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.

Sometime between 1983 and 1986 the Poly Theatre closed. A photo accompanying a series entitled “Polytechnic: Rough road to recovery” in 1986 referred to “the old Poly Theater.”

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.

Boyd Milligan died in 2000.

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.”

The Wedgwood Theatre just off Granbury Road opened in 1967 with nine hundred seats and one screen. A second screen opened in 1977. By 1988 the theater had four screens.

Today the building houses a church.

Here’s a promotional film about Fort Worth made in conjunction with opening of the Wedgwood Theatre (thanks to Dennis Hogan):

theater grand 38The Grand on Fabons Street just off Rosedale Street near Drake’s Cafeteria was last a church. It now appears to be vacant.

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 Avenue 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 Street is vacant.

The Haltom was built in 1941 on East Belknap Street by jeweler George W. Haltom. The theater opened three weeks after Pearl Harbor. The building later housed a furniture store and pawnshop. Today it offers live entertainment.

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 was remodeled and enlarged.

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 36The New Isis has reopened 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.

Posts About Cinema in Cowtown


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

  1. larry saylors says:

    just learned of your bike tales. I spent 1951 & 1952 delivering groceries for Lidell’s Grocery Allen at Fairmount st. on a 3 wheel bike with large basket on the front. delivered neighborhood inc.Elizabeth Blvd,chase court,Hemphill st. my future wife was cashier at the Tivoli. we were last class at paschal 1954. O.D. Wyatt Prin. great teachers who I still remember until now. I’ll be 85 in June and recall so much of what you have written has jogged my mind. really enjoy your blog, will purchase your book. thanks again. April 4, 2021

    • hometown says:

      Thank you, Mr. Saylors. Delivering groceries on a bike from a neighborhood store–today a whole generation of kids would swear you just dreamed such a thing. Hey, don’t buy that book–the blog has all of the book and a lot more. And it’s free.

  2. 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.

  3. nancy brownlee says:

    I can always learn something(s) from you, Mike. I never knew that the Milligans owned the Seventh Street Theater; that Boyd and Michael Milligan, who treated my sons so kindly (at almost the ONLY neighborhood theater they would ever know)were the husband and son of Imogene the Terrible.
    Small town, isn’t it?

    • hometown says:

      [Laughing:] I did not go to the 7th Street often, but I remember hoping that Imogene would not recognize me from the other theater. No one doesn’t remember Imogene.

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