Rialto Theatre

108 North Washington Street,
Beeville, TX 78102

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The Rialto Theatre opened in 1922 in the small town of Beeville seating 542. The architect was John Eberson. The theatre had a small balcony seating 102 with the balance on the main floor. The Rialto Theatre was gutted by a fire in early-1936. It was rebuilt in an Art Deco style and the brightest feature of the theatre was the tons of neon on the marquee. The theatre closed in 1986 and is being renovated. It was scheduled to reopen sometime early in 2004, however, this date was not met and now Fall of 2009 is planned.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 24 comments)

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on March 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Sam… magnificent Neon -just been added to my “Neon” collection… Thanks a million!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 29, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Here’s the official web site for the Rialto.

Patsy on October 12, 2009 at 6:56 pm

This theatre has a red Vitrolite exterior. The work was done by Tim Dunn, Vitrolite specialist located in St. Louis MO.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm

The September 15, 1972, issue of Boxoffice featured an article about the 50th anniversary of the Rialto. The house opened on August 19, 1922, over a month after it had been completed. The delay was the result of a railroad strike which had stranded the Theater’s organ in a Cincinnati railyard. Henry Hall finally grew impatient and arranged for a ten-piece orchestra to substitute for the missing theater organ at the opening. The first movie shown in the new house was Douglas Fairbanks' “The Three Musketeers.”

The Boxoffice article gives a higher seat count at the time of the Rialto’s opening than the theater currently has, saying there were 526 opera chairs on the main floor and 200 additional seats in the balcony. Over 1300 tickets were sold for two shows on the opening night, at 10 and 25 cents.

The year after the Rialto opened, the Halls bought a competing Beeville house, the Mission Theatre, later renaming it the Rex. They operated the Rex until 1959. When the Rialto was gutted by fire in 1936, the Halls opened another theater called the Rio, intending it to be a temporary replacement until the Rialto was rebuilt, but Hall was still operating the Rio at least as late as 1972.

Patsy on October 20, 2009 at 7:16 am

Joe: Thanks for your historical information! Interesting to note that Eberson AND another man designed this one.

Patsy on October 20, 2009 at 7:18 am

The August 2009 photos show a very nice renovation job!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 18, 2011 at 3:13 am

Here is a close-up photo of the Rialto’s entrance. The movie advertised is “Captain Blood,” which was released in December, 1935, but a smaller market such as Beeville would probably not have gotten the movie until some weeks later, so the photo was probably taken in 1936, about the time the house reopened. This might even have been the first movie shown in the newly remodeled house.

Tinseltoes on August 24, 2012 at 10:03 am

Described in this 1936 trade article: Boxoffice

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