Cowtown Yoostabes, Double-Feature Edition: Movie Theaters

“Let’s all go to the lob-by.
Let’s all go to the lob-by.
Let’s all go to the lob-by. . . .”
Oh, wait! Too late. It’s gone.

Remember the movie theaters that yoostabe in these buildings? You bet your Butterfingers you do!

electric widetheater hollywood 51The Historic Electric Building, of course, housed the opulent Hollywood Theater. Some of what remains of the theater can be seen here.

theater poly 51The long-derelict Poly Theatre on Vaughn Boulevard last housed a church. The building owners long ago skedaddled, and the fate of the building is uncertain. If you ever attended this theater you remember Boyd and Imogene Milligan, Imogene’s poodle, and their white Jaguar. The Milligans opened the Poly Theatre in 1951. They also operated the 7th Street Theater.

theater poly 57Boyd and Imogene paid for an open letter to patrons upon the Poly Theatre’s sixth anniversary in 1957. Those who remember Imogene might raise an eyebrow at the genial tone of this open letter.

milligan obit“Imogene Milligan Homemaker”? Newspaper obituaries can fail miserably when reporters don’t know local history. This obituary of Imogene Milligan does not mention her career as the operator of two local theaters. Son Michael operated a camera store in Seminary South. Imogene Milligan died on Halloween.

milligan graveBoyd, Imogene, and Michael Milligan are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

1930 theaterIn the late 1920s the first Poly Theatre was at 3006 Avenue F (Rosedale). The theater was later renamed “Varsity.”

theater grand 38The Grand on Fabons Street just off Rosedale near Drake’s Cafeteria is now a church.

grand may 38The Grand Theater opened in May 1938 as “the first complete theater to be built for negroes.” Fort Worth’s African-American population at the time was estimated at eighteen thousand.

theater morgan 51The building on Sylvania yoostabe the Texan Theater (later “Morgan Theater”). Later it became the home of Fort Worth Community Theater, a live playhouse, and then a church.

theater azle 41The Azle (1941) on Azle Avenue became a Zumba studio.

theater bowie 41The Bowie (1940) on Camp Bowie Boulevard became a bank.

In 1950 Ridglea commercial developer A. C. Luther built a building on Camp Bowie Boulevard to house the Ridglea Theater and Ridglea Bank.

A superlative-laden splash in the Star-Telegram trumpeted the opening of the theater on December 1, 1950 with free flowers for the women and free cigars for the men. Today the building houses a church and a concert venue. (Note the SUnset phone exchange. In 1956 SUnset numbers became PErshing 8- numbers as Fort Worth phone numbers changed from six to seven digits to accommodate long-distance dialing.)

theater white 51The Berry (about 1940; originally the White Theater) on Hemphill is vacant.

theater haltom 51The Haltom (1941) on East Belknap Street became a furniture store and pawnshop. Note the VAlley phone exchange.

theater new isis 51The New Isis (1936) at 2401 North Main apparently is the fourth Isis Theater on North Main Street. It replaced the third Isis Theater, which burned in 1935.

isis 1911The original Isis opened about 1911 at 1013 North Main. It may have presented only live entertainment.

isis 1915An ad in February 1915 places the second incarnation of the Isis on North Main at Exchange Avenue. This theater, built in 1914, presented both live entertainment and films.

isis 1915 thirdBut in March 1915 an ad placed the Isis at North Main and 24th streets—one block south—the location of the New Isis. It presented both live entertainment and films.

isis new 36Resurrection of the New Isis has been the dream of several entrepreneurs for years. Now new owner Jeffrey Smith hopes to bring the theater back to life as the “Downtown Cowtown at the Isis.”

main roselandAlso on North Main, at 1440, was the Roseland Theater. It was later renamed “Rose Theater” and then “Marine Theater.” The building is now the home of Artes de la Rosa cultural arts center, which occasionally presents films.

roseland theater 1914The Roseland Theater opened in 1914.

theaters 1918 cdOf the theaters listed in the 1918 city directory, only the Roseland building still stands.

theaters 1941 cdOf the theaters listed in the 1941 city directory, only the buildings of the Grand, Hollywood, New Isis, Rose (Roseland), and Texan (Morgan) still stand.

theaters 49Of the theaters listed in the 1949 city directory, only the buildings of the Azle, Bowie, Grand, Hollywood, Marine (Roseland), Morgan (Texan), New Isis, and White (Berry) still stand.

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4 Responses to Cowtown Yoostabes, Double-Feature Edition: Movie Theaters

  1. Ann Bastable says:

    I spent time in many of these: The Varsity, 7th Street, Bowie, and Hollywood. I met my husband-to-be in 1960 when he was an usher and I was a cashier at the Bowie {awhhh}. He moved to the Hollywood where the ushers had to stand on a carpet square in order to be considered “at their posts.” He hated working the balcony because of the torrid love scenes played out there (not on the screen) and dealing with obnoxious folks who’d had too much to drink. My time at the Bowie was spent in my air-conditioned ticket booth, dispensing tickets to kids for the Saturday matinees. “Lady and the Tramp” played there for months. Thanks for reminding me of these nice memories.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Ann. I hope the Poly Theater building survives in some form, but it’s in an area (where I grew up) that has not seen much preservation.

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