Abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas

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One of my favorite types of architecture is the old movie palace era (1910s thru the 1940s) when even the smallest theaters in the smallest towns were works of art. These old theaters are a dying breed, and there aren’t many left. Many of them have been demolished, sit vacant, or are now repurposed stores and offices buildings. Of those that still exist, most have been remodeled, refaced, and updated to keep up with the times. Today’s Vanishing Texas article is of the Abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas.

The Abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas

Palace Theater in Anson, Texas

The abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas is on HWY-83 in Downtown next door to a gutted collapsed building (already cleaned up) next door. As you drive into the center of town, you can’t miss it.

I have been searching the internet for several months now as to the history of the Palace, but I can’t seem to find any information. I have spoken with a few of the locals and all they know is that its been abandoned or decades.

What I do know is that a fire in 1904burned the Maxewell House which was the first building to sit at the current location of the Palace Hotel and several other buildings.

The design of the theater is of the movie palace era. But the theater is on the plain side of what most movie palace era theaters looked like, it did have the Spanish style red tiles and a fancy marquee sign that would light up the street as you came into downtown.

When was it built?

The movie palace era started in the 1910s and ended sometime in the 1940s. Since the 1904 fire destroyed a large portion of Anson, it might have taken time for the area to be cleared, sold and built back up. With that in mind, it is reasonable to think the theater was built sometime in that era.

Current Condition of the Abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas

Recently I had the chance to explore the Palace Theater one early afternoon. I had spoken with several people from town and they said that if it was open, I could go in, but the place was gutted and missing its roof. Wasn’t much left to document.

I got to the front doors and they were actually unlocked and the doors were slightly ajar. I opened the doors as a few people walked by. They smiled and waved, so I walked right on in.

The first thing I noticed was the severe amount decay in the lobby. The stairs leading up to the balcony are sketchy and saggy in between the supports. The projection room is filthy with mold on the walls. The old projection equipment is gone, the balcony seats are gone except for a broken few, and wholes in the floors.

As you step past the lobby and into where the theater should be, its completely gutted and the roof is gone. There is still some roof debris on the concrete slab and  what’s left of the roof and other stuff from the old theater days has been pushed back. At least the lobby’s roof has a tarp thrown over it.

From what I’ve heard the roof clasped after a major storm over a decade ago and the owners where approved or applied for a grant to get it fixed. But evidence shows that nothing has happened so far.

The Marquee was recently restored maybe in the last decade and the kiosk was removed. Someone said it was stored in the lobby. But I couldn’t find it.

If you know anything about this old theater, please contact me. I can not find any information about the place. I am looking for a build date, open date, closure date, if it changed hands, who the current owner is, vintage photos of the theater, and what the future plans are for the place.

About the Images

The images were shot by hand in the middle of the afternoon with my Sony Nex-3N and a Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8. I then edited the images in Adobe Lightroom. Next, I post processed with Topaz Clarity to add texture, brighten, and bring out the details in the images. Then I removed the dust spots. Finally, I used Topaz DeNoise to remove the noise from the images.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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  1. http://www.ekdahlrealestate.net/1520AveK.aspx

    I have some pictures of the Palace as well. Doing work on some old signs and digitally restoring them and found my work on the Palace….before the place next door collapsed. The link says that this house has the old Palace Staircase.

    • Stephen Myers says:

      In the 1980s it was immaculate. Gary Moore (who owns Premiere Cinemas throughout the USA) was at that time a discount movie theater owner of mainly old single screen theaters in Texas and based out of Big Spring (still is). He owned the Ritz Theater there. I was with the NBC TV Station in Midland and had a saleswoman who was engaged to him. He and I talked often through the years of old theaters. He said the old gentleman who owned the Palace has cared for it meticulously up until the late 1980s. Gary said it was like a museum in there perfectly preserved. But in the age of Video Tape to DVD people stopped going to the single screen theaters and he closed. Several tried to buy it but the price was too steep. Whatever happened happened over time. He may have passed away and his family (widow) may not have known what to do with it. I vaguely remember the stories. My father was from a small town 50 miles NNW of Anson (Aspermont) and the last time I drove through was 2004 when my 97 year old grandmother passed away. It did not look good then (and believe the roof had over time given way in various storms and seasons. A real tragedy because it was pristine for so long but that roof (Over the stage and screen at first) began to fail with the rest of the roof and the elements just took over. So many of us love old theater (and dream of buying one) but the reality is the cost is just too high. In smaller towns they can be had for back taxes in some cases and I know of some that build condos or businesses into them. The Pershing in El Paso is such a theater, facade out front kept pristine, the upstairs balcony turned into a screening room while the downstairs floor was turned into a boot factory (at one time). The building next door in its collapse added to the demise of the Palace. Its former Opra House though (northwest of the courthouse) I believe was saved and has a new roof. Others in nearby Rotan (the Lance) and Synder (either Ritz or Palace) has been saved (Powers Boothe is from Snyder). Turned into community theaters. As is the Palace in Georgetown. And the Uptown in Grand Prairie. The Arlington Theater in Arlington Texas has been saved and the Majestic in Eastland is in good hands. Thanks for your pictures. Its a crime to see what became of a once beautiful small Palace.

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