1148 E. Elizabeth Street,
1148 E. Elizabeth Street,Brownsville, TX 78520
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The Queen theatre opened on February 19th, 1916. Grand opening ad from Newspaperarchive.com posted.
Let me know if I’m off base here but the Queen Theatre in the photo above is at 1148 E. Elizabeth. The first Queen Theatre was opened by Paco Betancourt in 1917. Bentacourt and Ed Brady then opened the “new” Queen Theater and the Queen Theater Building at 1146-1150 E. Elizabeth housing retail stores on either side of the theater’s entrance with the ticket booth and lobby housed at 1148. The building’s owner decades later said that the Queen took an existing foundation and building core that was from the 1880s to construct/ retrofit the “new” Queen.
The theater is overtaken by Publix which closed the Queen for remodeling in July of 1929. It re-launches Christmas of 1929 hoping to become the third theater to add sound. (Many references including Wikipedia say that Bentancourt’s Queen introduced talkies to the Rio Grande Valley but it was certainly not the first or even second to regularly show talkies in Brownsville and not even among the first four in the RGV to do so regularly.) The theater re-opens on Christmas showing “a better class of silent films.” Probably with audiences dissatisfied, the theater announces a new system with both disc and sound on film that will be in place during March of 1930. That’s when the former Betancourt’s Queen Theater became home to talkies.
When Publix goes into receivership, Interstate is the next owner of the Queen taking on Publix' portfolio of Texas cinemas. They operate the Queen until closing it on December 31, 1960. A classified ad in December says that the lease has expired on the Queen Theatre Building and that it can be occupied as of January 1, 1961 indicating end of life for the Queen. No further listings or bookings appear for the location.
Finally, as to the theater being a Spanish language theater, I’ve looked at hundreds of bookings and the theater can’t be categorized as a Spanish language theater due to more than 95% of its bookings and live shows being in English. So other than the location of the theater, the programming of the theater as English and not Spanish, the claims about the theater being a pioneer of talkies, and when the theater stopped advertising (seems unbroken until the end of 1960 and with Interstate from Publix forward), I agree with everything else.
Ken – that early 1900’s interior photo you linked is from the Robert Runyon collection. It is the inside of the Dreamland which was to become Teatro Mexico in 1945.
The Queen Theater advertised consistently in the Brownsville Herald through the 1940s and up to December 1952, at which time the ads stopped.
This photo is also from the LOC, but it doesn’t identify the theater except to say it’s in Brownsville, unfortunately. We have three indoor theaters listed plus a drive-in. It doesn’t appear to fit with any of the three: