Park Theatre

3527 Park Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38111

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Previously operated by: Rand Theatres

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Park Theater last days

The Park Theatre was opened by Ruben Lester in late-January 1947. It was always operated as an independent neighbourhood theatre with Lester actually living in an apartment he constructed ‘over the store’. Many blockbuster movies played at this relatively small theatre and it was Memphis ‘Sensurround’ theatre. In 1981 it was operated by Rand Theatres.

It closed in early-September 1984 with Kris Kristofferson in “Flashpoint”. It became a recording studio. In 2003 it disappeared. Its long-time neighbour Walgreen’s purchased the property to expand their store.

Contributed by Scott, Vincent Astor

Recent comments (view all 20 comments)

ghsong on November 23, 2010 at 6:59 pm

i recall standing in line for two hours to get tickets to see ‘jaws'in 1975….the park got the exclusive on movies back then.i recall people brought lawn chairs to wait in line…and less that ten yrs later it was gone.

cjburke on February 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I remember seeing Earthquake in “Sensaround!” and wondering if the building could survive repeated showings. I heard later that they had to close down for a short time because of the vibrations. I also remember my brother and his friend taking me with them to see Serpico – first time I remember hearing that many swear words in a movie, including some I’d never heard before.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 5, 2012 at 3:08 pm

This page of a web site called Elvis Presley Pedia list the opening of the Park Theatre as an event of 1940. No source is cited, but the site lists a few other theaters by opening year and it appears to be accurate in those cases.

TheParkRocked on May 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I worked at The Park in 1980-1981. It was the a great place to work.The first movie I saw there was Walking Tall, starring Joe Don Baker,in 1973. The Park got many great movies because it was so large. If I remember correctly it had 849 seats, making it the largest theater in Tennessee. It also had a larger screen than any other theater in Tennessee, was the first Tennessee theater to get surround sound, and the first Tennessee theater to use the 70mm platter system.) Most theaters, at that time, sat around 250. Malco Quartet was the closest thing to a multiplex in Memphis at the time and they weren’t about to devote 3 or 4 screens to one movie in order to compete.

The cool thing about the platter system was that we would have to splice the reels together and then run the movie to make sure everything was correct. We would run it after we closed and all our friends would come to watch the movie and party. Little did the customers know that as soon as the final showing of the night was seated, we loaded up the ice machine with beer. When the movie let out, the party began.

There was an apartment upstairs which was used for storage. We organized the storage in one of the bedrooms, and with some hand-me down furniture, turned the rest of the apartment into our personal party pad. For a time, there were even some “plants” growing beneath the screen stage. Hot looking, unescorted girls rarely had to pay for snacks and we got a few phone numbers and dates out of it. We made it all work out in inventory.

This was during the “Empire Strikes Back” and “Altered States” era,(among other flicks.) Man, I remember laying down to go to sleep and hearing the theme from Empire in my head as I was drifting off. Five showings a day Sunday – Thursday, and six on Friday and Saturday for a six month exclusive and I worked just about every one of them.

Ah, to be young again…..Those were the days!

zzralph on December 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

Saw “Battlestar Galactia” the movie in Sensaround, but IMDB does not list the movie. Also saw “Earthquake” & “Rollercoaster” with Sensaround.

Iceberg on June 23, 2018 at 6:04 pm

The Park ended its days as a theater in 1984. I think FLASHPOINT may have been its final attraction.

DavidZornig on July 2, 2020 at 7:40 am

Two auditorium photos added. Below description credit Charles Payne. “I grew up in the Sherwood Forest subdivision. My first job was as a concessionist at the Park Theatre. It was an 850 seat neighborhood movie theater located on Park Avenue near the intersection of Park and Highland. It was built in the 1940s and it had a complete apartment upstairs where the original owner lived.”

rivest266 on August 14, 2021 at 10:13 am

Taken over by Rand Theatres in 1981.

rivest266 on August 14, 2021 at 10:15 am

Opened in Late January 1947.

bodkin6071 on June 24, 2024 at 3:55 pm

Closed at the beginning of September, 1984. “Flashpoint” was the final movie shown.

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