An accurate history of Shamrock’s Texas Theater has recently been discovered, now that old issues of The Wheeler County Texan and The Shamrock Texan newspapers are available online. Until recently, the original opening of the Texas was believed to have been on August 30, 1930. However, it is now known that the first Texas Theater in Shamrock actually opened on February 20, 1925, in a different location, making this year the 90th anniversary of Shamrock’s vintage movie house.
The original Texas Theater was opened at 208 North Main by Bud Walker who operated it until August 1, 1926, when J.R. Brown purchased it. Brown ran it at that location for 8 months.
Construction on the new theater building, at its current location, began in late February 1927. Although no photos of the original structure have been located, it is known that it was 25’ X 130’, was made of brick and opened for business on April 16, 1927. At that time, all movies shown at the theater were silent movies; the theater received its first sound equipment in 1929. That building received its first remodeling effort in early 1935, with the addition of restrooms, 100 seats and several other improvements. A Grand Reopening was held by Brown on May 2, 1935. Based on newspaper articles and ads, the event received significant support by the community and other businesses in Shamrock.
In 1940, Brown had a completely new building constructed at the same location to house Texas Theater, which is the framework that still stands today. That building had an attractive art deco style front and a lighted marquee. The Grand Opening was held on August 22, 1940.
Little is known about the theater in the early to mid-1940s, but sometime between 1941 and 1946 J.R. Brown and Kenneth Caperton sold Texas Theater to O.B. Killman. In 1947, Killman sold the theater to Seibert Worley.
On April 1, 1956, the Texas caught on fire. The damage was significant, but Worley had the repairs made and it reopened on August 30, 1956.
In the mid-1960s the theater was once again remodeled and received the T-E-X-A-S letters and fascia it still has today. That Grand Opening was held on July 17, 1966.
Because issues of The Shamrock Texan newspapers after 1966 have not been digitized, information about the theater after that date is elusive; however, it is known that Athel D. Boyter owned the Texas Theater from January 1, 1974 to October 10, 1991.
In approximately 1980, the theater closed and began to fall into disrepair. In 1991, Boyter donated the building to the Shamrock Economic Development Corp., who still owns the building.
Then in 1994, local residents Kenneth and Judy Campbell and their daughter, Jennifer Morgan, took on the task of saving the building. During this time, the roof had decayed so much that the entire lobby area was exposed to the outside elements. The Campbells made numerous improvements to the damaged building, including enlisting the assistance of the Building and Trade class at Shamrock High School to rebuild the upstairs area that had fallen onto the lobby floor. The Campbell’s efforts certainly saved the theater from complete ruin.
The Campbells operated the theater from 1994 to 1999, when they sold the business to local couple Richard and Shanda Hall. The Halls operated the theater until 2006, when they sold the business to Shane and Misty Everett. The Everetts ran the theater until March 2009, when they sold it to Joey and Sarah Pace. The Paces ran it until November 2010, when the Rions purchased the business. Once the Rions opened the Texas, local productions, including advertisements, were seen on the screen at the Texas in Shamrock for the first time.
In the past few years, the Texas has enjoyed numerous improvements to enhance the movie-going experience for area residents. Conversion to digital exhibition, including digital projection, 3D and surround sound equipment, was accomplished in June 2012. In early April 2014, high-back luxury seating was installed. Soon, a new lighted Texas sign will grace the front of the theater, making it more noticeable and the entire downtown area more attractive.
Actual newspaper articles of many of the significant events in Texas Theater’s history listed in this article are available on the History/Timeline link.
If anyone has any photos of the Texas or information about the theater that is not included in this historical review of Shamrock’s 90-year-old movie house, please contact the Rions at the phone number or email address listed on the Contact link.
Below is a 1930s era photo of the St. Patrick’s celebration. It was provided by Roger Pace.
Texas Theater Owners/Operators:
- Bud Walker – February 1925 to August 1, 1926
- J.R. Brown – August 1, 1926 to at least 1940
- O.B. Killman – Short, but unknown period of time
- Seibert Worley – 1947 to at least 1966
- Athel D. Boyter – January 1, 1974 to October 10, 1991 (he never personally operated TT). In 1991, he donated it to the Shamrock Economic Development Corp., who still owns the building.
- Kenneth & Judy Campbell – 1994-1999
- Richard & Shanda Hall – 1999 to July 1, 2006
- Shane & Misty Everett – July 1, 2006 to March 2, 2009
- Joey & Sarah Pace – March 2, 2009 to November 1, 2010
- David & Georgann Rion- November 1, 2010 to present
Cinema History in the US
In the United States, the customary spelling is “theater,” but the National Association of Theatre Owners uses the spelling “theatre” to refer to a movie theater, so either is acceptable.
The first public exhibition of projected motion pictures in the United States was at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall on 34th Street in New York City on April 23, 1896. However, the first “storefront theater” in the US dedicated exclusively to showing motion pictures was Vitascope Hall, established on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana June 26, 1896—it was converted from a vacant store.