One of the oldest theaters in North Texas is still entertaining. The Campus Theatre in Denton is celebrating putting on performances for more than four decades.
The theatre sits in the heart of downtown Denton and is one of the oldest icons loved by those who live there.
“We have great support from the community here from the two universities and from the wonderful folks who work in this area and come up from Dallas to support us,” said Brinker.
The movie theater was originally designed with an art deco influence and hosted a screening of “Bonnie and Clyde,” some of which was shot in the Denton area. Now it's the home of Denton Community Theatre, whose first performing season was 1968-1969.
“DCT is staring its 42nd consecutive operating season and that means we are one of the oldest consecutively operating community theaters in the country,” said Julie Brinker Denton Community Theatre’s Outreach Director.
“The arts are still really strongly supported in Denton, at the high school level, at the college level and here at the community level and we’re very proud of that,” said Brinker.
The theatre was first built in 1949 as a movie house and was the first in Denton to have air conditioning. It ran until 1985 and was closed for almost 10 years. The city created a capital fund raising campaign, bought it, and renovated it. They had the carpets rewoven to the original design and kept the terrazzo floor in the lobby.
And what’s a theater without a signature glowing sign? Though the neon has been replaced, the Campus' marquee, visible from the square, is original to the building.
With a name like the Campus Theatre in between two growing college campuses, Brinker admits there is sometimes a little confusion.
"People think we must be on either one of the campuses here in town, either TWU or UNT, and we have to explain that as it was being built as a movie theater, it was smack between the two campuses, and we’ve kept it ever since,” said Brinker.
Another piece of history is actually a person -- who may have not passed away.
“There is a ghost. His name is Mr. Harrison. He was the general manager of the building when it was first built as a movie theater,” said volunteer Betsy Deiterman who says she's seen the ghost.
"He got a lot of criticism when he built this movie theater because it was the largest movie theater in Denton and there were already several. He got a lot grief for building the theater, but it became a very popular theater," Deiterman explains.
“Mr. Harrison does still preside over the theater. He’s benevolent, kind old man. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to say old… experienced," Deiterman said, while checking to see if Mr. Harrison could hear her.
"He makes himself known mostly when you’re alone or there are not people close by, in the building, but not close by. He doesn’t present himself to a lot of people, mostly sounds, footsteps in particular. He likes to play with the lights,” said Deiterman.
History and the man who started it all preside over one of the oldest buildings in town as it writes its future.
214 West Hickory Street
First Published: Oct 22, 2011 11:26 AM CST