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I notice the site for Friends of the Irving Theater says they have received the gift of 500 theater seats from the Buena Vista theater. Where is/was the Buena Vista? A CinemaTreasures search turned up only one Buena Vista, located in Tucson AZ.
While we’re talking about the Plaza, let’s not neglect the great theater organist John R. Thomas who had a couple of stints as “House Organist” there. His final tenure was from 1965 until his death in 1968. In those days the theater’s management spotlighted the organ for brief programs between features, with the Wurlitzer console rising up out of its pit as the film ended, then descending just in time for the next show. John R. had an incredible talent for using all the sound effects that had been built into the Wurlitzer, in addition to all the organ’s musical resources.
Let’s give the Northgate its due — it was a very nice high-class first-run place when it opened. It may have looked a little spartan compared to the razzle-dazzle design of older venues, but that just refelects the architectural style of its day. It fell on hard times when its neighborhood declined and the shopping center gradually went downhill and finally closed.
The Northgate not only had a great location on the parking lot of the largest shopping center in that entire end of El Paso, but it was also close to Irvin High School and right next door to a branch library. Early on, kids were known to tell their parents they would be studying at the library after school, when they really planned to hit the Northgate in a big group. Sometimes they’d swarm the box office and then surround the ticket-taker, confusing everybody while many of them slipped in without paying.
This appears to be an error in identification, combining information about two separate theaters.
The pictures that can be accessed through the links, as well as the address at 717 East Irving Blvd., are indeed the location of a defunct theater. But it is not the Irving Theater and could not have been “operating prior to 1941” because it was not constructed until the 1950’s.
The “real” Irving Theater was located in the business block on Main Street. It dated from 1933 and can be seen in many historic photos with the “Irving Theater” marquee clearly visible. This is the theater that was “operating prior to 1941.” It has been remodeled into retail shops, but its original function is still clearly visible.
The 1950’s theater on East Irving Blvd. may have been named the Bowie. We’re trying to pin down an exact identification.
B.E. in Irving