Knox Theater

3212 Knox Street,
Dallas, TX 75205

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Knox Street Theatre - aka Knox Theatre - Dallas Tx Closed

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Ronile Theatre opened on August 1, 1922. It was renamed Knox Street Theater which opened on July 15, 1932 with Johnny Weismuller in “Tarzan, the Ape Man”. It was still in operation in 1950, and by that time was known as the Knox Theater. Between 1971 and 1973 it operated as an adult cinema known as the Knox Street Cinema.

Contributed by Billy Holcomb / Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

DwayTeal on April 6, 2010 at 11:23 am

During the late 1960’s early 70’s, the theater building housed a popular nightculb/discotheque known as THE PHANTASMAGORIA. It was located just up the street from the original Highland Park Cafeteria. I have no recollection of the Knox movie theater; however, I remember quite well hearing promo spots for THE PHANTASMAGORIA on the popular Dallas station, KLIF 1190.

kencmcintyre on April 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm

There is a Pottery Barn at this address now. No resemblance to the building in the 1983 photo.

kencmcintyre on April 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm

The Pottery Barn is actually down the street from the building seen on the map view. If you look at the Cinematour photos you can see that the old theater building was probably converted into the retail business.

Samsboy on January 29, 2012 at 10:25 am

Knox Theatre was open at least by 1936. It was owned by Bob Glass, an electrician who made lots of money during the Depression converting theatres all over Texas to sound. With his money he bought the Knox Street Theatre, one on Oak Lawn Ave, and 2 in Beaumont. Out on the remodeling circuit he met my dad, Sam Brown Lewis, who was working for King Scenic as a contractor redecorating theatre interiors. My dad was very good at this; and became well-known in Texas in that industry. Bob hired Dad away from King Scenic to run (manage) the Knox and the Oak Lawn one. This, he did until Bob sold the two theatres to Interstate Theatres (Majestic, etc.) around 1938. My brother, Sam Jr., operated the popcorn concession at the Knox for 2 ½ years, both while Dad ran the place and after Interstate took over. Bob made Interstate honor the deal Bob made with my brother that he could keep the concession through school. My brother paid the shine man at the barber shop next door 75 cents a week to clean the machine. Sam, Jr. sold the machine for $100 the night he graduated from North Dallas High School in May, 1939. Jerry Lewis

matt54 on January 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm

The original name of this theatre was the Ronile, the name of the owner’s daughter spelled backwards. Then it was changed to the Knox Street Theatre – it was never just the Knox, so the title of this page needs to be amended to include “Street.”

Bob Johnston
Bob Johnston on January 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

It was the RoNile in 1924, but don’t know when it changed.

matt54 on March 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Chuck, I sure don’t. Sorry.

Driveintheatre2001 on March 16, 2013 at 8:54 am

Passing along some info I received from Ms Jeanette (Tomato Lady) on this Theatre……… here are the correct facts on first the Ronile which opened August 1, 1922 at 7PM showing Saturday Night, a Cecil B. deMille movie at 3220 Knox. There is a 1924 photo looking east with a pharmacy on the left, then the Ronile next door but the telephone pole blocks the vertical. The Knox Street Theatre opened July 15, 1932 showing Johnny Weismuller (sp) in Tarzan the Ape Man. It had changed hands a few times. Closed in 1952, but then it still showed up at the same address in 1956, Nov. of 1957, 58, 59 and the owner was Beruch Lumet who lived at 4616 Cole. In 1961 he also owned the Lumet School of Acting. This info came from Dallas Times Herald articles. In the Dallas directory by 1962 through 1965 there was no listing and the building was vacant. Then in the 1970s the Allyson Wonderland was in the building, the front of which had been remodeled kind of colored stripes as in Danny’s 1971 photo. Also Phantasmagoria (sp.) was a disco club in it during those years if you look up that bit. Also some time about 1936, it was sold to Interstate. The theatre had originally been one screen with about 500 seats. In 1972 Paul contacted a man named Mr. Roberdeaux offering to lease it and have it as a movie house once again but they couldn’t come to terms and Roberdeaux died.

dallasmovietheaters on November 7, 2013 at 8:45 am

The March 16, 2013 post is probably all that one needs. But just filling in some details that may or may not be of interest: In the fifty-plus year history of the Ro-Nile/Knox Theater, it starts with film and ends with film. And it has live stage and concerts in between. A few highlights:

The Ro-Nile Theater Building was instituted by the Ro-Nile Amusement Company on Aug. 1, 1922 in Highland Park with a Minusa Screen with a jinxed J.D. Wheelan organ. Unfortunately, J.D. Wheelan, himself, was severely burned on April 21, 1923 when an explosion occurred while repairing the organ. One week later on April 28, 1923 before repairs were completed, a second fire destroyed the front end of the theater and the balcony. In 1930, the organ struck again taking a customer’s life when he reached in to get some coins but standing water in the organ pit helped to cause the patron’s electrocution. The Ro-Nile fulfilled a ten year lease and shut down.

Robert Z. Glass acquired the Ro-Nile and christened it the Knox Street Theater beginning in July 1932. Within a year, he bought the Parkway and renamed it the Lawn. He then sued Interstate Theaters for what amounted to a price fixing case. In 1936, Glass had labor issue and stink bombs were thrown into both his Knox Street and Lawn theaters. Glass sold the theater along with the Lawn shortly thereafter becoming part of the Interstate Circuit. During the Paramount consent decree, Interstate divested itself of many theaters in the early 1950s. They simply closed the Knox on January 7, 1950 with “The Doctor and the Girl.” Interstate tried to lease it to a live stage theater group but that apparently failed as on May 18, 1951 father/son team Leo and Richard Craiker took on the Knox Theater as an indy for a year calling it the “home of encores.” That works out to a twenty year lease ending the Knox' film exhibition for some time.

The Knox St. became a live stage and school for acting. The next operators were: The Dallas Institute of Performing Arts / Knox Street Theatre (1953-1956); Lumet School of Acting / Knox Street Theater (1957-1960); Pearl Chappell Playhouse (1961-1963); Speakeasy (1965-6); The In Crowd (1966-7) which was sued for its name and thusly changed; Phantasmagoria (1967-1969); Allison Wonderland (1970); and finally back into film exhibition with the adult X-rated house Knox St. Cinema (1971-1973). The Ro-Nile Theater Building was deconstructed/reconstructed for retail space that was still vibrant in the 2010s. And the Knox’s 50-year plus exhibition era along with the H.P. Village Theater and Varsity/Fine Arts/Park Cities Playhouse 50-plus years meant that all three Park Cities suburban theaters had performance lifespans in excess of fifty years.

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