Monroe Theatre

Courthouse Square,
Monroeville, AL 36460

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: McLendon Theaters

Previous Names: Franston Theatre

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Monroe Theatre

The Franston Theatre was opened on September 1, 1932 with Janet Gaynor in Delicious" It was renamed Monroe Theatre in early-1933. By 1950 it was operated by the McLendon Theatres chain. This theatre premiered “To Kill A Mockingbird” and was located in the hometown of author, Nelle Harper Lee.

Locals referred to it as "the picture show." The theatre was run by Bill Hendrix and it burned in 1977 while the movie, “Midway” was showing.

Contributed by Patsy

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

joby on September 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

William ‘Bill’ Hendrix was my maternal grandfather, he died in 1957 or 1958. My siblings and I (from Natchez, MS) used to visit his sisters Margie, Vernon and Dot at the Monroeville family home, which was at the corner of the square next to the theatre. We have recollections of seeing horror movies there on our visits in the late 50’s – early 60’s, but I wouldn’t know who owned it then. Are you sure it stopped operating in 1941? Both Harper Lee and Truman Capote saw movies there in their youth. Harper inscribed a copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird” to my grandmother Margaret Hendrix, writing “From just another kid who was raised in Bill’s theatre”. Bill Hendrix also was a cousin of Truman Capote, whose maternal grandmother was Edna Hendrix.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2010 at 8:23 pm

joby: The phrase “operating prior to 1941” only indicates that the theater opened sometime before that year, but we don’t know how long before. When a theater is newly listed at Cinema Treasures, there is often very little information about it available. The site relies on members to fill in the story of a theater by leaving comments. Eventually, when enough information has accumulated, one of the site’s moderators will get around to updating the description to include it.

Thanks for your comment. It’s always interesting to hear from people whose family members operated a theater. Any additional information you can provide about the Monroe Theatre will be appreciated.

joby on September 25, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I have recollections of seeing some some truly grisly horror films in that theater. In earlier times, when Bill Hendrix owned the theater, some of our great aunts worked in the box office, and they talked about Harper Lee and Truman Capote coming to the box office to get their tickets. They said Truman was an odd little boy. He is represented in “To Kill A Mockingbird” by the character “Dill”.

DavePrice on May 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Do you remember where on the square the theater was located? Thanks, Dave

DavePrice on May 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm

If I’m not mistaken “To Kill A Mockingbird” premiered in Mobile before playing Monroeville.

50sSNIPES on May 31, 2021 at 3:46 pm

The Monroe Theatre First Opened As The Franston Theatre On September 1, 1932 With Janet Gaynor And Charles Farrell In “Delicious”. It Became The Monroe Theatre Less Than A Year Later In Early 1933.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 5, 2021 at 5:55 pm

The December 6, 1941 issue of Motion Picture Herald had news from Monroeville:

“Fire Damages Theatre

“Fire caused when a film ignited in the Monroeville [sic] theatre, an 800-seat house in Monroeville, Ala., early Sunday night, November 9th, destroyed the building and resulted in water damage to a hardware store. It was reported $50,000 worth of damages resulted from the fire.”

The name “Monroeville theatre” was probably a mistake the magazine made.

robboehm on January 5, 2022 at 2:28 pm

The overview for the other Monroe Theatre on CT indicated that there was a Strand Theatre in town in the 1930s. I did find a 1930 ad for same. However, on the Monroeville Heritage site I found a personal remembrance which stated that the Strand opened in 1927, became the Monroe at some point and burnt down in 1970. There needs to be some investigation on this. The prior name for this Monroe is Franston.

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