Crosstown Theatre

400 N. Cleveland Street,
Memphis, TN 38104

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Crosstown Theatre when open--Call Me Mister--1951

The Crosstown Theatre was opened in May 1951. It had a huge 90 feet tall (when measured from the sidewalk) vertical name sign attached to the front of the building. According to an article in Boxoffice Magazine a mile of neon tubing was used in the marquee and vertical. Seating was provided in orchestra and balcony levels. It was the largest neighbourhood theatre ever constructed in Memphis, with 1,400 seats (the Plaza Theatre had 1,200 seats). It began as a standard double-feature neighbourhood theatre and continued with blockbusters such as “Cleopatra”, “My Fair Lady”, “The Poseidon Adventure” and others. It was sold in 1976 to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have occupied the building ever since. A recent renovation completely remodelled the auditorium, but left the lobby in near pristine condition.

Contributed by Jack Coursey, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

Local619 on December 14, 2007 at 8:02 pm

Was in the Crosstown in 1969 to see the local(Projectionist Union) Business Agent, they were running Oliver in 70mm. Was told that Elvis had rented the theatre for a midnight show for himelf and some friends. Rumor was that he was a big tipper (staff loved him)

kencmcintyre on February 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm

The church has finished renovating the theater. Here are some related sites:

calldon on January 16, 2009 at 10:41 pm

So sad that they demolished the beautiful sign and gutted the interior instead of refurbishing it! The Crosstown was a beautiful showplace at one time. So sad for its loss! I took the following photos with my cell phone
View link

Had I known they were going to destroy the rest of the facade, I would have returned to make photos with a better camera.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 23, 2009 at 2:34 am

Boxoffice of April 5, 1952, reported that the Crosstown Theatre had been designed by the architectural firm of Brueggeman, Swaim & Allen.

The front of the Crosstown, Boxoffice reported, “…employs approximately one mile of neon tubing in the installation, requiring 40 circuits and 143 transformers. The V-shaped signature tower with Crosstown in vertical letters is 72 feet high, and begins 20 feet above the ground.”

jswain on July 31, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I worked at the Crosstown when the “Agony and the Ecstacy” opened. I was in junior high at Humes. My art teacher Mrs. Thweet and her daughter were my guests one night. I later worked at the Malco theater on Main St. The Malco at one time had a side entrance for blacks only where their seating was in the highest balcony in the theatre. I also worked at the Princess to let people go on their lunch breaks. Very seedy place and I don’t think that many people knew that it was owned by the same people.

ghsong on December 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

my first real job ever was at the A&P grocery store across cleveland from the crosstown in 1969.right next door to the crosstown was a drug store that had a great lunch counter with wonderful greasy cheeseburgers!…so so long ago and yet just yesterday.

obitguy on January 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

This was such a beautiful theater. It is a disgrace that it was allowed to end up like it did. I remember my sister and I having to sit through “Dr. Dolittle” back in the late 60s. Saw “Fiddler on the Roof” with my mom, “Day of the Jackal” with my grandmother. My 7th grade buddies from Auburndale and I saw “The Poseidon Adventure” several times. I must have seen “Billy Jack” a dozen times. So many movies: “2001,” “Tora,Tora, Tora,” “Z,” “The Cross and the Switchblade.” Many great times.

vastor on August 10, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Went by there the other day, it is newly painted and remodeled. The main feature I could see through the doors were the twin sweeping staircases from the lobby to the balcony. They are still beautiful.

vastor on July 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm

A new photo of the entire front and vertical from 1961 has been posted. From the Fire Museum of Memphis, used with permission.

vastor on February 27, 2014 at 3:58 am

2014 photos of the lobby staircases have been posted.

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