The Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas;
during renovations in March 2006
|Address||231 West Jefferson Boulevard|
|Owned by||Oak Cliff Foundation|
|Operated by||Aviation Cinemas|
|Architect||W. Scott Dunne|
|NRHP Reference #||03000187|
|Added to NRHP||April 1, 2003|
The Texas Theatre is a movie theater and Dallas Landmark located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. It gained historical fame November 22, 1963, as the location of Lee Harvey Oswald's arrest for the Assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the killing of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. Today, it hosts a mix of repertory cinema and special events.
When first opened in 1931, the Texas Theatre was the largest suburban movie theater in Dallas and was part of a chain of theaters financed by Howard Hughes. It was the first theater in Dallas with air conditioning and featured many state-of-the-art luxuries.
On November 22, 1963, shortly after the fatal shooting of President Kennedy and the wounding of Texas governor John Connally at 12:30 p.m. and the fatal shooting of Officer Tippit at approximately 1:16 p.m., Oswald entered the Texas Theatre shortly after 1:30 p.m. without purchasing a ticket, ostensibly to avoid police. They were later informed by the assistant manager that a man had entered the theater without paying. The films presented that day were Cry of Battle and War Is Hell, which Oswald briefly viewed.
As a commemoration of the historic capture, the words "Lee Harvey Oswald, November 22, 1963" were later inscribed in gold paint on the chair Oswald (supposedly) occupied — three rows from the rear, five seats from the aisle. However, the actual chair was removed by then manager "Butch" Burroughs, who took it home and replaced it with another which the FBI confiscated the next day for evidence thinking it was the original Oswald seat.
The theater closed in 1989 and the Texas Theatre Historical Society (TTHS) purchased it the following year. TTHS allowed Oliver Stone to remodel the exterior façade for his 1991 film, JFK. However by 1992, the Society was no longer able to fund the property and the theater closed again. Former usher and sign changer Don Dubois of Texas Rosewin-Midway Properties saved the theater from the wrecking ball in 1993, but two years later, it was nearly destroyed by a five-alarm fire, forcing another closure. In 1996, Pedro Villa steped-in to rescue the theater from another plan which would have demolished the structure and replaced it with a furniture warehouse. However, he was unable to obtain financing to restore the theater and it defaulted to Texas Rosewin-Midway Properties. The fire-damaged building remained vacant for three years, open to vandals, stray animals, and the elements.
In 2001, the Oak Cliff Foundation acquired the structure and began renovations after receiving $1.6 million from the Dallas Neighborhood Renaissance Partnership. Since then, the board of the Oak Cliff Foundation has raised an additional $2 million of the estimated $9 million needed for the complete renovation of the theater. The foundation used the funds to secure and restore the building needed after years of neglect and fire damage and the venue began hosting movies and special events soon after.
In September 2010, Aviation Cinemas, Inc. (a reference to Howard Hughes, the theater's original owner), consisting of Partners Barak Epstein, Adam Donaghey, Jason Reimer, and Eric Steele, signed a lease to operate the theater as an independent and repertory cinema with hopes of presenting live theatre and concerts in the future.
- "History of the Texas Theatre". Theatre Historical Society of America. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Selwyn-Holmes, Alex (22 November 2013). "Aisle 2, Row 3, Seat 5, Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, Texas". Iconic Photos. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
- "History". Oak Cliff Foundation. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Donaughey, Adam (6 September 2010). "Historic Texas Theatre — New Lease on Life". Theatre Historical Society of America. Retrieved 2014-03-14.
- Appleton, Roy (3 September 2010). "Dallas-Fort Worth filmmakers to take Texas Theatre in new direction". Dallas Morning News (dallasnews.com). Retrieved 2014-03-14.
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