Going Viral

This site would not exist without COVID-19 and the iPhone X.

Lemme ‘splain. For years, I’ve taken Mondays as my day off. My favorite thing to do on Mondays is to drive on a road I haven’t driven before, while listening to podcasts or music. I’ve had some of my best ideas while I was supposedly “off” work. 

Early this year, I had driven into a small Texas town and spotted an old movie theater. I’ve always loved movies and the classic theaters where they were shown. I rolled down the window of my car and used my iPhone to snap a picture of the theater. A couple of weeks later, I came upon another theater and took a picture of it, too.

I began to wonder how many old theaters there might be in the big state of Texas. On my days off, I began driving to towns that I thought might have a large enough population to have supported a theater at some point. Sometimes I got lucky; more times I didn’t find anything.

While seeking to improve my search success, I found the website CinemaTreasures.org. It has been invaluable, listing virtually every theater that has ever existed in the USA and several other countries. It even listed theaters that had been torn down.

Cinema Treasures enabled me to map out routes in advance, hitting towns that I was almost certain contained a theater, whether open or closed. I learned to check the addresses found on that site by entering them into Google Maps and looking at street views to verify that the theater buildings were still standing.

My Monday trips began to get longer and longer as I ventured further from my home base in Austin. During the COVID pandemic, this was a great way to get out of the house and pursue what now seemed like a mission: to document every old theater in Texas. I did a couple of overnighters to venture further away, and finally began taking three or four-day trips to explore the whole Panhandle or all of East Texas.

As I posted the results on my Facebook page each week, people began asking if I was going to publish a book on this subject. I still don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that I now have a place to share all the photos I’ve taken this year.

I hope you’ll enjoy the beauty and variety of these movie houses. Even more, I hope you’ll help to preserve the old picture shows in your own town. They are treasures!

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