Wichita Theatre and Opera House

919 Indiana Avenue,
Wichita Falls, TX 76301

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CheckerBird
CheckerBird on April 25, 2013 at 8:21 am

The Wichita Theater is now operating as a church: One Life, a contemporary Christian evangelical community church (www.onelifecc.org). The building immediately to the north has been also connected and it’s really nicely fixed up now.

DonLewis
DonLewis on December 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

From 1975, a movie ad for the Wichita Theatre in Wichita Falls.

Don…

JamesEBohenek
JamesEBohenek on May 17, 2009 at 11:35 pm

It’s my understanding that dual strip 3-D used only two projectors. There were intermissions for changeovers. Hard to believe but perhaps the disruptions were minimized by larger reels. What were the reel durations? 20 and 60 minutes? Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Austin did authentic polarized dual projector presentations several years ago but of course platters now enable non-stop projection which is what we experienced.

DonLewis
DonLewis on April 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Hello Patsy and thanks for noticing the photos! The credit actually goes to Billy Smith for taking them; I am editing and doing the submissions.

Don………..

Patsy
Patsy on April 22, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Don Lewis: Great photos of a theatre I do remember when I was living in Wichita Falls (1970-1971). Hubby was with the USAF at Sheppard in the finance office.

DonLewis
DonLewis on April 22, 2008 at 1:53 pm

A 1984 view of the Wichita Theater, a 1988 view here and a 2007 view of the box office.

randini
randini on December 30, 2007 at 1:31 pm

I saw “The Mask” too and remember that damned tiled head as just about the scariest thing! That would probably have been at the Strand or State (where you could go afterwards to Thomas’s across the street and load up on fake vomit and other childhood delights of the era).It’s possible I may have seen “Hondo” in 3-D, but when I saw the recent restoration at the Academy I remembered nothing about it.I also doubt if the Wichita’s booth could accomodate four interlocked projectors. Dallas' Cinerama house was the Capri (ex-Melba) downtown.

JamesEBohenek
JamesEBohenek on December 30, 2007 at 1:18 pm

All I recall about HTWWW is that it was Cinerama in Dallas. I don’t remember any publicity for it and I didn’t see the movie. It might have been 70mm. The Village in Fort Worth publicized all their 70mm presentations but we always drove to Wichita Falls since it was closer to Bowie. Can you believe schools made “field trips” to The Ten Commandments? Remember the Saturday matinees for kids? Remember the William Castle movies with gimmicks? We missed the dual-projector polarized 3-D movies in the early 50’s but we saw The Mask with anaglyph 3-D sequences in downtown Wichita Falls.

randini
randini on December 30, 2007 at 7:40 am

Well, you could be right. Was “How the West was Won” one of them? That was filmed in Cinerama but exhibited in single-strip 70mm Ultra Panavision.I caught it at the Ridglea in Fort Worth, a house similar in size and layout to the Wichita.

JamesEBohenek
JamesEBohenek on December 30, 2007 at 2:27 am

Wichita Falls definitely had 70mm presentations in the 60’s. There was always publicity about them. We drove to Wichita Falls from Bowie for My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, and Dr. Zhivago in 70mm. But these might have been at The State not The Wichita. From 1953 to 1962 when we lived in Wichita Falls we saw many movies downtown and many more at Seymour Road Drive-In and Grant Street Drive-In (which had indoor seating) and Parker Square Theater. If anyone is interested I’ll list movie titles I remember.

Patsy
Patsy on December 3, 2007 at 11:54 am

randini: Strange that a former opera house wouldn’t have had an orchestra pit and/or organ!

randini
randini on September 24, 2007 at 8:54 am

The 1908 opening date may refer to an earlier theatre on the same site. Its clipping file at the Wichita County Historical Society is vague as to whether the present theatre was a rebuild or simply a remodeling circa 1941.My earliest memory of it is “This Island Earth” (I think) in 1955. It had no orchestra pit or organ.

randini
randini on September 18, 2007 at 4:09 pm

As a native of Wichita Falls and living there until 1967, when I was 19, I’m pretty certain that neither the Wichita nor any other local theatre had 70mm. Those prints were too expensive to justify equipping 1200-seat houses. Better to make the trip to Dallas to the Capri (ex-Melba). My brother and I saw “Lawrence of Arabia” at the Wichita, and I’m sure it was 35mm CinemaScope. Earlier I saw “This Island Earth”, “Fantasia”, “Run Silent, Run Deep”, “Jouney to the Center of the Earth”, and the abridged version of the silent “Noah’s Ark”. Dad also took me there to see a closed-circuit prizefight between Sugar Ray Robinson and the Swedish guy whose name escapes me. Guess that dates me.

Also saw DeMille’s 1956 “The Ten Commandments” in a special show for school children at the 2000-plus seat Memorial Auditorium.

The Majestic was on North Scott St and was demolished in the early 1950s to make room for a parking lot for the now-also-vanished Kemp Hotel. North Scott by 1960 was borderline skidrow, which meant that its other theatre, the Tower, was off limits to those tender souls with a low tolerance for rats.That’s where the exploitation pictures like “She Shoulda Said No” and “Common Law Wife” would have played.

If the Strand was an occasional art house in the 1960s that might be where I saw Fellini’s 81/2. Imagine! The guy behind me kept muttering “What kinda pitcher show IS this??”

The one other downtown theatre was WF’s first, the Gem, on Ohio Street across from the train station. By my day I think it was probably “for coloreds only”.

There was also a single-screen theatre at Parker Square, a shopping center on Kell Boulevard serving the Country Club neighborhood. This is long before the Sikes estate became Sikes Center, with its multiplex.

Randy Man

JamesEBohenek
JamesEBohenek on October 29, 2006 at 9:08 pm

The downtown cinemas in Wichita Falls were the Wichita, the State and the Strand. The first two were Interstates and the Strand was probably independent and showed art house movies such as Darling and Belle de Jour in 1969. The State or the Wichita showed all the 70mm presentations in the 1960’s – My Fair Lady, Dr. Zhivago, The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind. There was always a lot of newspaper coverage regarding the film format. I’ve been told that Oklahoma! shown in stereo at Wichita or State was probably the 1956 CinemaScope version but I suspect that South Pacific a few years later was shown in 70mm. Does anyone remember otherwise? It seemed like the South Pacific billboard we passed on the way to downtown was in place for months and months. Sadly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1969 or 1970 was 35mm with mono sound.

Patsy
Patsy on April 12, 2006 at 5:39 am

Chuck: Please email me a photo of the Wichita Theatre as the 7/31 post doesn’t work…thanks. I lived in WF when hubby was attending Midwestern University which is now Midwestern State.

DriveInTheatre2001
DriveInTheatre2001 on April 10, 2006 at 6:13 pm

This is a Sharp looking Theatre!! Paid a Visit on April 6, 2006… Got some good night shots of this one! The Gentleman who either runs or owns this Theatre is a real nice guy..
A BIG Thank U to him for his kindness!

Randy Carlisle

Photographically Preserving Dallas History 1 Building @ A Time

Patsy
Patsy on March 21, 2005 at 8:20 pm

I read on another cinema site that Wichita Falls had another theater called the Majestic. Does anyone have information they could contribute?

Patsy
Patsy on January 28, 2005 at 8:14 am

Charles: So glad to hear that this theatre has been added to the TX State Register of Historical Landmarks and that it has been restored including the ceiling murals! Congratulations to the City of Wichita Falls! I would also say that that State Register is as important or maybe even more important to the folks of Texas than the National Register! I say this because many years ago while touring an historic home in Galveston I couldn’t even find the National Register, but was shown the State Register immediately!!

Patsy
Patsy on January 9, 2005 at 8:00 am

My husband and I lived in Wichita Falls TX during his USAF years and so we recall going to see movies at the Wichita Theater.

William
William on December 15, 2003 at 7:22 pm

The Wichita Theatre is located at 921 Indiana Ave. and it seated 1203 people when it was a movie theatre.