History

A Hidden Texas Treasure: Fort Worth’s Hollywood Theater

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As part of the selection of the new Guaranty Bank & Trust location in Fort Worth, tours were arranged for the Hollywood Theater – a hidden treasure of the early show business heydays, now seen to be a diamond-in-the-rough. Bank president Casey Tibbetts has a fascination for such decades-old facilities. “I love old Fort Worth things. When we picked this location, people started asking about the theater. We wanted people to come take a look,” he explained to the Star-Telegram. Closed for more than four decades, this forgotten Fort Worth theater originally opened its doors on April 17, 1930. All that remains to give away its continued presence now is the awning of the Historic Electric Building Apartments next door, until a recent crowd relished its former splendor.

A Hidden Texas Treasure: Fort Worth’s Hollywood Theater

Photo: Facebook/Fort Worth Memories and History Via Gd Pyeatt

Tradewind Properties, based in Houston, has been advertising the Hollywood Theater for lease. Like anything that ages, it will require an expensive overhaul, and according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, restoration of such facilities can cost anywhere between $5 and $10 million. Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., stated that he believes it’s a nice setup for a future performance venue, noting how intact the interior features remained. He went on to say that the property holds great potential.

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Photo: Facebook/Larry Oneal via Fort Worth Memories

The Hollywood Theater is located in the Electric Building, which was constructed in 1929. And, just as the film industry was converting from silent to “talking pictures,” the theater was built in 1930, resulting in there only being a screen as opposed to a stage. The location made the limelight twice in 1940. It was the location for the first Fort Worth showing of “Gone With the Wind” in February of that year, including hosting Civil War veterans in the audience, who stood in lines that went around the city block, just waiting to get in. Then, in September of that same year, the Hollywood together with the Worth Theater (located one block east) co-hosted Fort Worth’s first world movie premiere of “The Westerner” starring Gary Cooper. It told the story Judge Roy Bean, the legendary judge of the Texas frontier and was partly filmed at Star-Telegram owner Amon G. Carter’s Shady Oak Ranch. The premiere was hosted by Bob Hope and was said to be done in true Texas style. The theater is an interesting piece of the city’s history, if not the state’s, and one that presently remains a hidden treasure, waiting to be found and polished ‘til it shines again.