Stevens Theater

2007 Fort Worth Avenue,
Dallas, TX 75208

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Robb & Rowley-United Inc., Rowley United Theatres Inc.

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

Firms: Corgan & Moore

Styles: Streamline Moderne

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Stevens Theater ... Dallas Texas

The Stevens Theater opened on January 24, 1946 by Robb & Rowley-United Inc. The opening movie was Shirley Temple in “Kiss and Tell”. It had the classic inverted V-shaped marquee sheltering the entrance and outside ticket booth. Atop both sides of the red and neon trimmed marquee ‘Stevens’ was spelled out in large red letters and neon. By 1957 it was operated by Rowley United Theatres Inc. who closed the Stevens Theater on January 18, 1958

It was reopened in July 1958 by independent operators, but closed in 1960. It was taken over by independent operator Manuel Avila who operated it as a Spanish language theatre with live performances. It was closed around 1986 and was demolished.

Contributed by Billy Smith / Don lewis

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

matt54 on September 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Status should be changed to “Closed/Demolished” because it sure ain’t there no more.

dallasmovietheaters on September 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Scheduled to be built in 1941/2, the theatre was delayed in part by WW2. The $100,000 Oak Cliff theater became Robb and Rowley (R&R) Circuit’s first post-war theater. Originally scheduled to be nestled in a triangular tract just off of Stevens Park at Colorado and Hampton, the delayed project moved just to the north to 2007 Fort Worth Avenue. Corgan and Moore as the architects. It opened January 24, 1946 with Shirley Temple’s “Kiss and Tell.” R&R was ambitious positioning the Stevens as the first run house and moving its Texas to second-run status. That move proved to be unsuccessful.

The Stevens was demoted from first run to second run then dropping matinees as the theater struggled to find its audience. R&R closed the theater January 18, 1958 following a double feature of Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Land Unknown just a week shy of its 12th anniversary. Second life for the theater occurred that summer when two teenagers — Gary Gilliand and Don Shaw Jr. — reopened the theater July of 1958 for a short period. Another life came for the theater with a new manager in 1960. The Stevens closed yet again but found its niche when it reopened in 1961 by Manuel Avila who successfully rebranded it as a Hispanic theater with both film and occasional live Latin variety shows.

During the film licensing era, the Stevens ran into some problems in the early 1960s with the Dallas Movie Classification Board for running many films without submitting them for classification. The board got a Spanish speaking member aboard to help move the process along. When the Teatro Panamericano changed its name and tried to go upscale catering to a new audience, the Stevens surged in Dallas with Hispanic audiences. Avila continued to bring Hispanic films to the area for more than two decades including both subtitled American films such as Vaselina (Grease) and a heavy slate of imported films as the theater continued into the 1980s.

Avila was honored with a group of Mexican American business owners in 1985 by the Mexican America Legal Defense and Educational Fund for his contributions to the city of Dallas for then nearly 25 years of operation. And he sponsored a Stevens Theater baseball team. The theater finally closed after more than four decades and has since been demolished.

Lonestar76 on December 26, 2013 at 10:56 am

Great tp find this thread about the Stevens Theater. I am a researcher from the UK and am interested in the history of the theater and Manuel Avila who used to run it. Is there any way to contact members off forum? I had wanted to ask some questions to those of you like Jamestv who worked there and might have some information. I can’t seem to work out how to do this so will ask right here if that is ok. Do any of you have any further information on Manuel Avila? I am specifically interested in the early 1960’s period. I read that he worked at the theater until the mid 1980’s so was he there when you worked there Jamestv? I would be grateful for any information you can give me. I would post my email address for further contact but don’t know if it is allowed and I don’t want to get spammed. Thanks in advance!

jamestv on December 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The Stevens was owned and managed by Manuel Avila when I worked there in 1973-74. The booth was rather large compared to most booths and had three projectors (Simplex as I remember); this may have been the only theatre in Dallas that had three projectors although I’m not sure about earlier theatres. Next to the booth was an observation room/cry room which we had to go through to enter the booth. When this was built, it was one of the larger neighborhood theatres.

Lonestar76 on December 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for the reply. Did you know Avila well? I am trying to find out a bit more about him and who he might have known in the early 1960’s but also after that. For example, what happened to him after the theater closed down. Do you know if he is still alive today? Many thanks.

texastheatre on February 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm

Many thanks to kencmcintyre for the photo links! It appears that the Stevens' box office was the one moved to the Texas Theatre for the ‘JFK’. If anyone knows any more about this, we’d love to hear it!

rivest266 on August 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Grand opening ad in photo section.

ChasTemp on May 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm

My father, Al Temple, managed the Stevens from 1947-1950. We lived in the old Texan Courts a couple of blocks behind the theater. I spent a lot of time at the movies!

ravila on July 10, 2016 at 10:53 pm

I am the grandson of Mr. Manuel Avila that owned the Stevens Theater. I have fond memories of that theater when I was a kid as I visited it often with my grandfather.

ChasTemp on September 12, 2023 at 11:35 pm

Saw the first movie I ever remember seeing at the Stevens when my Father managed that theater. I was 5 years old, happened in 1949, and film was The Third Man. What I remember most about it is the Anton Karas zither music and the dark chase scene in which Harry Lime (Orson Welles) was killed.

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