Palace Theatre

807-811 Texas Avenue,
Houston, TX 77002

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Palace Theatre

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This is an earlier second Majestic Theatre in the city, which opened on 21 February 1910 as a vaudeville theatre, with movies as part of the program. It was built by Karl St. John Hoblitzelle for his Interstate Circuit. It had two balconies, the upper one resevered for coloreds only. It was renamed the Palace Theatre when Eberson’s Atmospheric style Majestic Theatre opened in 1923.

It was later operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary Will Horwitz, but was listed as closed in 1943. It was re-opened under new management in 1945, as the Neuvo Palacio Theatre, and finally closed on 3 April 1946. It has been demolished. There are some excellent photos of the theatre in the book"Cinema Houston".

Contributed by Graeme McBain

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

sepiatone
sepiatone on January 28, 2010 at 1:22 am

This theater should be updated to “demolished”. The Chase Tower and the Houston Chronicle now occupy the 800 Block of Texas Avenue. Graeme’s hunch is correct.

According to original 1910 ads for this theater, O.W. Mitchell, with the firm of Mitchell & Halbach Company of Chicago, Illinois, was a decoration design consultant.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Is there a source attributing the original, 1910 design of this theater to John Eberson, or did he just design a later remodeling? (The project index from the Wolfsonian Collection should say, but I can’t check it now as the computer I’m stuck with won’t open .xsl spreadsheets.)

I found this index entry citing an item in a 1912 issue of The Western Architect which attributes the design of a Majestic Theatre in Houston to the St. Louis firm of Mauran & Russell. I would presume it referred to this house built in 1910. Mauran & Russell designed a number of buildings in Texas during this period, judging from the results of a Google search on their name, so it seems plausible that they designed the second Majestic.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 31, 2011 at 11:45 am

I still can’t find confirmation that John Eberson designed or remodeled this theater. Eberson designed the third Majestic, opened January 29, 1923. The day Eberson’s Majestic opened, this theater was renamed the Palace, according to the book “Cinema Houston” by David Welling and Jack Valenti.

As the Palace it housed a stock company, and served various other uses, including stints as a church and as a theater for radio broadcasts, until it was remodeled in 1937 and reopened as the Zoe Theatre. The Zoe ran westerns for about a year, then foreign films, and even attempted a revival of vaudeville. After being closed for some time, the house reopened in 1945 as a Spanish language movie theater called the Neuvo Palacio, but soon closed its doors for the last time, on April 3, 1946. The theater was demolished to make way for an expansion of the Houston Chronicle building.

kschneiderstl
kschneiderstl on November 28, 2011 at 12:55 am

This theatre has another St. Louis connection: It was once managed by famous cyclist William Sachtleben. Sachtleben was from Alton, IL and gained notoriety when he and Thomas Allen, from nearby St. Louis, MO, traveled around the world on bicycles in 1892. They wrote a book about their travels and Sachtelben later returned to Turkey to locate Frank Lenz, another cyclist who went missing in a separate attempt to cycle around the world. This was the subject of a 2010 book entitled The Lost Cyclist.

Postcard image and article here: http://cinemahouston.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/when-bicycles-and-theatres-meet/

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

A biography of architect John Lawrence Mauran indicates that this theater was designed toward the end of the period when he was a partner in Mauran, Russell & Garden (with Ernest John Russell and Edward G. Garden,) and before the successor firm of Mauran, Russell & Crowell was formed (note correct spelling of William DeForrest Crowell’s surname.) Garden left the firm in 1909, the year this theater would have been designed, and Crowell became a partner in 1911, the year after the theater opened.

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