Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Movie Houses of Dallas - Lakewood Theater

Today we have another installment in the series, "Movie Houses of Dallas" here at Ate Up Amateur. This series will be followed by "Root Canals of Dallas" and "Toe Jam to Be Remembered". But, you'll have to wait for those riveting topics while we cover this one.

Today's theater - the Lakewood Theater. This theater was opened in the at-the-time newly forming area east of Dallas called Lakewood in 1938, inside the Lakewood shopping center. The first film was an Andy Rooney-Judy Garland flick, "Love Finds Andy Hardy".

As you can see, this theater is still open and hosts events of varying kinds. Owners of the theater purchased the place in the 80's and retrofitted a 1927 Robert Morton pipe organ to allow for screening of vintage movies. I found the information about the history of the theater on the Lakewood Theater's website, link above, under the "history" tab.

I really like these colored lights under the outside canopy of the place - I wonder if they would have always been colored or if this has been added.

Inside the building, a bar is also housed - the Arcade Bar hosts special happy hours and such even when the main theater is not in use. The main theater shows movies, as well as hosts authors, comedians, corporate events and music groups. The main space can house up to 800 people, and can be a very hot ticket depending on what's booked.

The marquee gives away the fact that I shot these photos before the end of 2008. And, the Lakewood Theater was the scene of a happening New Year's bash. Now, I am sure this place is not keeping the owners rolling in the dough like they'd never have imagined. But, I do think it works and stays open in its community for two reasons. First, its location in the Lakewood shopping center anchors it next to restaurants and coffee houses that are well frequented by the surrounding areas. In contrast, the Casa Linda Theater, while in a shopping center, is surrounded by things like grocery stores, dry cleaners, jewelers and gyms. There are a few restaurants, but they are mostly chains and the whole center just doesn't have the same feel the Lakewood center happens to have.

Second, the theater's owners have embraced the community around them. While the occasionally host events that pull from the larger city, the regularly host events of interest to the surrounding neighborhood. One might say the neighborhood's demographics help this possibility, and I would agree with that too. They go hand in hand.

The "LAKE" on one side of the sign was not working the night I shot these photos. I wonder how long it will be before it's shining brightly on both sides once again. The tower of the theater, all lit up, can be seen in Dallas' flat landscape for a good distance, and helps identify the area of town and the shopping center as a whole. It is a landmark, for certain. I tried to capture the "fully lit" sign in the next few shots.

Dallas must like its neon, because there are LOTS more of these old houses to be had in these parts - I'll share them with you occasionally over the coming months, of course. Try to contain your enthusiasm. Tomorrow, we'll be back to Colorado, if I can get the photos collected in time.

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