"A Found Gift - a Lost Memory" - Brad Michael Moore
The Majestic Theater - known as a contributing property to the Harwood Street Historic District, in Downtown Dallas [1925 Elm St. TX] was shuttered, on July 16, 1973, after the final showing of the James Bond Series film, "Live and Let Die." This Landmark had seen a variety of acts - from the great Harry Houdini, to the sultry Mae West, and American Comedic giant Bob Hope. Around 1922, Hollywood Films were added to the regular vaudeville offerings. The theater had an organ near Stage Right, in the very front of the seating. The organist always accompanied the Silent Film fare, and entertained guests during intermissions, & as pre-entertainment before each event's main attraction. When the theater began hosting movie premieres, the public would be treated to gala affairs with such luminaries - such as Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, and John Wayne. Musically, there were bookings of Big Bands featuring the likes of Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington - you just had to dance in your seats - sometimes the isles, and the lobbies.
After finally closing, the Majestic was re-purchased in 1975. After full funding was arranged, the theater was eventually completely restored as a new performing arts venue. The original Corinthian columns, balustrades, urns, and trellises of the auditorium were restored and repainted. 23K gold leaf was reapplied to all the original murals and architectural motifs, and other interior decorative accents. New, larger, more comfortable seating was installed - reducing the number of seats the Majestic could hold from 2,400 to 1,570 seats. This decision allowed for the creation of an enlarged orchestra pit. The entire second balcony was converted to a central engineering control room when the theater's new, 'State-of-the-Art' sound and lighting systems could be managed. The first balcony was refitted to accommodate highly sought-after box seating. The stage was given a soft resilient floor - suitable for dance performances - while the entire backstage space was upgraded and expanded. In 1977, the Majestic Theater became the first Dallas building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It received a Texas Historical Commission marker in 1983. The theater was reopened on January 28, 1983.
Professional Photographers, my partner, Douglas. E. Tomlinson, and I, were hired early - to photograph the Majestic's interior destruction. I mentioned the aspects they saved - but one specific thing thrown away - were all the 9 x 13 inch Stained-glass 'Exit Signs!' Unbelievably, in almost complete darkness - I found one sign facile near the top of the rumble pile - it was in perfect condition! So, I began digging around, and I was lucky enough to find one more, mostly intact, companion piece - among the many more completely destroyed examples. It was a nearly-perfect conditioned partner piece!
I took the treasures home, & later, I got the broken one repaired at a Painted Glass Shop in the Olla Podrida - once called the, "The Working Artists Place," it was comprised of three old airport hangers, attached side by side - connected, and converted, into a smorgasbord collection of artisan shops. There were hippie clothiers, glass-blowers, landscape artists, people who made things with rope & metals, Rock Shops, jewelers, candy-makers, small restaurants, tea & coffee Shoppes, and a hip Hair Salon, "Tully's," among the multi-craft Shoppes tenants.
Located at 12215 Coit Road & Forest Lane, Olla Podrida became a, 'Landmark of Culture,' to Dallas, for the not-near-decade it operated, but alias, the property was eventually sold to commercial developers to build a Hebrew School... Such a space to replace this landmark for the Dallas's creative community was never considered. It was a real blow to Big Ds reputation of coming out of the dark ages, and providing its citizens access to its community's artisans. The almighty power of the buck starts, again - here.
The relationship to this whole summation of a part of Dallas's History came about because of a line uttered on a Vlog created by Texas YouTuber Guru Joe Scott, who surmises, "Our memories are really - the memories of the last time we remembered the event we are now remembering...! Wow... So, I gave the unrepaired, 'Best' Exit Sign to my best friend - He & his wife were connoisseurs of many fine things. Some near 20 years later, I visited my friends. I noticed a blond-wood shallow light box had been created for my 'Historic' soldered metal & colored glass antique gift - which I had once given to my best friend. Very proudly, my friend then began to tell me a, 'completely false' new history of this gift - its origins, and how he improved its function! I was flabbergasted! He no longer has a single fact right. I had told him the complete history of the piece when I gave it to him - now he didnt even remember it was me - who gave him this gift! I was heart-broken... I did not correct him. - © 2017 Brad Michael Moore