Princess Theater

507 Main Street,
Memphis, TX 79245

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The Princess Theater was opened by 1914.

From “The Moving Picture World” June 12, 1915


When we were kids and read fairy stories we became accustomed to the idea that princesses were pretty, dainty and popular, therefore the idea continued to sick with us. Perhaps that’s why Samuel Harle calls his Memphis house the Princess. It is an institution that is appreciated by the 3,500 population of that city. So strong is the demand for motion pictures in the little city that another picture house besides the Princess is making a good weekly profit. The building in which Mr. Harle’s theater is situated is built of brick and is two stories in height. It has a lobby 10 by 24 feet with tiled flooring. The walls of the lobby are decorated with five-foot mirrors, and the woodwork is finished in cherry. The box office is in the center and the doors leading into the auditorium are paneled with mirrors.

The size of the auditorium is 25 by 90 feet, and conveniently arranged in this space are 350 comfortable chairs. The seats are cherry finished. The seating plan is divided by two aisles. There is a good pitch to the floor giving a clear view of the screen from any seat in the house. The screen, which is 9 by 12 feet, is at the front of the house, and is surfaced with silver. Under the screen is the orchestra pit. The walls are paneled in tan and terra cotta, and the indirect lighting system is employed.

The operating room is 6 by 8 feet. Its walls and roof are made of sheet metal and the floor is of concrete, six inches thick. It is outside of the building proper with a nine-inch stone wall between it and the auditorium. The observation ports are fitted with automatic fire shutters.

The Princess uses a Power’s 6a motor-driven machine with 110 volt A. C. current but it is the intention of the managers to change this current in the summer to 110 volt D. C. generated by their own producing plant. Meniscus bi-convex condensers are used. The Princess has been open a little over six months.

The shows at the Princess are always entertaining and diversified. Three reels of Universal pictures and two reels of United Film Service are given each night with the exception of Saturday when six reels form the program. A World Film Corporation feature is booked for each Saturday afternoon. A six piece orchestra is employed whenever a big feature is booked.

The house manager is E. C. Johnson, and M.J. Holmes is the business manager, Mrs. Charles McCrary is the music director.

Contributed by William Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 30, 2018 at 11:13 pm

The August 21, 1919 issue of The Memphis Democrat (PDF here) has ads for both the Princess and a house called the Majestic Theatre (actually there are two ads for the Princess, and both theaters are mentioned several times in the text on the page.)

The 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory lists two houses at Memphis, Texas: the Princess and the Opera House. I’m thinking it’s possible that the Opera House became the Majestic. Later either the Majestic or the Princess might have become a house called the Palace, and the other might have become the Gem

Issues of Exhibitors' Herald from early 1926 have capsule movie reviews from two Memphis exhibitors, W. H. Hall of the Gem Theatre and Mrs. Edgar Adams, of the Palace theatre. The Gem is also mentioned in the October 17, 1925 issue of Motion Picture News.

The 1926 FDY lists only the 500-seat Palace at Memphis, but the 1927 edition lists both the Palace and the 450-seat Gem. Those two continue to be listed through 1931. In 1932 the 450-seat Gem is gone and the 450-seat Ritz appears. The Palace and the Ritz both continue in the FDY listings through 1957, the last year the FDY listed all the theaters in the U.S. by town.

The Texas Theatre first appeared in the 1934 FDY, and was last listed in 1954. There is a possibility that the house on Main Street that we have listed as the Texas as actually the location of the Palace, but I’ve commented about that on the Texas Theatre page.

dorstar on June 18, 2022 at 7:08 pm

Samuel “Sam” D. Harle, a local druggist in Memphis, owned the Princess Theater by 1914 according to the local newspaper, The Memphis Democrat and the Hall County Deed records. In September 1914, the movies shown in the theater on Saturday was a special feature film “The American and the Mexico War” under the management of Bert London. Tickets were 5c and 10c, the same old price.

The other movie house in Memphis in 1914 was The Dixie. - Memphis Democrat, 30 September 1914.

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