W. Third Street and Elmhurst Road,
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Walter Reade’s Westown Theatre opened on September 10, 1970 with Candice Bergen in “Soldier Blue”. The theatre was named after the Westown shopping center where it was located. It was the first movie theatre that the Walter Reade Organization, a motion picture firm out of New York, had opened in an African-American community. Walter Reade Jr., president and chairman of the Reade Organization said “If this theatre prospers as we expect, we will invest in similar ventures”
The gamble that they took did not pay off. “Our losses were drastic”, said a spokesman for the Reade Organization. “Some nights we played to three or four people”. They closed the Westown Theatre on February 28, 1971.
The theatre was sold and re-opened on May 28, 1971 as a dollar theater. That lasted until July of 1971 when the Westown Theatre closed again. Less than a month later, it re-opened as an X-rated movie theatre. Showing adult movies didn’t work either. The Westown Theatre closed again in October 1971.
After being closed for eight months, the Westown Theater opened again under new ownership and this time it showed family type movies only. It wasn’t long before the theatre was closed once again.
The Westown Theatre sat empty for over a year before re-opening on July 6, 1973 as the Roxy Theatre showing first run black-oriented films opening with Don Gordon & Richard Pryor in “The Mack”. That idea lasted until April 3, 1975 when the Roxy Theatre closed again for the last time.
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