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The Hollywood Theater - Today


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#1 Fort Worthology

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 09:41 AM

As we all know, Fort Worth lost her grand movie palaces downtown in the '70s. The Palace, the Worth, the Hollywood...all gone.

Right?

Well, it's not that simple.

Those of us who are Fort Worth architecture/history geeks know that the Hollywood Theater isn't technically *gone* gone - rather, it was gutted for use as a bank, then as a parking garage. We've all read how bits and pieces of the theater are still there in the garage. As it turns out, though, there's far, far more of the Hollywood left than we know.

In fact, a huge part of the Hollywood is *still intact.*

It's sealed away in the innards of the Electric Building, locked off from human contact. Somehow, between the remodelings, the bank, the apartments, and the garage, a big chunk of the grand old movie house escaped virtually untouched. Now, it rests. The projector no longer hums and clatters, the screen is no longer filled with images of movie stars. Nobody comes around anymore. It's in disrepair, covered in dust thick enough to swim in, slumbering in an endless night as black as pitch.

It is, however, still there.

Fellow Fort Worth Forumer mbdalton1 had the rare opportunity to see these ruins, and was allowed to take photos. She had no way to host them, and she has very graciously allowed me to host them for her, and now I present them to you. Get ready for a time warp.

Let us begin in one of the restrooms. Here, you see one of the vanity areas. For those of us who have only ever seen black & white photos of the place, enjoy the sight of color. Again, it's pitch black and the air is clouded with thick dust. We only see this because of the flash of the camera.

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Here, another angle of the vanity. Note the graffiti on the wall, sealed away for so many years. Imagine how long those names have been there, and what those people might be doing now.

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Next, an aside. I cropped out the graffiti, and ran it through a wonderful Photoshop filter known as "Mr. Contrast," capable of abilities far beyond the scope of Photoshop's normal Contrast tool. The names popped out at me.

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Next, the toilets in this same restroom.

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While we're up in this area, check out this former water fountain. The detailing and trim is all still intact.

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A closeup of the water fountain. This sort of ornate trim used to be the standard, not the exception. Even in its state of disrepair, the beauty of this place puts modern movie houses to absolute shame. Imagine what the Hollywood was like in person in her golden era.

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Moving right along, this old wall safe is still in place. I think somebody made off with the money a long time ago, though.

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The outer door of the wall safe.

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Here, we have a storage area.

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This little room is a janitor's closet.

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As you might have guessed, I've been saving the bombshells for the end. Let's start small. Here is the area underneath the balcony.

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Another angle.

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Here, a small spiral staircase.

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Now, we're heading up the staircase into the balcony lobby.

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Make sure you have a cushion on the floor, because your jaw will start dropping here. This is the balcony lobby, amazingly still intact after all these years.

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Let's head to the balcony, shall we? Yes, it's still there. Here, we're looking at the ceiling detail in the balcony. The great black dust-filled void beyond?

The theater.

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Wanting to bring out some of the details in the blackness beyond, I ran a section of that photo through the Mr. Contrast filter, fiddled with the settings, and got this. You can see the wall & ceiling better in this. Yes, that's the theater. It's still there. This image reminds me of something you'd see in a documentary about filming the wreckage of the Titanic.

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Looking back up the balcony, we see that, yes, the projection room is still there.

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Here, a staircase that I believe we saw in the balcony lobby pic that leads to the projection room.

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Finally, another amazing detail. Fans of the book "Cowtown Moderne" by Judith Singer Cohen will recognize these light fixtures in the photo looking towards the seating and balcony in the book.

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Another shot of the theater light. Even in this condition, it's still a stunningly beautiful thing.

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Finally, a closeup of the light.

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So, there you have it. Fort Worth's very own lost ruins. The Hollywood hasn't left us - it's just been hiding. This Art Deco gem is just sleeping, deep inside the Electric Building. Perhaps one day it will get to see light once more.

Massive, massive thanks to mbdalton1 for letting me share her amazing photos.

By the way, these photos are reduced in size from the originals. If you'd like to see bigger versions of these, just browse the folder on my site here:

http://www.atomicgle...hollywoodruins/

The "ensmallened" folder is where these smaller images are located. The photos in the main folder there are the bigger ones.

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#2 johnlp

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 09:53 AM

eek.gif eek.gif
AWESOME! It's like time sttod still!

#3 JBB

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 11:18 AM

Wow. Very cool.

#4 hipolyte

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 02:54 PM

Well, all sorts of possibilities spring to mind...

#5 mosteijn

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 03:25 PM

I can't imagine it would be cheap to bring the Hollywood back...but boy would it be a great thing to have downtown!

#6 safly

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 03:54 PM

Spoke with some possible business investors a couple of years ago after taking a look in myself. It is an extraordinary piece of FW HISTORY. I would love for a latenight Jazz Joint or Martini Lounge to restore it back to some of it's original state. The ceiling tins are supposed to be repro's from St. Louis, MO. Apparently that is the ONLY place were the original molds still exist. Neato stuff.

The light fixtures are amazing and the stairway leading up to the mid-balcony is tip-top.

Hey! There you go, TIP-TOP Jazz/Cabaret/Martini Lounge. Not bad. wink.gif

I heard that some idiots fell down through a ceiling structure after messing around in a nearby hallway which connects the parking garage to the mid-level rooftop. Guess there is alot of work to be done there.
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#7 Fort Worthology

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 04:17 PM

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 8 2006, 03:54 PM) View Post

Spoke with some possible business investors a couple of years ago after taking a look in myself. It is an extraordinary piece of FW HISTORY. I would love for a latenight Jazz Joint or Martini Lounge to restore it back to some of it's original state. The ceiling tins are supposed to be repro's from St. Louis, MO. Apparently that is the ONLY place were the original molds still exist. Neato stuff.

The light fixtures are amazing and the stairway leading up to the mid-balcony is tip-top.

Hey! There you go, TIP-TOP Jazz/Cabaret/Martini Lounge. Not bad. wink.gif

I heard that some idiots fell down through a ceiling structure after messing around in a nearby hallway which connects the parking garage to the mid-level rooftop. Guess there is alot of work to be done there.


That's a fan-friggin'-tastic idea. I know that the lower part of the theater is now the parking garage (I assume that, if the balcony pic's flash had gotten out into the theater, we'd be looking across the upper side of the garage ceiling - does that sound right to anybody?), but if the old space could be reclaimed (though I'd hate for the apartments to lose the parking, so that might involve building some new parking nearby), or new space arranged above the garage to reclaim what's left of the upper part of the theater, it would make a sweet little lounge. Do it up proper '30s/'40s style. That'd be sweet.

For the time being, I'm just thrilled that some part of it is still around. Gives me hope for the future.

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#8 bburton

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 05:04 PM

"This image reminds me of something you'd see in a documentary about filming the wreckage of the Titanic."

Exactly what I was thinking before reading your words. What a treasure. Thanks for posting these fabulous pics. biggrin.gif

#9 seurto

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:29 PM

Those pix are absolutely beyond cool!!!! OMG! Can we do a field trip?

#10 Dismuke

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 12:35 PM

Belated thanks to mbdalton1 and Atomic Glee for making these pictures available. It was a treat to see them.

I remember when the Electric Building apartments first opened, I would sometimes drive past the garage door on 6th street when it was open. At the time, you could see the entire balcony area and some of the ceiling details. For reasons that I am not aware of, they have since put in a ceiling from the edge of the balcony to the back of the structure which completely blocks off the view of the balcony. I seem to recall seeing ornate plaster details in the balcony area and I believe some are still intact on the lower part of the balcony. It is kind of hard to tell when you are simply driving by.

I have my doubts that any alternative parking for the building can be found anytime soon, unfortunately. Plus I am pretty sure that theatre was built specifically as a movie house and not for vaudeville or other live entertainment which would mean that it probably did not have much of a stage area. My guess is there would probably need to be significant changes to the original layout to make it make it useful for live performances.

What I wonder is if the old balcony could perhaps eventually be brought back to life as a smaller version of the old movie theatre. I know that a lot of old movie palaces were carved into smaller multiplex theatres in an effort to stay in business in the '60s and '70s. A few years back I toured the Loews Jersey Theatre in Jersey City when it was under restoration. What had been done to that theatre was the area under the balcony was carved into two smaller theatres while the balcony continued to be used to show films on the old big screen in the main auditorium. I wonder if sort of the opposite could be done with the Hollywood Theatre: put up a wall a little bit past the edge of the old balcony and use it to display movies and video presentations. Such a theatre would obviously not compete with regular movie theatres. But it might be successfully used on occasion as a venue for more specialty type showings such as replays of classic films and such. My guess is it would be more viable being booked out as a some sort of meeting room for private and business functions. It certainly would be a rather grand venue for such meetings and, from the pictures, all of the public areas that would be needed to access it are still intact.
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#11 safly

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 12:28 AM

QUOTE
But it might be successfully used on occasion as a venue for more specialty type showings such as replays of classic films and such.


The DTFW Central Library already does that. First Sundays of every month. wink.gif
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#12 Dismuke

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 12:35 AM

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 20 2006, 02:28 AM) View Post

QUOTE
But it might be successfully used on occasion as a venue for more specialty type showings such as replays of classic films and such.


The DTFW Central Library already does that. First Sundays of every month. wink.gif


I actually went to one of those showings a couple of years ago - the 1927 silent film Wings which I enjoyed. I had forgotten about that montly series, however. I will have to check into what sort of movies they have coming up. Still....woudn't it be really cool to see such movies in a nice vintage theatre?

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#13 safly

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 12:41 AM

I'd prefer a cabaret style setup. LIVE JAZZ every weekend. Open it up for local musicians of any genre for the weekdays (T-Thur). Would need to see the layout first. A Martini lounge would be alright too.

Little movie Trivia here.

Name the city and it's air base(s) served as the location for the movie, WINGS?
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#14 Dismuke

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 01:00 AM

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 20 2006, 02:41 AM) View Post



Name the city and it's air base(s) served as the location for the movie, WINGS?



I know that it was filmed near San Antonio. I would have to look up the name of the air base as the name escapes the top of my head.
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#15 safly

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Posted 20 March 2006 - 01:09 AM

QUOTE(Dismuke @ Mar 20 2006, 01:00 AM) View Post

QUOTE(safly @ Mar 20 2006, 02:41 AM) View Post



Name the city and it's air base(s) served as the location for the movie, WINGS?



I know that it was filmed near San Antonio. I would have to look up the name of the air base as the name escapes the top of my head.


As for the "dogfighting" scenes, San Antonio is CORRECT.

It's actually more than one air base.
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#16 Austin55

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 11:52 PM

Here's a page advertising the Theater space for lease. There are photos and floorplans of the theater in the Property Flyer PDF. For the sake of preservation and sharing I have screenshot the relevant pages.

 

H1b9yWh.png

 

aMRcTnP.png

 

8MSe3QK.png

 

 

 

It also makes you wonder- is the owner looking to lease the theater out as a theater again, or as offices? It's hard to figure out. It would be a fantastic space for anything really. 



#17 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 12:22 AM

Wow!  I see they have opened up the cased opening at the top of the stair from the main lobby.  I had peaked in the old access panel and I had seen Kevin's photographs, but I had no idea so much of it was still there. 



#18 renamerusk

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 11:42 AM

....... It would be a fantastic space for anything really. 

 

 Yes and yes again.  

 

 I was lucky enough to have been a moviegoer at the theaters that once lined 7th Street.   It would be an unbelievable opportunity for a new generation to experience a performance, live or cinematic, at one of the grand halls of the past today.



#19 JBB

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 10:14 PM

My memory is fuzzy and I don't remember exactly what Kevin's pics showed. Is the seating area in the new pics the balcony and that is a suspended ceiling over the garage? I'm guessing that space would take a huge amount of work to be usable.

And that's the second time in recent months I've run across a safly post. No thread about a project was complete until he swooped in with a better idea and possible investors.

#20 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 10:56 PM

Kevin's pictures were incredibly dark and you could only see detail for a few feet.  The seating area in the new pictures is the balcony.  There is a suspended ceiling over the garage.  I'm also guessing that you are correct in that to make the space usable, it would take a lot of work.



#21 Austin55

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 05:20 PM

I'm curious if we have any Electric Building residents on here who may have heard more. I've heard from one who said some work is going on but they didnt know what sort. 

 

I remember when Frost Tower started construction someone on here had the idea that they could lease some spaces to the residents of the building and allow the garage to be removed from the Electric building and the theater restored more thourougly. This is just a theory, but maybe with the recent activity here and Frost Tower's construction moving right along that could be happening? Just something to wonder. Something definitely is in the works with the theater space though.



#22 JBB

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 08:36 PM

If we've gotten good at anything on the forum recently, it's coming up with plans for garage owners to lease out their space before the paint stripes are dry.



#23 Austin55

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 02:50 PM

Another question. The current backside of the theater against 6th Street is just a blank wall with some pieces of metal sticking out. Was there ever anything of significance on that wall? Seems oddly full compared to rest of the architecture of the building.

#24 John T Roberts

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:02 PM

If you go back and look through the historic photographs from the UTA Library, and some at the Jack White Collection on this site, you will see that the Electric Building and Hollywood Theater had five huge signs on the building.  The Hollywood had a multiple story sign on the front that was above the marquee.  It was about five stories tall.  A similar sign was on the back along 6th Street.  The pieces of metal that extend out from the brick wall were the supports for the sign.  On the roof of the Annex along Lamar Street was another sign that read "Hollywood Theater".  Then, on the tower of the Electric Building, were two extremely large signs that originally said "Fort Worth Power & Light Co."  They were about 8 stories tall and one was on the Lamar Street facade, and the other was on 7th Street.  These signs were later changed to read "Texas Electric Service Co."



#25 Austin55

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 04:30 PM

I figured it was a sign. I've seen several photos of the signs along 7th, but never one on 6th.

#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 05:42 PM

Many of the buildings that once had signs attached to them still have the supports on them.  All you need to do is look for steel beams or angle attached to or protruding from the building walls.  If you see those, that means there was probably a large sign attached.  In some cases those have been removed when the buildings were restored.



#27 claxton

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 10:20 AM

I'd like to see the boys running the Texas Theatre over in Dallas take a stab at doing something similar here at the Hollywood. A nice mix of first run, classic, underground, cult and local films with live music and presentations. 

 

In fact, I just kicked a message over to them to check into it.



#28 Austin55

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 06:38 PM

Some exciting news!

By chance I ran into the property manager recently, and she was kind enough to invite me in. You may remember the building was sold last summer, and the new owners have been doing good things. I believe somewhere on the forum there was already discussion about the new paint on the exterior and small convenience store that is in the first floor now. Also, the owners want to bring the theater back to life. 

 

The garage will remain and the theater won't be restored to it's original 1,000 seat setup, but the existing setup has 600 seats and still feels plenty big. It doesn't sound like they have a solid lead on a lease, and she mentioned a full restoration would likely take around 3 years. A new concrete floor would need to be poured in place of the existing drop ceiling on the stage. In the meantime, there she brought up the possibility of turning the existing hallway/lobby area into a bar of some sort, and perhaps integrating that into the theater once it is back up and running. We also talked about the exterior, I mentioned a mural could be cool on the blank wall that it the back of the theater and asked if they could look into returning one of the large neon signs outside the building to advertise it, which they might be able to look into. 

 

Here's a few quick photos,

 

The lobby type area. The lower doors lead to the garage now, to access the remaining theater you would need to take the stairs

 

32782882023_0af446c56e_h.jpgDSC09938 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

View back from top of Stairs towards the 7th street entrance

33467756341_cf7b3f3645_h.jpgDSC09937 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

At the top of those stairs in the mezzanine. Another set of stairs leads to a higher vomitorium.

32754163034_b5e4a8be6a_h.jpgDSC09928 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

The mezzanine, 

 

32783104953_23590a457d_h.jpgDSC09933 by Micro55, on Flickr

There was evidently a really nice water fountain here, not much left...

 

33556425436_8a4d8a1b5a_h.jpgDSC09930 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

 

Looking into theater from the mezzanine,

 

32754154604_71f8a12324_h.jpgDSC09931 by Micro55, on Flickr

Inside 

33213630170_fc306fd8d3_h.jpgDSC09927 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

33440166662_d2fa38ec3e_h.jpgDSC09922 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

32754218374_fb4bf45bc1_h.jpgDSC09913 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

33467867571_206a92991c_h.jpgDSC09912 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

33596685235_162878ed09_h.jpgDSC09915 by Micro55, on Flickr

 

Through the projector room holes

33467830791_0432edc8b2_h.jpgDSC09917 by Micro55, on Flickr

Projector Room (a spiral staircase at one point must've been here leading to lower levels)
33467823581_81cc093349_h.jpgDSC09919 by Micro55, on Flickr

Roof details

33556221076_04f2aa72ab_h.jpgDSC09924 by Micro55, on Flickr



 



#29 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 07:29 PM

Austin, your pictures are absolutely fantastic.  There is enough left of the theater to either restore what is left, or fully restore it, providing the owners find a place to park all of the cars of their tenants.



#30 JBB

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 09:12 PM

Love those pictures.  Can't wait to see this come together.  They certainly have their work cut out for them.



#31 Volare

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 07:15 AM

So what is under that drop ceiling? A garage?

 

Hard to believe someone would do something like go thru the trouble to knock holes in the ceiling to run the wires for a drop ceiling.



#32 John T Roberts

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:03 AM

Yes, parking for the residents is below the dropped ceiling.  The parking actually sits on the original floor of the theater.  It is crazy that someone would do something like that, but the owners couldn't secure parking in another building or lot, and the theater had already been partially destroyed by a back that had a facility on the former floor of the theater.  I believe the bank leveled the floor, which also let to partial destruction of the walls at that level. 

 

If there is ever the opportunity to relocate the parking garage and completely restore the theater, there is still enough left and other documentation, that the lower portions of the walls can be replicated.



#33 Volare

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:33 AM

How many parking spaces in that garage? Can't be too many?



#34 Austin55

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:39 AM

I think there's only something like 20 in the main floor, but there is also a basement in there somewhere with more, not sure how many. I believe the ramp into the basement is below the theater.

#35 JBB

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:03 PM

I'm surprised the garage is that small (unless there's 80 spaces in the basement). There's somewhere around 100 units in the building, so it's likely they already have an arrangement for some residents to park elsewhere.

#36 John T Roberts

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Posted 23 March 2017 - 08:41 PM

I have been down there in the parking garage once.  There is parking in the basement below the theater and I think that part of the garage takes up the entire building.  I don't know how many spaces are down there. 



#37 elpingüino

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 07:08 AM

Fantastic job, Austin. Bud Kennedy wrote about your work and the potential redevelopment in today's Star-Telegram. Online here and on page 5A in the print edition.






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