Winona Theatre

129 N. Front Street,
Winona, MS 38967

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Malco Theatres Inc., Paramount-Gulf States

Previous Names: Winona Opera House, Dixie Theatre, Front Street Theatre

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The Winona Opera House was a late-19th Century facility built in 1894 that listed a 500-seat main hall opera house and another 350-seat theatre. On October 6, 1911, the theatre became a motion picture house named the Dixie Theatre run by Herman A. Davitts and, later, with Max Davitts.

The theatre was refreshed in 1926 and then was upgraded to Vitaphone sound on April 1, 1930 with the film, “Glorifying the American Girl”. In 1936, the Dixie Theatre was closed for a major streamline transformation at the end of its 25-year lease expanding seat count from 350 to 500. The theatre would become the Winona Theatre and the Malco Theatres Inc. took on the ownership of the venue. In 1940, Malco Theatres Inc. gave it modern air conditioning.

The theatre closed in May of 1982 and was offered for sale. Ray Hartness and John Clark restored the theatre relaunching February 11, 1983. That venture didn’t work out and the theatre closed in August of 1984 with Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan, the Barbarian”. New operator Bill Shedron and Ralph Kellogg tried one last time to rekindle the theatre’s magic. Renamed the Front Street Theatre, the venue opened December 28, 1984 with Arnold Schwarzenegger as “The Terminator”.

But Travis McClure, city inspector, proved to be the real terminator closing the Front Street Theatre just over two months later as unsafe due to plaster falling off of the building to the sidewalk and bricks appearing to be giving way. The 90-year old facility therefore gave its final show on March 9, 1985 bowing out with “Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo” starring Shabba Doo. The report came back with the building far worse than imagined.

Though it’s not documented, McClure could have quoted Shabba Doo’s Ozone character from “Breakin' 2” who explained the conditions with, “Looky here, hot shot, you can forget your plans, man. Cause we’re going to stop you. We’re going to stop you cold”. But the theatre owners ultimately gave in to the filed building safety report and admitted the old opera house was structurally wack. The nearly 100-year old Winona Theatre was torn down from July of 1990 and putting up a fight to January of 1991.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm

The July 16, 1937 issue of The Film Daily said that M. A. Lightman’s Malco Theatres had taken over Max Davitts' house at Winona, Mississippi, but this deal must have fallen through, as another notice appeared in Boxoffice of August 12, 1939, over two years later:

“Malco Adds Winona

“Memphis — M. A. Lightman, president of Malco Theatres, has added another theatre to his circuit. He advises that effective August 15 he is taking over the Winona Theatre at Winona, Miss. This theatre has been operated for the past 28 years by Max Davitts. Other houses operated by Lightman in Mississippi are located at West Point, Columbus and Tupelo”

The August 2, 1950 issue of Motion Picture Daily carried this notice about the Winona Theatre:
“New Orleans, Aug. 1. — Paramount Gulf Theatres has sold the Winona Theatre at Winona, Miss., to E. W. Clinton, exhibitor of Monticello, Miss. He also owns theatres in Georgetown and Summerall, Miss.”

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