Stevens Theater

2007 Fort Worth Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75208

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Stevens Theater

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The Stevens Theater opened in early-1946. It had the classic inverted V-shaped marquee sheltering the entrance and outside ticket booth. Atop both sides of the red and neon trimmed marquee ‘Stevens’ was spelled out in large red letters and neon.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don lewis

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

UnknownCinemaDude
UnknownCinemaDude on June 14, 2009 at 5:15 am

here is a august 1986 photo of the old stevens theatre. along with 3 other 80’s pictures of dallas the theatres. it can be seen here
View link

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on June 14, 2009 at 6:11 am

Wrong photo again!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2009 at 12:59 am

The February 2, 1946, issue of Boxoffice reported that Robb and Rowley’s new Stevens Theatre had opened after months of delay. The new house was designated R&R’s first-run theater for the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. R&R also operated the Texas, Bison, Rosewin, Midway and Astor theaters in the area.

jamestv
jamestv on June 8, 2010 at 1:19 am

The Stevens began playing Spanish-language movies in the late ‘60’s as this area became mostly Mexican-American. I was a projectionist here for a while in the early '70’s. This theatre was demolished in the '90’s replaced by new retail buildings.

matt54
matt54 on September 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Status should be changed to “Closed/Demolished” because it sure ain’t there no more.

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on September 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Scheduled to be built in 1941/2, the theatre was delayed in part by WW2. The $100,000 Oak Cliff theater became Robb and Rowley (R&R) Circuit’s first post-war theater. Originally scheduled to be nestled in a triangular tract just off of Stevens Park at Colorado and Hampton, the delayed project moved just to the north to 2007 Fort Worth Avenue. Corgan and Moore as the architects. It opened January 24, 1946 with Shirley Temple’s “Kiss and Tell.” R&R was ambitious positioning the Stevens as the first run house and moving its Texas to second-run status. That move proved to be unsuccessful.

The Stevens was demoted from first run to second run then dropping matinees as the theater struggled to find its audience. R&R closed the theater January 18, 1958 following a double feature of Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Land Unknown just a week shy of its 12th anniversary. Second life for the theater occurred that summer when two teenagers — Gary Gilliand and Don Shaw Jr. — reopened the theater July of 1958 for a short period. Another life came for the theater with a new manager in 1960. The Stevens closed yet again but found its niche when it reopened in 1961 by Manuel Avila who successfully rebranded it as a Hispanic theater with both film and occasional live Latin variety shows.

During the film licensing era, the Stevens ran into some problems in the early 1960s with the Dallas Movie Classification Board for running many films without submitting them for classification. The board got a Spanish speaking member aboard to help move the process along. When the Teatro Panamericano changed its name and tried to go upscale catering to a new audience, the Stevens surged in Dallas with Hispanic audiences. Avila continued to bring Hispanic films to the area for more than two decades including both subtitled American films such as Vaselina (Grease) and a heavy slate of imported films as the theater continued into the 1980s.

Avila was honored with a group of Mexican American business owners in 1985 by the Mexican America Legal Defense and Educational Fund for his contributions to the city of Dallas for then nearly 25 years of operation. And he sponsored a Stevens Theater baseball team. The theater finally closed after more than four decades and has since been demolished.

Lonestar76
Lonestar76 on December 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Great tp find this thread about the Stevens Theater. I am a researcher from the UK and am interested in the history of the theater and Manuel Avila who used to run it. Is there any way to contact members off forum? I had wanted to ask some questions to those of you like Jamestv who worked there and might have some information. I can’t seem to work out how to do this so will ask right here if that is ok. Do any of you have any further information on Manuel Avila? I am specifically interested in the early 1960’s period. I read that he worked at the theater until the mid 1980’s so was he there when you worked there Jamestv? I would be grateful for any information you can give me. I would post my email address for further contact but don’t know if it is allowed and I don’t want to get spammed. Thanks in advance!

jamestv
jamestv on December 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

The Stevens was owned and managed by Manuel Avila when I worked there in 1973-74. The booth was rather large compared to most booths and had three projectors (Simplex as I remember); this may have been the only theatre in Dallas that had three projectors although I’m not sure about earlier theatres. Next to the booth was an observation room/cry room which we had to go through to enter the booth. When this was built, it was one of the larger neighborhood theatres.

Lonestar76
Lonestar76 on December 26, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Thanks for the reply. Did you know Avila well? I am trying to find out a bit more about him and who he might have known in the early 1960’s but also after that. For example, what happened to him after the theater closed down. Do you know if he is still alive today? Many thanks.

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