Texas Theatre

The Texas Theatre is a movie theater and Dallas Landmark located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. It gained historical fame November 22, 1963, as the location of Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest for the Assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the killing of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit. Today, it hosts a mix of repertory cinema and special events.

When first opened in 1931, the Texas Theatre was the largest suburban movie theater in Dallas and was part of a chain of theaters financed by Howard Hughes. It was the first theater in Dallas with air conditioning and featured many state-of-the-art luxuries.

On November 22, 1963, shortly after the fatal shooting of President Kennedy and the wounding of Texas Governor John Connally at 12:30 p.m. and the fatal shooting of Officer Tippit at approximately 1:16 p.m., Oswald entered the Texas Theatre shortly after 1:30 p.m. without purchasing a ticket, ostensibly to avoid police. They were later informed by the assistant manager that a man had entered the theater without paying. The films presented that day were Cry of Battle and War Is Hell, which Oswald briefly viewed.

As a commemoration of the historic capture, the words “Lee Harvey Oswald, November 22, 1963” were later inscribed in gold paint on the chair Oswald (supposedly) occupied — three rows from the rear, five seats from the aisle. However, the actual chair was removed by then manager “Butch” Burroughs, who took it home and replaced it with another which the FBI confiscated the next day for evidence thinking it was the original Oswald seat.

The theater closed in 1989 and the Texas Theatre Historical Society (TTHS) purchased it the following year. TTHS allowed Oliver Stone to remodel the exterior façade for his 1991 film, JFK. However by 1992, the Society was no longer able to fund the property and the theater closed again. Former usher and sign changer Don Dubois of Texas Rosewin-Midway Properties saved the theater from the wrecking ball in 1993, but two years later, it was nearly destroyed by a five-alarm fire, forcing another closure. In 1996, Pedro Villa stepped in to rescue the theater from another plan which would have demolished the structure and replaced it with a furniture warehouse. However, he was unable to obtain financing to restore the theater and it defaulted to Texas Rosewin-Midway Properties. The fire-damaged building remained vacant for three years, open to vandals, stray animals, and the elements.

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