American Theater

306 N. Main Street,
Bonham, TX 75418

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Architects: W.A. Peters, John C. Sparger

Firms: Sparger & Peters

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

American Theater ... Bonham Texas

The American Theater was opened on October 8, 1921. It was remodeled in 1938, again on June 27, 1948, and finally in December 1954. It was housed in an greyish non-brick building with a large marquee above the entrance and ticket booth.

On one end of the building was an attached vertical sign spelling out “American”. Across the front of the building in individual red block letters “American” was also spelled out.

Part of the building housed a familiar sight for old theater buildings, which was a barber shop. It was demolished in the early-2000’s.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don Lewis

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

millsbranch on July 3, 2009 at 6:16 am

I figured when you see it fell into the street that it undoubtably was no longer standing..
Actually it fell in, and the front fell into the street.
From now on, if I comment, I will make sure a 6 year old will understand what actually took place.
I am sorry I forgot some have to have it spelled out.

I have hundreds of theater histories.
I have dug them out for 50 years, and just wanted to share, but instead of saying Billy: when did it occur, and do you have pictures of it piled in the street.
I will no longer try to accomodate by posting my two cents worth:
I have enjoyed going to CT, and reading about other theaters, but I have enough of my own to share with someone who at least appreciates it, and will not come up with some smart remark, as If i do not know what I am talking about…GODDBY—IT IS ALL YOURS…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 3, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I wasn’t questioning your veracity, panhandle. You had me convinced that the American Theatre was indeed gone. I was just pointing out that the listed status needed to be changed.

millsbranch on July 5, 2009 at 4:32 am

please accept my apology

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 6, 2009 at 10:30 pm

None needed. My phrasing was probably a bit odd and confusing. I hope you won’t be leaving Cinema Treasures. You make a lot of useful contributions.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Just a few of the Movies to play here.
“DOCTOR ZHIVAGO” Dec.1 1967,NO PASSES. Nov.9 1967 and a good western hits town,“THE LAST CHALLENGE” on Nov.9 1967.

“IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT” plays Nov.6 1967.
Dec 16 1971 has “ADIOS SABATA"
Nov.19 1971 and "WUTHERING HEIGHTS” is showing.
Nov.4 1971 something called “THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT” plays.
Dec.1 1971 a great Western plays “WILD ROVERS”. Michael Caine in “THE LAST VALLEY” also plays in 1971.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

The February 23, 1921, issue of [em]Engineering News-Record[/em] has an item which must be about the American Theatre. Datelined Bonham, Texas, is says that E. H. Hulsey and H. B. Robb, of Dallas, were having plans prepared by Bonham architect A. B. Scarborough for a two-story brick theater building. The project was expected to cost about $75,000.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 22, 2018 at 3:11 pm

It turns out that A. B. Scarborough was one of the promoters of the American Theatre, not the architect. The local architectural firm of Sparger & Peters (John C. Sparger and W. A. Peters) designed the building. This web page from the Fannin County Museum of History has an article about the theater from the Bonham Daily Favorite of April 2, 1995.

50sSNIPES on February 10, 2023 at 4:43 pm

The little town of Bonham had a total of three theaters as of World War II, which were the Elite, Best, and American Theatres. Out of the three, the American and Elite Theatres were the only mainstream A theaters with a balance.

In the neighboring city of Whitewright for a short period of time, moviegoers all across Whitewright were forced to either go to the American in Bonham, the Rialto in Denison, the Ritz and Texas Theatres in Sherman, or the Ritz in McKinney to see first-run movies in connection with the short closure of Whitewright’s Palace Theatre due to its receivership ordering by the 15th District Court which closed Whitewright’s Palace Theatre for three-and-a-half months.

The American Theatre opened on October 8, 1921, and went into a truckload of remodeling throughout the years: First in 1938, again on June 27, 1948, and a third time in December 1954.

CinemaScope was introduced in Bonham when it was installed at the American Theatre by RCA technicians on September 26, 1954, as well as the installation of four-track magnetic StereoScope sound with its first CinemaScope film being Robert Mitchum in “River of No Return” with no extra short subjects.

Shortly after the closures of both Elite and Best Theatres, the American Theatre became the only indoor movie theater in Bonham and was one of two theaters to survive in Bonham for the next few decades (with the other being the Bonham Drive-In).

I cannot find when the American Theatre closed, but the building was demolished in the early 2000s.

UPDATE FROM MY PREVIOUS COMMENT: The American Theatre continued operating into the 1980s, but during that decade, the Bonham Daily Favorite stopped showing showtimes for the theater after the August 5, 1984 edition of the Bonham Daily Favorite. The Bonham Drive-In nearby closed in April 1987 according to The Paris Times of Paris, Texas, but I cannot find its last showing at all.

So it was either the American Theatre continued running without notice or the American Theatre closed for the final time on August 5, 1984 with “Top Secret” as its last film.

50sSNIPES on February 10, 2023 at 5:03 pm

I just found that the American Theatre closed on August 5, 1984. Shortly after closure, the Bonham Daily Favorite began showing showtimes for Sherman area theaters for a time.

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