Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Campus Theater

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

The Campus Theater opened in Northgate in 1940, on the corner of Boyett and University at what is currently 217 University Drive. 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).

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 it faltered (according to a now-dead Battalion link, they had started charging a cover and used gimmicks like wet t-shirt contests to gain attendance).
From this article, it officially closed in December 2004 though it played host to the Northgate Music Festival in early 2005.

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 (it was supposed to be a five year lease, and a number of other dance halls owned by the same company closed around the time, such as one at the Katy Mills mall in the Houston area).

Daisy Duke's (country western) opened in early 2009 which was a country-western dance hall. As you can see from a Panaramio picture below, it's obviously the same building from above, but horrible things have been done to it (sorry I lack a better picture).

From Panoramio user "rahulatiitd". Note the "YON" barely visible from Shadow Canyon's old signage.

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). In the end it just remained a dance hall with a trashy reputation (and by fall 2014 it had officially become Boulevard 217).

Boulevard 217 closed after fall of 2015 and another dance hall, Shiner Park, opened for fall 2016. With the exceptions of the upper level area created in 2013, all of the incarnations have barely changed anything exterior-wise, and the longest lived bar here post-theater was Shadow Canyon, which also was the only one who put real work into the building.

Perhaps after Shiner Park bites it, there could be something else that restores the facade of the Campus Theater's facade, and even if it still remains a nightclub, could be something that the Northgate area could look forward to.

Rewritten June 2020 to account for new bar, weeding out old links.