Alabama Theatre

2922 S. Shepherd Drive,
Houston, TX 77098

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Showing 51 - 74 of 74 comments

spikewriter on March 8, 2005 at 4:28 pm

eadkins: You’re talking about the tower out in front of the shopping center, right? In the latter days of the Alabama as a theater, a large truck ran into the smaller marquee, severely damaging it. As the theater was running down, they just removed it and never bothered to replace it. That happened in the late 70s, before I moved out of town, though I don’t remember the exact date.

Patsy: According to my mother, who still patronizes the Alabama regularly, they use the marquee to announce books and events. During “Read a Banned Book Week”, they apparently list banned books they suggest people should read.

EAdkins on March 8, 2005 at 2:15 pm

When I visited Houston several years back, I noticed that the smaller marquee on the Alabama tower is gone. I believe it’s been gone for years and years. You can still see the tracks on the tower where the marquee use to be. When I worked there, back in the 1950’s, I use to have to change that thing every week rain or shine. A lot of fond memories.

Patsy on March 8, 2005 at 2:13 pm

Christian: Thanks for the marquee information.

trooperboots on March 8, 2005 at 1:58 pm

Patsy, YES, the marquee is fully intact, just as they are at the Bookstar in San Diego at the old Loma theater and in Studio City, California. The marquees are all in great shape, if not restored at all 3 theaters.

Patsy on March 8, 2005 at 12:27 pm

I assume the marquee is still there to add to the theatre ‘feel’ though a bookstore now? I’m sure they use the marquee as a marketing/advertising ‘tool’! I know I would to advertise current best sellers, etc. that are in the store/theater!

Patsy on March 8, 2005 at 12:25 pm

Caro: DITTO! “……while it would have been nice if the Alabama had been able to remain a theater, I much prefer this to having it simply torn down.”

spikewriter on March 8, 2005 at 12:23 pm

This was one of the theaters I enjoyed attending as a child and I was very pleasantly surprised when on a return trip to Houston my mother insisted on taking me down there. I think the way they went with the flow of the building enhances the experience and while it would have been nice if the Alabama had been able to remain a theater, I much prefer this to having it simply torn down.

carolgrau on March 8, 2005 at 9:12 am

Patsy: Once again you have hit the nail on the head. This theatre does sound great. I have given up on the theatre business two weeks ago. I am going back into music. I was Bo Diddley & Bo Jr`s Drummer for a long time. Since I moved to Nashville, TN. I have run into some Great musicians From the past. One of them being Virgil Gibson who was the lead singer of the former world famous Platters. He and I have hooked up and are forming the band Coat Of Colors. We want to do a five state tour, take a break, and do five more states. My plan is every city we go to, I want to look up old theatres and see if they have tours, or what they are doing with the buildings. Take pictures, ect. ect. Thanks to everyone out there for all your great info. Thank God for Cinema Treasures.

Love And Ood Bless All.
Dave Grau (Mungo)

Patsy on February 9, 2005 at 7:13 am

Christian: Thanks for this theatre description as it really sounds like a wonderful place to visit though it isn’t a theatre anymore. I’ve informed my Houston friend in case he hasn’t been there!

trooperboots on February 8, 2005 at 8:53 pm

Patsy, One of my favorite things about this theater is that the cashiers are in the old lobby, but the old stairways are still beautiful on either side going up, and they put small book rooms with the art, music and architecture books in them, so some of the best books in the entire building are off the stairways going up to the balcony.

Patsy on February 8, 2005 at 7:52 pm

And it sounds like even though it has been changed into a bookstore the theatre exterior and interior ‘look and feel’ are still there!

Patsy on February 8, 2005 at 7:49 pm

This art deco bookstore/former theatre would be fascinating to see so will have to ask my Houston friends to go if they haven’t yet!

James Colburn
James Colburn on February 8, 2005 at 7:43 pm

This is a fine Gem in Houston. One of the only ones left! I went to see The Empire Strikes Back there. Lucky me..yes indeed!
Go see this place and buy a Book!

trooperboots on December 26, 2004 at 5:54 am

I visited this theater in 1999 and I was amazed when I walked inside. The bookstore has preserved the lobby as a checkout area, the theater auditorium is perfectly preserved and even with the books on shelves it still retains it’s theater-like ambiance. The coffee shop was ingenious to install on the balcony and the music playing in the store was appropriately subdued. I also loved the actual screen which now houses the single row of magazine racks on the stage. It was my hangout during the summer of that year.

For similar restorations, look at the LOMA theater in San Diego and the FOX STUDIO CITY Theater in Studio City, California.

rorysa on December 12, 2004 at 1:07 pm

Of course, I meant exclusive in Houston!

Patsy on December 12, 2004 at 6:33 am

I read that The Sound of Music was at this theatre. It was also at the Carolina Theatre in Charlotte (read about that one if you haven’t yet). TSOM ran for many weeks and broke record attendances!

Patsy on December 12, 2004 at 6:31 am

We have friends in the Houston area so if our travels takes us back to “NASA World” we’ll stop by this bookstore and look around!

rorysa on December 11, 2004 at 11:27 pm

Films that had exclusive first-runs at the Alabama included “The Sound of Music,” “The Poseidon Adventure,” “The Towering Inferno,” and “Grease.”

Patsy on December 2, 2004 at 7:56 pm

Jake: I totally agree! My hometown art deco theatre was demolished in the early 90’s and I will never forgive the powers to be who allowed that to happen!

James Colburn
James Colburn on September 1, 2004 at 6:23 pm

This is now a book store. Stop by sometime and you will still see the screen and restored inside. Still a beautiful place.

JV2k4 on March 15, 2004 at 12:02 pm

This Theatre should set an example to corperate america what to do with vacant movie palaces. Instead of tearing them, down, reinvent them with a concept like a bookstore, cafe, dinner theatre, etc.

EnnisCAdkins on January 27, 2004 at 3:12 pm

Between 1958 to 1961, I worked as an usher and the ass’t manager to Howard Skelton at the Alabama. The theater was owned by Interstate Theaters Inc which was the dominate theater circuit in Texas at that time. The Alabama, like the Village, Garden Oaks, Santa Rosa and others was a sub run 28 day theater. All first run films would play downtown Houston at either the Metropolitan, Majestic or the Loew’s State. After their run was finished, there was a 28 day window before the picture would open in these sub run theaters. The playtime was usually a week. I was there when the Alabama played some real classics. (THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, RIO BRAVO, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE LONG HOT SUMMER, THE F.B.I STORY, A SUMMER PLACE, etc..) The daily program would consist of a newsreel, a cartoon, previews of coming attractions and the feature. Each Saturday morning, the Alabama would have a special kid show featuring 5 cartoons, a serial, previews and a kid film of somekind. Every Halloween and Friday the 13th, we’d show a double feature Horror combo. The teenagers loved them….By 1960, Interstate needed another 70mm Roadshow House in Houston, so the Alabama was chosen. They put a lot of money into the theater. (New Seats, 60ft Screen, drapes, boxoffice, candy counter, bathrooms, 70mm projector and sound, etc.) We were suppose to open THE ALAMO in September 1960, but it ended up opening at the Tower. So, the Alabama stayed a sub run theater until EL CID opened in December 1961. It also played LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and of course, THE SOUND OF MUSIC. By that point I was long gone. But I remember those days very fondly. I also was able to work the Garden Oaks, River Oaks, Tower and even a couple of weeks in the city offices with Al Lever. It’s a sad state that all these theaters, with the exception of the River Oaks, are all gone. The Alabama had class, charm, warmth and it’s own identity…….Now you might wonder what happened to me. Well, I’m a theater owner with a small circuit of theaters in Southern California.

William on December 15, 2003 at 5:37 pm

The Alabama Theatre seated 1130 people.

bigdan1173 on July 28, 2002 at 4:55 pm

I found this theater by accident. It looks great inside and out. They incorporated the bookstore into the theater and not the other way around. The balcony is open! There is a cafe and study areas upstairs. The paint has been either very well maintained or redone. They have added some neon which looks great in the theater. Finding this theater really made my day.