Palace Theatre

314 S. Austin Street,
Seguin, TX 78155

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Palace...Segiun Texas

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Located right off the heart of downtown Seguin, near the park, this stylish, classic Art Deco Moderne style theatre has long been a popular attraction for theatre-goers. The Palace Theatre was opened on May 5, 1938. Seating was provided for 950. In 1946, the front of the building was badly damaged in an explosion, and had to be rebuilt, with the Palace Theatre reopening in January 1947.

It was closed in 2002, but the theatre was later reopened.

However, there is the new King Ranger multiplex theatre out near the H-E-B Grocery Mall shopping center, near the 123 Bypass Highway and Court Street which is competition for the Palace Theatre.

By 2010, the Palace Theatre had been twinned.

Contributed by Donald John Long

Recent comments (view all 26 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm

As Dunne died in 1937, before the classic theaters he designed came to be as widely appreciated as they are now, it’s possible that his papers were not preserved. Two pages of plans for the Tower Theatre in Houston are part of the Interstate Theatre Circuit collection at the Dallas Public Library, but I haven’t come across any references to any others that have survived.

Even now there are surprising gaps in the information available about Dunne. The Texas State Historical Association’s online Handbook of Texas has a page for Alfred C. Finn, with whom Dunne collaborated on the design of the Melba Theatre in Dallas in 1921, but there is no page for Dunne himself. He is mentioned on Finn’s page, and that’s it.

Jay C. Henry’s Architecture in Texas: 1895-1945 attributes the design of the Texas Theatre to Dunne, and the book was published by the University of Texas Press, so I would imagine it was well researched. I don’t have the book itself, and none of the libraries in my area have it, but you’d probably be able to find it in a library in Texas. If it is a scholarly book, as it appears to be from the Google Books preview, the author should cite his sources, and the source for his claim that Dunne designed the Texas should be there.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC on October 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

Yes, I have Jay C. Henry’s book. It is excellent. That book taught me much, if not most, of what I know about the architectural history of Texas.

I was thrilled to see that “Architecture in Texas: 1895-1945” had pictures of several of Seguin’s notable buildings, and wove their stories into his text.

However, I was heartbroken to realize that Prof. Henry got one big thing HUGELY wrong. The photo of J. Riely Gordon’s Nolte Bank in his book is contemporary. And the text about it described the early influence of Spanish Revival style as seen in the tiled roof, etc. Unh unh.

The tile roof on the bank came with a remodeling done in my lifetime, perhaps 1985+/–. It was not part of Riely Gordon’s work. Period postcards show the roof line not tiled, but with a decorative brick pattern across the top of the facade. So Riely Gordon’s bank in Seguin is NOT, as he said, the first example of a Colonial Revival building in Texas. Sorry, Prof Henry.

On page 308-309, footnote 29, Henry cites David Naylor, “Great American Movie Theaters: A National Trust Guide” for “other Texas theaters included in this work are the Paramount in Abeline … in Austin …Beaumont … Conroe … Dallas …El Paso … San Antonio …the Texas in Seguin {W. Scott Dunne, 1929]] … Texarkana … Waco.”

Going to Naylor, page 194, (copyright 1987, 6th edition of the paperback 1987) I’m greatly gratified to see my hometown’s Texas Theatre pictured and described. I’m a little troubled to note that Naylor gives the wrong date, 1929, when local newspaper accounts show it was March 1931.

And more, the address given is wrong. It is 425 North Austin St, not “314 South Austin St.” Sound familiar? 314 South Austin St would be tour own Palace Theatre.

In fairness to David Naylor and his researchers, and to Prof Henry, they could have asked all over town and not found anyone who would tell them the architect of the Texas Theatre, or of the Palace. If anyone knew, they didn’t care. So those facts remained untold and unknown.

Almost nobody in Seguin knows of Marvin Eichenroht, for that matter, with him dead these 40 years and counting. He designed the Texas Theatre. “Oh.” He designed the Seguin High School, now Saegert School. “Oh.” He designed Emma Frey Hall on the Texas Lutheran campus. “Oh.” He designed that gorgeous funeral home. “Oh.” He designed the Main Fire Station. The federal and state office bldg. “Oh.” First Presbyterian Church. “Oh.” The former Mayor’s house, and almost a dozen other homes in town that we know of. “Oh.”

(Eichenroht has to be a candidate for architect when the Palace was re-built after the explosion in 1947. The fire station, government office building, and the church were all in this period of his activity in Seguin.)

Getting back to the point, LOL, unless there’s an edition of Naylor’s book that gives footnotes (the paperback does not), I don’t know his source. But like so many others since it was published, I used it as the source when I wrote a draft of the intro on the Texas Theatre site. But I think we got it wrong.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC on October 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Back to the Palace:

“A Pictorial History of the Seguin and Guadalupe County Area”, published by the local paper, the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise in 2001, has some info.

A caption on p 56: Invitation to the opening of the “New” Palace Theater in 1938. The Palace has been refurbished, and even rebuilt, many times over the years.

[Got that right. The cordially invited event was for “Thursday, May 5, 1938, at 8:00 P.M., H.A. Daniels, Managing Director”]

A caption on p 61: The Palace Theatre in the late 1930s, at Christmas…The photo clearly shows what the front of the Palace looked like before it blew up in 1946 and was rebuilt.

[Note: It was classic Art Deco with a vertical center panel with seven tall dark bands, breaking the horizontal lines of the facade, and two round windows high in the corners. The sign was not attached to the building, but as seen by its shadow here, and by photographs on page 78, hung from a utility pole! The Hwy Dept would not allow that today. LOL.]

On page 81: The “New Palace Theatre” reopened … and the facade is much like the one we see today. The Palace neon sign on the pole sits on the front of the theater today.

[Note: One significant change. The photo shows two structural beams protruding from the facade. But the sign pictured is very similar to the sign on the TEXAS Theatre, the stacked letters topped by a kind of peacock tail of lights. To date this photo, the movie on the marquee was “Thunderhead” starring Roddy McDowell and Preston Foster.]

On page 82: The Nolte-Daniels home on 102 East Live Oak Street, corner of Austin Street. The house was built in 1985, as a gift from banker Edward Nolte, to his son Eugene Nolte, upon his marriage to his wife Claudia. The Daniels family purchased it from Claudia Nolte, around 1940. The three-story, Queen Anne [shingle-covered] home has only two owners …"

[A photo of the house appears in the collected papers of J. Riely Gordon at the University of Texas library, so I’m saying he dunnit.]

On page 120: An interesting birth announcement could be found downtown when H.A. “Reid” Daniels III was born. His father, Dan, put the son’s name, date of birth and weight, on the Palace Theatre marquee. …

[This photo from ‘7 23 98’ shows the sign that we see today, lettering against horizontal bands of neon. That inverted L on the facade has gone from white in the earlier b&w picture to dark grey in this picture. Paint or tilework, I dunno.]

Visiting stars pictured in the book include John Wayne (an overnight guest in the beautiful mansion of owners H.A. Windy Daniels and wife Mimi); on one of John Wayne’s visits the “Movie Time in Texas” promotional tour, he came with Jeff Chandler and Keenan Wynn; Gene Autry (a guest in the home for a party, but apparently not overnight); Monte Hale identified as “a Western moie star”, also visited the home (we’re talking one block south of the heater); and “Johnny Crawford, star of the television show, ‘The Rifleman’ visits … to promote his picture ‘Indian Paint.’ ”

Last, not least:

Page 53: H.A. “Windy” Daniels came to Seguin in the early 1930s. He married Maxi “Mimi” Maxwell, and had two children. H.A “DAN” Daniels II and Diane “Gigi” Daniels Bensen. He was the owner of Seguin Theatres: Palace Theatre, Dixie Drive In, and Texas Theatre. He owned and operated many theatres in small towns throughout Texas, such as Laredo and Chrystal City …"

I’ve told you everything I know. LOL.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC on October 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Anyone interested in my lengthy comments should copy them to their own computers. I plan to remove most of my commentary in a few days.

I would tell Donald John Long to amend the blub at the top. But if this site has a way to contact the editor-in-chief or anybody, I have not found it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Regular members who submit pages for theaters don’t have the ability to alter them once they are posted. The theater editor is Ken Roe, and he makes all the changes.

Email to will reach him, but he’s very busy so his response might be slow.

WoodyinNYC
WoodyinNYC on October 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thanks Joe.

And this: The Interstate Theater Collection of the Dallas Public Library has this account of how it got what it got:

“When the Majestic Theatre ceased operation in July 1973, Interstate continued to lease office space from the theatre’s owner, the Hoblitzelle Foundation. The Foundation donated the building to the City of Dallas with the stipulation that it be restored and made available for productions; when the city took possession, it found abandoned records literally heaped in piles. Diana Clark of the City of Dallas and Lynn Harris of the Hoblitzelle Foundation were instrumental in salvaging the materials and having their possession turned over to the Dallas Public Library. The Interstate Theatre Collection was formally received by the Library in March 1977.

And an index: http://dallaslibrary2.org/texas/archives/07701.html

Much thanks to the women for their dumpster diving rescue.

However, there is no mention of “Seguin” in the Index. I’ve looked over the lists until blinded. Worse, there’s no mention of “W. Scott Dunne” or the word “architect” if I’m still seeing anything. So there’s nothing here to confirm (or deny) any relationship between W. Scott Dunne and Interstate Theaters with the Texas Theatre in Seguin.

Again, I feel I’ve reached a dead end.

But with your encouragement, Joe, I got a lot of good stuff uploaded here about the Palace Theater. Thanks again for your good clues!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

Does your browser have a “Find” feature? (I use Opera, and “Find” is in the drop-down menu of the “Edit” section at the top, but other browsers might be different.) If so, you can use it to search any plain text web page (such as this one.) It won’t find text in image formats such as .jpg or .png, or on Flash pages, or PDF files, but if you’ve got “Find” it will speed up searching pages such as the Interstate collection.

The single reference to Dunne is near the bottom of the page, and it says: “Dallas, Texas – Tower Theatre. Conversion of building at Elm St., Pacific and St. Paul. W. Scott Dunne, Arch. (2 sheets) August 10, 1936.”

I don’t think Interstate ever had a theater in Seguin, and that’s why it isn’t mentioned on that page. The collection is probably not exhaustive, though. There could have been quite a bit of stuff that was lost before the heap in the Majestic was salvaged.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

An architect’s rendering of the 1938 facade of the Palace Theatre, demolished after the 1946 explosion, can be seen at upper right on this page of the June 25, 1938, issue of Boxoffice the caption of the drawing says that the Palace was designed by the San Antonio architectural firm of Spillman & Spillman.

The caption says nothing about whether the Palace was entirely new construction or a remodeling, but if there was a theater on the site in the silent era it must have been one or the other.

JTDaniels
JTDaniels on November 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I’m very interested in contacting WoodyinNYC and Joe Vogel, as my family owns the Palace Theatre and the Nolte House in Seguin that is reffered to above, and I’m keen on learning more about the history of both. I am especially interested in trying to verify that J. Riley Gordon was the architect of my home. I have always been told this by another local architect, and I suspected it anyway from other things I’d read and learned about the house and about Gordon. The family oral history says Gordon did it, and it makes sense as he designed the Nolte Bank (before it was ruined with a “new” redesign). I have found 4 boxes of materials at the Institute of Texan Cultures UTSA archives in SA on Eugene Nolte (and this house) that you may all find interesting. Have either of you seen the photo “in the collected papers of J. Riely Gordon at the University of Texas library, so I’m saying he dunnit.]” If I could find that photo among his papers, it would help a great deal. Yes, I too am saying Gordon “dunnit,” but I need proof as I try to research a historical marker for this house. As for the Palace, the Noltes/Starckes owned a theatre on the same site) during the silent era, and it was refurbished/rebuilt (as family oral history says) to the Palace which opened in the 1930s. I have photos of the building after the explosion in the 1940s and before/after photos of the theatre. I’m very interested in the history of the Palace in Seguin and would like to learn more about the Nolte/Starke’s theatre on the site, too. I’m not sure how we can share contact information except to say to call the Seguin Theatres number 830/379-2428 and leave me a message. Thank you.

davideo
davideo on December 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Update:

SEGUIN CINE MUSEUM EXPANDS

A project of Seguin-based Davideo Productions and Seguin Theatres, Inc., the Seguin Cine Museum is pleased to announce its expansion which took 3 years of planning and development. The museum’s home is at the Historic Palace Theatre on 314 South Austin Street in Seguin, Texas.

The Seguin Cine Museum, first launched in 2009, is a collection of historical motion picture films, cameras, editing equipment, and related memorabilia. It covers the history of entertainment mediums since 180 A.D. to the present. Various film formats are included such as 70mm IMAX, 65mm, 35mm, 28mm, 22mm Kinetoscope, 17.5mm, 16mm, 15.5mm, 13mm, 11mm, 9.5mm, Regular 8mm, Super 8mm, 4.75mm widescreen, UltraPan8 widescreen, paper roll films, zoetrope strips, praxinoscope discs, magic lantern slides, and the like. Unlike other “movie museums”, this museum focuses on the “behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts” of the film industry rather than glamorous movie stars. Here, the real stars are the cameras and projectors.

Museum co-founder David H. Pierce of Davideo Productions, states that “it’s important to document and preserve these historical artifacts of motion picture history especially in this digital age and to show what the equipment looks like that has helped create memorable moving images since their inception. We are pleased to be able to educate the public about these technologies.”

Museum co-founder H.A. “Dan” Daniels of Seguin Theatres, Inc. adds that “we are excited about the expansion of this museum at our theater which has a lot of history of its own. The theater was built in 1948 and we have firsthand seen many evolving technological changes in the film industry since that time. We are happy to share that history with the public.”

The museum also has opportunities for educational institutions to bring students to the museum for field trips. It has hands-on interactive items for students to inspect and will provide stop motion animation workshops on a request basis.

It also presents special programs about film history in the theater. On the slate is a new short film produced by Daniels and Pierce which is entitled A FEAST FOR THE EYES. This film is a history of the development of motion pictures since 180 A.D with various early films highlighted. Special presentations of historical films are planned for the future as part of the museum’s educational mission.

The museum is open for viewing on an appointment basis or during events being held at the Palace. For more information, contact David H. Pierce at or visit www.seguintheatres.com or www.davideo.tv.

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