Iris Theatre

211 W. Moore Avenue,
Terrell, TX 75160

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 11, 2017 at 4:00 pm

This web page about the murals in Terrell includes a paragraph about the movie poster mural on the back wall of the former Iris Theatre building, and includes this information about the theater’s history:

“The Iris Theatre, built by Leaman Marshall, opened in 1925 and was touted in the newspaper as ‘Terrell’s Finest Theatre’. (In the 1920’s there were three theatres operating in downtown Terrell – The Iris, The Palace, and the Lyric.) The posters include ‘The Lady’, a silent film which was the first movie shown at The Iris. The Iris operated continuously as a movie theatre from 1925 to 2001 when the modern multi-screen theatres in Mesquite drew the crowds away from the historic single screen theatre.”

books209 on July 24, 2015 at 2:15 pm

My husband and I currently own this wonderful old building. We do have Books and Crannies in the front part which is a used bookstore. In the back, we have a small black box theatre with a movie screen where we show classic movies two nights a month. Admission is free – it is a fun night. The Vagabond Players are a local theatrical troupe who produce and perform live theatre on our stage 3-4 times per year. We have had the marquee sign rewired and it again lights up the night. And a recent addition is murals of old movie posters on the back of the building. We love this old building and are happy to be her caretakers. As for her name – when the building was about to be opened in 1925, the owners ran a contest to choose her name. A local lady suggested “The Iris” because she loved the Irises that bloomed in her yard. If you are in Terrell, please feel free to stop in!

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on November 4, 2009 at 9:37 pm

If you are seeking interior photographs of the Iris Theatre, you might visit your local library, city hall or put out a request for help from possibly a seniors club, etc.

Good luck and “GO FOR IT”

P.S., You have a very famous black movie star hailing from your city (sorry, his name escapes me) but if you are non-profit, why not ask for his backing, especially for publicity and re-opening!

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 4, 2009 at 6:51 pm

This theater was featured in a 1953 theater owners' documentary about the financial devastation wrought by the 20% federal tax, plus other encroachments on the box office, such as television.

The doc is called “The Case Against the 20% Federal Admission Tax on Motion Picture Theaters” and is a treasure trove of theaters operating but in imminent trouble, including long looks at their still-open theaters, marquees, etc., and interviews with the owners.

There are also plenty of shots of already-closed theaters; the writing was really on the wall already.

TCM ran this movie on 11/1/09 at about 6am and I stumbled upon it by accident; I don’t know when it will screen again but it is well worth seeking out.

TerrellTXDP on August 13, 2008 at 5:33 am

The owners of the building are having the old Iris sign repaired. Soon it will be lighting up Terrell again. I have posted pictures of the building as it looks today at my site.

View link

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 5, 2008 at 8:13 pm

A 1980s photo of the Iris Theater when it was still open as a movie theater. It still had a marquee and “Friday the 13th” was showing.

kencmcintyre on February 8, 2008 at 9:34 pm

The current occupant has a photo of the theater on its site:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm

To expand briefly on the comments made back in 2004 by Bryan Krefft and Jim Rankin in response to the question by DavidH about the early popularity of the name Iris for movie theatres; The name was an apt appellation for movie theatres because the movie camera itself has an iris, so called after the iris of the eye. The camera iris was an intricate technological wonder of the age, and probably impressed people of the time as much as our various electronic gadgets impress us now.

Both the iris of the eye and the iris flower had, because of their varied colors (and, in the case of the eye, because it conveyed information, i.e. messages), received the name of the ancient Greek Goddess Iris who, as Bryan pointed out, was the Goddess of the colorful rainbow, as well as a messenger of Olympus.

WHITEFIELD on December 15, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Here is a good photo of the Iris.
View link

theirisroom on September 10, 2007 at 8:01 pm

hello…I purchased a building that once was the IRIS movie theatre many years ago..I have converted it into a banquet hall. but I want to put back some of the old movie theatre look. There are no pictures of the interior of my IRIS. So if anyone has any old pictures of their IRIS theatre please send me a copy. What I want to do is perhaps take some of each of the pictures of the IRIS and reconstruct the look of the old time theatre. I even want to put back a front markee of the IRIS…Thanks for any help…Joe Hig

mikemorano on August 12, 2006 at 4:44 pm

Was this theatre open when you photographed it Don Lewis. Some of the most common names I found for movie theatres were Bijou, Rialto, Tivoli, Adelphi, and Odeon. Bijou means jewel in French.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on August 12, 2006 at 2:59 pm

My photograph of the IRIS sign View link

cyberapple on December 12, 2005 at 2:59 am

I have recently moved to Terrell, and recently became close friends with the current owners of the Iris through KCCT, the local amateur dramatic society.

The main part of the theatre is now a wonderful bookstore called Books and Crannies, however they retained a portion at the back which i am helping to rebuild into a live, 40 seat, theatre.

It will be awesome when complete, with a projector and screen, and a 14ft wide stage complete with full lighting and sound. They also plan to have book readings for the kids on saturday mornings, be able to hold presentations/meetings for local businesses, and theatre workshops.

Overall, the owners are doing a fantastic job with the Iris. They both used to frequent it whilst it was still a movie house and knew the previous owner, so when they had the chance to purchase it they snapped it up and worked to retain its standing in the community.

If you live in or around Terrell, keep an eye on the Marquee for updates on when the theatre will be re-opening. The Bookstore is open monday through saturday and is well worth the visit to sit down and read a book in a relaxing, friendly atmosphere.

tommy777 on September 15, 2004 at 7:00 pm

born and raised in terrell texas…graduating from high school in 1967 i remember the “iris” very well…spent time in the projection room with a friend who had the job…the carbon rods would actually burn the film….amazing….

this was a “white only” theater…for years…the “lyric” was for the blacks……also amazing…smoking was permitted on the left hand side of the theater…

the person who owned and operated the theater at this time also opened “lamar lanes bowling alley”….his name, however i cannot remember….“lamar” was either his first or last name….the “shumpert” family took over sometime later…

JimRankin on August 29, 2004 at 6:44 am

As Hollywood says regarding ‘the name on the marquee’: ‘keep it short and sweet.’ By this dictum it may be that theatre owners thought the same thing, and the iris flower is well known for its regal beauty and is therefore widely cultivated and admired. And one should not forget the costs motive: in the early days, such names as BIJOU (GEM), FOLLY, STAR, and such almost four-letter-words were also much cheaper in making up signs for marquees, and it was only with time that the shorter names were taken, and longer names ensued.

DavidHurlbutt on August 2, 2004 at 7:33 am

Iris was a popular name for a theater. Can anyone explain this?