Avenue Theatre

4923 Columbia Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75214

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Avenue Theatre

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Following the closure of the nearby Rita Theatre, the Columbia Theatre was constructed in around 1950. It was part of the Phil Isley chain and was soon renamed Avenue Theatre.

In 1990, it was operating as a Spanish language cinema named Cine 2. By 1998, it was operating as an adult theatre, known as the Guild Theatre.

In 2008 it operates as a pawn shop and video store.

Contributed by Lost Memory, Bob Johnston

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

DonLewis
DonLewis on May 20, 2008 at 6:53 pm

A 1990 view of the Avenue Theater building in Dallas.

rivest266
rivest266 on October 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

This was renamed Guild in 1968 and shown adult movies, it was billed as Home of the finest adult entertainment world.
ad at View link

Driveintheatre2001
Driveintheatre2001 on January 18, 2012 at 5:20 am

A photo I took of the Avenue/Guild Theatre from February of 2005.. Enjoy.. RAC Photography Avenue Theatre 2005 .. Randy A Carlisle – Historical Photographer

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on November 18, 2013 at 4:10 am

The Avenue continued the suburban tradition of its neighbor, the Rita Theatre. These locations combined for an incredible nine decades of film exhibition in the 4900 block of Columbia. The Rita (originally the Columbia) ran thirty years from 1918-1948. Isley Circuit bought the Rita and constructed the neighboring Avenue in 1947/8 and opening April 1, 1948. It rebranded the Avenue as The Guild arthouse in 1968. It closed prior to one year’s operation. It then became the highly successful Guild Art Adult Theatre which ran through the 1980s. It then became the Cine 2 spanish language theater. That converted to Video Centro which was a spanish language video store. And the location became a retail shop that contained a pawn shop and cash advance location that ran into the 2010s.

Phil Isley Enterprises theater circuit took over the Rita Theater at 4945 Columbia in a lease-purchase arrangement on July 3, 1946 managed by C.V. Caver. Isley began construction at a neighboring lot at 4923 Columbia beginning in April 1947. The 1,000 seat Avenue Theater was architected by Pettigrew & Worley and built by Major Construction. Complete with balcony, indirect neon lighting, large cry room, adjoining parking lot, and new projection and sound, the theater’s original façade was porcelain and tile. The project was delayed but was supposed to be timed with the closing of Isley’s Rita location. The Rita closed on March 8, 1948 with The Avenue Theater delayed opening of April 1, 1948 with Caver as manager. Its first movie was, “Sleep My Love.” And it was Isley’s second grand opening in three nights having just launched The Crest in Oak Cliff two nights earlier. There were some events at the suburban theater. Bill Boyd and his Cowboy Ramblers featuring Jim Boyd appeared in person showing “Tumbleweed Trails.” The event was carried live by local station WRR radio.

After 20 successful years, the theater was acquired by Rowley United which shut down the theater temporarily June 9, 1968 just long enough to rebrand the theater as an art house called Guild Theater. Its facing was completely redone and the interior also redecorated. Because Rowley United had taken the Granada to art and had a ten week success with “The Producers” out of the gate, they thought the Guild would deliver as an art house. It started with, “Carmen Baby” opening June 14, 1968. That concept lasted less than a year as the theater was dropped by the circuit and closed in 1969.

As an art house, the Guild did have at least one hit with the X-Rated “Vixen” late in 1968. With that in mind, new operator Cinne Arts Theatres, Inc. took on the Guild as its second theater in Dallas in February of 1970 adding it to its 1709 S. Ervay theater, The Cinne Art. Cinne Arts hit a home run with The Guild Art Theatre / Guild Adult Theatre, one of Dallas’ most successful and long-running adult houses. And one of the most raided which could be considered a badge of honor. Cinne Arts ran more than 15 years at Columbia and was in the court system challenging the constitutionality of adult zoning laws and obscenity enforcement.

The most famous incident for the Guild occurred on February 7, 1979 when after just two shows into its six scheduled shows daily, “Debbie Does Dallas” was confiscated by Dallas police. Looking back at almost ten years of titles played at the Guild, one can surmise that you just don’t mess with the image of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. It was a front page news story and the lead story for the TV newscasts. The Guild had hit the big time. And it would continue operations right up to the home video revolution that would be the demise of the remaining large adult theaters in Dallas such as the Guild and Fine Arts. The Guild would be replaced with Hispanic film operators who launched Cine 2. The location showed film in five decades before becoming a video store, Video Centro and then a retail store that included a pawn shop.

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