Rita Theatre

4945 Columbia Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75214

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dallasmovietheaters on November 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

The Columbia Theater was built at 4945 Columbia Ave. at Collett Ave. It was a 500-seat silent picture house with organ and run by Eddie Foy Jr. beginning at least in August of 1918 when listings begin continuously until 1935. (A grocery store was at the address in 1916.) As part of Foy’s Neighborhood Theaters circuit, Foy tried to bring as many first-run films that weren’t being shown at the downtown theaters as he could. He would give the films multi-screen releases before that was a common practice. The Columbia would begin to attract an African American audience while also showing traditional neighborhood fare. The theater added sound on disc technology on May 19, 1929 with a showing of “My Man.”

On Nov. 14, 1935, the theater was sold to P.G. Cameron and L.E. Harrington and they closed for a week switch to sound on film technology and apply acoustical treatment in the auditorium. The theater switched names to the Rita Theater on Nov. 22, 1935. Cameron had run the Melba and Melrose prior to Interstate’s acquisition of the theaters.

Phil Isley Enterprises theater circuit took over the Rita in a lease-purchase arrangement on July 3, 1946. C.V. Caver was its manager. With the Rita being almost thirty years old, Isley decided to purchase a neighboring lot to build a new theater. Because of its age and possibly because of an expiring lease, the Rita was shut down. The nearby Avenue Theater was the new theater opening April 1, 1948 and Caver moved over the operate it for Isley. The Rita appears to have shut down following the March 8, 1948 showing of “Slave Girl.” No further bookings or listings are shown.

The next active tenant in the space was the unusual Zombie Castle lounge by Michael and Lawrence Burch that was billed as Texas' first 3D Lounge opened in 1953 during the 3-D film era with jungle murals in 3-D Strobolite by Marvin Norton. The nightclub was robbed in 1953 and burglars got $600. One year later, the nightclub was robbed and the burglars got $7. That trajectory follows 3D film exhibition. The building was up for lease a year later and became several businesses including a tile store in the late 1950s and 1960s, a flea market in the 1980s, and dance hall / special events place. As of the 2010s, the building appeared to be modified somewhat with the facade of the theater seemingly now at 4941 Columbia doing business at that time as a Hispanic sports bar.

matt54 on January 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm

This was NOT the Guild; the Guild was another theater, built in 1950 about a block away, which opened as the (new) Columbia, soon renamed Avenue, still later renamed Guild. It was the newer theater that switched to XXX fare (as the Guild) in the 1970’s.

By that time, THIS Columbia had long since 1)been re-named Rita and then 2)been shuttered as a film house.

The AKA needs to be changed from Guild to Columbia, this theater’s original name – it was NEVER the Guild.

legsdiamond on March 16, 2008 at 1:56 pm

Well, UA operated a theater known as the Guild in the 1960s and early 70s at this address, I’m almost positive. Then suddenly it was showing porn in the 70s and early 80s under the name (I think), the Columbia. Please tell me my memory isn’t gone. The interesting thing to me as that UA really tried to market this place as a first-run house when it was first called the Guild.

legsdiamond on March 16, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Unless I’m way off, this theater was known as the Guild in the late 1960s. Possibly returned to the Columbia name in the 1970s when it showed porno movies. This is sort=of a happening area of Dallas right now. Shame it can’t be restored.

Smoke on July 1, 2006 at 10:47 pm

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4923 Columbia according to June 2006 tax records?

Bob Johnston
Bob Johnston on June 19, 2006 at 8:47 am

Named Columbia when Ed Foy Chain took it over.

Bob Johnston
Bob Johnston on June 19, 2006 at 8:35 am

Opened as Rita Theater, 4945 Columbia Avenue. Later renamed Columbia. Phil Isley Theaters built a new theater one block west in late 40’s early 50’s. New building later renamed the Avenue Theater.

Now used as pawn shop downstairs, Mexican movie theater in balcony.