Comments from PaulGerdes

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PaulGerdes commented about Rialto Theatre on Sep 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm

My Aunt Marion Agnes Stephenson (b.1908, d.1971) played that organ during silent pictures showings. She also played the organ during other functions/activities. She later married Clarence Joseph McBride of Laredo, Texas. The following link to photobucket has pictures of her and William Charles Stephenson and other members of this close-knit family.

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Additional Genealogical information related to the family is located at: View link

PaulGerdes commented about Rialto Theatre on Oct 21, 2004 at 6:21 am

ok, I just can’t pass up the chance to spread the word on the incredible talents of my grandfather, W.C. Stephenson.

here is a link to one of his sculptures.. if anybody is interested, I can send or post info from my website that has much more information about him.


PaulGerdes commented about Rialto Theatre on Oct 21, 2004 at 6:14 am

Here is some more information on the Rialto/Beeville

Restoration project planned in Beeville

  • By Associate News Service

BEEVILLE – Optimistic Bee County residents gathered at the old theater in downtown Beeville on Monday to survey a restoration project they are undertaking.

Directors of the nine-member board of the Hall-Rialto Preservation Association have announced that they are in the process of purchasing Hall-Rialto Theater, originally designed by architect W.C. Stephenson and built in 1922.

The project actually began on Sept. 10, 1990, when, in keeping with the Bee County Historical Commission’s function of encouraging the saving of historical buildings, Mrs. Roland Beck Sr., Mrs. Wayne Dirks, John W. Galloway and James M. Goodman Jr. were appointed by the Commission to evaluate the feasibility of restoring the old theater, which was advertised for sale.

“After much going back and forth for inspections and discussions with the owner, we determined the building to be of great historical value as well as a useful facility for the community as a whole, and organized to undertake a restoration project,” said Mrs. Dirks, who now serves as co-chairman of the association with Mrs. Beck.

Also serving on the board of directors of the newly chartered non-profit corporation are Margie Palmer Carter, Easterling Davis, John W. Galloway, R. G. “Bob” Horn and Bill Whitenton. Other board members include Joseph Sydney Hall III and David Silva.

Included in the building will be the Ralph Whitenton-Rialto Barber Shop Museum.

“We are inviting anyone interested in assisting with the restoration and preservation of the Hall-Rialto Theatre to call 358-3016 or contact any member of the board,” said Beck.


from an on-line publication of The Beeville Publishing Company P.O. Box 10 111 N. Washington St. Beeville, Texas 78104-4508 361/358-2550 361/358-5323 (Fax)

PaulGerdes commented about Rialto Theatre on Oct 21, 2004 at 5:53 am

Hey guys.. Google does wonders… I’m the grandson of W.C. Stephenson, the Architect of the Rialto/Beeville.. here’s a bit of info on the building from


The Rialto was built in 1922 as the flag-ship of a 22 theater chain for H. W. Hall and family. The Classic Revival theater was designed by W. C. Stephenson, a noted local architect. Mr. Stephenson designed the 1912 Bee County courthouse as well as many other local landmarks.

After a 1935 fire destroyed the interior of the theater, it was remodeled in an elaborate Art Modern style. The theater redesigned by John Eberson, a noted architect in 20th Century theater design, incorporated a varied mix of Art Deco and the Moderne with a touch of the Craftsman. Eberson is well known for the design of the Majestic theater of San Antonio.

The Rialto reopened in 1935 to serve as a cultural center for Beeville and the surrounding area. John Wayne, Jeff Chandler and Jimmy Stewart made personal appearances at the theater to raise money for the War Bond Drive for WWII. The Rialto also provided a venue for civic activities.

The 1936 Rialto was the only theater between San Antonio and Corpus to have refrigerated air. Other innovations were chairs curved to fit the back and the latest design in head-phones for the hearing impaired.

After sixty years of operation the Rialto closed in the mid 1980’s. Future plans are to restore the theater to its former glory.
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