Loew's Palace Theatre

81 Union Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38103

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Loew's Inc., Malco Theatres Inc.

Architects: Thomas White Lamb

Styles: Adam

Previous Names: Malco Theatre, Malco Palace Theatre

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Loew's Palace Theatre

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. Like the Loew’s State Theatre two blocks away and opened in 1920, it had a Moller theatre organ which was replaced with a Wurlitzer 3 manual, 11 ranks theatre organ in December 1926.

M.A. Lightman leased the Palace Theatre from December 25, 1935 and it was renamed Malco Theatre which adorned the marquee until May 31, 1940 when it reverted by to the Loew’s Palace Theatre name.

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 26, 1961 with the Mis-South premiere of “This Is Cinerama”. It was at this time tat the Wurlitzer organ was removed from the building. 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 in October 1963, 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 48 comments)

michaelkaplan
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
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
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
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
gill on September 4, 2013 at 6:56 pm

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

rivest266
rivest266 on August 12, 2021 at 7:23 am

Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 12, 2021 at 11:56 am

On December 25th, 1935, it was renamed Malco, and on May 31st, 1940, it was renamed Loew’s Palace again. More grand opening advertisements have been posted.

rivest266
rivest266 on August 13, 2021 at 10:05 am

Cinerama arrived on July 26th, 1961. Grand opening ad posted.

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