Queen Theatre

700 Congress Avenue,
Austin, TX 78701

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Interstate Theatres Inc. & Texas Consolidated Theaters Inc., Publix, Trans-Texas Theatres

Firms: Walsh & Giesecke

Functions: Art Gallery

Previous Names: Lyric Theatre, Hegman's Queen Theatre

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Queen Theatre

Opened in 1916 as the Lyric Theatre it was later renamed Queen Theatre. In 1920 it was demolished and a ‘new’ Queen Theater was built, which was operated by Jay J. Hegman from its opening on March 2, 1921 with Anita Stewart in “Marriet and the Piper”. Designed by architectural firm Walsh & Giesecke, seating was provided for 560 in the orchestra and 340 in the balcony. It was equipped with a Robert Morton pipe organ. It was operated by Publix. In 1933 it was sold to Interstate Theatres chain. In the 1950’s it was sold to the Trans-Texas Theatres chain. In recent years the building became home to the Arthouse at the Jones Center. By 2015 it had been renamed The Contemporary.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

CSWalczak on July 15, 2012 at 8:51 am

This article about the renovation of the Austin Art House has some pictures that show traces of the former theater.

rdk on September 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

In the 1940s the Queen ran double features with a serial on Sat. Owned by Interstate Circuit.

DavidZornig on November 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Added undated early photo and below copy credit & courtesy of the Austin History Center Facebook page.

Queen Theater at 700-702 Congress Avenue. George Littlefield bought the original Queen at 700 Congress and its next door neighbor, the Casino Theater, in 1920 with plans to tear them both down and build an all new expanded theater. He died before the plans came to fruition, but the project continued under J.J. Hegman. The new Queen Theater opened in 1921 with the first electric light sign for a theater in town, first wiring for sound, seating for 900, a lavishly decorated interior, a unique projection room and more.

While running the Queen in the 1920s, the Hegmans battled Texas' Blue Laws, which at the time forbade most commerce on Sundays. Angry that many drugstores and cigar shops operated illegally on Sundays with impunity, the Hegmans began defying the Blue Laws by advertising Sunday pictures. Eventually, all of Austin had to close on Sundays to ensure equal enforcement of the law. We have an online finding aid for the J.J. Hegman Papers: http://bit.ly/14wE31f.

DavidZornig on November 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Also courtesy of the Austin History Center Facebook page.

The shell of the building is still there, but the facade is gone. The Queen went into disrepair and closed in the 1950s, but not before the ceiling collapsed (with people inside). It is now The Contemporary (formerly Arthouse), and if you go inside, you can still see some of the original ceiling and walls of the old theater.

rivest266 on March 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Reopened as Queen on March 8th, 1917. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

DavidZornig on May 7, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Additional history and photos of the Queen in the below Austin Public Library article.


DavidZornig on May 7, 2018 at 2:43 pm

1954 photo & copy added, credit Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

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