Loew's Palace Theatre

81 Union Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38103

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Loew's Palace marquee advertising CinemaScope.

Loew’s Palace Theatre opened on January 15, 1921. A row of 19th century storefronts was removed in 1919 to build the Palace building, but the half-block depth caused the Palace Theatre to have a shallow, wide lobby, with twin staircases. Brass light fixtures stood on the newel posts. A dividing wall of draped windows between the lounge areas and the front lobby served to make the space appear larger and more imposing. The architect was Thomas Lamb; the d├ęcor, in Loew’s Adam style was elaborate in all areas, with stained glass in many light fixtures and all exit signs throughout. Early newspaper articles mention a half dome in the stage area copying the Rialto Theatre in New York City. This was later removed and a mural topped the flat proscenium. It also opened as a strictly film theatre, adding stage fare later.

M.A. Lightman leased the Palace Theatre from 1935-1939 and renamed it the Malco Theatre (for M.A. Lightman Co.) or Malco Palace Theatre.

Its classic 1940’s outdoor display, after Loew’s reopened the theatre, is visible in many downtown photographs and many noteworthy films played there. CinemaScope was advertised in 1953.

The Palace Theatre was most noted for being the Mid-South’s Cinerama theatre from July 1961 to October 1963. The installation of Cinerama required a number of interior alterations to accommodate the huge curved screen and triple projection equipment. That screen could not be used for standard format movies and, when it was removed, the auditorium looked patched over and shabby.

Loew’s donated the Palace Theatre to Bountiful Blessings Deliverance Church in 1977. The church reopened the stage and used it for a variety of purposes, but the building continued to deteriorate and it proved difficult to maintain. It closed for good in 1985. It was replaced by a parking garage, still standing in 2013.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, vastor

Recent comments (view all 44 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2010 at 2:35 am

The February, 1921, issue of trade journal The Clay Worker said that the new Palace Theatre in Memphis had opened to the public on Saturday, January 15.

genfan on January 29, 2011 at 7:41 am

Does anyone have information on the performers who might have appeared at Loew’s when it first opened in the ‘20s?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Love the Elvis Story,ASst Mgr Loews.

TLSLOEWS on May 8, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Marcus Loew was born on this date in 1870.

michaelkaplan on June 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Here’s a remembrance and photo of Loew’s Palace in Memphis: http://www.memphistechhigh.com/memphis/memories/palace.html

vastor on July 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Photos, even old ones, of the Palace are scarce. Came across this one recently. Lobby, as opposed to the State’s long one was crosswise with two flanking staircases. Wall was originally glass but was painted over because the standee rail was just inside.

vastor on August 5, 2011 at 9:00 am

Will, where did you come by the Don Baker memorabilia?

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 5, 2011 at 11:14 am

Where else? Stan Hightower.

obitguy on January 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm

My dad took my brother and I to see a re-release of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in the early 1960s. My first movie in a theater!

gill on September 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

New Interior photos of Loew’s Palace have now been posted.

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