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Alabama Theatre
Address
2922 South Shepherd
City
Country United States
Designation City of Houston Landmark
Architect W. Scott Dunne
Owned by Weingarten Realty
Type Art-Deco Theatre
Opened 1939
Years active 1939–2009
Rebuilt 1983
Closed 2009
Previous names Bookstop (B. Dalton Booksellers)
Current use Closed

The Alabama Theatre is a historic movie theater located at the intersection of Alabama Street and Shepherd Drive in the Upper Kirby district of Houston, Texas. Constructed in 1939 as a suburban theater, the Alabama primarily booked roadshow engagements through most of its history.[1][2][3]

Contents

History

The Alabama Theatre

As Houston and the rest of the country recovered from the Great Depression, art-deco style theaters of the late 1930s were built in many residential neighborhoods across the city. The 739 seat Alabama Theatre opened on November 2, 1939 screening “Man About Town,” starring Jack Benny. [2] The Alabama was Interstate Theater Corporation's tenth theater in the Houston area.[2] The showing of the first CinemaScope film made (The Robe) at the first CinemaScope screening in Houston took place at the Alabama Theater.[3]

Competition from multicinemas, television, and videotape reduced Alabama’s attendance and profits.[2] The theater was closed as a movie theater and was renovated as a retail bookstore in December 1983, preserving many details such as its murals and balconies while undergoing an exterior and interior renovation designed to preserve the Art Deco architecture of the 1930’s.[4] The theater was reopened as the Alabama Bookstop bookstore in 1984 (later acquired by Barnes & Noble booksellers) and became the retailers most profitable location.[2][5]

The Alabama Bookstop closed in September, 2009 after 25 years as a bookstore. Weingarten Realty Investors, owner of the theater is interested in saving the historic building as long as the proposals make economic sense for the company. Weingarten might raze the building and is considering high-rise development on the theater site.[6] The Greater Houston Preservation Alliance recently placed the Alabama Theater on its endangered buildings list due to the threat of demolition. Additionally, Preservation Texas also listed the theater as of the state's most endangered places as well as being designated as a historic property by the City of Houston.[7][8][9]

“We’re here to preserve yet another endangered species,” said Carolyn Farb at a Houston city council meeting, “Let’s not wipe away history with a big eraser.”[10]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Lisa Gray (2009-08-06). "Gray: The most hated shopping center". Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ent/arts/gray/6563161.html. Retrieved 2009-09-09.  
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alabama Theatre". Cinema Houston. http://www.cinemahouston.info/alabama.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  3. ^ a b "The Alabama and River Oaks Theatres". Save Our Houston Historic Landmarks. http://www.saveourlandmarks.org/theatres.html. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  4. ^ "Kaldis Development Interests Alabama Shepherd Shopping Center". http://www.kaldis.com/alabama.html. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  5. ^ Lisa Gray (2006-08-07). "Preservation - A Page of History". Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2006_4165803. Retrieved 2009-09-09.  
  6. ^ Lisa Gray (2006-09-01). "Weingarten firm offers hope for `endangered' theater sites / Company says it would consider options to save historic buildings". Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2006_4182109. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  7. ^ "River Oaks center/Alabama Theater updates". Greater Houston Preservation Alliance. http://www.ghpa.org/riveroaks.html. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  8. ^ "Planning and Development Department, Historic Preservation". City of Houston. http://www.houstontx.gov/planning/historic_pres/pending.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  9. ^ "Most Endangered Places 2007". http://www.preservationtexas.org/endangered/2007.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  
  10. ^ "Fighting the Wrecking Ball to Save Houston Landmarks". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/12/us/12preserve.html. Retrieved 2009-08-10.  

External links

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