Two That Opened Grand
What Was Then and What's Left Now
There's no cemetery or memorials for old theatres because all but a handful got razed in pursuit of progress. Volunteers will organize to try and save one or another from the steel ball, but against developers with millions, they are like ants among an elephant herd. What once were palaces of delight now host condo dwellers or parked cars. Those that remain as wretched shells await merciful tear down in event use can be found for the acreage. Contra this depressing lead-in, however, is reminder of glories two venues once knew upon Grand Opens, one having just been built and the other celebrating a remodel. Brand new for 1939 was New Orleans's Circle Theatre (1,800 seats), a "Most Modern" of showplaces with air cooled by a "Gigantic Frigidaire Air-Conditioning System," which during summertime, amidst N.O. heat especially, was hands down a most potent lure. Many local merchants took part in any business joining ranks, thus the ad-boost for roofers, insurance providers, plumbers, and general contractors. Florescent lighting being still a novelty was basis for prominent mention of that feature. Almost an afterthought was They Made Me A Criminal as debut attraction for the Circle's 9/27/39 open. They could probably have run a Wally Wales western and still filled the place that night.
Then there was Frisco's Metro Theatre, "streamlined architecturally and artistically to the smart lines of 1941!" Again, there are local merchants and providers credited. It wasn't even necessary this time to mention the screen program, assumption being, I suppose, that crowds would turn up just to see improvements made to the Metro. The refurbished house seated 856, had been built in 1924 and called the Metropolitan. It continued to operate until 2006, was a favorite stop for locals, many of whom banded to save the Metro, a goal partly achieved for it surviving, but as a fitness center (the Equinox). Some of interior flourish from days as a cinema have been preserved, and talk was they'd keep the auditorium intact for occasional movies. Don't know if this came to anything. Must be doubly hard maintaining old theatres with digital projection a new necessity. Could any single screen venue afford to re-equip and break even as a movie house?