Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theater. Show all posts

Monday, August 11, 2014

Circle Drive-In and The Things That Replaced It

I'd probably be facing the screen at this point (if a long way away). Picture by author, August 2019.

In the planning process of the blog's current layout, I had considered deleting this post in favor of the dedicated Circle Drive-In post I had written in 2012. However, I noticed that even though it was a later post, this page (originally on Newport Condominiums) had far more views, and thus better SEO.

The Circle Drive-In of College Station, Texas, was located near the corner of modern-day College Avenue and University Drive. Still whispered about on the Internet and unrelated to the Circle Drive-In in Waco, mostly intact but now a flea market, the Circle Drive-In was so named because (like its unrelated Waco cousin) a traffic circle was nearby (which is now gone). In the old Circle Drive-In page of the blog, I added three pictures from Mapping Historic Aggieland from 1964, 1979, and 1983. The address is officially unknown, some say 402 Nagle but I can't find a proof of that. More accurate is the opening from 1952, but even Cinema Treasures, which often lists the first movie(s) shown at a new theater, does not have much information on it.
1964

1979

1983

Picture credit: Historic Aggieland

It disappeared entirely between 1979 and 1983 (probably closed soon after the time University Square came into existence, which had a movie theater of its own) and was quickly forgotten.

Both North Ramparts (400 Nagle) and Newport Condominiums (402 Nagle) were built in 1981. Newport met its end in 2013, either because St. Mary's bought it or because of questionable structural integrity (note in Street View, the siding is missing). Despite that, they were still leasing as "The Lodge at Northgate" a few months before demolition. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down, which is admittedly somewhat unique for College Station, but buildings aren't worth saving on being unique alone. One comment I received (in August 2016) had some rather unkind words to say about the building, even back in the late 1990s: I lived in Newport Condominiums in 1998-99 [in] a three bedroom unit. The rooms were very small and narrow. The management didn't seem to clean the units for new residents. And it seemed like the management also did not like to repair things, paint either the interior or exterior, etc. The place was going downhill fast. I do remember it was cheap and the location couldn't be beat, as far as proximity to campus.

Most of the theater ended up becoming the "Mud Lot", a cheap dirt parking lot owned by St. Mary's, though when most of it was converted to actual parking for the church, the other half closed (and some of the land was never even used as parking). This would remain untouched for well over a decade until construction started on "The Stack at Legacy Point" (711 Church Avenue) which was in conjunction with redeveloping University Square (a project that is stillborn as of this writing), which seems to be relatively decent for those who actually lived there. The apartments have only one ground-level tenant, a MedPlus medical clinic branch ("MedPlus at the Stack") which opened in February 2014.

Updated August 2019.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Campus Theater


A much, much, better version of this 1989 shot is found here. This version is from TexasEscapes.


217 University Drive

The Campus Theater opened in Northgate in 1940, on the corner of Boyett and University. It was the first theater in College Station, and ended up lasting a very long time. Done in an art deco style and with a single screen (it had a balcony and cry room, too!), it survived sometime into the mid to late 1980s as competition forced it out of business (or maybe the Schulmans, which owned and built it, closed it in '85, along with their theaters in downtown Bryan. Makes sense in the timeline). (Here is an awesome shot of the cinema not too long after opening, but I don't have permission to post it).

After the theater began to deteriorate, around 1995 it finally reopened as Shadow Canyon, which soon after gave it a dreadful makeover by covering over much of the building in wood to give it a country-western theme, and that's been the type of tenant of it's been ever since. Shadow Canyon did well initially, but within a decade, they were out, after they started charging a cover and used gimmicks like wet t-shirt contests to gain attendance. Next up was Midnight Rodeo, which still has locations in San Antonio and Amarillo (an Austin location has closed since 2013). But the College Station location did not last nearly as long as Shadow Canyon, as it opened in early 2006 and closed by summer 2007. (There was another location in Katy Mills in Katy that closed about the same time, and was replaced with Circuit City, bet that went well for them). In 2008 (at least I think it was 2008), it became Daisy Dukes, owned by the Dallis brothers, which was a country-western dance hall. As you can see from a Panaramio picture below, it's obviously the same building, but horrible things have been done to it (sorry I lack a better picture).


Panoramio user rahulatiitd


So the building was clearly mauled, but it got worse. In spring 2013, Daisy Dukes took advantage of the upper level the original building had and opened rooftop seating right above the marquee, with seating and televisions. This was not only ugly but also raised the question if the circa 1940 roof clearly not designed to support tons of people would collapse one day (then again, these sorts of things were done with all sorts of redundancies). By November, it was renamed to Duke's, and by summer 2014 changed hands to The Tap's owners. Prior to this time, there was a lot of drama with the Dallis family including squatting in the Café Eccell building, DUI arrests, and the fact that a former manager of DD's (and an estranged brother, at least publicly) was arrested for something more major, and while initially The Tap talked about the space becoming "No Name Saloon" (which was just a temporary name and never actually on the marquee, the closest to that being when they were changing signs).

Their Twitter page actually "borrowed" the same Campus Theater page I had linked to (and I am absolutely sure they saw this page), but not only did they not restore the facade (not that I expected them to do so at all but the opportunity was there) it just remained a trashy dance hall, this time named Boulevard 217.

As a "parting shot", here's a from-the-back-seat picture I took of it on the night of October 30, 2014.

Horrible picture, I know, but it gets the point across



Editor's Note: This post was rewritten in 2015, but at the end of 2015, Boulevard 217 closed, and was replaced with Shiner Park, which opened for the fall 2016 semester.

* This was cited from a link from The Eagle (now dead), but the URL indicated it was the June 8 2007 issue, if that helps.