Westex Theatre

W. Main Street and N. Grand Avenue,
Olney, TX 76374

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Frontier Theatres, Griffith Amusement Company, Theatre Enterprises Inc.

Architects: Jack M. Corgan, William J. Moore Jr.

Firms: Corgan & Moore

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Previous Names: Palace Theatre

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This venue began in a period when the town of Olney was serviced by the Queen Theatre owned by John T. Richardson and the Princess Theatre owned by W.T. Clay and B.T. Sanders. Richardson decided to build this new theatre in Spring of 1925 to have a two-to-one theatre advantage. But Clay and Sanders sold their Princess Theatre to Richardson with a non-compete clause. He operated the Princess Theatre leaving the new theatre unopened and vacating the Queen Theatre. He then leased the newer theatre to L.K. Bray who opened it as the Palace Theatre on December 23, 1925.

By 1927, it was clear that W.T. Clay – the former owner of the Princess Theatre who had signed the non-compete agreement – was a major force behind Bray’s Palace Theatre leading to a lawsuit that went to Federal Court on appeal. Richardson would take back over the Palace t Theatre" converting to sound on March 10, 1929 with Jack Holt in “Submarine".

New operators, the Wes-Tex Theatre Circuit and Griffith Amusement Circuit bought out the location and relaunched it as the Westex Theatre (one word) on July 3, 1936 with The Jones Family in “Educating Father". The theatre now had a Streamline Moderne style makeover giving a fresh interior and exterior by architect Jack Corgan and William Moore.

“Spec” and Margaret Lunsford took on the theatre in 1941 and later said the advent of television was the death knell for the Westex Theatre. The Westex Theatre received a major update in 1949 bathing it in green paint with maroon drapery. Also included in the refresh was a new screen and Super Simplex projection. The exterior was light blue with the marquee painted in dark blue with gold trim. Blue and red rugs covered the tiled floors. Manager Ethelene Eriwn oversaw the updating.

In 1951, Frontier Theatres Circuit took on the venue and, in 1954, it converted the Westex Theatre to widescreen allowing the presentation of CinemaScope titles. L.A. Wallis took on the Westex Theatre in 1961 and operated through the 1960’s.

The theatre’s close-up came in the Fall of 1970 when a location scout and director Peter Bogdanovich selected the Westex Theatre for the interior shots used in Bogdanoovich’s “The Last Picture Show” when it was discovered that Archer City’s Royal Theatre did not contain a usable theatre for the filming.

In 1978, a local live theatre group was given the building on a 99-year lease but failed to renovate the property due to high costs. The Westex Theatre was razed in January of 1986. A set of original theatre seats that had been in the Lunsford’s barn were donated by the family to the Olney Heritage Museum not far from the former location of the theatre.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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