Arcadia Theatre

123 North "A" Street,
Harlingen, Texas,
Harlingen, TX 78550

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Arcadia Theatre 1938

The first Rex Theatre was operating in Harlingen between 1910-1915. It was built and owned by a man named Denton. It was a corrugated iron building having the projection booth sticking out its backside. It was later run by R. A. Stevenson who becomes associated that year with the Dreamland Theatre. Emmett Osborn (E.O.) Anglin took the position as a projectionist in the theatre as a part time job. The movie, being projected by a single machine, had to be interrupted as each reel was finished and a new one inserted. It was not located at this site, but on Jackson Street at this time, but the second Rex was built on this lot in August 1925 by Chris Damants and Joe Hauft. It was constructed by R. E. Ewing for $40,000 and seated 700. Jack Pickens leases it. By 1927, it was too small to accommodate the increasing number of movie fans. On 9/24/1926, a new theatre corporation is announced, Valley Theatres Inc. L.L. Dent is President, W. E. Paschall, treasurer, and D. B. Pickens, secretary. Jack Pickens is V.P. and manager of the Rialto Theatre and the Rex, but is included in the new theatre corporation. Six months later, the group announces that it will construct a 1,500 seat theatre, the largest south of San Antonio, across from the Rialto. A beautiful sketch of the building to be named the Aztec appears in the paper. Nine Months later on 12/27/1927 plan changes are announced. The Rex will be closed in January 1928 so its interior can be rebuilt at a cost of $160,000. It is enlarged by building a new structure right over the old one. A pipe organ is installed. This was to be the Arcadia Theatre. It had its grand opening 5/1/1928. It was part of the Paschall-Texas Theatres Inc; then the Texas Consolidated Theatres, Inc. later ; and Paramount-Publix that became Interstate Theatres. R. E. “Mike” Gilbert began as an usher in the early 1930s and worked his way up to become District Manager of four Interstate Theatres in 1946 in the Rio Grande Valley (Arcadia, Rialto and Grande in Harlingen and the Rio in Mercedes). Lew Bray also was manager of the Arcadia during the war before Gilbert. Some of the projectionists were “Pinky” Woodward and George Ayoub. His secretary/assistant manager for years was Helen Carter. Gilbert left in 1962 to become Postmaster. It was managed by Monk Agnew and then Clay Fluker. It was the first run movies theatre in Harlingen. It burned down in 1970 right before they were going to remodel it. Interstate owned the entire block.

Contributed by Madeleine Gilbert Spangler
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