plaza when the McKinney Ave. Plaza wasn’t also in operation. If you’ll check Lost Memory’s photo of the McKinney Plaza on its C/T page, you’ll see that it is, in all probability, a photo of the Fine Arts. Confusing, yes? The fact that the marquee in the photo shows “Light Up The Plaza Theater” may merely indicate an informal reference (i.e. the theater in Snider Plaza), as the McKinney Ave. Plaza closed long before nostalgia-minded groups existed to try to save old theaters. This is my best guess – I would love to read a response by someone more knowledgeable than I.
Here is a photo from the Rialto’s opening, May 21, 1948: View link
Here is another photo, this one from 1949:
Philbert, do you know at what time this theater was called Plaza? Reason I ask is we know this was the Fine Arts from 1957 on to its closing as a movie theater and there was another theater called Plaza located across McKinney Ave. from North Dallas High School. I always thought this theater was called Varsity from its opening right up to when it was renamed Fine Arts.
fturner, I’m getting a Page Not Found result for all issuu.com links. My browser is Firefox – do you think that is the problem?
Joe, I’m with you on the architect – it is much more representative of Pettigrew’s taste/style than Eberson’s.
Joe – I’m getting a “Page Not Found” for all your recent photo posts (including the vertical one you posted of the Esquire sign under the Melrose listing). Is it just my browser (Firefox)?
Was in the Fine Arts only a couple of times in the ‘70’s, once for Peter O'Toole in The Ruling Class. Great viewing experience, lovely theater. Legs, I remember when it seemed A Touch of Class would never leave. Wonder what the attendance figures were for its last few weeks (months)?
Thanks for posting the nice pictures. As a correction to my previous post, Midnight Cowboy opened in 1969, not 1968.
INTERESTING INFO, JOE – I SUSPECT YOU MAY HAVE SOMETHING. If so, the Melrose had long ceased to be talked about when I was growing up in Dallas and attending the Esquire semi-regularly (lovely theater). I first heard of the Melrose name when I came across it in the interviews section of Jeanette Crumpler’s book on Dallas' Elm Street theaters, “Street of Dreams.”
Address is wrong for this theater. The White was not on Forest LANE in North Dallas. More like Forest AVENUE in South Dallas, though I’m not sure of the street number.
I read that the Tower auditorium was actually housed in a completely separate, purpose-built building (built 1937) that sat behind the Tower Petroleum Building (built 1931) that housed the theater’s Elm Street boxoffice, entrance, and lobby; and that in 1951 the Corrigan Tower building was constructed to sit over and around the auditorium building (http://www.dallasarchitecture.info/towerpet.htm).
Can anyone comment on the arrangement (lease, easement, part ownership?) that must have been made between Interstate Amusement Corp. and ownership/management of these other two buildings in order to effect this type of situation?
Was this theater also known as (and probable opened as) the Encore?
Saw the original roadshows of Sound of Music and Hawaii here, as well as Dallas 1st run exclusive of Jaws – and many more, too numerous to list – beautiful theater.
Bob, at what time was it called the East Pike?
“The Melrose Theatre had gone from listings by 1950, possibly due to the opening of the nearby Esquire Theatre in August 1947.”
Chuck, Ken, I would peg that as a certainty rather than a possibility, as the two theaters were the same seating capacity, right next door to each other, and operated by the same company. My question is, what was so wrong with the Melrose that it had to be done away with at less than 20 years old? Anyone out there have the answer to that one?