Majestic Theater

N. Belknap Street,
Stephenville, TX 76401

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The Majestic Theater in Stephenville was sandwiched between two buildings, one of which was a Penneys department store. It was a plain building that looked as if it had been updated at some point. The vertical sign appeared to be original with white lettering on a dark red background with neon trim.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

driveinnut
driveinnut on September 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

The J- TAC college newspaper in Stephenville announced the opening of the Majestic on May 14th,1920. Thomas Donnell was the manager.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm

There appears to have been an earlier Majestic Theatre in Stephenville. This is from the February 26, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Stephenville, Texas, is to have a new theater, according to an announcement made by Chaucer Caver, manager and owner of the Majestic theater of that place. Work on construction on the new building will begin in the very near future. The seating capacity is planned at 500, and the construction and equipment will be of the best, including a terra cotta front.”
The Majestic had competition, according to this item from MPW of March 11 the same year: “Miller’s theater, Stephenvllle. seating about 400, opened up February 20, under the management of J. R. Miller.”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 1, 2013 at 1:20 am

The Majestic Theatre is advertised in the March 23, 1920, issue of the J-TAC, which is almost two months before the later issue of the paper said that it opened. The obvious conclusion would be that the Majestic that opened on May 14, 1920, replaced an older house of the same name— the Majestic Theatre that Chaucer Carver was operating in 1916.

I’d guess that Chaucer Caver’s plans to build a new theater in 1916 didn’t work out, or perhaps it just took him four years to get the project completed. By 1920 the theater might have changed hands, though. I can’t find any other references to a Chaucer Caver on the Internet. Of course there’s the possibility that the name Chaucer Caver was a mistake made by the magazine. Maybe he was Charles Carver, or Chauncey Grover. Odds are we’ll never know for sure.

I also fail to find Miller’s Theatre advertised in J-TAC. It must not have lasted very long.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 1, 2013 at 1:58 am

The Majestic in Don’s photo probably was in the 100 block of North Belknap Street, on the west side just south of Mason Street. A building across the street from its site (4 Kids Only store) has a marquee that has been altered by the addition of a mansard-like metal addition, and I think its the building at the extreme left in the photo. The traffic light is gone, but there’s a pale patch on the sidewalk where it could have been. The other side of the block has been entirely demolished, and that’s where the theater must have been.

Chuck, what year was the Sanborn map published? If it was pre-1920, 114 N. Belknap could have been the location of the old Majestic. The new theater’s number would have been larger, I think, as it was close to the north end of the block.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm

As Mr. Fooshee (author of the letter RidgewoodKen quotes above) arrived in Stephenville in 1871, even if he was quite young when he left home he must have been born no later than the mid-1850s. The author of the article doesn’t say what year his letter was written, but it could very easily have been before the second Majestic was built, in which case the Majestic he was referring to, the site of which the article’s writer says is now part of Cowboy Capital Park, would have been the first one.

Cowboy Capital Park must be the small area tucked into the corner of the parking lot at Washington and Belknap. I’m now more inclined to believe that 114 Belknap is where the first Majestic was located, near the corner of Washington Street, and the second Majestic, as seen in the photo DonLewis linked to, was up the block near the corner of Mason Street. Its address was probably in the 160-180 range.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I’ve found the maps from 1921 and some earlier years, but haven’t seen the 1926 map. There was something peculiar in Stephenville’s street numbering system then. Both sides of the streets had both odd and even numbers, which must have been very inconvenient for people from out of town. The numbers on the theater’s block of Belknap Street also got larger going south, so the dividing line must have been at a different street then than it is now.

The 1921 map shows a Cinema at the location the Majestic Theatre was at in Don’s photo, in the second building south of Mason Street. The map gives two addresses for it, though— 112 and 236, so Stephenville must have gone through more than one change of its numbering system over the years, and apparently they were in the middle of one of them in 1921.

On the 1912 map, the lot at 112 Belknap is vacant, but the building that later housed J. C. Penney’s is already there, with the address 113-114. In 1921 it was noted as both 113-114 and 237-238.

The 1912 map also shows an Opera House on the second floor of the building at the northeast corner of Belknap and Washington, and a movie theater on College Street, in the second storefront east of Belknap. A second storefront labeled Motion Pictures was in the middle of the block of Belknap opposite the courthouse. One or the other of those might have been the first Majestic. None of the tree appear on the 1921 map.

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