Speaking of the Arcadia and Its “Rustic Simplicity”…

by Paula Bosse

Greenville Ave., 1927… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above is the artist’s rendering of architect W. Scott  Dunne’s design for the Arcadia Theater on Greenville Avenue, between Ross Avenue and Belmont. (The low-flying bi-plane is a nice touch.) Among the many Dallas theaters designed by Dunne were the Esquire in Oak Lawn and the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff (as well as another entertainment mecca, the Fair Park Band Shell).

Along with the drawing, the Morning News offered a surprisingly detailed account of the plans for the “suburban theater,” scheduled to open at the end of 1927:

(DMN, May 1, 1927)

A photo of the entrance, from 1930:


The fabulous giant tree marquee, posted previously (link to post below), from about this time can be seen here.

All went well for many years until 1940 or ’41 when the original 1927 building was badly damaged in a fire; it had to be gutted and completely overhauled by architects Pettigrew & Worley. John A. Worley wrote an article for Box Office magazine about the rebuilding process (link below), including the hard-to-believe tidbit that the firm had been “vigorously instructed to studiously avoid any pretense of ‘super-colossal’ — or, more thoroughly defined, we were told to steer clear of that ‘regal’ air, which had been known to impel theater patrons to take off their shoes before daring to walk across the foyer.

The article even has a photo of the lopped-off, now-sadly diminished tree sign. (The author — in something of a reach — explains that the “stump” was there as a symbol of the “Arcadian” nature of the theater.) (You just know that both Pettigrew and Worley were praying for the go-ahead to just get rid of it already.)


There was another bad fire in 1958, which led to further renovation. By then, that tree was loooooong gone and but a dim memory.

There sure were a lot of fires at the ol’ Arcadia. Including the final, fatal one, in 2006. R.I.P. And from the ashes sprang the present-day Trader Joe’s.


Architect’s rendering (click to see larger image) and Dallas Morning News article from the May 1, 1927.

More information on the building of the Arcadia (and how the existing building had been remodeled/repurposed) can be found in an article “A Modern Theatre Made Out of a Store” in the April 12, 1930 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World, here.

Photo showing “The Vagabond King” (1930), from the Hardin-Simmons University Library via the Portal to Texas History, here.

Photo showing “stump” from the June 21, 1941 issue of Box Office, which also includes the interesting 3-page article by architect John A. Worley — the article  begins here. (If for some reason it doesn’t load properly, the article begins on page 44.)

Photos and details about the renovation following the 1959 fire are in the June 8, 1959 issue of Box Office seen here, and in the March 7, 1960 issue seen here.

The original post that spurred a further look into the early days of the Arcadia — and the one with the crazy huge electric tree marquee — is here.

Some images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.