DeSoto Theater

868 Arkansas Street,
Memphis, TN 38106

Unfavorite No one has favorited this theater yet

Desoto theatre block

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Open from about 1914-1928.

Around 1942 Kemmons Wilson (who later went on to be the founder of Holiday Inns) heard there was a little, long closed for years, Desoto Theater for sale. Kemmons offered to pay the $2,000 asking price if he could pay it at $25 a week after he got the theater open. Kemmons then went to National Theater Supply Company run by Bob Bostick who provided invaluable assistance as Kemmons learned the movie business. Bob sold Kemmons some $4,000 worth of equipment with nothing down, and helped him get the theater open. Kemmons managed to get the DeSoto Theater open without so much as a down payment!

Open from about 1942-1948.

Contributed by Chief Bob Jensen

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

The stretch of Arkansas Avenue where the DeSoto Theatre was located has been wiped off the face of the earth, along with most of the neighborhood around it. Given the name, I suspect that the theater was at or near the corner of De Soto Street, several hundred feet north of the spot where Google Maps has placed the pin icon.

The obliteration took place sometime between 1958 and 1963, judging from a comparison of images from those years at Historic Aerials.

vastor on June 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

The people at the Wilson Companies are cataloguing a lot of old photos for the first time. The very nice woman in charge of that said she will let me know if any turned up.

vastor on June 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

Also, it was the so-so business at the DeSoto and Kemmons' knack for the theatre business that led to the construction of the Airway, Summer Drive-In, and the W C Handy. Kemmons had a theatre serving each racial community within a few blocks of one another. The Airway on Lamar and the Handy on Park.

vastor on July 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

It appears that the commercial section of Fort Pickering, the town/suburb where the DeSoto was, has become industrial development and interstate highway. No trace of just about anything before the interstate construction.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater